Heroes of Newerth goes free-to-play

DotA-esque Heroes of Newerth is joining the free-to-play ranks. Developer S2 Games promises "the game mechanics and style of play will remain intact," as it attempts to expand its audience.


Developer S2 Games is joining the growing free-to-play trend with its DotA-esque Heroes of Newerth. "With the transition to free-to-play we’re opening HoN up to new audiences as our players can now easily introduce the game to their friends," S2 Games CEO Marc DeForest said in a press release.

The developer promises "the game mechanics and style of play will remain intact," and detailed how the community will evolve based on today's decision.

S2 previously offered free access to HoN during its "HoNiversary." This, however, is a drastic change for the game.

There will be three tiers of accounts under the new free-to-play model. All users that have already paid for the game will become "Legacy" users. The premium users will be to play in "Verified Only" matches, "to ensure that experts and beginners are separated." Starting today, Legacy accounts cannot be purchased.

Newcomers will be able to access two tiers of accounts. "Basic" is the standard, free account that all new players will receive. Once a player purchases Goblin Coins or reaches a "certain threshold of play time," the account will be upgraded to "Verified," where players will be able to play against Legacy users in the Verified Only matches. Basic players will be locked out of games designed for Verified and Legacy matches.

HoN will monetize the game by charging for characters. Basic and Verified accounts will have access to a rotating selection of 15 free characters, while Legacy accounts will get permanent access to all heroes. Whenever new characters are released, they will be available to purchase. Legacy members, however, will get new characters for free after a short waiting period. Should Legacy members want early access to a hero, they'll have to pony up money as well.

Free-to-play has been a popular offering for developers as of late. Recently, Valve turned popular online game Team Fortress 2 into a free-to-play shooter. S2 is hoping that current fans will continue playing, even as it transforms the game's business model. "We have gone to great lengths to ensure that the superior experience HoN delivers will remain untouched for our loyal fan base during and after the free to play transition," DeForest added.

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  • reply
    July 29, 2011 5:45 AM

    Andrew Yoon posted a new article, Heroes of Newerth goes free-to-play.

    DotA-esque Heroes of Newerth is joining the free-to-play ranks. Developer S2 Games promises "the game mechanics and style of play will remain intact," as it attempts to expand its audience.

    • reply
      July 29, 2011 5:49 AM

      It seems like League of Legends was first to the plate, and it seems like they're doing a really good job of expanding their player base.

      I know very few people that play HoN.

      • reply
        July 29, 2011 6:33 AM

        if I had the time I'd play tons of HoN. Mind you I figure dota2 will put the nail in that coffin.

        • Zek legacy 10 years
          July 29, 2011 7:13 AM

          Yeah I think HoN is sunk when DotA2 comes out(inevitably F2P). HoN's whole appeal was always simply being DotA in a better engine, and that's pretty much what DotA2 is but with a better pedigree.

        • reply
          July 29, 2011 7:14 AM

          seriously, suddenly you realize it's been 2 hours and you've had one terrible game and 3 games that false started.

          screw that.

      • reply
        July 29, 2011 7:17 AM

        All my friends and I play LoL. Been playing since beta. I don't know a single person who plays HoN. From the looks of it, this model of tiered accounts would really piss me off if I were a new player. The game was just on sale for what, $10? And if you bought it for that price point you got all the content indefinitely? Not much incentive to invest in the game knowing that.

        • reply
          July 29, 2011 8:04 AM

          How would you suggest that they do it then? You've got people who have paid for the game for the last two years who payed thinking it was one up-front fee and nothing after. It certainly wouldn't be fair to those players to charge them for each hero whenever a new one comes out.

          Most likely S2 has seen how much of a draw the F2P model is for new players and realized their ability to compete with LOL would be stunted unless they adopted it, so the choice was, do that or play second-fiddle for the rest of the game's life.

          HoN is a great game by the way. The skill curve in it is insanely high, but can be very rewarding if you take the time to learn & master it. I feel that the gameplay in LoL is just blatantly inferior to HoN or Dota: it is slower, less dynamic, and requires less knowledge of game mechanics. Ultimately, it is just simpler, though I do see how it can be much more appealing to new players.

          And yeah, DOTA2 is likely going beat out both League and HoN. That's assuming that a quality product is turned out in the end (and you've got to assume that with valve).

          • reply
            July 29, 2011 8:42 AM

            I think it depends on the price of DOTA2, clearly paying for this type of game not many people are willing to do. If its $50 I can't see a single person buying it in my group of LoL friends. $20 maybe...but I can still see most not buying it.

            On that note, I don't see a good system for HoN as they stand. I've never bought the game and knowing their are tiers shys me away from playing it now as I'll stick to LoL. Its also not my job to come up with a solution for them, if they want me to they should start paying me a salary.

            • reply
              July 29, 2011 9:37 AM

              I think you're seriously underestimating how many people spend money in LoL.

