Tobold's Blog
Saturday, October 23, 2010
Blizzcon announces absolutely nothing

There has been a lot of speculation what the big announcement at this year's Blizzcon would be, but nobody had guessed this one: Absolutely nothing. I paid DirectTV for watching an opening ceremony in which the "major" announcements were that the Lich King has been killed half a million times, and that yes, in fact you will be able to download Cataclysm on release day. For being a CEO, Mike Morhaime sure is a bad speaker. Chris Metzen spoke a lot better, but had absolutely nothing to say, and instead gave a presentation about geeks playing with transformer toys. Unless Blizzard is planning a surprise announcement on day 2, which they never did, this year's Blizzcon was a non-event, announcement-wise.

There are some interesting tidbits from the panels, about dungeons and raids, and patch 4.1. But if the biggest announcement is enhanced dungeon maps for World of Warcraft, I'm sure lots of players will be a bit disappointed.
Other than maybe an announcement about the new mmo which I didn't think they would do there wasn't much to reveal beyond Diablo 3 things. I guess they even said they considered not doing a con this year due to lack of major announcements.
So you just had a post about the entitlement culture of gamers and are now aggrieved that Blizzard didn't do a dramatic reading of a press release announcing a new product? That however much media training he has almost assuredly undergone, Mike Morhaime is not a good public speaker?

I hope I have the chance to ask the developers personally how they feel when "fans" reduce the convention they work so hard to put on, that they do at a financial loss, to ten minutes of announcements (or lack thereof) during the opening ceremony. I'm sure they take such things in stride but it is galling to me.
I think I wrote about yBlizzard overstrained a few days ago. My guess is that releasing Cataclysm is draining them of all energy. At least the people who do the actual work.

This is so much new content if you think about it and they really, really want it to be polished, but they also really, really need to release it in December, because without new stuff to do WoW becomes boring as hell. That is the way they designed it during WotLK.

And perhaps some of them realize that the way that low level content is used, all of what they create now will probably be long forgotten in a few months or never experienced at all: My gut tells me that a significant number of players either levels via BG or by Dungeon Finder (better rewards). Especially tanks and healers.
They weren't even sure they wanted to have a Blizzcon this year. They have felt the pressure to keep it an annual event.

Let's be honest, they've done a remarkable job about keeping up an entire conference for one game development studio's works every single year. No way they could keep it up having a major announcement every single year.

Still, I guess they probably could have, instead of canceling the entire thing, at least cancel the pay per view package since there was no real point to it this time. But hell, if people are willing to pay that much money for nothing why on earth WOULD you cancel it?

The really question is why Blizzard thinks they should hold a convention for THEMSELVES when they release a game once in 5 years.

Surely it makes sense for Blizzard to stop being such exclusive douches and go to the conventions where everyone else know...E3 and those things.

Is Bioware holding their own convention yearly? Should they? Maybe if Blizzard combined with Activision it would also make more sense...but sorry i don't have sympathy with these things, Blizzard makes enough money and certainly wouldn't do this if there weren't some marketing/money to be made.
I had been saying this for a while, there won't be an announcement this year because they have nothing to announce. Cataclysm release date we know, they showed us the cinematic, they aren't ready to give a Diablo III release date, won't be talking about their new MMO IP until 2012, Heart of the Swarm is too far off. They just have nothing to talk about except plans for Diablo III (who knows how many will make it) and Cataclysm stuff. It's really a non-event. I thought Metzen was going somewhere with the GEEK thing, but nothing.
Well there was the demon hunter class for diablo 3, and the fact that D3 will have arena matches.

So maybe the title should have read "Blizzcon announces absolutly nothing... Good".

@silvertemplar: You do know that it is a service to fans, that they are having blizzcon. It is a celebration of themselves and their fans. I am sure that they did not do this to piss you off.
Having the opportunity to *not* have your announcements drowned in the "look-at-us-a-thon" that is E3, but have your own venue, is something every company strive for.

Fun fact: Blizzcon is costing the company money. Lots and lots of money. So argueing that they "have enough money already" is sort of... well... wrong
@Sean Bocock

So it's valid for employees of a commercial concern, paid to do a job of work, paid for their time and the effort they put in, to feel a sense of entitlement towards the emotional response of their customers, but it's not valid for those customers to feel a sense of entitlement towards value for the money they have spent?

And it's not valid to critique the performance of a paid performer's performance to a paying public in a public arena?

Why is it galling to you to see professionals held to account for the quality and content of their performance in an arena of their own making?

Also, do you have evidence that Blizzcon operates at a financial loss? Not that it costs money to put on, but that it stands as an unrecouped loss on the financial statements? I would have imagined it was absorbed in the promotional or advertising budget and offset somewhere along the line.
"The really question is why Blizzard thinks they should hold a convention for THEMSELVES when they release a game once in 5 years."

That might be the question you ask when you decide if you should go to Blizzcon every year, but I do not think that question matters in the slightest as to whether they should hold the convention.

There really are only three questions to ask:
1) Does Blizzard want to hold the con?
2) Can Blizzard afford to put on the con?
3) Will fans show up to the con?

The answer to all three is clearly a "yes".

Whether Blizzard makes a profit of loss doesn't matter. Whether there's anything interest at the con doesn't matter. They hold the convention and tons and tons of people attend or watch it online. The convention isn't just about the "big announcement", so it doesn't matter what's been released. (And while there may only be three expansions, Blizzard has added other content along the way without charging us for an expansion.)

