As regular Faceplant readers know (any of you? hello? internet?) Blizzcon is a big deal to me. I’ve attended it for the past three years. Two of those years, I became super annoying picture-taking guy for the sole reason of posting most of them on this very blog. It has become a tradition, an excuse to jet out to sunny California and spend time with my friends and an even bigger bunch of like-minded folk who share my love of Blizzard games. I was thus enormously surprised and kind of sad when Blizzard announced that in 2012, Blizzcon would not happen. Actually, announced is a strong word for it. It was basically a throwaway line in a small post, although I’m sure Blizzard was aware of the firestorm it would cause. This is not a OMG BLIZZARD WHAT ARE YOU DOING post. While having no Blizzcon to attend this year is indeed lame, Blizzard is not stupid. I actually agree with them. Overall, holding a Blizzcon this year was not a good idea.
Here’s the official announcement by the way. I might as well share it because it’s VERY SHORT:
“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.” — Blizzard Community Manager Bashiok
Bashiok himself went on to explain in another post some of the reasoning behind the decision. To paraphrase, he says Blizzard basically has to shut down any working on the game type stuff to prepare for and execute Blizzcon, and in a year when they’re trying to put out multiple titles, it was going to be difficult. Also, what they would have to announce and demo was something they weren’t sure of. I think this is the key. What were they going to talk about for TWO days? Barring some monumental error on Blizzards part, Diablo 3 will be released by the time October comes around. The Starcraft 2 expansion, Heart of the Swarm, could possibly be out or at least have a release window known to the public. I imagine the major reveals for units or game changes will be public knowledge as well. The third staple is of course World of Warcraft’s next expansion, Mists of Pandaria. Blizzard has remained silent on the topic, but if past expansion schedules are any indication, MoP will come out about holiday time of 2012. Given the insane data mining going on in WoW, I imagine most of what there is to know about MoP will be out on the internet by then as well.
A large part of any Blizzcon is the expectation of seeing something NEW. Seeing Mists this year was a surprise, and whether you love the idea or hate it, being at the reveal was certainly a thrill. (For the record, I’m cautiously optimistic about it). That’s all three major franchises Blizzard owns having something just come out or about too, which leaves precious little NEW and exciting things to present to a crowd that paid $175 a ticket. The wild card in all of this is the as of yet announced next-gen mmo, known only as Project Titan. I haven’t seen ANY shred of information on that one other than Blizzard confirming they are hard at work in making it. I think, at best, they might have a sub two-minute preview video of Titan that they could put together. Not enough information to hold any panels or true discussions of it. If the answer to every fan question about it will be “We’re not sure yet, it’s still being worked on”, how compelling would any of those panels be? Titan cannot carry a Blizzcon alone, at least not in its current state.
I understand why many fans are losing their FREAKING MINDS though. Blizzard themselves have always pushed the community aspect of their games. Battle.net, RealID, cross server party and soon raid invites in WoW, building all their games from the ground up to be able to have players chat across them is something I applaud them for doing. Blizzcon was the pinnacle of that community. As cool as some of the panels/events are, I think the real draw is that players get the opportunity to see friends or even meet people they haven’t before. It’s an excuse for a bunch of people to come together in the same place. I know it is for me, I go with the same group and only see them that one time a year. As crazy as it may sound, I believe that Blizzard feels bad about denying people that opportunity. Yes they’re a big corporation (bigger now, being owned by Activision and all) but after going for three years straight, I can promise you that the community I’m talking about is real and that Blizzard cares for it and fosters it as best they can.
So my final message to Blizzard fans reading this is simple: Blizzard may have denied you the opportunity to hang out in the convention center, but that doesn’t stop you from doing something else. Have friends you only see at Blizzcon? Have those guildmates you want to actually meet in real life and spend an evening rehashing old stories of Ulduar raids that only make sense to the ten of you? Go for it! It’s nice when Blizzard helps us along, but they don’t have to always be there. One of my good friends went from upset they weren’t having one, to sending out wildly excited texts, with many capital letters, about how we should all go to Vegas instead. While I’m not suggesting Vegas is the solution for everybody, there’s no reason that you and fellow Blizzard fans you know can’t do SOMETHING. Blizzcon may be gone for this year, but I’m confident us fans will have fun even without a convention hall to fill.