Blizzcon is Upon Us: WoW Legion’s Launch Date, Predictions, et al

Blizzcon’s opening ceremony kicks off in exactly 4 hours from now, and I’m going to squeeze in here and drop a few predictions as well as what I hope to see announced.

World of Warcraft: Legion

First, I have to address the gorilla in the room: Legion’s launch date. Check out the marketing collateral below and pay attention to the fine print at the bottom (click to enlarge):


Legion will release on or before September 21, 2016. There are a few ways to interpret this information.

  1. The people convinced this is the release date and are cancelling their subscriptions because they won’t do HFC for 10 more months.
  2. The “I knew there was a reason to hide subscription numbers!” group (who likely do not play)
  3. People who look at WoD coming out a month before its drop dead date who now think August is the date.
  4. The people who think this really doesn’t mean a whole lot / will happily play WoD / don’t care.

I personally think this is their drop dead date and that they will release sooner. I’m also pretty sure they’re going to giving Overwatch a very nice window. I’m predicting April 2016. I think that’s a nice 5-6 month window for them to hold a beta and finish up. I’m on the bleeding edge of extremes here, I know. The likely release date probably IS September 2016.


We’ll get a release date. They’ll talk about the cost of the game, some business model plans, etc. Lots, and lots, and lots of hype. The more I think about how badly they want to hype Overwatch, the more I think we’ll see Overwatch in April, and Legion in August-September.


I’m not expecting any announcements for Starcraft’s current projects. I think Legacy of the Void coming out is a big enough deal that they won’t overshadow it with anything else in the SC2 universe. However, I want to see announcements regarding a modernized version of the original Starcraft and Broodwar being brought to the SC2 engine — with multiplayer — by 2017.


I’m actually expecting nothing for Diablo except for a similar announcement about Diablo and Diablo 2 (plus expansions, minus Hellfire) being modernized to the D3 engine and coming out as full games — with multiplayer — by 2017 as well.

Classic Games

I’ll continue in the same vein and say that I hope a nice part of the opening ceremony will hype their revival of the ‘classics’ and for them to official come out and state that they are working on these revitalization projects. The job listings are there for these projects already, it’s just time to make it official. I truly hope to see Warcrafts 1-3 being a big part of this project.


Cards? (And probably a huge emphasis since this game prints money)

Heroes of the Storm

More heroes and stuff. I will be shocked if HotS gets much if any time in the opening ceremony.

Warcraft 4’s Announcement

Yes, I look forward to Warcraft 4’s announcement every single year. I hold my breath, I get disappointed, and I come back next year to do it all again. I really do think they could build off the hype of Legion and a Warcraft 3 revival to announce Warcraft 4 coming in 2018 or something.

Console and Tablet Announcements

We know that Overwatch is coming to consoles. I think this is a big market for them. Now, as far as tablets go, I think we won’t hear a thing. They kept Hearthstone — their juggernaut F2P — completely nonchalant when it came to iOS releases. I doubt we see much pomp and circumstance over tablets.

A Big Year for Blizzard

Blizzard can go big this year in ways they haven’t been able or willing to in the past few years. With Overwatch, classic revivals, and a strong expansion on their list it’s entirely their game to lose right now. This Blizzcon can set the pace for the next three years without even breaking a sweat. Let’s see what happens!

We Have “A Lot” of Players

Building off of yesterday’s post, along with a decline in subscriptions and purchasing Candy Crush for a bazillion dollars, Blizzard will no longer be releasing subscription numbers. As you can imagine, this sends some people into a fit about hiding failure, etc. Personally, I have to ask whether or not it matters.

WoW has a lot of subscribers. Whether you go from 5 million to 10 million, the effect on a player’s “quality of life” in-game is next to nothing. The way in which they’ve phased all of the servers together and how we all seem to play with people on all servers anyway, I stopped caring. When you reach this many people it doesn’t matter. If they dropped below 1 million, and less than half of that were NA, then we can talk.

The real issue here isn’t “hiding failure” or anything like that. It’s about business metrics. Blizzard doesn’t want to focus on subscription numbers because they are obviously looking to monetize their products differently. We’re seeing a transition to revenue per player — an emphasis on money first.

Businesses measure success of a game differently than the players. I measure a game’s success based on an overall fun factor, how long it lasts, how immersed in the game I feel, quality of mechanics, 3 monther status, etc., etc., the list goes on. Suffice it to say, I can look at a game and think it sucks and failed miserably, but the business behind the game can think it was a wild success. That’s the Candy Crush model. They release dozens and dozens of fire cracker games that flash in the pan and generate revenue and go away or not. Did they make money? If so, can they rinse and repeat? That’s all that matters.

So in the end the consumer will see a decline in the style of game we enjoy in order to satisfy the metrics now being measured differently. The result of this transition has far graver consequences than hiding a failing WoW. It signals yet another step toward focusing on the money rather than the games.

Candy Crush Is Worth More Than Star Wars And WoW Is A Cow

The news that Activision Blizzard purchased the Candy Crush devs (King Digital Entertainment) for $5.9B definitely gave me reason to raise an eyebrow. Just a few years ago, Disney purchased Lucasfilm for $4B. Lucasfilm… Candy Crush…. Lucasfilm… Candy Crush… I just don’t… yeah. There’s clearly money to be made crushing candies.

