Heroes of Newerth, originally launched in 2010, is one of the many multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) games clamouring for attention these days. The genre grows more popular almost daily, with millions worldwide logging in to the generally free-to-play games and millions more tuning in to streaming matches online.
Heroes of Newerth is trying a new way to stand out from the crowd. Like many of its genre siblings, the game has a rotating pool of player characters accessible for free in any given week and lets players purchase permanent access to others for a small fee. But if you've been considering jumping in, or unlocking a favourite, hold off until tomorrow: all 107 heroes will be free to all players as of July 20.
They're calling it "All Heroes Free", and referring to the game as not only free-to-play, but free-to-own. The reasoning behind the change, explained both in a press release and on the official site, is mostly to draw in both new players and new spectators. In a statement, game director Pu Liu explained, "As gamers, we all know that games are more fun to play with friends, and All Heroes Free will make it easier for players to bring their friends to the game. This new model will also level the eSports playing field, as all players will be able to build their skills and advance their strategies with any hero they choose."
Continuing the theme of accessibility, the game is also getting a "Gated Mode", a more controlled, limited environment designed to get new players started with a shorter, gentler learning curve.
Players who have purchased a hero with either real-world or in-game currency since July 5 will be issued refunds. Legacy players and players who purchased heroes prior to the fifteen-day cutoff for refunds will receive a free Mecha Gemini avatar.
The change raises the question: Heroes of Newerth is giving away all their heroes, where will they get money? Development, after all, is a business, and a costly one. While access to all heroes and game modes will be free, players are still welcome to pony up real world cash for alternate hero skins, announcer voices, and so on in the microtransaction store. And if the change does succeed in making the game more popular, there's money to be had in advertising and partnerships for streaming and tournaments as well.