Tag Archives: BlizzCon

Friday Bullet Points about Blizzard and BlizzCon and Overwatch and Other Items

Activision Blizzard remains in the limbo between its scandals and its future as a wholly owned subsidiary of Microsoft.  In this interim period, Bobby Kotick remains firmly at the helm and the company has to keep making money or they might pooch the deal.  And, while we get abbreviated quarterly financials from the company, they still have to keep enticing us so we have gotten some news from Blizzard.

  • BlizzCon in 2023

There was an interview in the LA Times with Mike Ybarra, head of Blizzard that contained some interesting tidbits.  It is behind a paywall, but other sites have picked up the stories, so they get links instead.  One of the things that came up was the return of BlizzCon.

BlizzCon in Blue

Blizzard would like to go back to having a live BlizzCon event, starting back up in 2023 when, presumably, the Microsoft acquisition is over and some bad actors in the executive suite at Activision have been paid off and sent on their way.

  • Immortal Defense

In the same LA Times article Ybarra went to bat to defend the predatory monetization practices in Diablo Immortal, telling the press that 99.5% of the game is free to play and that the paid part is in the end game.

My most charitable thought on that was maybe he hasn’t played like… a minute into the game? Because that is about how long it takes before it starts hitting you up to buy things.

It will just take a minute of play to show you

Anyway, this did not cement much credibility for the head of Blizzard with those who know the truth… but it is always spin and disinformation that wins with those unfamiliar with the situation.

  • Blizz Buys Out the Proletariat

The proles will now be a wholly owned subsidiary of Blizzard, which is an oddly appropriate frame for the company’s labor relations.  Proletariat is/was an independent game studio that produced the title Spellbreak.  Blizzard has bought them to boost the workforce focused on developing content for World of Warcraft.

Blizz needs WoW to perform, because even Diablo Immortal bringing in a million dollars a day doesn’t match Azeroth’s ability to bring in a billion dollars annually as recently as 2020.  Even Ybarra said in that LA Times interview that Blizzard needs to increase their content output, and Blizzard has had success with groups outside of Irvine reviving their products.  Diablo II Resurrected is a prime example of that.

In a no-doubt related story, Spellbreak will be shutting down.

  • Blizz Spending Money on Making More Developers

Also announced was Blizzard’s plan to spend some of its $250 million diversity fund to start a 12-week program called Level Up U with a goal of creating more full-time game developers.

As with the above item, this is no doubt related to Blizzard’s desire to increase content output in order to sustain its bottom line.  I have opinions about “more” being “better” and “n+1” being able to increase output in any sort of predictable, linear fashion, but if you have the budget and some patience, you can make something happen.

  • WoW Freebies on Prime Gaming

Speaking of needing WoW to perform, Blizz is pushing promotions for the game as well.  I brought this up somewhere else, but I figured it deserved a mention on

its own.  So now, if you are an Amazon Prime subscriber and you go to Prime Gaming, you can get some free transmog items over the next few weeks.

Just link your account to claim

They aren’t great transmog items.  At least I don’t think they are.  And they certainly are not new ones.  They are three of the head transmog items that have been in the Blizz store for ages now.

The trio of head gear

Two out of three of those are literally vying for the ugliest head transmog items ever in my book, and the third only excels in comparison to the other two.  I remember these landing in the shop and thinking they were garbage and I would never buy them.  But now I can own all three for free I guess.

I found this worth noting because, first, it is not something Blizz has done before with WoW.  And, second, the Prime Gaming give-aways tend to be the domain of free to play titles, with League of Legends and World of Tanks/Warships often in the lineup, along with online games without a subscription fee, like Grand Theft Auto V Online.

  • Warcraft III Reforged Might Be Finally Ready

Maybe?  The early 2020 launch of Warcraft III Reforged was a master class in how to piss off the core audience for your nostalgia focused project.  At launch it lacked critical feature parity, contained onerous new agreement to make sure nobody would create another DOTA mod that Blizzard didn’t fully own, and forced all owners of the original title to upgrade to the new version, basically stealing functionality from their installed base.

