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Garrett Fuller: BlizzCon: Reading Between the Lines

By Garrett Fuller on August 12, 2009 | Columns | Comments

BlizzCon: Reading Between the Lines

Lines sum up BlizzCon the best, lines for everything from Morlocks to Jinx shirts. Next week, Blizzard is hosting its own private convention in Anaheim, CA for all things Blizzard. This is an interesting year for the company with allof the rumors that have been surrounding the event over the last few weeks. Starcraft 2 delays, WoW expansion rumors, and the ever looming Diablo 3 news all come into play when Blizzard takes the stage. Can the game company that can do no wrong ever possibly make a mistake? We'll look at Blizzard's three ring circus and how it impacts the industry, fans, and the games to come.

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If you have never been to BlizzCon, it is quite an experience. I went last year and was amazed at the number of people, players, and fans of things like "The Guild." A standout from my trip was chatting with Blizzard executive Rob Pardo and watching this huge line form. We both asked what the line was for and a snarky gamer said "The Guild!" We were both like, is it that popular? Apparently it is. That is where Blizzard is genius, they invited "The Guild" to host a panel and sign autographs. It was huge. This year Ozzy Osborne is making an appearance. While most WoW players know Ozzy as a reality show star, perhaps they will stay for the concert to see just how awesome he is on stage. Elements like "The Guild" and Ozzy are fluff thrown in for fans, to get the real Blizzard goods, we have to dig deeper.

Starcraft2 being delayed until the first half of 2010 may have Activision investors sweating a little and gamers asking why there is another delay, yet Blizzard players know this is no surprise. Blizzard is one of the few companies that have the luxury of saying to players, press, and investors, it will be finished when it is finished, and everyone waits. While other game companies struggle with launch and publishing deadlines, Blizzard simply has the power to put out the best product when it is ready, damn everyone else. So the Starcraft delay is no surprise, but at BlizzCon the delay will be spun as a positive saying, we want Battle.net to be amazing! The game is finished but Battle.net needs to be perfect. Players will cheer regardless, it's Blizzard after all.

The real Battle.net questions arise when it comes down to payment. Rumors exist that players will pay by the hour, or have to buy a subscription. In the old days Battle.net was free and everyone was happy. The way I see it, charging more than a $9.99 subscription fee for unlimited Battle.net play might be high for some, but it falls under the fair category for me. If they charge players by the hour, or charge more than a standard ten bucks, Blizzard may catch some gamer rage from loyal customers. Perhaps next week they will reveal what the Battle.net will do, cost, and how it will all work. When this issue is addressed take care to listen close.

The World of Warcraft expansion rumors have been flying for weeks now. In case the cave you live in doesn't get smoke signals, the word "Cataclysm" has been thrown around as the next expansion. For almost five years players have been playing WoW and smack in the middle of the map is a giant storm. The Maelstrom to be exact and perhaps that is where players will be going in about a year or so. Details of the expansion have not been given, but the new races of Worgen and Goblins remain high on the confirmed counter.


Stupid Gnome...

Worgen are the wolf like guys you run into and kill near Undercity. If rumors are true, they will be joining the Alliance as a noble savage looking race. The Alliance needed some furries after all; we have our Tauren for that here on the Horde side. So my fellow Horde brothers and sisters we'll be getting the Goblins. While I love Blizzard's Goblin interpretation as mad scientists and bomb experts, I really do not see me making a Goblin character. Still the Horde needed a race as annoying as the Gnomes. Maybe as a Goblin when you drop a Dranei in PvP and stand over him and laugh, the Alliance players will feel a little of what it is like to be killed by a Gnome. It sucks plain and simple. Does anyone out there actually like Gnomes? Not if you play Horde.

The real questions on this expansion are: Will there be another ten levels added? Will there be a new Hero class? When will the expansion come out? This is the information I'd like to hear as a player. If a new ten levels are added, perhaps I may not rush to run raids every night anymore. Why put in hours and hours when the gear will all be worthless in a year? Perhaps they will not add levels but add some very different MMO designs that do not force players to grind. News zones with new ideas might be something that Blizzard has up its sleeve. Although it does seem like the WoW formula is not broken, therefore it may remain the same. I do hope to see a new class. Also, Patch 3.2 gave us even more time friendly game play, perhaps the new expansion will follow along those lines for casual players. If it does, and still keeps the hardcore happy, Blizzard will continue to do things right with WoW.

Last but not least, Diablo 3. Diablo 2 was an amazingly fun game. It still holds up today and still sells for Blizzard even after years of release. The graphics are much older but the game play remains fast and furious. From what we have seen of Diablo 3, the game franchise is getting a major upgrade in graphics as well as boosts to game play. The team on Diablo is great and very easy to talk to about the new elements they wanted to bring with Diablo 3. Perhaps another class will be revealed; some type of archer or rogue is my guess. Though the game is a ways off, any Diablo 3 news is exciting. Definitely watch for Diablo 3 announcements as the weekend goes on. The good news for Diablo 3 fans is that the Battle.net is being perfected for Starcraft 2, which means nothing on the Battle.net side should hold back Diablo 3's launch. Whenever that may be...cough 2011 cough, cough. Here's hoping.

So besides all the swag, $30,000 dollars an hour in sales at the show's store, and Ozzy, BlizzCon should reveal some great news next week for gamers. People may not agree with how Blizzard does business, but they put on a heck of a show. We'll be covering the news here at MMORPG.com and will do our best to get you all the scoops and announcements right away. One final thought. Those of you expecting some announcement about Blizzard's next MMO title, do not get your hopes up. If they spring that one on us, it will be a true shocker. For now in true Blizzard fashion, it will likely be announced when it is ready to be announced.

Garrett Fuller Garrett Fuller Editorials
Garrett Fuller has been playing MMOs since 1997. He originally joined MMORPG.com as a writer in 2005. In 2007 Garrett went on to handle Industry Relations for TenTonHammer.com. Then, in July 2009, Garrett happily rejoined his old team at MMORPG.com as the site's News Manager. Garrett lives in Hillsborough, NJ with his wife, son and daughter.

His column appears here every Wednesday.
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