Heroes of Newerth is looking to distinguish itself from the already-crowded multiplayer online battle arena MOBA genre.
For those who may be unfamiliar with the genre, it's a term coined by Riot Games, the developer behind League of Legends, to describe the type of gameplay where two opposing teams attempt to terminate the other's base by running up three different lanes and destroying defense towers.
To compete with the wildly-popular League of Legends, Heroes of Newerth went free-to-play last year. Now, with DotA 2 on the edge of release as another entry into the MOBA free-to-play slugfest, Heroes of Newerth is making all of its heroes free-to-own as of July 20th.
The goal behind this initiative, called "All Heroes Free", is to attract more players to the game and, according to director Pi Liu, "level the eSports playing field, as all players will be able to build their skills and advance their strategies with any hero they choose."
Those who purchased a hero on and after July 5th will be issued a refund. Those who have spent money previously on the game will receive a free Mecha Gemini avatar, a move which is sure to ire many Heroes of Newarth Legacy players who dropped money to have the advantage of being able to play all heroes in-game.
It'll be interesting to see whether the new player base will be enough to offset the costs of running and maintaining the game. After all, purchasing heroes was the crux of Heroes of Newerth's free-to-play model. Vanity items such as alternative skins will still be available for purchase, but will it be enough?