Tag Archives: Warcraft III Reforged

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.

Hints of a Diablo II Remaster

So are we finally getting a remake of Diablo II?

The only Diablo II screen shot I had handy…

It is coming up on five years since Blizzard first gave us a hint that they were planning to remaster some of their older titles.  And they have managed to deliver, though not always with unambiguous success.

The StarCraft remaster seemed to go okay.

About damn time indeed

The price was right, so I bought a copy.  It was really a strict remastering of assets rather than an expansion of the game in any way, but they didn’t promise us anything else.  And they did add in the option for some customization, so we got the StarCraft Cartooned pack out of it.

The Warcraft III remaster however… Blizzard botched that out of the gate.

The promise unfulfilled

My pet theory is that somebody felt they had to kick it out the door when they did as it had been over a year since they had told people it was coming.  So we got something that was less of a game than the original.  The feature list seemed quite pared down.

And if that wasn’t enough, Blizz seemed really sensitive to the idea that somebody might make another DOTA from the scenario editor, so claimed ownership of all work anybody did there in the way that tone deaf corporate lawyers tend to do, which always manages to alienate fans.

I had pre-ordered it but asked for my money back once the situation became clear, though I will give Blizzard credit for being easy to get a refund from.

Which leads us to Diablo II.  Long rumored, some of the team from Blizzard North, which created the game, have derided the idea, pointing out that they, through their own incompetence, lost some of the source code to the game and had to recreate it from local builds on dev machines and compiled binaries.

That sounds bad, though for me that message is tainted by the fact the same few former members of the Blizzard North team seem bitter at how things turned out and have been up front and ready to crap all over everything Diablo related that Blizzard has done since they left.

Still, that was definitely cold water on the embers of Diablo II nostalgia.

Then earlier this week some news appeared on a French gaming site about the possibility of a remaster titled Diablo II Resurrected, which seems on point given the asset loss story.  This was quickly picked up by English language sites and the word spread.

Apparently the Activision studio Vicarious Visions is working with Blizzard on the remaster and the news has raised hopes that maybe the long awaited return of the game may come as soon as late 2020.

And, of course, I am torn on this.

I would very much like a remastered version of Diablo II that played at modern screen resolutions without looking like something from 1977.  I will no doubt buy it if it becomes available.

But after the Warcraft III debacle a lot of people will be giving Blizzard a hard look rather than trusting what they (over)promise, myself included.  The French site says that Blizzard may have learned its lesson on that front, but everybody says that after a mistake and many go on to make the same mistakes over and over.

And this all might be very premature.  Speculation about getting a remaster this year could be blue sky estimates.  We shall see.

But I will be keeping my eye open for news on that front.  I want it to happen, and I want it to be… I’d settle for adequate.   I was good with the Diablo remake Blizzard did in conjunction with GoG.com.  If they could just manage that maybe?  We shall see if I get what I want this time.

It would at least keep a few people satisfied until Diablo IV comes along in… did I guess 2022 back when they announced it?  That sounds about right.

Other coverage:

Honest Game Trailers Hits Warcraft III Reforged Hard

I mentioned at the end of January that Warcraft III Reforged had finally been released by Blizzard, linking out to some of the early problems with the work that people were complaining about.  I had pre-ordered it back after BlizzCon 2018 and was going to wait a while before tackling it because I figured Blizzard might have a plan to fix things.

Meanwhile, the heat on the game just kept getting hotter, and now it is the turn of Honest Game Trailers.

Honest Game Trailers has a tradition at hitting at the weak spots of titles in a way that is often light and doesn’t make you feel bad if you’re a fan.  For example, every video about a Pokemon game reminds us how close to the path GameFreak stays.  But we like it that way and can laugh at ourselves for our devotion.

And then there is their new video about Warcraft III Reforged… but I suspect that it might be tough to find fans of the remake give the tally of issues that have been discovered since it launched.  Have you seen its score on Metacritic?

I was surprised the user score dropped below 1

Ouch.  So instead of a self-deprecating chuckle that fans can have at their own expense, this episode runs more like an indictment.

Compare to that, the look back to the Warcraft RTS franchise they did about four years back is practically a love letter.

I don’t want to say that Warcraft III Reforged necessarily should have been a slam dunk for Blizz… though they still had a lot of goodwill and nostalgia going for them… but they set expectations back at BlizzCon 2018 that they not only didn’t meet, but features that were kind of expected were removed.  Oh, and to keep everything in sync, they were also removed from that copy of Warcraft III you own if you updated it to play online.  Not a good look for what SynCaine is calling the “New Blizzard.”

As for a plan, as reported elsewhere, Blizzard is offering “no questions asked refunds.”

That is less of a plan and more or a mea culpa I suppose, but it is something I guess.  And since this apparently being my month for disillusionment and refunds, I applied for the latter (having experience the former) and it was approved within a few minutes.  There are a series of options to choose from when you request a refund, but for this one “Regret” seemed to be pretty much on the nose.  I am sure that applies to Blizzard’s feelings as well at this point.

My credit card hasn’t been reimbursed yet.  The messaging is a bit muddled, with various responses telling me I’ll have my refund in 3, 7, or possibly 15 days.  But I expect it will come through eventually. (Edit: Just checked and I have been refunded within the 3 day estimate, so high marks for Blizz on that I guess.)

Maybe I should stop pining for a Diablo II remaster and just keep hoping they don’t mess up WoW Classic.  I am still enjoying that.