Category Archives: entertainment

SuperData Research Says WoW is Back to Normal in January

But what is normal these days anyway?

SuperData released their digital revenue chart for January 2021, and it leads off with another side effect of Covid-19 and the pandemic; revenues remain up when compared to a pre-pandemic month of the previous year.

  • Worldwide digital games earnings rose by 15% year-over-year to reach $11.6B in January 2021. Revenue was up annually across all device types. Mobile revenue grew by 6%. During the time period, PC earnings rose by 31% and console revenue increased by 24%. While January marks yet another month of revenue growth above 10%, it is one of the last months where year-over-year comparisons to game revenues before COVID-19 will be available.

We’ll see what happens when we hit April and the weather warms up and a lot more people will have had their vaccines.  Anyway, to the chart!

SuperData Research Top 10 – January 2021

And it does seem there is a bit of a return to normalcy on the PC end of the chart.  The usual top four are back together again atop the chart, though Dungeon Fighter Online pulled ahead of League of Legends in January.  That happens now and then, but LoL usually bobs back up to the number one spot eventually.

In fifth spot we find World of Warcraft.  I do wonder that they continue to divide WoW into east (China) and west (the rest of the world) rather than a combined number, given that the top four all combine those regions.  Whatever.  It seems to be doing okay even though the luster of Shadowlands has settled down.

  • World of Warcraft player numbers fell back to normal levels as the excitement around November’s Shadowlands expansion subsided. From November to January, revenue fell by 61% and user numbers declined by 41% (these figures do not include China). This roughly matches the pattern seen for the past several expansions, though Shadowlands had a bigger launch. Blizzard does appear to have found a way to increase how often expansions are able to boost earnings. The publisher recently announced that it will be adding the 2007 Burning Crusade expansion into World of Warcraft: Classic this year. Alternating between releasing all-new and classic expansions could cause WoW revenue to spike annually for the near future, instead of every two years (the typical development time for the title’s expansions).

Following that in sixth spot is Valorant, which is also from Riot, the studio that gave us League of Legends.  So Riot… well, Tencent, their parent company… is doing pretty well.  The game popped up the list due to some fresh content.

  • Valorant earnings and player numbers rebounded in January thanks to the launch of a new character and fresh season of content. From December to January, earnings were up 39% while player numbers rose by 29%. Returning lapsed players accounted for 72% of the growth in monthly player numbers. The game’s long-term success will likely depend on the ability of developer Riot Games to consistently launch content in order to entice players to keep coming back.

The top ten then finishes out with CS:GO, Roblox, World of Tanks, and Fortnite, all of which are regulars on the list.  Cyberpunk 2077, which topped the December list, fell off, as popular games that are not “games as a service” with an ongoing revenue scheme tend to.

On the console chart we have a bunch of old familiar titles.  As with the PC side, Cyberpunk 2077 fell off, leaving the usual suspects… Call of Duty, NBA 2K21, GTA V… behind.  The only real surprise I suppose is Apex Legends getting back in the top ten.  EA must have stopped neglecting it for a bit.

Then, on the mobile end of the chart… well, the usual suspects are there too.  The order was shaken up a bit.  Free Fire, the shooter title from Singapore, jumped up to the top of the list again, putting it ahead of Pokemon GoPeacekeeper Elite, the China market mobile version of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, came in third while Honour of Kings, which was has been down near the bottom of the list the last few months, looks to be making a move towards the top of the chart again, a place it occupied for many months straight.

And then, perennial list member Candy Crush Saga was still hanging around, coming in fifth.

The only other tidbit from the report was about Red Dead Redemption 2,  which reported that its PC player base had jumped up.

  • The PC player base of Red Dead Redemption 2 hit its highest level ever in January and nearly doubled the user count of the console version. In December, Rockstar began selling the game’s multiplayer component, Red Dead Online, as a standalone purchase for $4.99 (raised to $19.99 on February 15). In December and January, PC sales of Red Dead Redemption 2 and Red Dead Online totaled a combined 1.8M, far higher than the console version (611K). The PC edition of the game benefited the most from the deal because some owners of the console version likely picked up the game on PC for cheap in order to take advantage of features like improved graphics.

That said, the game did not make the top ten for either PC or console.  Rockstar has a good game, but it doesn’t have the same following as its stable mate GTA V, which always makes the console list.

And, finally, the question for the February chart; will Valheim make the PC list?  They have reported 4 million units sold this month already.  At $20 a pop will that be enough?

Battling The Elder in Valheim

Having set ourselves up with a portal to an outpost close to The Elder, all we had to do was get together and fight him.

Of course, having gone into the Eikthyr fight after reading some “it’s easy” comments, I was a bit paranoid.  But I had an opportunity.  Having prodded Liore, formerly of the Herding Cats blog and the Cat Context podcast, and her crew about the game, they jumped on board with it, rolling up their own server.  So I have been over there to visit and build things now and again, though Valheim is one of those games where there is always a bunch of things to do, so playing on two servers can be a bit much.

However, thanks to the youthful enthusiasm of Corr, whom some will remember from the now dormant Fantasy Movie League runs, they quickly caught up to our level of progress and they were looking to slay The Elder on Saturday, while we were not going to get together for the event until Sunday, so I had a chance for a practice run.

I put my first character, Vikund, onto their server… though again, having two characters is like having two servers at times, it just doubles the things you want to do… because he had okay equipment.  I upgraded him to a fine bow and made sure he had a stack of fire arrows and a stack of flit arrows.  I did this because Corr had done some research and came back saying that melee is bad, ranged is good for this fight.

So we got together and rolled on out to the site of The Elder, three ancient seeds in hand, the requirement to summon him.  The Cats had a base close to the alter, so it was a short run.  We setup around the place, each of us taking a pillar to shoot from as that was alleged to be solid enough to block the ranged attacks we would be facing.

Setting up with the cats

Corr threw in the seeds and the battle began.

As with Eikthyr, you get the big boss health bar on the screen so everybody can see the progress at taking them down.

The Elder shows up

Fire arrows nicely set him ablaze and put a little DOT damage on him for effect, though I wouldn’t swear to them necessarily being better than flint arrows.  I am not sure it the DOT effect stacks or not, for example.

The fight was very active, and there was a lot of running about and avoiding attacks.  He summoned some greys in the back half of the fight and I think everybody besides Corr died at least once.  But the run back was easy and you just pick up your stuff and carry on.  Victory was inevitable.  Once slain, his head was brought back to the henge to be displayed on its anointed hook.  A celebratory screen shot or three was taken.

