blizzcon 2016

WoW’s Running of the Gnomes, BlizzCon’s virtual tickets, and patch 7.3.2 story spoilers

Did you drop $40 on a virtual ticket for BlizzCon 2017? You won’t have to wait until the convention starts in November to enjoy some of the benefits that come with such a golden pass.

Blizzard has started to post pre-show videos leading up to the show, and while the public can view some of them for free, others are exclusive for virtual ticket holders. Three videos can be access with the ticket, looking at casual and advanced cosplay as well as a trip into the Blizzard museum for memorable stories about the community.

Speaking of the community, World of Warcraft players are organizing another Running of the Gnomes on October 14th to raise awareness and money for the fight against breast cancer. While there is now an official micro-holiday spawned from this player event, this particular run is purely community-operated. Participants are urged to roll a pink-haired Gnome on the Scarlet Crusade server and have their guilds donate to charity.

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BlizzCon reveals this year’s virtual ticket plans, broadcasts pre-show

Is there anything really important between now and November 3rd, when BlizzCon 2017 begins? Probably not, so we might as well all start hibernating in our pumpkin spice caves.

However, it might behoove some Blizzard fans who can’t physically attend the two-day convention to check out the virtual ticket as a way to hang out at the show from home. It sounds like this package is even better this year. Running fans $40, the virtual ticket offers coverage of every stage, panel, and special event during the convention as well as a $10 discount on the Blizzard physical goody box, a customized viewing list, and replays up to a month after the convention.

The ticket also comes with in-game goodies, including a choice of either a either an Alliance Skychaser or a Horde Interceptor World of Warcraft flying mount that can be redeemed and used today. It also should be noted that everyone, even the most cheapskatiest of us, can view the opening ceremony and e-sports tournaments for free.

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Here’s what is in this year’s BlizzCon goody box

Whether you’re attending BlizzCon or not, you can be the proud owner of this year’s BlizzCon goody box. Physical attendees get $10 off a box at the convention (which makes it $25 total), while everyone else has the option to shell out $35 to buy one on the side as long as supplies hold out.

So what’s inside? There’s an official BlizzCon backpack with a fuzzy section to customize with the velcro game tags that are also included. There’s a random Overwatch character hanger, a random Overwatch figure, and a random Blizzard collectible pin. There’s probably going to be some trading at the convention between fans looking for their favorites.

News on the virtual ticket and what will be included in this year’s digital goody bag is coming this Wednesday to a Blizzard livestream. The studio teased that there would be “exciting changes” to the ticket this year.

If a mere list isn’t enough to sate your ravenous curiosity, you can watch the full unboxing after the break. Then you can contemplate how we as a civilization have arrived at a point where we gladly stare at other people opening boxes of things as a form of entertainment.

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Underage Overwatch player lands six-figure e-sports contract

He may not be old enough to vote, but 17-year-old Jay Won is already making more money than you. Probably.

Won, an Overwatch player who goes by the handle “sinatraa,” just landed an $150,000-per-year contract with NRG Esports. He will be playing for the e-sports firm on its Overwatch League team, enjoying revenue-sharing options and team bonuses above and beyond his annual salary. Which, again, is $150,000.

Apparently Won is such a good player and in such great demand that there was a bidding war between teams to grab him. He’s also part of the North American Overwatch World Cup team, which will be competing in early November at BlizzCon.

This is merely the latest drop of wild news to fall into the bucket of Overwatch League craziness. The fledgling league is expanding aggressively as it seeks to establish itself and the game as a legitimate e-sports outlet. Last month, the OWL expanded to include teams from London and L.A.

Source: ESPN. Thanks Sally!

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World of Warcraft rockets to Argus in patch 7.3 today

At last year’s BlizzCon, when Blizzard first announced World of Warcraft fans would someday be trekking to Argus, it seemed so distant to many of us that the narrative that bubbled up was more about whether or not Blizz could keep up that sort of cadence, not OMG Argus how cool is that. But here we are, with 7.3 launching today, and even I have to toss in my OMGs, if only because it means we’re that much closer to the next big thing. Or possibly a long pause until the next expansion?

“Following recent events in the Broken Isles, a link has been created between Azeroth and Kil’jaeden’s homeworld of Argus, bringing the Burning Legion closer than ever to destroying Azeroth. In order to stop them once and for all, Illidan and Velen are taking the war directly to the surface of Argus, where they hope to join forces with Alleria, Turalyon, and the Army of the Light to launch an all-out assault on the Legion’s primary base of operations. Board the Vindicaar, a vessel that will serve as your mobile base of operations on Argus, as well as one of your few safe havens on the planet. As you explore Argus, you’ll visit new locations across the planet, experiencing the epic conclusion to the Legion storyline and unlocking new world quests and other content along the way.”

We’ve rounded up some of our 7.3 coverage to date down below along with the survival guide and cinematic trailers and patch notes. Are you diving in for the patch, or holding out for some “and beyond”?

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The Daily Grind: Will Blizzard announce the next World of Warcraft expansion at BlizzCon 2017?

With World of Warcraft’s 7.3 Shadows of Argus mega-patch launching next week, speculation in the community has turned once again to what comes after Argus. WoW-watchers are wondering about the planned timeline since Blizzard has actually kept up the post-Legion pace it promised — much to my surprise. It certainly looks plausible that 7.35 will land later in 2017, that Blizzard could use BlizzCon to reveal the next expansion on its own turf, that testing could begin early in 2018, and that it could launch as early as next summer, given the game’s current pacing.

Where do you stand? Will Blizzard announce the next World of Warcraft expansion at BlizzCon 2017?

