One of the most popular MOBA’s in existence shuts down today
It’s an end of a era, as Heroes of Newerth (HoN), the MOBA developed by S2 Games and later Frostburn Studios ceases operations today (June 20th). The game first launched on May 12th, 2010, running for over 12 years before its shuttering. Now, as of an hour ago, the servers have gone offline for good.
The first stand-alone adaptation of the Defence of the Ancients mod for WarCraft III, better known as Dota, HoN once supported a thriving player base and a healthy competitive scene. Once boasting millions of active players, and over 30 million created unique accounts, HoN shrank to less than 100,000 daily users in recent years.
What killed HoN?
It’s difficult to pin down exactly what killed Heroes of Newerth. The game came out after League of Legends, but offered a more faithful adaptation of DotA than Riot’s MOBA. Incorporating more of the RTS elements from WarCraft III, and feeling more dark and grimy than League’s bright, simplistic, and bombastic early design, HoN easily attracted many of the more diehard DotA players.
Dota 2’s Beta launched in 2011, and dramatically announced a million dollar tournament for The International, its first world championship. The launch of Dota 2 gave more options to MOBA fans. And more incentives for pro players to head to the competitors. Suddenly, HoN was looking like the third wheel to LoL and Dota 2.
Still, the game would soldier on. Hontour Season 1 ran between 2012 and 2013, with the grand finals being held in Las Vegas. With an incredibly setting and a $60,000 prize pool, it seemed like a slam dunk to elevate HoN to the next level. However, amid organizational troubles, the events reputation was tarnished. The finals of Hontour Season 1 are instead remembered as a tournament that succeeded in spite of its organizers.
In 2015, the game was purchased by Garena. But while this initially seemed to bolster the game's chances of success, it still struggled to match the powerhouses of League and Dota 2, settling into a third-place role. In December 2021, it was announced the game would shut down.
What now for HoN’s Heroes?
HoN boasted dozens of unique hero designs that are either only partially replicated in Dota 2, or any other MOBAs. Deadwood, Predator, Nymphora, Scout, and Puppet Master, are all heroes that players fondly remember. But they don’t directly have an equivalent in other MOBAs.
With the shuttering of HoN many suspect that Valve, Riot, or both, may co-opt some of the designs for themselves. Either officially with an acquisition, or just through *ahem* inspiration. After all, some elements of heroes from HoN have already been copied before. Now seems a chance for developers to take the best parts of HoN, while trimming the fat.