Blizzard acknowledged their complete screw up by offering a no questions asked refund policy for those of us who pre-ordered a copy before it was clear what a fiasco the whole thing was.

But Blizz didn’t kill the project.  They kept working on it.  And now, two and a half years after it launched, the game finally has ranked play and leader boards.  They are finally achieving parity with a 2003 title!

  • Overwatch Surges on XBox

NPD put out their June sales numbers and Overwatch jumped up to fifth place in sales according to their numbers.

June 2022 – NPD’s Top 20 US Video Games by Revenue

I tend to be dubious of NPD.  As I often noted back in the SuperData Research era, their numbers are US only, heavily influenced by physical retail sales, with only some digital sales being counted, and very console platform focused, as well as focusing only on “Premium” games, whatever that means.  I used to compare/contrast NPD and SuperData to demonstrate how their collection methods yielded very different results.

So the June overall number reflects strong sales on XBox and PlayStation, where the title hit 3rd and 7th position respectively.

As for why Overwatch jumped in June, the following was noted:

Overwatch returned to the top 20 best-selling titles chart for the first time since October 2019, ranking 5th overall. This jump was driven by the release of the Overwatch 2 Beta on June 28th.

So, within the scope of what NPD tracks, Overwatch has a very good June… or last three days of June, if sales jumped on the 28th.

  • Heroes of the Storm Officially Done

Finally, this is the end of the tale for the long troubled title Heroes of the Storm.  July 8th was the seven year anniversary of the title’s launch and Blizzard marked the moment with an update about its future status.

Heroes of the Storm from early 2015

It isn’t getting shut down.  Blizzard does try to keep its products alive and available in some form long past the time when most other companies would bother.  But eventually the new content and regular updates tap gets turned off.

And so it goes for HotS, which will join Star Craft and Star Craft II in the Blizzard maintenance mode club.  The lights will stay on and the store will remain there to take your money, but there are no new features or heroes planned going forward.

So it goes.  Another bullet point post is done.

BlizzConline Cancelled for 2022

We have gone from no BlizzCon during the pandemic to no BlizzConline now as Blizzard continues to thrash about in the spotlight of it current hostile workplace crisis.

BlizzCon in Blue

Blizzard announced in a post titled Reimagining BlizzCon that the planned early 2022 BlizConline even has been cancelled:

To the Blizzard community,

We’ve decided to take a step back and pause on planning the previously announced BlizzConline event scheduled for early next year. This was a tough decision for all of us to make, but it’s the right one.

Any BlizzCon event takes every single one of us to make happen, an entire-company effort, fueled by our desire to share what we create with the community we care about so much. At this time, we feel the energy it would take to put on a show like this is best directed towards supporting our teams and progressing development of our games and experiences.

Additionally, we would also like to take the time to reimagine what a BlizzCon event of the future could look like. The first BlizzCon was held 16 years ago, and so much has changed in the time since—most notably, the multiple ways in which players and communities can come together and feel like they are a part of something bigger. Whatever the event looks like in the future, we also need to ensure that it feels as safe, welcoming, and inclusive as possible. We’re committed to continual communication with our players, and we see BlizzCon playing a big role in that going forward. We’re excited about what we’ll do with the event when we revisit it in the future.

One more thing we wanted to make clear: even though we aren’t holding BlizzConline in February, we’ll still be making announcements and updates for our games. We’re proud of our teams and the progress they’ve made across our games. We have a lot of exciting upcoming news and releases to share with you. You’ll continue hearing about those through our franchise channels, with the talented people on the BlizzCon team playing a part in supporting these efforts.

We’ll miss seeing you, but don’t worry. We’ll be back together soon.

This won’t be the first time the company has skipped a BlizzCon event.  Back in 2012 they gave it a miss because the company was too busy (though, in hindsight one might ask “too busy with what?”), and in 2020, as mentioned above, the event was transformed into an online experience that was delayed until February of this year.