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                July 29, 2011 9:48 AM

                Yes, I have spent about 60 dollars on it total so far. I don't regret it at all and have played ~500 games so that's a good value to me. I see at least 3-4 people with custom skins every game. Those things are anywhere from 2.50 or so to 20.00 a pop and a lot of people have them. Also when new champs come out I see them on both sides of pretty much every game and often with custom skins and that costs 10.00 to 20.00 to get in on and masses do just that.

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                  July 30, 2011 2:18 PM

                  I stream League of Legends gameplay, and make videos for youtube and what not, and I've personally purchased probably over$ $200 in content over the course of the last year and a half or so. I know people who have spent far more too...

            • reply
              July 29, 2011 11:10 AM

              Valve won't charge a up front fee IMO. I think they follow LoL. They have started up the F2P system on STEAM with the switch of TF2 recently and they launched several 3rd party F2P games( a MMO and a shooter though I can't think of the names right now). So I'd expect they put DOTA 2 in that category too.

          • reply
            July 29, 2011 9:15 AM

            I am a former DotA and HoN player who now plays LoL exclusively. I agree with you about HoN vs. LoL. LoL is a simpler and slower game than HoN and DotA. It has a lower learning curve and you need to be less skilled to play well at it.

            HoN is a great game, but it largely is just DotA in a new engine with some new heroes. DotA2 sounds like it's going to be exactly that as well, except with Valve behind it.

            LoL does a lot of things very well too, however. They have a great business strategy and community support. They do a good job of creating a lot of fanfare every couple weeks when a new champion comes out. The champions are all very cool, unique, and fleshed out. There is a lot of customization possible by the player through runes and masteries.

            After the fallout from DotA2 settles I think LoL will be standing still and in good shape. I hope HoN is still there too but I have a feeling people are going to jump ship very, very quickly to DotA2 from HoN.

          • reply
            August 1, 2011 6:21 AM

            I hope S2 lets you buy an all inclusive account after having introduced the F2P. Lots of people (myself included) never played it before a few days ago. I did see the 10 dollar sale a couple weeks ago but didn't think twice about it because I had LoL.

        • reply
          July 29, 2011 8:43 AM

          I suspect they will sell skins, like LoL & is where I suspect most of the money is made

        • reply
          August 1, 2011 6:00 AM

          This is exactly how I feel.

        • reply
          August 1, 2011 11:46 AM

          Same thought here. I'll never play this, F2P or not. The fact that some people got ALL content for $10 makes it not worth it to me. In order to buy all the characters in the game (80+)... even at $1 a character I'd be paying more than a full price retail game. I also HIGHLY doubt that characters are $1 apiece.

          No thanks. I'll stick to LoL for now, and DotA2 when it comes out.

      • reply
        July 29, 2011 2:44 PM

        I tried HoN first during beta, and the community were just really shitty to me. I tried LoL a month or two ago and the community there have been really cool when I've made mistakes.

    • reply
      July 29, 2011 8:35 AM

      I love LoL, but I can't see a valve product - DOTA2 - NOT running over something that is lacking that final level of polish like LoL is.

      • reply
        July 29, 2011 9:07 AM

        Just because it's a Valve product it automatically wins? I don't see LoL suffering much at all from DotA2. They will fill a different niche in the genre and Riot has done a lot of things very well to secure a huge audience. DotA, and I assume DotA2 based on what has been said about it so far, is geared for a more competitive, skilled, and hardcore scene like HoN. The damage is going to be done to HoN.

        • reply
          July 29, 2011 11:13 AM

          They won't win over LoL but being a spotlight product on STEAM will help it allot. Still I agree that its HoN thats got the cross hairs on it. They obviously know it too with the jump to F2P.

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          July 29, 2011 3:52 PM

          I didn't know that about the competitive thing, thanks for the info.

        • reply
          July 29, 2011 4:01 PM

          Yeah, HoN has a lot more to feat from DOTA 2 than LoL does.

          HoN and Dota 2 (as I understand it) were both designed to replace Dota. LoL on the other hand was designed to be a game LIKE dota but with the design changed in a lot of small ways, for people that wanted a similar but different game.

    • reply
      July 29, 2011 8:42 AM

      good for HoN ... hope they have lots of success & continue to compete with LoL & DOTA2.

    • reply
      July 29, 2011 9:57 AM

      lol I just paid $10 bucks a week ago for this stupid game :[

      • reply
        July 29, 2011 10:55 AM

        if you plan on playing it in the future you got a steal of a deal, cheapest price for a legacy account. If you don't plan on playing it, well you shouldn't have bought it.

        • reply
          July 29, 2011 11:10 AM

          Yeah, I should have read the article. Legacy is the shit! I do plan to play HoN from time to time. It's a great game that I'm terrible at.

    • reply
      July 29, 2011 2:26 PM

      "The premium users will be to play in "Verified Only" matches... "

      Shacknews needs to proofread its articles better.

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