Next week, I’ll be attending BlizzCon 2016, the 10th such affair in the company’s long and storied existence. Last year’s convention was pretty intense, with Legion info, Overwatch, Warcraft movie goodness… it’s hard to imagine that 2016 could somehow top last year. But it’s the TENTH BlizzCon. We’d be fools to think that the Irvine, California studio didn’t have some sort of surprise up its sleeve. Here then are our predictions for what we’ll see at BlizzCon 2016. Note: this is all pure speculation and fun – relax, enjoy, and share your own ideas!
WORLD OF WARCRAFT – 7.2 Info and Beyond
I do not expect any earth-shattering announcements for Blizzard’s flagship title (yes, even 12 years on I think WoW is Blizzard’s main feather in the cap). That said, I do think Blizzard will focus a good deal on WoW thanks to the success of Legion both critically and commercially. I expect they’ll tout some numbers about sales and subscribers, but mainly they’ll talk about what’s coming in 7.2. If we’re lucky, they’ll also talk about further down the road, but I expect we won’t hear about the next expansion until 2017 (duh).
OVERWATCH – New Hero, New Maps, eSports League
Overwatch is and was an unmitigated success in terms of sales, critics, and fans. I think the show will focus a good deal on Overwatch, revealing a new hero or two, new maps, maybe a new game mode. But more than anything, I think Blizzard will focus on the game’s eSports league and its competitive side. I’m also hoping against hope that we get more story stuff announced (books, comics, anything). I loved the Halloween PVE content, and it’d be great if there was some more of that announced as well, despite the game’s obvious focus on competition.
HEARTHSTONE – Next Expansion Goes to Gadgetzan?
As we’ve seen recently, it looks like we’re going to Gadgetzan in the next Hearthstone expansion. A postcard was recently teased, and I expect that the big news around Blizzard’s powerhouse CCG will be this new content. Goblins are always good, right?
HEROES OF THE STORM – New Modes, New Heroes, Etc.
Heroes of the Storm may not have blown up the MOBA scene like Blizzard hoped but it’s got a strong and loyal base who eats up everything the game lets loose. I don’t expect we’ll see any earth shattering news here, but I do think we’ll get some new heroes, new maps, and so forth out of the developers. Additionally, I think they’ll focus somehow on the eSports side of things as Blizzard’s making bigger and bigger moves into that territory with all of its games.
STARCRAFT – New Mission Pack?
I think Starcraft’s kind of on the back burner in terms of support as the RTS genre in general is still trying to figure out where to go in the brave new world of MOBAs. If we get anything out of Starcraft, it’ll be a new mission pack, some updates to units, and maybe some eSports news.
NEW IP OR MOBILE GAMES?
I think Activision-Blizzard’s purchase of KING wasn’t just to keep milking the variety of “Saga” games. Whether or not KING is working with Blizzard on anything is a mystery as eve the Legion companion app was built in house. But with the success of Hearthstone, Blizzard knows well that core mobile games can be big earners – whether or not that means we’ll see a new mobile game from them anytime soon is up in the air but I wouldn’t be surprised.
DIABLO – New Game or New Expansion?
As we’ve known for over a year now, Blizzard has been hiring for a new Diablo project that’s unannounced –including a new art director for an unannounced project under the Diablo heading. We also know that Tom Chilton left the WoW team to work on “a new project down the hall”. While some have speculated that his long history with WoW means that could be a new Warcraft RTS, I think instead we’re about to see something big from Diablo.
While a new expansion wouldn’t be unwelcome, I’m hoping instead for the announcement of a brand new Diablo title – possibly something closer to a true Action MMORPG. There is a swell of new Eastern-made Action MMOs, and Blizzard could swipe the rug out from underneath all of them. What’s more is I expect it’ll launch on console and PC simultaneously and have a revenue model similar to Elder Scrolls Online.