But to give even the online version a miss seems like a pretty strong statement about the level of discord that they may be seeing within the company due to the state investigation and the removal of a number people of leadership positions, starting with J. Allen Brack.

They do get in there and make sure we know that we’ll still be getting updates and announcements for their various titles, and I am sure if they came out and announced the next World of Warcraft expansion we’d be hard pressed to miss it.  But announcements are no substitute for having your community focused on you for hour long presentations.

Of course, aside from the expected next WoW expansion and maybe release dates for Diablo IV or Diablo Immortal, there isn’t much on the Blizzard radar right now anyway.

As to what a “reimagined” BlizzCon, online or otherwise, will end up looking like in the future is still very much up in the air I am sure.

Related:

No BlizzCon for 2021

Blizzard announced today that they will not be hosting the annual BlizzCon event again this year.  Instead they will have another BlizzConline with additional events early in 2022.

BlizzCon in Blue

As with last year, uncertainty around the pandemic at the long lead time for planning such an event has been given as the reasons for not holding the huge, in person affair.  I suspect the cost of such an event and the relative success of the online (and completely free) BlizzConline back in February also played into this decision.

Personally, I am fine with the online only event, especially since all the panels were just put up on YouTube to be viewed at your leisure, but I know that many, both fans and people at Blizzard, enjoy the big get together at the Anaheim Convention Center.  Speaking before thousands of cheering fans… and being in that crowd… is not something that can be reproduced with an online experience.

The message from Blizzard:

Greetings Blizzard community,

I hope you’re all staying safe and well. As guidelines in California around in-person gatherings continue to evolve and the status of the pandemic fluctuates around the globe, the teams across Blizzard have been discussing what this means for one of the events we miss the most: BlizzCon. We know some of you might be wondering about your own plans to potentially cross the country—not to mention oceans—and meet your friends, family, and fellow community members in California, so today, we wanted to give you a heads-up that we’ve decided we will not be holding BlizzCon this year.

Building an in-person BlizzCon is an epic and complex affair that takes many months of preparation—not just for us, but also for the many talented production partners, esports pros, hosts, entertainers, artists, and other collaborators we team up with locally and globally to put all of the pieces together. The ongoing complexities and uncertainties of the pandemic have impacted our ability to properly move forward on many of these fronts, and ultimately we’re now past the point where we’d be able to develop the kind of event we’d want to create for you in November.

But we don’t want to let too long go by before we connect with everyone again. So in the meantime, we’re planning a global event for the early part of next year, combining an online show along the lines of our recent BlizzConline with smaller in-person gatherings, and we’ll share more as our plans come together.

We very much look forward to celebrating with you all again. Until then, we’ll see you in Azeroth, Outland, Sanctuary, and all the other worlds we call home.

–Saralyn Smith, Executive Producer of BlizzCon

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:

 

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.

BlizzConline is Coming along with the Blizz 30th Anniversary

As I mentioned previously, BlizzConline, the virtual replacement for last year’s cancelled BlizzCon, is coming this month, kicking off on Friday, February 19th.

BlizzCon Online is the way I always attend anyway

With that date rapidly approaching, Blizz has started giving us details about what to expect over the two day virtual event.  There is even a trailer.

 

The event will be free to watch live on the Blizzard site as well as replays.  There will also be support for a dozen languages for live stream or video replay.  Blizz has even done some interviews about how they reworked BlizzCon into an online only event.

The two days are set to play out as:

  • Day 1 will kick off at 2 p.m. PST on Friday, February 19, with an opening segment that includes a first look at some of the latest game content the development teams have been working on. Then for the next three-plus hours, you’ll have the option to tune in to one of the six different themed channels, so you can decide whether you want to sample a little bit of everything or dig deeper into the games you’re interested in most.
    .
  • Day 2 will pick back up at 12 p.m. PST on Saturday, February 20, with multiple channels once again, until the fun wraps up at later that afternoon. Throughout this second day, we’ll be shining a spotlight on the global Blizzard community, including the winners and outstanding entries in the Community Showcase contests and exhibitions.

