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BlizzCon’s demise may point to a 2012 Blizzard triple

Thursday, 26th January 2012 10:34 GMT By Johnny Cullen

Three games this year? BlizzCon’s 2012 is no more, but people shouldn’t panic over the loss of the most enthusiastic fan event in gaming’s calendar, says Johnny Cullen.

If Diablo III ships in the first quarter and Heart of the Swarm mirrors Wings of Liberty’s summer release, then Mists of Pandaria could be clear for a winter ship. Blizzard is not used to releasing three games in a year.

If there’s one event in the gaming calendar that shows more fanboy passion than any other, it’s BlizzCon. Even if you’ve never been and have only watched the streams, the enthusiasm Blizzard fans have for the company’s products is immediately apparent. BlizzCon is a celebration of that enthusiasm.

The cancellation of this year’s event comes as no real surprise, but Blizzard fans are not taking the news well.

“This is crap. I was planning on going this year with my best friend and boyfriend. But no. What the !@#$ Blizz. Just feels like a big %^-* you to all of us who love these games so much,” said one fan.

Another added: “No Blizzcon? Awful, awful idea.”

Blizzard justified the cancellation with the following statement: “We’re excited to be showcasing Blizzard eSports on a truly global stage this year. We’re also heavily focused on getting Diablo III, Mists of Pandaria, and Heart of the Swarm into players’ hands as soon as possible. In light of our jam-packed schedule, we’ve decided to hold the next BlizzCon in 2013.”

Diablo-flavoured jam

The cancellation itself doesn’t seem to be specifically caused by an overload in development. After all, it’s had at least three of its products shown and playable to the public and press at every BlizzCon since 2008.

It’s more likely Blizzard is aiming to release three products in 2012, a unique situation for the company. It’s been said countless times on financial calls that Blizzard is expecting to release two products this calendar year.

Diablo III will launch at some point this year, most likely in February or March.

It’s not clear which other game Blizzard is officially aiming to have out before the end of 2012. The possibilities are World of Warcraft expansion Mists of Pandaria and the second part of the StarCraft II trilogy, Heart of the Swarm.

This isn’t the first time in recent years Blizzard’s achieved more than one release in a 12-month period. StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty and World of Warcraft: Cataclysm both shipped in 2010, a year which saw a BlizzCon hosted in California.

This year, though, could be different. If Diablo III ships in the first quarter and Heart of the Swarm mirrors Wings of Liberty’s summer release, then Mists of Pandaria could
be clear for a winter ship. Blizzard is not used to releasing three games in a year.

Aside from that, the expected announcement of Titan, the company’s next-gen MMO, may well have been the straw that broke BlizzCon 2012’s back. Blizzard VP Rob Pardo said at BlizzCon two years ago that a reveal couldn’t happen before 2012.

The cancellation of BlizzCon this year is indicative of a company that has too much to do, and may show that focus within Activision Blizzard is shifting towards Blizzard as Call of Duty inevitably peaks. Don’t worry. It’ll be back next year.

It may well be that the prospect of releasing three games and announcing a major project in a single year was too much for Blizzard. Something had to give; the something was BlizzCon.

Keep calm and carry on

The one shiftable element of the four Blizzard potentially intended to tackle this year is the Titan reveal. It’s likely the cancellation of BlizzCon indicates we won’t see the game until 2013.

Blizzard did hold Worldwide Invitationals in Seoul and Paris to announce StarCraft II and Diablo III in the past five years, but it’s unlikely Morhaime and friends wouldn’t want to first show what is essentially World of Warcraft’s follow-up anywhere else but California.

And even if Blizzard do “only” release two games this year and don’t announce Titan, there’s no reason to panic over the lack of a BlizzCon in 2012. This has happened before. There was no BlizzCon in 2006 as, following the inaugural show, Blizzard didn’t intend to keep it “as an annual event.”

It came back the following year and repeated for the next five.

The cancellation of BlizzCon this year is indicative of a company that has too much to do, and may show that focus within Activision Blizzard is shifting towards Blizzard as Call of Duty inevitably peaks.

Don’t worry. It’ll be back next year.

Breaking news

12 Comments

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  1. Razor

    Wish they’d hurry up and get Diablo III on consoles, or even just properly confirm it, for that matter.

    #1 2 years ago
  2. JimFear-666

    Lol @ the pissed off fans… Maybe the can take this time to play more wow or get a life…

    #2 2 years ago
  3. Judicas

    This year will be d3 and wow – mop for sure, sc2 is a big maybe IMO. Wow has had its final content patch for this xpack in December, they won’t leave it 13+ months without some new content, I hope. Then again they are incredibly lazy when it comes to wow lately…

    #3 2 years ago
  4. Mythor

    Blizzard might be releasing three products this year so they’re not going to hold the convention that would best promote all three titles to players?
    What the hell kind of theory is that?

    #4 2 years ago
  5. Patrick Garratt

    @4 – I reckon they simply don’t have the bandwidth to do it. D3 would have been out before BlizzCon anyway, and they’ve already announced MoP. Surely the main point of BlizzCon would have been to announce Titan this year. If they’re not going to do it and they do release three products, then what’s the point?

    #5 2 years ago
  6. Talkar

    @5
    The point is all the attention they get from fans, who then brings in their friends to the Blizzard universe. A lot of people watch the streams, and then talk to their friends afterwards about the awesome contests, the extensive panels, and the mind blowing tournaments ;)

    #6 2 years ago
  7. Patrick Garratt

    @6 – Yeah, OK. But if they really are too stretched to do it and they’re focusing on finishing the games, surely the software has to come first?

    #7 2 years ago
  8. gribb85

    @ Mr Garratt – C’mon we’re not talking about a small company here. Blizzard could easily hire more people to organise Blizzcon without stretching their developer talent pool. That show is more a PR drive than anything else, so it makes no sense to release more games and have less hype surrounding it. If anything releasing more products over the next year is a better reason to have Blizzcon rather than not.

    What’s more likely is that Titan isn’t ready for a proper unveiling yet and rather than avoid the inevitable shitstorm come October, they decided to delay the show.

    Blizzcon is an invaluable tool for Activision/Blizzard in marketing terms alone, not mentioning revenue. Cancelling it this year is just a smokescreen for what’s really going on at that company.

    #8 2 years ago
  9. DSB

    Good point Pat.

    If they’re gonna be releasing several titles, then they’ll have all the PR they could ever want.

    Still, I don’t think they’d cancel Blizzcon unless they really didn’t have the people to do it this year. Selling out a convention can never be a bad thing for a mass media company – Unless they don’t have the time to do it properly.

    I’d say that’s the problem.

    @8 That would be lower quality for more expense. Blizzard isn’t a small company, but they aren’t a huge mega corporation either, and doing something as big as Blizzcon takes a lot of resources.

    #9 2 years ago
  10. Ireland Michael

    @8 The main head honchos of Blizzard like to keep directly involved in the organisation of this stuff.

    Time spent planning Blizzcon is time not spent developing these games, and I think you underestimate just how much time goes into organising this sort of time. It could cut into weeks of development time on each game.

    #10 2 years ago
  11. gribb85

    Blizzard aren’t a small company? They employ over 4,600 according to figures released in 2009. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blizzard_Entertainment

    #11 2 years ago
  12. Maximum Payne

    So why long wait for all game ?
    or half of those were for server maintenance :P

    #12 2 years ago