I remember when the Heroes of Newerth beta went live, I had been playing DotA for a long time and Heroes of Newerth seemed like a good place to continue. And the beta was great, they had hit everything spot on, but nothing good ever lasts forever. In the beta they had a logical and easy buymenu, the heroes were balanced and kind of few in numbers which made it easy to pick a working team setup. Well, let’s just say S2 games hit the sweet spot, they kept it that way up untill 3 – 4 months after the release. At that point they figured they’d go change the buymenu into an abomination, and when I say this was an abomination the upcoming changes to the buymenu were even worse. Basically they figured they’d try to drag more people with a fancy layout, which is not what MOBA games are about.
Although the new heroes and changes to heroes have been even worse, it feels like their idea of balance is making everything OP, when a teamfight lasts for 2 seconds there is something seriously wrong with the game. And when League of Legends came along S2 games figured they’d go copy cat mode, they basically introduced a store much like the League of Legends store for skins and other misc items like taunts and namecolors as well as player avatars. What they failed to realize is that they basically ran their own game into the fires of Mount Doom. While League of Legends created something new Heroes of Newerth is forever going to be the copy although Heroes of Newerth was released first.
They managed to destroy their own game so much that they had to make it free to play to even attract some people to it… One hero after another was added to the game, but none of them measure up to the standard set of heroes when it comes down to how fun they are to play, basically there is nothing fun about being completely over powered, as it offers no real challenge. In a sense one could bash S2 games all day for not sticking to their original concept, but I understand that they wanted a piece of the cake when Riot games got so much attention for League of Legends.
What S2 games failed to see is the fact that those who actually play League of Legends and love it wouldn’t just switch over to their half breed copy just like that, there is a reason why Riot games managed to make it successful, they were the first and so far their game is rather original, as well as League of Legends was free to play right from the start, which probably pulled quite a bit of attention their way. What Heroes of Newerth was is a game for the more hardcore MOBA players out there, those who actually enjoy the fact that denying and losing gold on deaths is a part of the game. But even though it is still there, there is so much unnecessary crap for a game which was marketed as being as close to DotA as possible.
To summarize it all, S2 games should have stuck to the concept they developed from the beginning as it is a winning concept, maybe not to the general gaming audience, but to a quite large community of people, and believe it or not, you chased away at least half of them long ago. And at this point there is no turning back, it is only a matter of time before the game may be declared completely dead.