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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

[Blizz] Changing of the Guard

Today it was announced that Blizzard would be announcing the next World of Warcraft Expansion at Gamescom on August 6th. This came as no surprise after the latest patch dropped in June and players are already expressing boredom. Bear in mind that Blizzard is racing a clock it set for itself. They promised repeatedly that players would not suffer a repeat of the debacle that lead to a 429 day gap between the release of Siege of Ogrimmar and the release of Warlords of Draenor. However, the news that this announcement would come at Gamescom instead of Blizzcon has ruffled some feathers.

Since it's creation Blizzcon has been more of a "WoWcon" than anything else, mainly because for a long time WoW was Blizzard's biggest game by far. The majority of players going to a Blizzcon were going for the WoW content; whether that was to see panels, meet guildmates, or just to bask in the fun of shared love for a story. There's nothing wrong with that, but the world is changing. Going into 2014, another Blizzard game, Hearthstone, was undergoing a huge rise in popularity and millions were signing up for Heroes of the Storm's beta.

Now in 2015 both have become cornerstone's of Blizzard's brand, especially with regards to e-sports. Frankly, e-sports is where the media interest is now, and WoW no longer dominates Blizzard's bank accounts or player base. WoW tried to get into e-sports but it never really stuck the way MOBAs and card games can.

But there's no need to sneer!
So the decision likely came for two reasons. First, the business one. Blizzard can't sit on its hands until Blizzcon to make all its announcements, it's just not a good business decision. Announcing a bunch of content at once risks drowning each other out; it's better for them to create a series of interest spikes rather than one big pulse per year. Second, as I said before, WoW is not the only fast horse in Blizzard's stable anymore. I say this as someone who is mainly a WoW player and not all that interested in the other IPs, but it is the truth. WoW is on the downward side of its life cycle, and we players have to come to accept that it won't get the same amount of marketing attention or importance that it used to.
This doesn't mean Blizzard doesn't care about WoW, only that it is reacting to change. WoW is not dead, isn't not going anywhere anytime soon. We just have to come to accept that we're not an only-child fanbase anymore, we've got siblings.

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