For the past six months or so there has been a noticeable resurgence of activity and participation in the HOTS community. Most of this can be seen in anecdotal evidence of an influx of new players and posts asking for advice for new and returning players, so I wanted to see if there was any empirical evidence to support the anecdotes by using open source data related to this subreddit. It is not actual game data, but I am operating with a general assumption that subreddit activity and game activity roughly correlate.
Method: Ideally Blizzard could share the data for unique user data each month, but that is not the case. Also, I believe moderators may be able to access more specific subreddit user data, but I am not a mod. So I was left to use the subreddit subscriber count available from
Results: When it was announced in December 2018 that HGC was cancelled and there would be a different "cadence" there was a slight decrease in total subscribers followed by stagnation until August 2020 and then from that month until today there has been a distinct and sharp increase. Prior to the Dec 2018 announcement there was consistently over 2000 active users at a given moment, but afterwards there was a steady decline until a floor of around 700 active users at peak times in 2019-2020. Then after Aug 2020 there appears to be a measurable increase with active users consistently over 1000 and sometimes much more. The data on the scatter plot is not something I would have submitted in my statistics class years ago, and there isn't a clear line of best fit, but I would say the trend is in the upwards direction. There could be more confidence if I had more data available. These results are also in line with my personal observation (anecdotal), I have always looked at the active user number when I logged in and became comfortable seeing 700-800, but the past several months it always seems >1000 which was one of the catalysts for collecting this data.
Conclusion: It may not be a return to the glory days, but HOTS is clearly enjoying a bit of a renaissance in the past six months. The most notable event would be the introduction of the Community Clash League (CCL) on 18 Aug 2020. All in all some recent excitement in HOTS has possibly come from:
- Community Clash League (CCL) Season 1 – Aug 20 – Jan 21
- CCL Season 2 – Spring 2021
- Dyrus/MoonMoon/imaqtpie streaming HOTS with 10K-20K Twitch viewers (HOTS streamers normally had 1k-3k viewers total, depending on if Grubby and Fan are streaming) – Nov 2020
- Hololive streamer Amelia Watson streaming multiple times – Nov/Dec 2020
- YouTuber Dunkey lists HOTS as #9 game played in 2020 – 23Jan2021 (Almost 3 Million views)
I will admit I am a bit of a HOTS homer, so I am always optimistic and look at the positives. That being said, no, I don't expect HOTS to surpass LoL and DOTA next year. I don't expect HGC to suddenly return and then the whole world will be filled with rainbows and butterflies. But I do enjoy the game and anything that helps sustain the games popularity is great for me. Lastly, I would emphasize our game clearly has a surge of new players, so please be patient and instead of assuming someone is a troll or just terrible, assume that they are new. Retaining new players will only help the matchmaker and improve match quality in the long run (inb4 sarcastic matchmaking remarks).
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