So in the past couple days Blizzard has made a number of announcements. The first were a series of pretty significant Diablo 3 changes. The second was the announcement of what is essentially a return of the ‘Blizzard Worldwide Invitational’. The third is the announcement of Blizzcon being postponed to 2013. I wanted to give my take on each of these, since the world of the internet is exploding with rage, speculation, wonder, and other emotions that can only be described as ‘WTF Mate?’. So hopefully I can shed some light on these things.
First and foremost: Diablo 3
A recent article was posted by Jay Wilson detailing a number of very significant changes going into Diablo 3. The article can be found here: http://us.battle.net/d3/en/blog/4325959/Systems_Changes-1_19_2012#blog. A summary of it is basically they’re removing a number of redundant features as well as a number of what could be called ‘convenience’ features; and they’re also revamping their attribute system.
So lets break this up into its two major components:
1) Rage over removal of convenience features – Sometimes convenience isn’t a good thing. Sometimes it adds to a game to make you break up the flow of the action. Don’t get me wrong, I was initially very strongly on board with the concept of staying in the field until I was ready to turn in a quest or quit for the day… but as I thought about it, that would really begin to feel punishing. Why? It’s very simple, the ‘monotony’ of town breaks up the high action which is good for a few reasons. First, because it gives a logical stopping point, which makes it easier to do one of the best things about Diablo 2: Play for a short time when you’re on a time limit. Secondly, it forces you to interact with the world in a way that isn’t slaughtering monsters. This is a good thing because some of these NPCs may have side quests for you, or you may want to do some crafting but just not want to take time away from killing just for it. This gives you a perfect time to. Lastly, it frees up some UI clutter to make things a bit more clean and to allow them to do some additional rearranging of the UI for the better.
2) Complaints about these major changes this late in the game cycle causing further delays – Since these things are already implemented into the beta, my belief is that the original ‘delay'(which is a bad word for it since we never actually had a release date) was because they wanted to implement these changes. Because they had decided these changes would be an improvement to the game. Since they’re already in the beta, you can make a case for that actually being a good sign. A sign that these systems which caused such a delay are ready to go and just need a bit more testing. That’s one more hurdle to release.
So we’ve covered Diablo… let’s move onto the other two categories, who I believe go hand in hand in a way: The new E-Sports tournament Blizzard is hosting, and no Blizzcon this year. Here’s the article Blizzard posted about this: http://us.battle.net/blizzcon/en/blog/4338369/2012_Battlenet_World_Championship_Event-1_25_2012
I’ve attended a few Blizzcons and avidly watched the others. Blizzard is quickly running out of space in the convention centre. With 3 products to showcase, they already fight over time and space for the panels and demos. Now we’re soon going to be adding a fourth – the elusive ‘Project Titan’. In light of this, they need to find more space. They’re already using the entire convention centre so they can’t rent more of it. They don’t want to move to a different venue because of familiarity and location. So what can they do? Kick something out. What’s the most logical thing to relocate? The tournaments. So they’re taking the tournaments that would normally happen at Blizzcon 2012 and creating a new e-sport extravaganza out of them. Thus the Battle.net World Championship is born.
It’s going to be a huge tournament taking place in Asia to replace the Blizzcon invitationals to allow them to free up space for Titan, for more panels, and for other goodies that we can’t yet picture. Rejoice! This means that Blizzcon 2013 will be bigger and better.
As to why they aren’t holding Blizzcon this year, there are really two reasons. The obvious one, and the hidden one.
The obvious reason is exactly what they’ve said: It would strain their schedules too much to do it. They have a lot on the boil right now, and need to make sure to focus on that. We all want our games out soon, don’t we? Well, between organizing a world championship event and 3 major releases – Blizzard is going to be very pressed for resources. Blizzcon would not be a wise use of those resources.
The hidden reason is what I figured out when I thought about what spot Blizzard would be in at Blizzcon time this year: Diablo 3 just released, Mists of Pandaria just released, Heart of the Swarm just released. What would they talk about? You can’t fill an entire convention with discussion about patches and stuff that’s already out. What would they show off? You can’t have an entire convention with only demos of games that already have been released. Sure they might be ready to talk Titan, but I doubt they’d be ready to demo Titan. So we’d have a convention with really nothing to say. Sure it would still be a cool event – Blizzcon always is. But it would be boring, and it would really reflect poorly on Blizzard to have nothing to talk about.
However, if we take it 6 months down the road to say April or May 2013? We’ve had time for MoP to age, we’ve had time for HotS to receive a few balance patches, and we’ve had a good year for Diablo 3 to be enjoyed and generate loot-fever. Which means… new expansions for all 3. So they’ll be able to come out in Blizzcon 2013 and show trailers for World of Warcraft: What comes after Pandas, Diablo 3: OMG Another demon to kill, and Starcraft 2: Legacy of the Void. That alone would be enough to make people go crazy… but then you add an announcement of what Project Titan will actually be with some trailer footage… and you’ve got an event unlike any we’ve seen in Blizzard history. One that will surely have a lot of stuff to talk about – enough to fill all that extra space they’ve got with more panels? Yep!
So what I’m saying here is… I know that the tinfoil hat looks appealing. I know that it’s easy to get riled up when something is first announced, but take a step back… think about it logically and I think you’ll be able to agree that these conclusions – while of course not confirmed in any way shape or form – are quite likely. And let’s get back to what we all love – talking and thinking about video games and gaming itself. Because that’s why we get so riled up – because we’re all truly passionate about the hobby we all share. But don’t let it make you mad at the people trying to fill that hobby!