For two days the Anaheim Convention Center becomes as close to Azeroth as you can get on Earth. Blizzcon rolls into town and the largest gathering of World of Warcraft, Starcraft, Overwatch, Hearthstone, Diablo and Heroes of the Storm kicks off. The 10th Blizzcon wrapped up last night with a live concert by Weird Al Yankovic and I have some final thoughts on the whole thing.
First off, Blizzcon is a pretty amazing thing. A single company, Blizzard Entertainment, has created a big enough fan base to host an annual convention that takes up more space than the average comic con. The price per ticket for two day is over $100 a ticket, yet they give you a swag bag that often includes items that hit eBay for multiple times the ticket price. My first Blizzcon was 2007 where they gave away a card that would give you an in-game Murlock costume… that card is currently on eBay for $700.00.
And for those who can’t make it out to Anaheim, CA or just couldn’t get a ticket before they sold out… you can get a virtual ticket to watch it either on your computer or on DirecTV. And if you pay for the virtual ticket, you also get the digital content that ticket buyers get.
Now going into the convention, I wondered just how exciting it would be. Last year was amazing. There was the upcoming release of Overwatch, the upcoming World of Warcraft: Legion expansion and the Warcraft film. And those were just the highlights. Going into this year there was no film, WoW just had a major patch release and there was no big announcements expected short of confirming the leaked Overwatch character Sombra. It seemed like there just wasn’t going to be any big news.
That was wrong.
Event with the Return to Karazhan being out for just a week, they announced a 7.1.5 patch for WoW and a 7.2 that would take players to the Tomb of Sargeras… and they teased 7.3 as being a trip to Argus. This shows an amazing commitment to continuing new content for their millions of regular players.
Then there was the announcement of a 20th anniversary special event that would recreate the original Diablo game within the current Diablo III.
The announcement that the Google A.I. called Deep Mind would now be learning to play Starcraft as a step up from the board game Go.
There will be a new Hearthstone expansion called the Mean Streets of Gadgetzan.
Heroes of the Storm will gain two new characters… King Varian Wrynn and Ragnaros.
We did get to meet Sombra… but the biggest announcement from the show is Blizzard commitment to e-sports by creating the Overwatch League. E-sports is an amazingly fast growing enterprise that just got a huge kick in the butt forward. They’re pushing for a regular night of television, worldwide teams representing major cities and players becoming paid professionals. No pun intended, but this is a game changer.
I think news-wise, this Blizzcon was just as announcement laden as the last… just in a different way.
Surprisingly I would’ve expected an announcement about a Warcraft film sequel. It may not have done very well in the U.S. box office, but the money it made overseas makes many believe there will be a sequel… but it was not addressed.
Blizzcon is a very well organized and ran event that respects their attendees and make the two-day event an amazing treat for their fans. It’s not perfect… the lighting in the hall is poor, the closed caption on the virtual ticket was really bad and the parking was more difficult because of construction… all of those things can be addressed easily enough.
The thing that can’t be addressed was the elephant in the room… or rather the giant missing. Earlier this year, Blizzard’s Senior Vice President of Story and Franchise Development Chris Metzen, announced his retirement. It went into effect prior to Blizzcon. Metzen was in some ways the rockstar of Blizzard. Just about every player knows him on sight. He was the driving force behind the lore and was crucial in making the movie. I get that Metzen has retired, but his presence was greatly missed and I think the attendees would’ve liked to have had the opportunity to thank him for his time in shepherding something that plays such a big role in so many people’s lives.
He wasn’t complete forgotten though… during the WoW Q&A there was a question about gear and if there was something above Warforged and Titanforged. The panel said that there wasn’t plans for any, but if they did they would have to come up with the word for it… the host of the panel suggested Metzenforged… a term everyone seemed to love.