Whatever you do, nobody look at the camera

So I came away from that with the blush of optimism.  Hell, I was nearly full on Sir Robin at the Bridge of Death declaring, “That was easy!”

When the next day came we spent a full day cycle at our main base gearing up, upgrading, grabbing food, and collecting the health potions that had been cooked in the cauldron then simmered in the fermenter.  As night fell we got into our beds for a night’s rest.

Skronk/Fergorin has invented the footlocker in Valheim

When the new day dawned we went through the portal to the outpost and ran over to the altar of The Elder.  We got a bit wet on the way because our main gate opened onto some standing water.  I have since fixed that with the hoe.

Dripping wet still on arriving

I had the seeds and had explained what I had seen the previous day.  The sun was rising and for once it didn’t look like rain.  We spread out, each taking a pillar and then I went up and put the ancient seeds in the fire, summoning The Elder.

Time for The Elder to rise and shine

The fight started off as expected.  We started peppering him with arrows and he lit up nicely when hit with fire arrows.  We dodge the tendrils he throws your was and stayed clear of the roots as well as we could.   I think we had an early death, but the run back was quick.  And then things started to derail.

First, there were the greys, who seemed to be out in force.  So there was time out to turn and take them down.

Then there was the troll.  I mentioned the troll cave near the outpost and my suspicions that its presence foretold future spawning of trolls.  Well, now was apparently that time.

So we were shooting The Elder and kiting the troll… when the second troll wandered into the fight.  So, two trolls to deal with.

Kiting a troll

I had been doing pretty well until the second troll showed up.  I tried to kite him away from the fight so I could safely set him up and kill him.  However, he had other ideas.

The troll kills me instead

Deaths began to mount and it became clear that dying by the altar was going to make getting your stuff back to resume the fight difficult.  My corpse, having kited the troll down to the water, was a relatively easy recovery.  Both Crowbar and Unna had problems at points getting to their gear.

And then the skeletons showed up.

Unbeknownst to me there was a burial chamber just over the rise from the altar and somebody got too close to it and brought the skeletons who were guarding it into the fight.  They were not a huge threat, but they just added to the chaos on the field.

We died some more, but eventually got a handle on things and managed to kill off both of the trolls and were able to return to The Elder as night fell.

The Elder, on fire, shooting his tendrils attack as the sun goes down

Then, of course, the greys came again and the battle carried on, but as night came one, it was clear we were going to take it.  We had managed to brute force our way through a variety of unexpected turns.  But this is the afterlife, so “live, die, live again” is par for the course.  I have to think this explains the trolls and the greys constantly showing up.

The Elder defeated

That was a hell of a fight.  On death The Elder dropped four swamp dungeon keys, which get you access to… dungeons in the swamp biomes.  That is important because that, as I understand it, is where one collect iron for the next layer of crafting.  We stopped and collected ourselves and bits and pieces all over the place, then took a victory shot in front of the rune tablet that gives you the vague instructions related to summoning The Elder.

Again, nobody look at the camera, it might steal your soul

I love that there is a little Crowbar death marker behind us.  I could have cropped that out, but felt it was better with it in the background.  Also, I think the death markers are pretty cool.  They sit there glowing and bubbling, waiting for your return.  They even float on water… which I will get to in another post.  It is the afterlife.  Why shouldn’t we have happy little markers?

We also got a trophy for The Elder.  We ran that back to our main base and hung it up on the appropriate hook, so now we have defeated two of the bosses that Odin set us to get.

Trophies in the night

Having that gives us access to the next buff, which for The Elder is enhanced speed at cutting down trees… which seems like something from the ironic punishments division of hell.  I don’t know.  Eikthyr’s buff gave us enhanced stamina for swiftness, like a deer, while The Edler gave us the ability to murder his children more efficiently.  Go figure.

Anyway, with keys in hand, we now needed to go find a swamp biome, as we had, so far, not seen one.  Time for more exploration.

Addendum:

Bhagpuss beat me to a post about defeating The Elder, but I’ve done it twice now!

The Perils of Entering the MMORPG Market

The MMORPG market has been rolling along for about 25 years at this point, depending on when you want to start counting.  I like to think of Meridian 59 as the starting point of the things, but you could make arguments that the roots of the genre go back to MUD1 or Island of Kesmai or any of a number of antecedents. 

Live in 95 is you count early access

But M59 was an early, commercial, 3D world MMORPG and, to the point of this post, while I haven’t seen anybody running a server for a while, the code is out there and the game could reappear if somebody felt the need to bring it back.

And that is kind of the problem here.  Fans of the genre tend to bemoan its stagnation and blame WoW or free to play or whatever for the fact that things can seem stale.  But the real problem is that old games don’t go away, or at least not fast enough.

Leaving aside M59, the next game on the list is Ultima Online, which will turn 24 years old come September.  Unlike M59, it is still there, ready to play.  It has been hanging out all this time, holding onto a group of players that might otherwise have gone off to explore other games… or maybe they have and then returned… and generally holding its own in a corner of the market.  I mean, EA owns it (Broadsword just has a contract to run it), so if it isn’t making some sort of return it wouldn’t be around.

That is, of course, a core aspect of the MMORPG space, games as a service, where players have an ongoing relationship with your game as it grows and evolves.  But games that make the transition to success and achieve financial stability tend to stick around forever. 

Scott Jennings gave a presentation at IDGA Austin back in 2014 titled Let It Go – A Modest Proposal, which I would link to if I could find it again (maybe here or here), which suggested that maybe these games shouldn’t hang around forever, that maybe it doesn’t make anybody happier or healthier to perpetuate these games past a certain point, that maybe there ought to be an exit strategy, a denouement, an end to the story.

Wishful thinking.  The only sure exit is to stop being profitable, and even that is no sure exit.  The fans, unwilling to let go themselves, will build their own private/pirate servers just to prolong the experience.  I would suggest that it is easier to list shuttered titles that don’t have some sort of emulator or server project running except that I am not sure I could even list one title.  Club Penguin maybe?  Is there a Club Penguin emulator out there?

We have reached a point in the genre where farming nostalgia for the old days and the old ways and the old experiences is a certified path to keep the fans on board and paying. (Because, it turns out, they’ll make emulators for that too if you won’t provide it yourself.)  So we have EverQuest progression servers, WoW Classic, Old School Runescape, Aion Classic, and others out there serving that portion of the user base.

As Jennings pointed out, these games have come to belong, emotionally at least, far more to the fans than the companies. It is their experiences and histories now and they won’t let it go.  It almost isn’t up to the company anymore because the fans will take matters into their own hands if the developers won’t cooperate.  And if the game is going to be running in some form with or without the studio, the studio might as well keep its hand in and make some money from an official version rather than losing what control they do have.