Blizzard BCG Matrix

Where would you put Blizzard’s products on this BCG matrix? Hint: WoW has udders, Hearthstone’s engagement metrics are up 77%, and Overwatch has 7 million people playing a beta.

The other part of this news story talks about how World of Warcraft’s subscribers drop by another 100,000. This most recent drop follows the previous 3 million sub loss. While some people are questioning the statement made by Blizzard that these sub numbers put the game in a “relatively stable” state, I think that’s the absolute truth. If you just dropped 3 million subs, haven’t released anything new in months and do not plan to until the next major expansion in 6 months, and you only dropped 100k subs? That’s… yeah, that’s relatively stable.

Playing WoW myself right now I can attest to the fact that there isn’t a whole lot to do. WoD, while relatively fun compared to Cataclysm and MoP, isn’t a WotLK. There’s not much to live through in this expansion. Could Blizzard have continued making content? I think that question takes a back seat to whether or not they should have kept making content. I believe pushing for Legion is the right way to go. Let’s be real, when Legion launches you know they are rebounding at least 5 million subs. It always happens.

WoW as a whole is being slowly pushed to the side to make room for other (potentially more lucrative) projects. Yes, WoW makes a ton. No, they won’t just toss it aside. But look at the big picture (and a BCG matrix) and it’s becoming ever more clear that WoW, while a cash cow, is no longer their star.

Back in EverQuest on Ragefire. Again.

Iksar Monk on Ragefire

Despite having a really hard time with giving Daybreak my money, I was pulled back into EverQuest again. I took a 2 month break from the “progression” server took a few turns for the worse. Daybreak botched the whole poll and actual “progression” part when they basically pushed Kunark out the door right away despite being voted against by the majority. They also straight up BS’d the whole “We can’t change pets” then went and changed pets while leaving much of the other “We can’t change” things alone.

Now they’re back to a 6 month cycle again — for who knows how long — and apparently they’re thinking about bringing in a new server type. At the end of July, Daybreak’s producer letter stated they were looking into doing a server where multiboxing on one computer would be blocked. That’s music to my ears. Count me in! Supposedly it’s slated for sometime in December or “Winter” or something horribly vague, but I can enjoy Ragefire until that happens — if it does.

I was pulled back in to play Iksars with my friend, Damage. He is playing an Iksar Shaman and I am going for a Monk once again. I was luckily able to toss a few plat over thanks to the shared bank, and right now I’m enjoying being an absolute beast with a smoldering brand and a mudman enforcer. I’m also sporting a full set of Wu’s armor which is incredible.

So while I’m giving Daybreak my money, and hating myself for it, I simply love EverQuest too much. Already, in only a few hours back, I am enjoying myself. It’s just my go-to game. Anyone else still on Ragefire server?

Are You Brand Loyal?

I was tossing the idea of brand loyalty around in my head this morning as I drove into work. I was thinking about how in the 90s and early 2000’s I was extremely brand loyal to many game franchises and companies. I had lots of faith in those brands/companies and would show that through the typical brand loyalty behaviors. When people are brand loyal they typically purchase without thinking too much about convenience or price. Brand loyal consumers are often unaffected by the marketing efforts of other brands, and sometimes they even disregard the fact that a certain product might be better.

brand loyalty in the gaming industry

Despite how easy it has been to become jaded, I still have elements of brand loyalty hanging in there. For example, I really like Nintendo. I really like their game franchises and I like the company. The Wii U is technologically inferior, and I think Nintendo has–in many ways–screwed up their marketing over the years. However, I still buy Nintendo products and love to be an advocate. I’m a loyal Nintendo fan.

I used to really dislike the Playstation. I was never a big fan. Certainly not to the point of being a loyal consumer. While I still do not consider myself loyal, I will admit that my PS4 is my #1 console these days. I use it for most games, and if possible I will get games on the PS4 over the Xbox One or the Wii U. It simply performs the best. That’s a marked difference between loyalty and preference. I think of it like Nvidia and ATI. I prefer Nvidia because I still see them as more universally supported.

Let’s talk MMOs and companies for a second. Blizzard? I don’t know if I’m brand loyal or not anymore. There was certainly a time when they could do no wrong. Even now I have a lot of respect for the quality of their products. They’ve made and continue to make questionable (read: stupid) decisions that I disagree with, but overall they’ve made and continue to make some of the best games of all time. On the other hand, SOE or Daybreak Games has completely crushed any loyalty I had. I do not trust a single thing they say or make to be worth playing. Yet, and here’s where I struggle, I feel this immense loyalty to the EverQuest brand. I’m drawn to it and feel like no matter what I have to be loyal. It’s pure psychology at this point.

In 2015 I feel like becoming brand loyal is much more difficult in the gaming industry–especially MMOs. The products are really volatile. It’s not like we’re talking about iPhones or body wash–things people can seemingly rely on day to day. Games have this way of being really great or really bad, and more often than not even the great companies release something that blows up in the faces of their players. It’s way too easy these days for gaming companies to let their fans down, and I haven’t seen much in the way of trying to cultivate customer loyalty or build community and following around games anymore. Instead, it’s all about herding sheep with hyping streamers. It’s all flash-in-the-pan tactics. Loyalty? It’s being tossed out the window for snap judgments and cash grabs. If it fails? Try again next year!

What about you? Are you fiercely loyal to any gaming brands, companies franchises?