All of the streams will be available to rewatch if you miss anything.

Meanwhile, Blizzard is also celebrating the 30th anniversary of their founding, back when Mike Morhaime borrows money from his grandmother to help start the company then known as Silicon & Synapse.

Blizzard – A long way from 1991

Blizzard plans to celebrate this anniversary by selling you a bunch of expensive cosmetic items.  Commemorate 30 years of gaming by giving Blizzard some more money.  Seriously, I was tempted to append “cash grab” to the end of the title of this post, but I was starting to feel excessively cynical, even for me.

There are three different celebration bundles you can purchase.

  • Essentials Pack – $20 includes
    • Moon-Touched Netherwhelp pet for World of Warcraft®
    • Tracer’s OSV-03 Rogue mount with Tracer Hero in Heroes of the Storm®
    • 30th Anniversary Overwatch® player icon and spray (coming soon) plus 5 Loot Boxes
    • A set of StarCraft® II and StarCraft: Remastered portraits commemorating three decades of Blizzard (coming soon)
    • 10 Madness at the Darkmoon Faire™ card packs for Hearthstone®
    • A pet and portrait for Diablo® III (coming soon)
  • Heroic Pack – $40 adds
    • Snowstorm mount for World of Warcraft
    • Raynhardt (legendary) in Overwatch (coming soon)
    • Random Madness at the Darkmoon Faire Legendary card in Hearthstone
    • Diablo III wings (coming soon)
  • Epic Pack – $60 adds
    • 30 days of World of Warcraft game time
    • 5 Golden Madness at the Darkmoon Faire card packs in Hearthstone
    • 3 Golden Loot Boxes for Overwatch
    • Diablo III Helm Transmog Items (coming soon)

There are bits and pieces in each for all of the current Blizzard titles, but if you only play one title regularly like I do, then the pricing might seem a bit dear.  As a WoW player the packs get me:

  • Essentials Pack – pet
  • Heroic Pack – pet and mount
  • Epic Pack – pet and mount and 30 days of game time

So, even if I was a dedicated collector of such things… and I can be… the heroic pack would be the limit to my needs.  Why would I pay $20 more to get $15 worth of game time?

So there it is.  We can start speculating as to what we might hear about come the 19th and whether or not any of this cosmetic fluff is worth the price Blizz is asking.

Friday Bullet Points Including a Free WoW Weekend and Multi-boxing

It is Friday and I have a few short but timely items to write about, so it is time to go into PowerPoint mode and crank out some bullet points.  I will read them directly off the slide during my presentation just to annoy you.

  • Free World of Warcraft Weekend

Blizzard has declared that November 5th through the 8th is “Welcome back Weekend,” which means you can log in and play WoW for free as though you were a subscriber.

Free for a while

This will allow you to check out the new starting zone experience and the level squish.  I am sure a dedicated player could get a fresh character to the level cap in just a weekend.

The one thing this offer does not include is WoW Classic.  See the fine print.

  • WoW and Multi-boxing

Blizzard posted a notice this week that has been widely misinterpreted as a ban on multi-boxing.  There are a lot of bad headlines out there that say multi-boxing has been banned.  This is not technically true.

Rather, Blizzard has decided that software like ISBoxer that can be used to broadcast keyboard and mouse inputs to multiple clients will no longer be allowed.  The statement specifically calls out that, and that alone, as what is being banned.

Veterans of EVE Online know what I am talking about, as ISBoxer and like software has been banned there for a while.  Once upon a time there was a player who would fly a fleet of stealth bombers and do exactly timed bombing runs.

In WoW you can spot people using such software that fairly easily.  The classic example from a while back was a full group of shaman moving in unison, dropping the same totems as a group, and casting the same spells at the same time.

Warnings will be issued for those using such software now, ramping to “account actions,” up to and including bans, over time.

But you can still multi-box and long as you are not using input broadcasting software.  There are even some addons out there that will help you out with that.  But no more ISBoxer.

  • Shadowlands Beta

I think it is pretty safe to say that if I have now gotten an invite to the Shadowlands beta, then anybody who wants in can probably get in.