So the market never really contracts.  Nearly everything that ever was is out there in some form.  Think of all the video games you played over the last 25 years and how many of them are viable and playable still today.  Yes, nostalgia farming has arrived in the rest of the industry and we have some remasters and 4K remakes of older games, but I cannot go back and play every game. Of the ones I can, anything over a certain age that had some form of online support has probably lost that aspect of the game.  As an example, literally every Pokemon DS/3DS title has lost its online support.

But if you want to play The Sims Online or Dungeon Runners or most any past title, there is probably a project out there for you.

Which brings me around, at last, to the point I think I was aiming for when I started out this wall of text, which is what does this mean for new games in the genre.  One of the complaints about MMORPGs is that there is nothing new, nothing interesting, nothing different, just the same old stuff, mostly WoW or WoW knock-offs, along with a few pre-WoW titles.

But, in a market segment where nothing ever dies and the fan base is constricted by the level of commitment the genre demands (a “causal MMORPG player” is almost an oxymoron) where is the incentive to actually try something new, to invest in something in an increasingly fragmented and entrenched field?

I do not have an answer, and the fact that most of the Kickstarted, will arrive some day (just not today), titles that some have pinned their hopes on all seem to be grounded solidly in nostalgia doesn’t strike me as a hopeful sign.  Pantheon, Star Citizen, Camelot Unchained, and others all carry the message “Remember that cool thing we did nearly 20 years ago? We’re going to do it again!”

Thus endeth the genre, drowning in a pool of nostalgia, always asking for something new and never getting it because nobody seems to want it.

I suppose this should be a warning to the rest of the industry, which has been going down the path to games as a service for a while now.  I saw a quote from Chris Livingston at PC Gamer about Grand Theft Auto V about how he had by this point completely forgotten the original story of the game having spent so many years since in the sprawling open world content of the game.  And there it is on SuperData’s digital revenue charts every month.  It has essentially become an MMORPG in all but name.

So the question, to which I most assuredly do not have an answer, is can we get out of this situation?  Has the genre become like the RTS genre before it or, I would argue, the MOBA genre now, where the dominate players have so defined the genre that it is locked into stagnation?  And, were something fresh and new to come along that fit within whatever definition you might choose for MMORPG, could we pry enough people away from the treasured memories long enough for it to find an audience?

Getting to The Elder in Valheim

Valheim has its sandbox, base building, and maintenance task elements.  I think Skronk and I spent a good four hours in the game on Friday night just pottering around and doing “things” that were not exactly epic, but which kept us busy and engaged until the clock had gone past midnight.

But there is still a story and a through line that the game expects you to eventually follow, holding back on crafting upgrades by way of incentive to get you to leave your base tweaking and look for something besides more copper nodes.

Previously we defeated Eikthyr, the lightning horned stag, which got us the antler pickaxe and opened the way to the bronze age for us and our obsession with copper nodes.

The trophy hung

Now, as we have begun to sate our thirst for bronze… there are only so many items to make and upgrade… iron is the next item on the list.  But to gain access to iron you need to defeat The Elder, the next boss on the list.

Which means you have to find his altar.

Fortunately, that is pretty easy.  At the end of some of the burial chambers you will find a rune that, when activated, marks the location of The Elder on you map.  Our map… in this case Skronk’s map… showed about the limits of our exploration on the island where we started, with our main base being at the southern tip, and the Black Forest base about a day’s sail on a raft to the south.

Skronk map

The marker for The Elder was across the water from the northernmost tip of the west coast of our island and at least as far over the water as our Black Forest base was to the south.  That was something of a journey.

However, we had not been wasting all that tin and copper on cauldrons and knives.  80 bronze nails, 30 fine wood, and some resin and deer hides will get you the Karve, the upgraded water craft.  This is a real boat, not a few logs strapped together like the raft.

Sailing the Karve into Dieppe base in the Black Forest

The Karve actually sails much faster than the raft and has four inventory slots to carry cargo.  I did some coastal raiding for tin ore with it, and we’ve all used it for some exploration.

We had decided that our instance group dungeon for the week was going to be The Elder.  But the afternoon before Crowbar (Moronae from the WoW Classic group) were on and decided to go get things setup for the event in advance.  Planning!

Well, sort of planning, in a half-assed kind of way.  We decided to sail north around the western side of our island, up the coast and as far as we could to get as close as we could to the site of The Elder.  Our idea was to get up there, build a secure compound, then put up a portal so we wouldn’t have to muck about with all that sailing just to get to the fight.  Not that I don’t enjoy sailing… the Karve is a delight… but it does take time.

So off we went, a few supplies… mostly a couple of surtling cores for the portal… in hand.

On the sea in the rain

Of course the weather was bad and it was raining most of the time and the wind seemed set against us, as it always seems to be when you’re actually traveling to a destination.  But we pressed on and found that The Elder’s site was pretty close to the shore when we finally spotted land.

We actually found a nice little cove to come ashore.  There was even a stone tower there to mark the place.  I am always optimistic about such landing sites, even if I have no basis in fact or history for being so.

The landing cove, our little Drake’s Bay

It was there that we discovered that we ought to have packed more supplies… like a lot of wood.  You think you’re going to the Black Forest so that wood won’t be an issue.  But once we knocked down a few nearby fir trees to start a building, we found we were in an area heavily made up of pine trees, which yields a bit of regular wood, but mostly core wood.  Core wood is good, but for basic building you need plain wood.

Meanwhile, the greys were showing up constantly, so our progress was slowed by fighting.  As it turned out there was a greydwarf nest on either side of the camp, just out of line of sight.

Time to take the axe to this

Eventually we took those out, but it was a long running fight before we had a building standing.

A house to stage from

There was also a troll cave just up the hill from us, so we had to kill a troll along the way as well.  No end of problems… and recurring ones too.  My current operating theory is that troll caves are troll spawners, since they clearly respawn.

You can see our camp from the troll cave

It was then that we found ourselves shy of fine wood.  We actually could have found some… there were some birch trees in a Meadows biome not too far from us, but we had other issues.  All the combat had made my copper knife and bronze axe useless, and you need a forge to repair those.  So we had to sail back to a base to get supplies.

Fortunately, about a third of the way up the west coast of our main island is a base with a portal to our main base, so we did not have as far to go and the sailing was a straight shot, without need to navigate the shallows that we had to slip through to go north.

So we sailed, made it to the portal, got back to our main base and repaired.  We also grabbed supplies and built a portal at that end with the tag “Elder” so once we built the portal near The Elder we would be hooked up for travel.

