Blizzcon (Opening Ceremony)

Posted: 22/10/2011 in World of Warcraft
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Welcome to first of what will be a series of posts covering Blizzcon 2011. They will be focused on World of Warcraft as personally I have very little interest in Starcraft 2 or Diablo 3 (although the latter I will be playing and I’ll explain why later).

So this Blizzcon from a World of Warcraft viewpoint had everything riding on it one felt. Over the past twelve months WoW has lost players faster than they ever have (900,000 was the last official figure I believe), Cataclysm was seen by many to be a huge disappointment, rushed, with a severe lack of high level content, half-raids and with that half-patches. Heroics, whilst the difficulty at the start in my opinion was spot on, the length of them were far too long. With all of this any many more grievances I think Blizzard knew they had to pull something big out of the hat this expansion and in my opinion they have (so far) successfully achieved that, although it’s too early to say if that opinion will come true, but it does seem like they’ve put a lot more creative talent into this expansion. Yes, I understand the old world was revamped in Cataclysm but that came at the cost of the rest of the game one felt. It also felt like that they had rested on their laurels and with Rift establishing itself as a very good MMO, and with SWTOR and Guild Wars 2 on the horizon, their laurels have moved out the way forcing them to stand up and say “we have to do something here”.

Today’s blog is about the World of Warcraft announcements in the opening ceremony…

So Mike Morhaime dropped what was I think is both a fantastic move and a move which shows they are clearly worried about the subscriber base and falling numbers.. The World of Warcraft annual pass. For those that missed it (I believe your rock now has its own post code), it is basically a commitment to play WoW for one year. You can still pay in either 1 month, 3 month or a 6 month subscription cycle BUT by signing up to the annual pass you have committed yourself to paying for WoW for the next 12 months. This on its own would’ve had even raised a murmur, however the perks you get certainly cause a stir.

You get…

  • An exclusive in-game mount : Tyrael’s Charger
  • Guaranteed access to the next World of Warcraft expansion
  • AND Diablo 3 for free

Yes you heard that right. By committing to pay for WoW for the next 12 months you get a FREE digital copy of Diablo 3. That in my opinion is an absolute masterstroke from Blizzard. Whilst the in-game mount and the access to the next expansion would have convinced most WoW players, the free copy of Diablo 3 would’ve swayed some people who were on the fence or who were even on the verge of quitting. Like I said, it’s a fantastic move, but also shows that Blizzard are concerned about the falling WoW subscriber base. Nevertheless i was certainly on the fence and this deal has brought me right back into the game.

Next up came Chris Metzen. If you’ve never heard him speak I suggest you get onto YouTube and go watch any announcement or any panel he has ever done. The guy is a fantastic public speaker and has charisma to spare. Oh and he is also one of the main men behind the lore in Azeroth.

After going through some cinematic for the other two games, Metzen then announced the next expansion … “Mists of Pandaria“. Yes ladies and gentlemen the rumours were true. Blizzard are going with panda’s. I must say when I saw this I was a little deflated. I thought “Blizzard are really going with this?” “Are they that desperate?”. That thinking basically lasted until the MoP Panel.

What else was announced about Mists of Pandaria during the opening ceremony?

  • Talents 2.0
  • Companion Pet Combat System
  • Level Cap Raised to 90
  • New Race : Pandaren
  • New Class : Monk
  • PvE scenario’s
  • Dungeon Challenge Modes

And that was it for the opening ceremony. I must say it left me both was a sense of disappointment (Panda’s? Really?), but the rest of what was said certainly raised my interest. I got the impression that Blizzard knew that it is make or break time for World of Warcraft, and that this time they were going to add chapters to the book and in some cases completely rewrite it.

During the break between the opening ceremony and the Mists of Pandaria panel, Metzen joined the hosts on DirectTV and he revealed a few other snippets.

  • Pandaren were original going to be the alliance race in The Burning Crusade
  • Pandaren will be neutral to start with.
  • Only after the starting zone will you choose which faction to align yourself with
  • Alex Afrasiabi, the lead world designer of World of Warcraft has been moved to a “top-secret project”, obviously “Titan”

That is all I can remember from that interview on Direct TV. My next post will be about the Mists of Pandaria panel. Thank you for reading.

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