Thanks to games like League of Legends, the popularity of MOBAs (multiplayer online battle arenas) has skyrocketed over the past few years. Most major developers have a MOBA in the works, as companies hope to capture a piece of MOBA’s extremely lucrative audience. This includes Blizzard, who is just days away from releasing its very own MOBA, Heroes of the Storm, which pits characters from many of the studio’s classic franchises against one another.
Despite Blizzard’s pedigree, Heroes of the Storm hasn’t had the smoothest road towards release. When ESPN 2 aired Blizzard’s Heroes of the Dorm tournament, an ESPN radio host criticized the decision, and many viewers questioned eSports’ legitimacy on Twitter. Now, Blizzard’s more faithful fans are upset, thanks to a change made to one of Heroes of Storm’s characters.
Apparently, Blizzard decided to remove StarCraft veteran Tychus Findlay’s iconic cigar. This has drawn the ire of some StarCraft fans, forcing Blizzard to explain why omitting Findlay’s classic stogie makes good business sense.
Basically, Blizzard wants to maintain Heroes of the Storm‘s teen rating across all regions. That means no smoking. In some regions, cigar smoking is enough to earn mature status, so Blizzard had to make a decision. They could remove the cigar in some regions and keep it in others, or they could just remove the cigar entirely.
Ultimately, the company decided to permanently eliminate Tychus’ cigar, as having to manage two different versions of the character would double the amount of time Blizzard had to spend on the character. In that scenario, Blizzard would have to create two versions of virtually everything having to do with the character, including animations and alternate skins. As Blizzard explained, “This mountain of work affects multiple departments and has to be addressed every time we’d adjust Tychus.”
Blizzard noted that similar decisions were made regarding other characters in Heroes of the Storm. For example, Blizzard removed the Skelethur skin for the Abathur character (who, like Tychus Findlay, is also from the StarCraft universe) in some regions, as those areas do not allow games to depict any type of human remains. Blizzard could’ve kept Tychus’ cigar and limited the character to specific regions, but didn’t want to punish players just because they happen to live in certain areas.
Heroes of the Storm will leave its current open beta and enter full release on June 2nd for both Mac and PC.