Following up on Blizzcon

I’m slow on the followup this time around! I want to reflect on some of what we saw at Blizzcon as it pertains to my thoughts pre-con.


So I went with an April prediction just to be extreme and different, admitting in my predictions/wants post itself that I know full and well we won’t see it until August+ because of ‘Overhype’. That came true. No shock at all. Now… wtf to do in WoW until then? I have absolutely no idea. As I speak I’m in the queue for LFR Archimonde. Once I kill him that will mean I have seen everything in WoD. That was my goal. I’m done at this point. Believe it or not, some of the most fun I’ve had is managing my Garrison. I wish it was more like farmville/harvest moon.

Ten (10) months until new content in WoW — Okay, more like 8-9 but that is incredible. I’m pretty much riding out my last 20 days on this sub then calling it there. No reason to keep paying when I have seen EVERYTHING I want to in the game. ::cough:: I don’t really want to keep saying I told you so, but is this not the epitome of winding down WoW to ramp up / hype up their next wave of potentially more profitable/more revenue per player games? Of course it is.

Legion continues to look amazing. Yes, I’m going to buy it. Yes, I’m going to play all of the story and quit when I ultimately run into the same situation I have in WoD. That, ladies and gentlemen, is WoW.


The hype levels are dangerous here. We already call it ‘Overhype’ and people are already saying it’s dangling from the precipice of mediocrity and genericness. I have yet to play it myself, and I withhold the right to pass my own judgment. Overwatch LOOKS fun. I like shooters of this style and calibre. I can’t say this is hte kind of game I’ll play for years, though. Their release date is exactly as I would expect.


What shocked me here was the DLC. I don’t know why I let it come as a surprise that they would go from taking one game, and making three full games out of it, to making mission packs. I probably won’t buy them. To be quite honest, I simply don’t see the value. If I have absolutely NOTHING else to play… I might be tempted. Otherwise, I’m somehow not the market — which really makes no sense because I’m the guy who buys SC to play the single-player…



Heroes of the Storm

I was completely wrong here. HotS was a huge emphasis. Cho’gall seems awesome, albeit a little outrageous. That’s the HotS model, though. “No one else would or could, so we did.” That’s the HotS model. Arena mode reminds me of those gladiator maps from the glorious WC3 custom map days. Those were amazing.


Womp womp.


Blizzard played it very safe. Nothing about bringing back the classic games, and no major surprises or announcements that truly shocked me. Yet, without fail, Blizzard remains stable and proving that they are going to be putting out a heck of a 2016.

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.

Why Wow Won’t (or Shouldn’t) Go F2P

WoW Gamescom Announcement

Tomorrow will bring some form of big announcement for Blizzard’s (and the industry’s) flagship title, World of Warcraft. We’re most likely to get news of some new expansion loaded with lots of new and rehashed features, but rampant speculation points toward the possibility of some F2P announcement. I’m pretty sure that one is still many years away.

Why World of Warcraft Won’t Go F2P

The Change is Too Radical
Blizzard has made a business of keeping WoW’s course steady as she goes. WoW has been about raiding since 2005. They could have changed that model to try and attract more people, but they don’t. There’s no need to change a sure thing, even if your numbers are only making you 100M a month. The cash flow is still fantastic, and WoW’s subscription numbers will skyrocket once again. Even if the numbers grow to HALF of what they were in Q1, that represents ENORMOUS growth. When your product bounces back that well in the next iteration, you don’t change. You wait until it stops bouncing back — at least Blizzard can afford to wait when it still generates that much cash. Change of this magnitude is far too radical to make simply for the sake of change.

The changes to the game itself to accommodate F2P would alter the very essence of WoW, and that itself would ignite a loss in players. Players, especially WoW players, do not want change. They don’t. Again, that’s why WoW has stayed the same game and simply become easier over the years. You have the same game providing the same experience, and doing everything it can to continue to provide that same experience with the least amount of friction possible. [Read more…]