The trip back on the boat was uneventful, though we spotted an abandoned raft on the way.  Somebody left that behind while exploring.

Back at The Elder outpost the greys were there to greet us, so we had to fight to clear the area.  With plenty or core wood around I built some pointed stakes around the house, which the greys have a knack for impaling themselves on.

The portal went up, once I found some space for it in the house.  Houses fill up with junk quickly, just as in real life, as we had a workbench and beds and chests already there.

Once the portal was in place, we were able to jump back and forth with supplies.  I brought back wood and built a palisade wall around our outpost, moving the sharpened stakes outside of that.  Our outpost was set.  Then I felt the need to sail the Karve back to one of our bases with a harbor.

But, with this outpost connected to the main base via a portal, we were all set for the Elder.  His altar was just a short walk.

The site of the coming fight

We just had to take him out.  But with all four of us, how hard could that be?

EVE Online Gets the Bastions of War Update for Marauders

CCP launched the Bastions of War update today which seeks to make marauder class battleships more powerful.

Here come the marauders

The changes for marauder class battleships are:

All Marauders class ships:

  • Lock range increased by 30%
  • Sensor strength increased by 8

Bastion Module I:

  • Bastion now increases the rate of fire for all large weapons by 50% (100% DPS increase)
  • Bastion duration reduced from 60s to 30s

Vargur:

  • 5% bonus to large projectile rate of fire changed to 7.5% large projectile damage

Paladin:

  • Amarr Battleship bonus to Capacitor Capacity changed to 10% reduction in Large Energy Turret capacitor need

Kronos:

  • Capacitor Capacity increased to 8000 GJ
  • Capacitor Recharge rate reduced to 17m and 30s

We will see how this changes the marauder state of play in New Eden.

In order to celebrate this update CCP would like to sell you a new pack for $35 that has marauder (and recon) SKINs and skill books as well as some Omega time.

In addition, there were the following changes to try and nerf the ubiquitous null sec heavy assault cruiser doctrines that have dominated the war.

Assault Damage Controls:

  • Duration reduced by 25%
  • Passive hull resist bonus reduced from 30% to 25% for Tech I and from 40% to 30% for Tech II

Heavy Assault Cruisers:

  • Removed the reduction in Microwarpdrive signature radius penalty

CCP also took a pass on interdictors in an attempt to make the Sabre a little less dominant in the category, buffing the other three hulls in the segment.

Eris:

  • The reduction in plate mass penalty increased from 15% to 20%
  • Bonus to the rate of fire increased from 5% to 7.5%

Flycatcher:

  • Bonus to Shield HP increased from 10% to 15%

Heretic

  • Bonus to Armor HP increased from 10% to 15%

In addition to that, CCP took another pass at web bubbles, an interdictor item, to try and make them more viable.  Now they web harder and further and faster.

Stasis Webification Probes:

  • Web strength increased from 30% to 40%
  • Area of effect range increased from 10km to 15km
  • Warm-up Duration reduced from 3s to 2s

The Revelation dreadnought, currently the dominant hull in the dread meta, got some changes.

Revelation:

  • Power Grid reduced from 780,000 MW to 700,000 MW
  • XL Beam Power need reduced by 10,000 MW
  • XL Beam CPU need reduced by 10 tf

And, finally, the Monitor fleet command hull got some buffs to help out your FC.

Monitor:

  • Added a Drug Bay and a Charge Bay
  • Removed Target Painter Resistance from Structures.

That second sounds more like a change to structures, but since the Monitor can only mount a target painter, the price of its durability, up until now your fleet commander has been out of luck if they wanted to get on structure kills.  Now the FC and all the Vigil and Hyena pilots can whore on citadels kills.

These changes and a couple of other minor items, can be found in the patch notes for today’s update.

33 Weeks of World War Bee

This week saw Snuffed Out, the big bad guys of low sec space, declare that they were going to attack the Tranquility Trading Consortium (TTC) Keepstar in the Ignoitton system in a low sec stretch of the Sinq Laison region.  The TTC is a combined operation of TEST, Pandemic Horde, and the Imperium, who split the profits from these structures.  While the primary money maker is the Tranquility Trading Tower in Perimeter, one gate over and in the same region as Jita (which means you see results from it when you do a market search sitting in Jita), the TTC runs other structures, including the one in Ignoitton, which is used for third party capital and super capital sales.

Snuffed Out had been paid to leave the structure alone but apparently decided, with everybody burning ISK and resources in the war, that it would be more fun to just blow it up.  Which they did yesterday.

Vily issued a statement advising people to evacuate their stuff before it ends up in asset safety.  Elsewhere (I cannot find it at the moment) Snuffed Out issued a statement that they could no longer abide a structure like that acting as a safe haven in their back yard.

At the beginning of the month Snuffed Out destroyed the Sixth Empire Keepstar, the most majestic structure of his holiness Max Singularity VI, also in the Sinq Laison region.

Delve Front

The past week saw PAPI’s operational tempo continue to escalate.  The completed taking all of the ihubs in the SG-CTQ constellation, which includes the KarmaFleet home system of 39P-1J.  Then on Wednesday in EUTZ they made a major push against the ihubs and cyno jammers in the O-EIMK constellation, which includes the Imperium capital system of 1DQ1-A.

The subsequent battle saw nearly half a trillion ISK in destruction as both sides traded blows in the constellation.  The 8WA-Z6 system was the main focus of the clash, seeing 355 billion in losses alone.

Battle Report Header

At the end of the fight, PAPI had managed to reinforce zero ihubs and only destroyed five cyno jammers, which could be replaced.

The fight, which saw fairly equal numbers, seemed to take the wind out of the PAPI sails again, and the remainder of the week saw only small actions in Delve, including the occasional feint towards the M2-XFE hell camp.  Progodlegend blamed CCP node reinforcement for PAPI’s failure.

Delve – Feb 21, 2021

The Imperium continued to lose structures, but the main base of the coalition, 1DQ1-A and its surrounding systems, remains mostly unscathed nearly eight months into the war.

Meanwhile, on the weather watch, the two metaliminal storms that have come to Delve are both still hanging about.  The Electrical storm, which looked to be headed to 1DQ1-A, turned back and headed towards the constellation containing the M2-XFE hell camp.  I wonder who is hurt more by the lack of cloaking in the area.  Then the Gamma storm headed into a dead end constellation, so will eventually roll back out into the rest of Delve at some point.

Other Theaters

In Querious, Brave and Siberian Squads have been in a shoving match over ihubs, with both sides taking and losing ihubs over the course of the week.  Brave did score a coup just yesterday however, taking the ihub in W6V-VM, the Imperium staging system used by Siberian Squads.  But the region is still in flux.

