Heroes of Newerth developer S2 Games is turning to the community to help it build new maps for the multiplayer online arena battler, and the company is putting $10,000 on the line.
The studio revealed today that it is holding a contest that will award $10,000 in prize money to the community members who make the best maps for Heroes of Newerth. This event, which S2 calls Sol’s Theatre, is open for mapmakers Aug. 1 through Aug. 30. This Heroes of Newerth contest comes at a time when the game faces tough competition from others online strategy games, including Valve’s Dota 2 and Riot Games’ League of Legends. By involving the community more, S2 is likely hoping to increase player loyalty.
S2 will announce the specific details of the contest throughout this month. That includes how it plans to split up the $10,000 among winners and how it will judge which maps are best. As part of the Sol’s Theatre contest, S2 is also adding Prophets, the first community-created map, into the game today.
“The announcement of Sol´s Theatre and the addition of Prophets is another step in letting the community know, ´Hey, we see you and we´re listening,´” Heroes of Newerth head of marketing Sam Braithwaite said. “We are very excited to work with our community on these maps and to share their passion and talent with all of our players.”
Heroes of Newerth isn’t the first game — or even the first MOBA — to turn to its community for help building content. Valve has a program that enables its community to build virtual items and cosmetic goods for characters in Dota 2 (as well as Team Fortress 2). Other gamers can then buy those goods from the item store, and the community creators get a cut of the proceeds. Some creators are making thousands of dollars creating items for Team Fortress 2 and Dota 2.
While S2 isn’t implementing a creator system like Dota 2’s, the Sol’s Theatre competition shows that the developer understands how important an engaged community is to a MOBA and other online games.
While Heroes of Newerth makes less money overall than Dota 2 or League of Legends, it actually generates more revenue per player. That likely indicates that the people who are playing S2’s MOBA are its most dedicated fans who would respond well to something like Sol’s Theatre.