Today marks the first day of BlizzCon 2011, a two-day convention held for the past six years in Anaheim, California. The opening ceremony covered announcements for all three of Blizzard’s major IPs. The announcements for each follow:
President and CEO of Blizzard Entertainment Mike Morhaime was first to take the stage. The first announcement was the collector’s edition. Included with it are in-game artifacts for Diablo III, a pet in World of Warcraft, and player portraits for StarCraft II. Additionally, an art book and making-of DVD/Blu-Ray combo are also included, as well as a soulstone USB drive preloaded with Diablo II, contained in a holder shaped like Diablo’s skull, and a collector’s edition soundtrack CD.
“The collector’s edition will weigh 3000 lbs., but it will be worth it,” says Morhaime. “There’s one more Diablo III-related thing I wanted to tell you about.” At this point, the crowd started chanting the word beta. Morhaime replied to this by saying, “Okay, this might actually be better than that. Okay, this is kind of a crazy idea, but I’m president of the company and I get to have some of those sometimes. Okay basically, we know there are a lot of World of Warcraft players out there who will be interested in playing Diablo III. Well, I didn’t want to have you make a decision as to which Blizzard RPG [to play] next year, so here’s the idea: what if we just made Diablo III free to World of Warcraft subscribers?”
This was greeted by many cheers from the audience. “Starting today, you can buy the World of Warcraft Annual Pass, which is a twelve-month subscription to World of Warcraft that can be billed monthly. By making a twelve-month commitment to World of Warcraft, you will get Diablo III free when it launches… In addition to getting Diablo III free, you will also get guaranteed access into the next World of Warcraft Expansion Beta when it goes live. Last, but not least, you’ll get the exclusive in-game mount, Tyreal’s Charger.”
After a video overview of the past of the Diablo IP, Senior Vice President of Story and Franchise Development Chris Metzen made his way to the stage. After jeers from the audience because of his “For the Alliance” remark, Metzen proceeded to introduce a recently finished Cinematic from Diablo III entitled “The Black Soulstone”.
After the Diablo III cinematic, Metzen immediately jumped into StarCraft II announcements. The first of these was a revamp to Blizzard DOTA. A video introduced heroes taken from all across Blizzard IPs. Among them were Thrall, Nova, Arthas, the Queen of Blades, Zeratul, and many more. Afterwards, a trailer for Heart of the Swarm was shown. The trailer included new units for Protoss, Terran, and Zerg as well as footage of Kerrigan hell-bent on killing Mengsk.
World of Warcraft
It was at this point at which Chris Metzen introduced the next World of Warcraft expansion:
Friends, the past number of expansion sets have really been predicated on the big new super villain causing some kind of giant global crises that the Alliance and Horde have had to scramble to deal with. You could argue that the Alliance and Horde have been a little… distracted the past number of years. Yahoos like Illidan ripping it up in outland, The Lich King and his Scourge marching through Northrend , Deathwing breaking the world—these guys have been a pain in the ass. But in all seriousness, to give you a sense of what the next couple years are going to do for World of Warcraft… At this time, the real enemy—the true villain of the franchise—is going to be war itself.
After finishing up his speech, the video for the new expansion played. The name of the expansion is Mists of Pandaria.
Analysis: I’ve noticed that a number of Blizzard’s recent game releases all have a $100 collector’s edition. Sadly, I’m a sucker for art books and soundtrack CDs. For me, the most ironic part about about the “free Diablo III for WoW subscribers” thing is that I quit WoW last week. I don’t think that’s enough to sway me. That said, it is a very interesting approach to the release of the game.
On the topic of StarCraft II, unfortunately, the new units were shown but not named. More information will likely be detailed about them later tonight or tomorrow. The trailer did look pretty awesome, though, but I still think the “three games for StarCraft II” is a bit of a gimmick to get money. I think expansions would have been just fine.
Finally, on Mists of Pandaria… I called it.
Note: Additional links added not long after the initial posting of this article.