Querious – Feb 21, 2021

Catch and Impass, the other end of Brave’s problems, also remain in play.

Catch – Feb 21, 2021

Systems were reinforced that Brave had to defend and The Initiative managed to take another ihub in Catch.  Brave’s core systems remain intact, but ihub timers there continue to be set, forcing them to defend.

Immensea was also the scene of more ihub action.

Immensea – Feb 21, 2021

Federation Uprising and Warped Intentions were both under pressure to defend.

And down in Esoteria, The Bastion and its allies kept the pressure on TEST in the region.

Esoteria – Feb 21, 2021

They did not take any further ihubs, but they managed to kill a TEST Sotiyo in what may be the most expensive engineering complex loss so far.  The loot on the field valued at 100 billion ISK, is alleged to be greater in value than Brave’s SRP budget.  Those in the know say that there were two titans in build when the structure was destroyed.

Further afield, Evictus began to evacuate Feythabolis, unanchoring structures, with an eye to moving into Delve.

My Participation

Valheim ate up a lot of my time, as it did the previous week.  I still managed to find some time to go on a few fleets and sit in the M2 hellcamp, which always seems to have 100-150 people in it just waiting for some abandoned PAPI line member to log in and take the hit.

The bubbles still stand around the M2-XFE Keepstar

I did managed to log in to the 1DQ1-A constellation fight towards the end.  There was a call for ECM burst interceptors to break locks on entosis ships as the vulnerability timer ended.  I went out in a Malediction and made several runs at the PAPI forces around the ihub, which padded my kill board a bit.

As part of that I also managed to close with the TEST Wyvern that ended up trapped on its own and was quickly bubbled and attacked by Imperium forces.

Just had to get close enough to fire my pop-gun laser

I got on the kill and got to watch it explode.  In that screen shot you can see a Nestor exploding… it may have been out to give the Wyvern pilot an opportunity to refit as the Nestor has that ability… the Wyvern itself, an Imperium Rorqual on its tail hungry for the loot and Salvage, and my Malediction interceptor racing to catch up.

Despite a couple of close calls, my losses for the war remain as follows:

  • Ares interceptor – 15
  • Malediction interceptor – 7
  • Crusader interceptor – 5
  • Atron entosis frigate – 6
  • Rokh battleship – 5
  • Drake battle cruiser – 4
  • Scimitar logi – 3
  • Ferox battle cruiser – 3
  • Purifier stealth bomber – 3
  • Guardian logi – 2
  • Scalpel logi frigate – 2
  • Raven battleship – 1
  • Crucifier ECM frigate – 1
  • Gnosis battlecruiser – 1
  • Bifrost command destroyer – 1
  • Cormorant destroyer – 1
  • Hurricane battle cruiser – 1
  • Sigil entosis industrial – 1
  • Mobile Small Warp Disruptor I – 1

Other Items

With the Tuesday update CCP managed to break jumping to cynos.  While an emergency fix went in quickly, requiring a launch restart for those already patched, this is the sort of thing that causes consternation out in null sec.

CCP released the Monthly Economic Report for January 2021, which includes the carnage from the hull timer battle at M2-XFE.

There was some alliance drama in Red Alliance, an ally of the Imperium.  This led to people and corps jumping to other orgs, including Siberian Squads.  The Russians are fractious and it is best not to get in the middle when they fall out.

Also, somebody on Reddit put together a map of null sec to illustrate the sides in the war at its start.

Null sec affiliation in the war

When somebody complains about the “blue donut” and they are in one of the alliances in the blue zone on that map, you are free to point and laugh.

At one point last week both sides in the war accused the other of padding their alliance numbers with freshly minted alts so as to hide any fail cascade.  That sort of thing, if either side is doing it, won’t help with numbers in fleets, which is where line members count.

Brave chief Dunk Dinkle was attacked by a bee this past weekend.  But he keeps bees.  I am sure there are multiple metaphors for the war in that.

Also, I went through all of the weekly updates and added the tag WWB Weekly Update to them. Now you can click on that if you want to scroll back and see how the maps have changed over time, when Fountain Frank showed up, when I started actually putting maps in the weekly update, or any of the inconsistencies in my own reporting, of which I am sure there are many.  It is all there in one long continuous scroll.

But you don’t have to go back to see the weekly peak concurrent user numbers, because I keep that going every week with the full list.  This past week saw Saturday once again take the top spot for the week as the numbers fell back down to about the 36K mark:

  • Day 1 – 38,838
  • Week 1 – 37,034
  • Week 2 – 34,799
  • Week 3 – 34,692
  • Week 4 – 35,583
  • Week 5 – 35,479
  • Week 6 – 34,974
  • Week 7 – 38,299
  • Week 8 – 35,650
  • Week 9 – 35,075
  • Week 10 – 35,812
  • Week 11 – 35,165
  • Week 12 – 36,671
  • Week 13 – 35,618
  • Week 14 – 39,681
  • Week 15 – 40,359
  • Week 16 – 36,642
  • Week 17 – 37,695
  • Week 18 – 36,632
  • Week 19 – 35,816 (Saturday)
  • Week 20 – 37,628 (Saturday)
  • Week 21 – 34,888
  • Week 22 – 33,264
  • Week 23 – 33,149
  • Week 24 – 32,807 (Saturday)
  • Week 25 – 31,611
  • Week 26 – 39,667 (Saturday)
  • Week 27 – 34,989 (Saturday)
  • Week 28 – 34,713
  • Week 29 – 35,996
  • Week 30 – 38,323
  • Week 31 – 38,167
  • Week 32 – 37,259
  • Week 33 – 35,886 (Saturday)

Related

Diablo II Resurrected and the Rest of BlizzConline 2021

BlizzConline has come and gone.  It was certainly more subdued than any BlizzCon though, when you don’t have a packed auditorium cheering, you cannot expect the same energy.

BlizzCon Online over yesterday

Yesterday I went through what I considered the “important bit” for me, the status of WoW Classic and the coming of The Burning Crusade.  But that was obviously not all that Blizzard had to talk about.  So here, in my order of importance, are other bits from BlizzConline.

Diablo II Resurrected

This was the other item I was keen to hear about, and I was not disappointed.  Blizzard officially announced their remaster of Diablo II.  Having just replayed the original last year… and no longer really having the option since my big new monitor simply won’t work with it… I am excited to see this.  I am pretty much a guaranteed sale here.

