For its fifth birthday, Heroes of Newerth is getting an unusual present: a new home.
Garena Online acquired the multiplayer online battle arena game from the Kalamazoo, Mich.-based developer S2 Games (as we first covered by Polygon). As part of the deal, the Singaporean company also receives the Heroes of Newerth development team. Led by studio director Brad Bower, the devs are now known as Frostburn Studios (which is also in Kalamazoo).
To date, Heroes of Newerth (PC, Mac, and Linux) has more than 30 million registered players, but it lags far behind League of Legends and Dota 2 in the MOBA community. Free-to-play MOBA games are a big business, with League of Legends and Valve’s Dota 2 leading the charge in terms of player size and revenue. Developer Blizzard Entertainment even got sports channel ESPN2 to broadcast a college tournament for Heroes of the Storm. According to research firm EEDAR, MOBA games earned $406 million in North America last year, a number that the company expects to rise to $501 million in 2015. And Superdata found that MOBAs and other e-sports have 134 million viewers worldwide — a $612 million market alone.
In a message posted on the Heroes of Newerth Facebook page, Bower assured fans that Frostburn will continue to improve the game.
“We have learned many lessons over the past five years and are looking to leverage this experience to springboard into the future,” said Bower. “Driven by our commitment to transparency, integrity, and respect, we will be working closely with the community to shape HoN into the game we all want to be playing and providing you with insight into our decisions.”
Garena Online publishes a number of games in Southeast Asia on its Garena+ online platform, including Heroes of Newerth and Riot Games’s League of Legends.
“We found a lot of synergy in how Garena and HoN work, and are extremely excited to welcome them to the Garena family,” said Garena Online senior director Mars Zhou in a statement. “Having achieved immense growth within Asia, we are striving to extend HoN’s success to America and Europe.”
S2 Games released Heroes of Newerth in 2010, a few years before the genre became so popular that every other developer seems to have a MOBA in the works. It’s currently working on a new MOBA called Strife.
“After working with Garena and witnessing the success we had with HoN in Southeast Asia, I couldn’t be more confident in Heroes of Newerth’s future,” said S2 Games chief executive Marc DeForst.
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