Frankly, requiring that they have a recent release in order to have their own convention is silly. There are conventions out there dedicated to movies, TV shows, or authors which haven't produced anything new in a decade or more. Conventions are about the fans getting together and getting to interact with each other and whatever events the convention offers. It doesn't matter one bit when the last "new" thing was.

Heck, "Gone With the Wind" was in 1939, but if you do a Google search for "gone with the wind convention", you get results.
Well, I suppose the point of Blizzcon isn't as much to be a platform for announcing stuff, but for fans to meet up, perhaps? But in that case I wonder a little about the size of it. Why aren't there any more ordinary fan conventions, arranged by the fans themselves? Maybe it's due to copyright reasons? Or maybe there are, just that I don't hear about it?

I watched the opening cerimony too - for free, and I have to say that the technical quality of the "simple" live stream was excellent. The content though... yeah. I felt kind of sorry for Mike. He didn't seem to WANT to be there in the first place. They tried to make the audience cheer and all that, but the real enthusiasm just wasn't there from what I could see. Maybe it was different if you were on the spot though.

What boggles my mind is the lack of content at the convention. At the fan arranged SF conventions I've been to we've had like three or four parallel programs running all the time, with things going on all day long from 11PM to midnight at all stages. And that was for like... 300-500 people... Look at this convention for thousands and thousands of people. A handful of panels, that's all? If I had travelled across the ocean, spending nothing but a fortune on this, I would expect more stuff to do and see to be honest.

Why is it that all panels have to include leading Blizzard design folk? They could easily have way more going on if they let other people discuss tings as well - wellknown guilds, initiated fans, media representatives and the people on the floor at Blizzard. But I suppose they're afraid to let go of the full control of what's said?

There's something in this that I just don't grasp. Maybe it's because I'm looking at it as an outsider, not understanding the standards of gaming conventions since I've never attended one myself.
Larisa: Now that I've actually been to a fan run SF convention, the Blizzcon timetable looks really sparse to me too :)

I'm assuming that people are putting on fan events, meetups, and parties alongside the official stuff. And maybe now that they've decided that the main purpose of Blizzcon IS to be a fan convention, they can put some more thought into this for next time.
@Spinks: it's true that there's more going on, but why don't Blizzard take advantage of this? They could actually assemble the information about those fan events in a side program, acknowledging this is happening. Not everyone knows about it, it's very random what fan events and meetups you get to hear about. It would be cool if it could get a little bit of recognition and I think it could be in the interest of Blizzard actually, making the convention look more substantial than it would otherwise.
You must not read the same blogs as I, since I saw several people predict "no big announcements" including myself.
I don't care too much if there wasn't much "big" or "useful" info this year, but they probably shouldn't have charged the prices that they did. Financial loss or no loss on their end. Maybe doing it every 2 years makes more sense for that sort of event.
According to one source, Blizzard will lose over one million dollars on Blizzcon, but they're fine with that because of the world of mouth advertising the convention generates for their game.

I honestly agree with them. The amount of positive feeling and belonging that this generates in the community, therefore retaining players who keep paying every month, seems like it would be worth quite a bit of advertising revenue.
@SaiderisAnon: It's a pity, then, that they're trying with all their might to eliminate the community aspect from WoW entirely.

Perhaps if that million had gone into thinking about why the dungeon finder might ot be the best idea in the world in the long-term WoW wouldn't have become the silent numbers game it is today.

Destroy the community? I think the Dungeon Finder has done more for the community that any other recent change.

Prior to the dungeon finder, trying to put together groups was simply too daunting, annoying, and time consuming to be bothered with for many of us. With the dungeon finder, we can get group content quickly and efficiently, even as DPS. (The wait time for a DPS dungeon is still less than the time it took to form a group before, plus you can keep doing other things.)

Now that I've gotten into doing group content, I find that I enjoy working with others. Through the dungeon finder, I have not only socialized with people from other realms, people who I went on to run multiple instances with one after the other, I've made friends on my realm who I talk to regularly.

Yes, some people will use the dungeon finder as like the intent was to keep your head down, your mouth shut, and get through in as few seconds as possible. However, this isn't the dungeon finder's fault, this is just how the internet and MMO gaming work.
You can only do a 'big reveal' every year if you actually keep to a 12 month development cycle, or reduce the size of the beta so that we haven't all played it to death before launch.

There was actually a fair amount of new Diablo 3 information out there for people interested in that game.

Of particular interest for me was the Q&A panel, where they made it clear that classes would not be balanced around competitive PvP.

This is the first admission by anyone in Blizzard that a PvP focus can negatively impact on PvE.
I was at Blizzcon. Yes everyone hoped for some big announcment. I knew the next class for D3 was going to be an Amazon of some sort. When they announced the Demon Hunter I was very under impressed. That being said after playing one it's a fun class.

This Blizzcon was more about playing video games and hanging out than I think some of the previous ones were. The SC2 Tournament area was packed during every match. The line to play Diablo 3 was by far the longest line there. In all honesty the WoW area was easily the least popular area.

After going to Blizzcon I can honestly say I will be going back next year too. It really isn't about the announcements... I can read those online. It's about getting to hang out around the video games you love with your friends.
Well, it was announced before Blizzcon that there wouldn't be any major announcements.
I also paid for BlizzCon in hopes of hearing some new news, but instead I got a new character class for Diablo and an offshoot comment about StarCraft's next release being in 2012. At least I got that little Deathy Pet. I could always auction him off on EBay to recover my losses I suppose.
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