The return of the classic

What they showed… remastered 3D graphics as well as the option for the 2D experience… up on screen side by side with the original looked very good, both true to the original and updated to current standards.  They also have some improvements… a larger stash, a more comprehensible character and skill sheet… that looks good.  The details are up on the site for the product, including the graphical comparisons.

Plus they are going to launch it on PC, XBox, PlayStation, and Switch.  Seems like they are going all in on this.  They are even hyping up cross-play for different platforms, so you can access your character on any of the above hardware.  I am only interested in it on the PC really, where it will be $40. (Or $60 with Diablo III and all its addons thrown in.)

As with Burning Crusade Classic, the deep dive panel (video here) was less technically focused… again, no slides or charts or numbers… and more about the drive to deliver both an authentic Diablo II experience and bring the game in line with modern expectations.  The level of detail discussed was impressive.  I suspect we’ll hear again from David Brevik about how Blizzard can’t do this, that, or the other thing, as occurs whenever talk of a Diablo II remaster comes up, but Blizz seems set to prove him wrong.

And it is expected to launch in 2021, though it wouldn’t surprise me if they did a repeat of the original for an end of the year release.  That fact that the list December on the page where you can pre-order it… because of course you can pre-order it… seems a likely sign.  We shall see.

I am excited about this, though I know Blizz has dropped the ball on the remaster thing before, back with Warcraft III.  I hope they learned the right lessons from that.  But if they are going out on consoles, this will have a lot of resources behind it.

Shadowlands Updates

It isn’t so much that I dislike the Shadowlands expansion… it seems interesting and fun in its own way, and I jumped on board at launch… it is more than when I stack rank what I want to play on a given evening it tends to fall into third or fourth place… fourth now that Valheim is on the scene.  Unfortunately, that means I am so far behind on covenant stuff (they barely know me at this point) and have missed so much that I am probably out until the second summer of Shadowlands when they smooth out the curve to let the slackers catch up.

Anyway, they announced the first big content drop, the 9.1 Chains of Domination update.  Kaylriene has a write up that covers it and the presentations in more depth than I could manage, so that probably ought to be your destination if this is relevant to your interests.

Blizzard Arcade Collection

Blizzard, on a retro rampage with their 30th anniversary, has brought back their original console titles, The Lost Vikings, Rock N Roll Racing, and Blackthorne, in the Blizzard Arcade Collection.

Back in the lineup

I have never played any of these titles.  I know just enough about them to get the occasional reference to them in WoW… the Vikings, for example, are in Uldaman.  But the games have been brought up to date and will be available on XBox, PlayStation, Switch, and PC.  I might actually give this a try on my Switch Lite.

Diablo Immortal

We have been hearing about this since BlizzCon 2018 when Blizzard failed to manage expectations after putting the Diablo franchise in the position of honor in the schedule, leading everybody and their dog to expect a Diablo IV announcement.  They told us directly to not get our hopes up, but it was right there on the schedule.  And then after the keynote the schedule was updated to say Diablo Immortal.

Phone Diablo

Still, the word out there is that it is a pretty solid title, sitting in the story line between Diablo II and Diablo III.  I would probably give it a try on my iPad if it isn’t to dear in price… absolutely if it is free, though we know how that can go.  Of course, that is part of the problem;  we still don’t know many solid details about the game and the Blizzard site about it doesn’t have much to add.  I feel like I know way more about Diablo II Resurrected after two days than I do about Diablo Immortal after more than two years.

Hearthstone Classic

I’m not going to play this.  I played just enough Hearthstone to get the Hearthsteed mount in WoW, and then a bit more on my iPad, but it isn’t a game that holds me.  I am just amused that they’ve thrown so many expansions and changes into the game that they’re ready to drag out a classic version… though I guess it has been six years.  Time flies.

Diablo IV and Overwatch 2

We heard about the rogue class in Diablo IV and about the myriad PvE missions in Overwatch 2, but both titles are still more than a year out, so I just cannot get myself at all worked up.  There are too many things to interest me between now and whenever to divert my attention.  Also, the announcements were not all that earth shattering.  I’m not saying there isn’t something Blizz could say about either that would kindle a deep interest, they’re just not there yet.

BlizzConline Overall

Not bad.

I mean, it is hard to argue with some of the solid announcements they had.  There was enough WoW focused stuff to keep me engaged along with enough other stuff that it didn’t feel like the “WoWCon” BlizzCons of a decade back.

I was also happy it was free and readily available via multiple services and that the videos from the panels were uploaded and ready on YouTube almost immediately.

Still, it didn’t quite have the full BlizzCon feel.  As I said previously, it felt different not being in front of a live studio audience.  I may love the written word, but writing “the audience roared” and hearing a BlizzCon audience roar of its own accord in reaction to something announced on stage at the Anaheim Convention Center.

I didn’t mind the chatty nature of the panels.  I like to hear the devs talk and they have done some nice videos in the past like that.  I especially remember the series with some of the original devs talking about making WoW as part of the WoW Classic launch build up.  But I am not sure that eight minutes of that in a 30 minute panel that is labeled as a “deep dive” is quite on the mark.

I felt that there was a lot less hard information presented and that the details that were given us often were not accompanied by the bullet point slide pages to which we have grown accustomed from past BlizzCon panels.  It isn’t real unless it is in PowerPoint, right?

I also wouldn’t be surprised to find that the panels and presentations were all pre-recorded and just queued up to play.  With no live audience and nobody holding up today’s paper in frame ransom note style how could we tell?

In fact, in writing that, I will swap to saying that I would actually be surprised to find that most, if not all, of the panels were NOT pre-recorded and queued up to play.  I mean, why wouldn’t you go that route?  Though, if you did, you’d think we’d get more slides.

So, it was good for what it was.  Life in the pandemic dictates what we can do.  I think they could have done better with info, but maybe the things I wanted had not been nailed down yet.  I don’t think it had quite the impact that a live BlizzCon would have, but we still got some very big announcements.

BlizzConline and Burning Crusade Classic

We had the first day of BlizzConline yesterday.  There were some interesting announcements.  But what I was really there for was WoW Classic and The Burning Crusade expansion.  Holly Longdale got up there on the main stage… alone, no audience in the pandemic… during the opening ceremony and told us a bit about the coming of The Burning Crusade.  It wasn’t much more than a confirmation that it was coming, but it was at least that.  (Though, we knew it was coming due to that leak, but it is always good to hear somebody say it officially.)

Then, the first panel up was about that very topic.

How deep will they dive?

This was not what would have passed for a “deep dive” at past BlizzCon events.