Something in my inbox last week

While it is getting close to the launch date there is still time to get in and provide feedback.  Blizz has been posting about areas and items they would like people to try.

  • BlizzConline will be Free

While BlizzCon was cancelled this year to the pandemic, Blizzard previously announced they would be doing a virtual BlizzCon, BlizzConline, February 19th and 20th of next year.

BlizzCon Online is the way I always attend anyway

In an eight minute fireside chat video with J. Allen Brack, he confirmed that the online event, which will also mark Blizzard’s 30th year as a company, will be available for free;  no virtual ticket required. (~50 seconds into the video)

 

BlizzCon Online Coming February 19th 2021

It has been a few months since Blizzard announced that BlizzCon was cancelled for 2020.  That update held out the possibility of some alternative to the in-person event that Blizzard puts on most years down at the Anaheim convention center.  Today we got an update.  There will be a BlizzCon Online in early 2021.  BlizzConline.

BlizzCon Online is the way I always attend anyway

The opening says:

Attune your chronometers, flip your hourglasses, set a notification on your phone—however you mark the passage of time, save the date for BlizzConline™, set to take place February 19–20, 2021!

While circumstances are keeping us from gathering in person this year, we’re putting together a little something early next year to channel the spirit of BlizzCon into the form of an online show. We still have a lot of planning to do, and it’ll be some time before we’re ready to share more details—but we wanted to provide a heads-up on how you can be a part of the online fun.

Details are sparse at this time, though there is a plan for some events like a community showcase, which will include:

  • Cosplay Exhibition
  • Cosplay Contest
  • Art Contest
  • Digital Storytelling Contest
  • Talent Spotlight
  • March of the Murlocs

The deadline to sign up for these events is January 4, 2021.  Details about each and a link to sign up are included in the announcement.

BlizzCon Cancelled for 2020

Blizzard has put out an update to say that there will not be a BlizzCon down in Anaheim this year.  Not an unexpected turn of events given the state of the pandemic, the uncertainty surrounding when things like this will be safe again, and the past statement from Blizz.

BlizzCon in Blue

The statement was short enough to quote here:

Hello Blizzard community,

Several weeks ago, I shared an update about our uncertainty around holding BlizzCon this year. Since then, a lot has changed . . . and a lot also hasn’t changed. During this time, we’ve had many discussions about what holding a convention could look like in light of all the health and safety considerations we’d want to make. We’ve also talked about different paths we could take, and how each one could be complicated by fluctuations in national and local health guidelines in the months ahead. Ultimately, after considering our options, we’ve come to the very difficult decision to not have BlizzCon this year.

We’re feeling deeply disappointed about this decision, and imagine many of you will feel the same. I truly love BlizzCon, and I know that’s a sentiment shared by everyone at Blizzard. We will sorely miss connecting with so many of you at the convention and “recharging our geek batteries” this fall.

But we will meet again!

We’re talking about how we might be able to channel the BlizzCon spirit and connect with you in some way online, far less impacted by the state of health and safety protocols for mass in-person gatherings. We’d want to do this as soon as we could, but given that this is new-ish territory and the different factors involved, it will most likely be sometime early next year. BlizzCon is also a stage for big esports events in Blizzard games each year, so we’re also looking into alternatives for supporting some of the high-level competition that would normally take place at the show.

We’ll tell you more about our plans as they develop—but in the meantime, we hope to see you exploring the Shadowlands, hanging out in the Tavern, pushing the payload (do it!), and wherever else in the Blizzard universes you may roam.

Stay safe and stay well,

Saralyn Smith
Whirlwind Barbarian, Executive Producer of BlizzCon

This does hold out the possibility of some sort of virtual or online event… no doubt Blizzard will have some announcements coming that they will want to highlight… but the press of the big crowd in the Anaheim Convention Center and all that goes with it won’t be happening in 2020.

As for the “early next year” suggestion, I suspect that won’t come to pass unless things take a significant turn for the better and stay that way through the end of the year.