The Heroes of the Storm community is tired of seeing Overwatch players throw games, and that growing sense of frustration is spilling into a number of social spaces. And it’s probably fair to lay some of the blame at Blizzard’s feet, despite clear efforts to make the release of Heroes of the Storm 2.0 a positive experience for both new and experienced players.
The root of the problem is the Nexus Challenge, a two-week, two-part quest chain with absurdly simple requirements: complete five games with a friend in Quick Play, Unranked or Ranked. You don’t even have to win, probably to prevent the tidal wave of report-worthy chat messages such a requirement would spark. Removing the pressure to win also makes the game, and the Nexus Challenge, more approachable for those new to Heroes of the Storm (and/or MOBAs).
Players who finish one or both quests receive a slew of rewards, mostly in-game cosmetics for Heroes of the Storm. But the prize packs also include exclusive skins (one each) for Genji and D.Va. And they’re drawing a crowd that wouldn’t typically give HotS a minute of their time. It’s a common tactic for Blizzard. We’ve seen similar promotions for most games in the company’s portfolio, including a recent Diablo / Overwatch crossover, The problem is that most Overwatch players aren’t interested in Heroes of the Storm. Some angry fans even suggest they’re being forced (“at gunpoint”) to play HotS for the optional hero skins. Many realize that intentionally losing five games takes significantly less time than trying to win.
And that’s not the only problem.
Thanks to the recent influx of players, many new to Heroes of the Storm, matchmaking servers are struggling to keep up with the traffic spike. That means it’s taking longer than usual for groups to find a game. My own hastily-assembled team averaged three to five minute waits while queueing for Quick Play on Tuesday night. It might not seem long. However, it’s worth noting that wait times for the mode are typically measured in seconds (usually 20-30) and the average round of HotS takes 15-20 minutes. So losing five minutes (or more) between matches adds up pretty quick. And imagine how much more frustrated you’d be if all of that downtime was rewarded with a match that wasn’t even fun because the opposing team — or, worse, you’re own — decided it would be easier to twiddle their thumbs until the match was over. Then it happened in the next game. And the next. It’s infuriating for longtime Heroes of the Storm fans, many of whom are just trying to squeeze in a few games after school or work.
Complaints are popping up around the web. Threads on both the Overwatch and Heroes of the Storm subreddits are drawing hundreds of comments. Similar complaints have also appeared on each game’s official forums. Overwatch players are evenly publicly lamenting the fact that segments of their community are having such a negative impact on their Blizzard-loving brethren. But part of the problem is that there isn’t an easy way to resolve the situation. Heroes of the Storm fans say they’re reporting people who admit to throwing games, or try to organize groups for that purpose, but the influx of reports all but guarantees many offenders will earn the skin(s) they want before being banned. And the ban isn’t really a punishment at that point.
Blizzard has been uncharacteristically silent on the matter. The company has yet to respond to fan complaints. Blizzard has also yet to provide anything more than a “we’ll get back to you” after several requests for a statement. But the community isn’t backing down. New calls for multi-game and account-wide bans continue to appear online, and some Heroes of the Storm players are even trying to convince the community to throw Overwatch en masse in response. The good news is that everything should be back to normal in a few weeks, when the Nexus Challenge ends and players can’t earn exclusive Overwatch skins anymore. But this is one problem Blizzard might want to solve before the next big Heroes of the Storm event.
Heroes of the Storm is available for Windows and OS X. Overwatch is available on PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.