The panel consisted of:

  • Holly Longdale – Lead Producer for WoW Classic
  • Patrick Dawson – Production Director for WoW
  • Brian Birmingham – Lead Software Engineer for WoW Classic

The panel started with the three of them talking about their impressions of TBC back in the day for a bit, then moved on to some tales of getting the old code working within the current WoW framework, all of which was fine and interesting, but wasn’t delivering a lot of details that many fans… myself especially… were looking for.  There were no slides with bullet points or diagrams or any of the items one might have come to expect from such a presentation.

Towards the back half of the talk… it was only a 30 minute panel, so it wasn’t a long wait.. they finally started spilling out some details.

The first solid nugget in my notes was about Blood Elves and the Draenei.  They will be released into the game with the TBC pre-patch to allow players to have a chance to get leveled up some before everybody jumps through the dark portal.

Then details for characters and servers came up.

The current servers will become progression servers, a term many of us from EverQuest will remember, as SOE started doing that back in 2006 with The Sleeper and The Combine servers.  (see timeline) All of the current WoW Classic servers will move forward to TBC.

If you don’t want to go there, you will have an option.  On launch day you will make the choice for all of your characters, to stay and progress forward into TBC or to move to one of the new WoW Classic servers that will launch the same day that will remain forever vanilla.

If, at a later date, you regret your choice of committing to forever vanilla, there will be a paid service option that will let you copy a character from one of those servers to a TBC server.  You will then, at that moment, have two identical characters in each realm.  They will diverge as soon as you go through the portal and get your first gear drop, but you can be in both worlds.

Meanwhile, if you don’t want to play through all of that WoW Classic crap because TBC was your favorite part of WoW, Blizzard will have an option for you as well.  They will be offering a level 58 character boost… no Blood Elves or Draenei, sorry… so that you can jump straight to the dark portal and get going.  Oh, and you can only have one character boost per account.  If you want to raise an army of level 58s, you’ll have to do it the old fashioned way.

No pricing was announced for either the copy or the level 58 character boost.

In fact, few hard details were shared.  There were certainly no dates.  Beta will start “soon,” for whatever value you care to assign to that variable.  The rumor about a May launch seems even more laughably wrong than it did when I first heard it give how little concrete we got from this.  The tone of the discussion indicated to me that they have more work to do and want to allow time to find and fix issues before it goes live.

If you are keen to see the panel, Blizzard posted it to their YouTube channel almost immediately after it was done, so here it is.

I do want to say how weird/wonderful it was to see Holly Longdale, so long the voice of EverQuest and something of a champion for the “classic” retro experience being not just a valid desire for fans, but a lucrative direction for companies to pursue.  There is clearly a synergy… and I use that word here unironically, which is so very rare for me… between her experience and where Blizzard now wants to go with their retro WoW experience.

Anyway, that was the WoW Classic part of BlizzConline.  Tomorrow, the rest of it.

Related:

 

The January EVE Online Economic Report Shows Destruction and Mineral Prices Soaring

CCP got us the New Eden Monthly Economic Report for January 2021 and, unlike the flawed December report, the numbers all look to be in on the second M2-XFE battle.

Also, I have a new banner picture for the MER that I think strikes the right tone. (Source)

Humans go in, crabs get richer

(For those unaware, “crabbing” is the in game slang term for doing things like mining and ratting in order to earn ISK or obtain resources.  It derives from the Russian slang for the practice and has become a common term in null sec.)

Destruction

Let’s go straight to destruction, where the regional stats indicate that there was 55.34 trillion ISK in ships and structures and what not destroyed in January, much of it in Delve.

Jan 2021 – Destruction by Region – Bar Graph

That bar graph shows Delve and then everybody else.  The top ten regions for destruction were:

  1. Delve – 21.9 trillion
  2. The Forge – 2.21 trillion
  3. Catch – 1.82 trillion
  4. The Citadel – 1.77 trillion
  5. Lonetrek – 1.69 trillion
  6. Sinq Laison – 1.69 trillion
  7. Metropolis – 1.14 trillion
  8. Vale of the Silent – 977 billion
  9. Domain – 967 billion
  10. Genesis – 830 billion

In an ordinary month The Forge is up at the top, ringing in pretty consistently with around 2 trillion ISK in destruction.  During the war you could tell which region was the most active battle front, as  it would pop to the top, as Fountain, Querious, and Delve have.  But the two battles at M2-XFE put Delve 10x The Forge for two months running.

Also, when it comes to the war, you can see that Catch, where Brave has been having such issues with The Initiative, is up in third place for January.

The Production vs. Destruction chart data, which keeps a running daily total of game-wide destruction, puts second battle of M2-XFE, the hull timer on January 3rd, at 15.35 trillion ISK in destruction, down a bit from the December 31st armor timer battle, which rang in 23.26 in destruction.

Jan 2021 – Production vs Destruction vs Mining

You can see the huge spike in daily data, and the temporary boost in the 30 day running average… the solid blue line… due to the two battles.

Of course, once I dug out that chart and the corresponding data I had to compare the totals to the region data and… they don’t match up, because of course they don’t.  The regional status total up to 55.34 trillion ISK, while the production vs. destruction data for January only add up to 51.71 trillion ISK.  That is a 3.6 trillion ISK gap, enough slop between the to data sets to hide a few regions worth or losses.  Go CCP.

Mining

Anyway, back to crabitalism.  According to CCP mineral prices continued to climb dramatically again in January thanks to their starvation economy plan.

Jan 2021 – Economic Indices

The mineral price index continues to climb at such a rate that it is skewing the chart and making the other indices look flatter than they would have in a more rational vertical scale.  And, in case you are wondering how the January peak compares to the historical highs.

Jan 2021 – Economic Indices – All Time

Yeah, we’re way out above any past peak.

As for minerals coming into the economy from mining, the regional stats put that at 20.4 trillion ISK in value, up from 19.9 trillion in December, though with the increase in mineral prices, that seems to indicate a further fall off in mining.  Though, honestly, it is opaque to me as to how the generate the basket of minerals to get the mineral price index.  The actual market price history in Jita doesn’t seem to reflect that much of a price spike.  But maybe the impact is being felt places that are not at the center of the economy.

The top 10 regions for mining were:

  1. Oasa – 1.5 trillion (PandaFam)
  2. The Forge – 1.2 trillion (High Sec)
  3. Metropolis – 1.01 trillion (High Sec)
  4. Sinq Laison – 937 billion (High Sec)
  5. Domain – 932 billion (High Sec)
  6. Lonetrek – 846 billion (High Sec)
  7. The Citadel – 647 billion (High Sec)
  8. Tash-Murkon – 626 billion (High Sec)
  9. Everyshore – 610 billion (High Sec)
  10. Heimatar – 585 billion (High Sec)

Aside from Fraternity in Oasa, mining remains a high sec game as AFK Orcas use mining drones to passively harvest veldspar to fill the tritanium requirements of New Eden producers.