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Blizzard profiles World of Warcraft e-sports notables in new video series

Blizzard is not going to stop trying to make World of Warcraft e-sports a thing, gang, so we may as well have some fun with it, yeah? In fact, this week Blizzard released the first episode of its new e-sports program for the game, Gladiator’s Summit. Hosts Elliott “Venruki” Venczel and Jackson “Bajheera” Bliton trade formal ties for bushy beards to profile some of the teams and individual players aiming for fortune and glory at Gamescom on the road to BlizzCon.

Bonus, the YouTube comments immediately devolve into complaining about the game’s classes, PvP, and… actually no it’s pretty much just classes and PvP. Enjoy!

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Drink in 20 glorious minutes of Blizzard Gamescom previews

While it’s no BlizzCon, Gamescom has become an increasingly important platform for Blizzard to share exciting news about its roster of games. And we’re guessing that since you’re sitting at home instead of strutting about in Germany, you aren’t going to be getting this information first-hand.

No matter; the studio put up a helpful 20-minute preview of its Gamescom news and offerings. This includes a look a Kel’Thuzad coming to Heroes of the Storm, excitement over Patch 7.3 in World of Warcraft, hype over the Junkertown map in Overwatch, and a new head-to-head mode for Hearthstone called Fireside Brawl.

It doesn’t look like there will be any show-stopping surprises, but it’s still good to see Blizzard out in full force for this show. Check it out after the break!

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World of Warcraft kicks off Patch 7.3 prologue scenario, outlines content rollout

No, World of Warcraft’s highly anticipated Patch 7.3 hasn’t arrived quite yet, but the MMO has started moving things in that direction. A new prologue scenario, Whispers of a Frightened World, has gone live on the servers, giving players a taste of what is to come.

When Patch 7.3 goes live, we will know a rough schedule of how Blizzard is preparing to handle its multi-phase rollout. Right now, the studio is testing the three stages of the patch deployment, including when certain zones on Argus, invasion points, and instances will unlock. So as with several of the MMO’s previous patches, just don’t expect to get everything all on the release date.

Finally, sharp eyes have spotted Jaina representing World of Warcraft on this year’s BlizzCon key art. Does this herald expansion news or is it just a beloved figure getting her 15 minutes of fame? You decide.

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Analyst Michael Pachter’s Overwatch League skepticism and other business tidbits

Everyone’s favorite gaming industry analyst Michael Pachter announced that his firm Wedbush is “skeptical that the Overwatch League will achieve much success,” noting that Blizzard’s multiplayer online shooter is “difficult to watch,” too expensive to buy, and unapproachable compared to other games. It gets worse: He also argues that “investors are overly optimistic” given the huge expense for running teams in a league like this one, the fact that Amazon got to Twitch first, and the likelihood that Blizzard will eventually collide with antitrust law (and the lack of relevant international law).

“The major sports leagues in the US are allowed to ‘collude’ with one another to some extent in order to limit player salaries; it is not clear that OWL will be subject to such an exemption, suggesting to us that a determined owner with a large pocketbook may be able to capture the world’s best players by guaranteeing large salaries.”

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Blizzard is offering a third round of BlizzCon tickets, so don’t despair (yet)

Did you miss out on your last attempt at snagging BlizzCon 2017 tickets? Of course you did. Those things sell out faster than unicorn frappes (although not as fast as tickets to hunt Pokemon in a Chicago park, apparently). Anyway, the point is, you’re getting a third chance, coming at you on July 5th at 10 p.m. EDT.

“This third ticket sale will once again be hosted by Universe.com, and tickets are priced at $199 each (plus applicable taxes and fees),” says Blizz. “Until recently, we weren’t sure if the new hall at the Anaheim Convention Center would be ready in time for BlizzCon. Once we confirmed it would be, we worked quickly to determine how we’d use the space and how many more people we could accommodate while preserving the awesomeness of the BlizzCon experience.”

BlizzCon this year takes place on November 3rd and 4th.

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Diablo III’s Rise of the Necromancer launches June 27 for $14.99

Blizzard has just announced that the BlizzCon-announced Rise of the Necromancer pack is launching for Diablo III on all platforms next week on June 27th. It’ll run $14.99 on both PC and console, a bit cheaper than some folks were anticipating.

“From the crypts deep beneath Blizzard Entertainment today came a dark invocation proclaiming that the Rise of the Necromancer™ pack, which summons the much-anticipated necromancer class into Diablo III: Reaper of Souls, will be unleashed June 27 – available to those in the living realm digitally in-game on PC or through the online Blizzard Shop, PlayStation Store, and Xbox One Store.”

As previously leaked by the ESRB, the game package includes an in-game pet, cosmetic wings, two extra character slots, two new stash tabs on PC only, plus the Necro portrait, banner, sigil, and accent, and pennant.

And also as leaked by the ESRB, console players can grab a base-game-plus-expansion bundle Blizz is calling the Diablo III: Eternal Collection “at a special introductory price of $39.99.”

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Take a look at Diablo III’s Necromancer class cinematic intro video

Ever since last year’s BlizzCon when Blizzard announced the Rise of the Necromancer pack for Diablo III, we’ve known the classic class was coming to the game. In fact, we’ve been watching it through the beta all spring. We still don’t know when it’s launching or how much it’ll cost (although we do know the pack won’t be free — the vast majority our readers guess it’ll be in the $10-$20 range, but we’ll see).

But today, we do get a glimpse into the marketing side of things as Blizzard has released the cinematic intro video for the male Necro. Enjoy!

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