MOBAs and Approachability

How Blizzard borrows from real sports to make their eSport more approachable.

What makes a sport (any sport, not just an eSport) approachable? Why has basketball spread around the world, whereas only a few countries know what a game of cricket even looks like. Obviously, there are a huge number of factors. Amongst them, as one of the key factors, must be approachability. People play basketball because all you need is a couple of people, a ball, and something to shoot into. The rules are easy; get the ball in the basket. Most baskets, wins. Cricket needs bats, a ball, stumps, a few more people and an understanding of a rule set that goes from quirky to outright weird.

So, my theory must be that basketball is more popular because it is more instantly approachable and, therefore, attracts more players. Which sounds great, until you look at eSports like MOBAs and RTSs which, as someone new to the eSports scene like me can tell you, are much more like cricket than basketball. They are a hive of jargon, complex rules and hardcore fans.

heroes-of-the-storm

Which is why Blizzard’s approach to the MOBA, Heroes of the Storm, intrigues me. I’d heard that Blizzard wanted to make MOBAs a little less terrifying and a little more inclusive. As a sports fan it was fascinating to experience how, when playing my first few games, similar playing Heroes felt to picking up and learning a new sport.

HotS, possibly unintentionally, seems to me to share much of its DNA with basketball. It is these parallels I want to explore.

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