Production

All those minerals are feeding somebody out there.  The top ten regions for production in January were:

  1. The Forge – 22 trillion (High Sec)
  2. Delve – 11.7 trillion (Imperium/PAPI)
  3. Lonetrek – 6.8 trillion (High Sec)
  4. Sinq Laison – 5.9 trillion (High Sec)
  5. The Citadel – 5.5 trillion (High Sec)
  6. Domain – 4.4 trillion (High Sec)
  7. Vale of the Silent – 3.7 trillion (mixed small groups)
  8. Heimatar – 3.5 trillion (High Sec)
  9. Tribute – 3.4 trillion (mixed small groups)
  10. Oasa – 2.8 trillion (PandaFam)

The total for production in January was 109.6 trillion ISK, which is about 2 trillion more than December.  Though, once again, if mineral prices are up as high as the indices show, it seems like that number should be going up more significantly as well.  The production/destruction data, however, only shows 80.6 trillion ISK products in New Eden in January, so once again CCP remains an unreliable witness.  But we have to work with the numbers we have.

Production remains heavily focused around The Forge and Jita.  Delve falls into second place, where the Imperium is still building, but PAPI has also been doing their own industry as well.  It would be interesting to know what the two sides look like on that.

And then there is production around Oasa, Vale of the Silent, and Tribute, which also happens to correspond with a low intensity war between Fraternity and the Freemen of the North.

Trade

Trade was up noticeably in January, with the total New Eden trade in the region data going up from 609 trillion ISK in December to 675 trillion ISK in January.  No doubt some of that was related to replacing losses after the fights at M2-XFE.  The top ten regions for trade were:

  1. The Forge – 467 trillion (Jita)
  2. Domain – 56.2 trillion (Amarr)
  3. Delve – 29.9 trillion (Imperium/PAPI)
  4. Sinq Laison – 20.8 trillion (Dodixie)
  5. Lonetrek – 17 trillion (Caldari High Sec)
  6. Metropolis – 12.3 trillion (Hek)
  7. Heimatar – 11 trillion (Rens)
  8. Essence – 5.8 trillion (Gallente High Sec)
  9. The Citadel – 5.3 trillion (Caldari High Sec)
  10. Tash-Murkon – 4.5 trillion (Amarr High Sec)

Delve and The Forge were both up noticeably, once again hinting at the impact of the war.  Amarr remains a solid second place, so it seems as though the removal of the Niarja route between it and Jita has not hurt it as a trading hub.

NPC Bounties

Finally, the big ISK faucet… or the secondary ISK faucet these days.

Jan 2021 – Top Sinks and Faucets Over Time

Once again, NPC bounties are down the list.

Jan 2021 – Faucet end of the chart

Commodities… drops from NPCs that you can turn in for ISK… brought 40 trillion ISK in to the game while NPC bounties brought in just 20 trillion ISK.   Well, 28 trillion ISK if we include the ESS Main Bank payouts.  CCP may need to add commodities to the top sinks and faucets chart and include ESS payouts in a chart somewhere.  I’m not sure if there is anybody around to do any sort of complicated changes any more… these charts look like somebody runs the scripts to produce them then publishes whatever they get without any error checking… once again, see last month.

Still, the regional stats seem to include the ESS Bank Payouts in their totals, as they also add up to 28 trillion ISK.  I am almost suspicious that two different CCP charts correlate.  So the top ten regions for NPC bounties were:

  1. Oasa – 1.61 trillion (PandaFam)
  2. Vale of the Silent – 1.29 trillion
  3. The Kalevala Expanse – 1.26 trillion (PandaFam)
  4. Cobalt Edge – 1.25 trillion (PandaFam)
  5. Perrigen Falls – 1.13 trillion (PandaFam)
  6. Insmother – 1.12 trillion (FI.RE Coalition)
  7. Tenal – 1.1 trillion (PandaFam)
  8. Delve – 959 billion (Imperium)
  9. Branch – 924 billion (PandaFam)
  10. Feythabolis – 890 billion (FI.RE Coalition)

Once again, PandaFam… Pandemic Legion, Pandemic Horde, NCDot, Fraternity, and some smaller groups… seem to be the biggest beneficiaries.  And, in the war, that is the group that has not had to issue any sort of bonds to raise ISK nor has had any Legacy Coalition style leaks about dire finances.  There was a report of alliance tournament ship sales, ever the Pandemic Legion ISK reserve, but nothing dramatic.  They seem likely to come out of the war in the strongest position as the Imperium and Legacy Coalition will both need to do significant rebuilding once the war comes to some sort of resolution, while PandaFam’s territory has remained largely intact.

Anyway, such is what we get to see about the New Eden economy.  While I may kvetch about some issues, it is still more data than we get from any other MMO that I know of.

BlizzConline Spoiled

I was going to write a night before/morning of prediction post about BlizzConline, which kicks off at 2pm Pacific Time, 22:00 UTC, today.  There were some likely bits of news we were going to hear as well as some speculation as to what other items Blizz might announce.

BlizzCon Online Today and Tomorrow

And then somebody at Blizzard accidentally let the WoW press kit out of the bag and the gaming news sites raced to publish every detail a day before the event.  That kind of takes the edge off of guessing whether or not we’ll get The Burning Crusade in classic form or what the next step for Shadowlands will be. (Here is the WoW Head version, if you’re dying to see it.)

Yes, there always seem to be leaks of some sort when it comes to BlizzCon.  The company even attempts to signal things to the fans now and then.  But when you straight up get the press release a day and a half in advance… well, the anticipation is somewhat drained.

I am still going to watch the presentations.  As I have said before, you can glean a surprising amount of information from somebody speaking about a topic that might go unmentioned in a groomed and vetted press release.  Naturally, there will be a post-con write up of my impressions.

And there are still questions about other Blizzard franchises.  What will be the news of Diablo IV?  When will Diablo Immortal finally ship?  Will they confirm a Diablo II remaster?  Does Blizzard have anything else new and/or exciting to announce?

The event schedule looks fairly anodyne, but we have seen in the past that Blizz can update the schedule based on announcements during the keynote.  Remember in 2018 when all the Diablo panels became Diablo Immortal panels?  Okay, forget that one, that was a bad example.

Who knows.  Maybe the WoW press release was just a plant, a diversion, and J. Allen Brack will go up on stage and tell us we don’t really want The Burning Crusade and we’ll be retweeting variations of that Willy Wonka “You Get Nothing!” meme all next week.