It’s not exactly a stretch to say that Blizzard Entertainment casts a long shadow over the field of online gaming. World of Warcraft remains an absolute juggernaut of the MMO field despite its recent history of shedding subscriptions with zeal. Hearthstone seems to be everyone’s favorite as-long-as-I-have-five-minutes card game. Overwatch has the interest of many people who otherwise ignore team-based shooters; Diablo III is heir to a long legacy of not-quite-MMO item farming. Odds are that whatever your flavor of game may be, you have a Blizzard game somewhere on your hard drive.
This year’s BlizzCon addressed all of the company’s games, and that meant covering a lot of ground. Whether you were watching for Legion news, new Hearthstone cards, or more details on Heroes of the Storm, it’s probable that you caught at least bits and pieces out of the event. So did it live up to your expectations? Did it leave you excited, disappointed, or somewhere in between? Were our liveblogs awesome, or too awesome?
You don’t need to actually answer that last one.
It’s been about a year since we first heard of Overwatch at last year’s BlizzCon. Since then, the beta has kicked off, and as of Tuesday, 82,000 matches had been played with an average length of about 7 minutes. But you don’t have to be limited to playing on your PC, as today’s panel and opening ceremonies confirmed that the game is coming to consoles. Developers have stated that Xbox, PlayStation, and PC players will be on separate servers rather than being stuck in the same pool.
Players can now purchase the game’s Origin Edition, which includes five special skins for existing heroes from earlier in their histories and an assortment of bonuses for other titles. Diablo III players will gain a pair of Mercy-style wings, StarCraft II players gain portraits, Hearthstone gets a new cardback, and World of Warcraft players get a baby Winston pet. Meanwhile, Heroes of the Storm players can look forward to Tracer joining the game’s lineup, although she’s very early in development.
Three new heroes were also on display. Mei is a climatologist wielding an ice gun and armored in a heavy parka, serving as a defensive character. Genji is Hanzo’s brother, an offense-oriented character with high mobility and lethal sword strikes in melee range. D. Va is a former pro gamer, piloting a mech and able to jump out of her mech when necessary. You can check out videos and screenshots below.
During the BlizzCon opening ceremonies
earlier today, Blizzard
revealed a brand-new Hearthstone
adventure, and its spunky trailer just about stole the whole show (and spawned a million “golden monkey” jokes). League of Explorers
introduces Brann Bronzebeard of World of Warcraft
fame and his trusty band of companions, who will buckle their swash through a vintage archaeology-themed DLC set in WoW
-inspired locations like Stranglethorn and Uldaman.
The follow-up panel revealed that the adventure will include 45 new cards, four new wings, and a story focused on finding all of the pieces of a staff artifact.
The adventure is due out this coming Thursday (seriously). Check out the new trailer and images below, and head over to Facebook for ALL THE CARDS.
Diablo III barely got a nod during BlizzCon’s 2015 opening ceremonies, but its panel this evening proved Blizzard has plenty in store for the game.
Game Director Josh Mosqueira headlined the Blood and Treasure panel, emphasizing the Diablo franchise’s patches over its expansions: Yes, patch 2.4 is on the way for Diablo III “very, very, very soon.” Here are the highlights!
- Patch 2.4 includes two new areas — the snowy Eternal Woods and the expanded Royal Quarters in Leoric’s Manor — as well as one new zone, Greyhollow Island. There will also be seven new events, 16 new monsters, and 175 new bounties split between acts 3, 4, and 5, including a new type called Bounty Grounds.
- Buff indicators and damage numbers are due for some optimization and streamlining so they don’t suck up so much UI space.
- Blizzard is aiming to shrink the experience gap between soloing and grouping in several ways: reducing monster health based on group size; reducing the XP bonus from items; increasing monster XP by 50%; and porting killstreaks from the console edition.
BlizzCon 2015 kicks off with its opening ceremony at 2 p.m. EST (11 a.m. PST) today, and Massively OP liveblogged the festivities down in the comments. Now that it’s over, we’ve updated the end of this post with the highlights.
The opening ceremony is being streamed for free, even if you don’t have a virtual ticket, and you can watch it yourself on the BlizzCon site or on Blizzard’s Twitch channel. Many of the other panels do require a virtual ticket, so stay tuned for additional liveblogs and news posts tonight and tomorrow as we cover those.
BlizzCon 2015 begins later today, and I have to admit that I’m nervous. Hearthstone, Overwatch, and Heroes of the Storm aren’t exactly my cup of summoned water, and I don’t really care about the Warcraft movie except in that it bolsters the MMO industry, but Diablo is a franchise near and dear to my heart, and I’m one of a handful of staffers at MOP who’ve played and loved World of Warcraft through its long history.
Guys, I even liked Mists of Pandaria.
But Draenor didn’t do anything for me, and I dread that Legion might suck. I want it to not suck, both as a player who’d like to go back and as an MMO writer. WoW is treated as a bellwether for the health of the western MMO industry, and I want to see WoW’s numbers going back up — and staying there — not crashing down again if Legion is lackluster.
That’s my hope for BlizzCon: Let Legion be awesome.
How about you? What are your hopes for BlizzCon? What do you want to see the most? And what do you actually expect?
Overwatch will be playable from the living room couch as well as at a desk, as word has leaked out that Blizzard’s team shooter is heading to consoles as well as the PC.
GameStop said that it received permission to share the news that Overwatch is coming out on Xbox One and PlayStation 4. Additionally, the retailer revealed that the game looks to be buy-to-play, with a price tag of $59.99 for all versions.
We’ll be hearing more about Overwatch from this weekend’s BlizzCon, so stay tuned for the official confirmation of these details and more!
Overwatch’s tagline is, “The world needs heroes.” If we might amend that motto in light of a recent story, it should add “…but no more lawsuits, please.”
Blizzard recently finished up a legal fight to secure the Overwatch name and trademark. Innovis Labs had a previous Overwatch trademark application for a video game but signed a co-existence agreement with Blizzard in 2014. This was fine for a year, until Innovis decided to sue Blizzard this past May, claiming that the latter had broken the deal and committed trademark infringement.
However, late last month both Innovis and Blizzard agreed to settle the issue, dismiss the lawsuit, and turn the trademark over to Blizzard. That’s probably preferable to renaming the superhero shooter Overswatch.
Strange things are afoot at Blizzard Activision.
Even while the studio is preparing for BlizzCon and the trailer reveal for the Warcraft movie, it announced that World of Warcraft has dropped another 100,000 subscriptions during this past quarter to end at 5.5 million. The studio said that this puts the game’s population in a “relatively stable” state. WoW lost almost 3 million subs between Q4 2014 and Q1 2015 and another million and a half by the Q2 2015 report.
For those counting along at home, that brings the total to 4.5 million subs lost in 2015, meaning the subscriber base has dropped by 45% in nine months.
Blizzard says this is “the last quarter that [it] plan[s] to provide subscriber numbers” because “there are other metrics” — so-called “engagement” metrics — “that are better indicators of the overall Blizzard business performance.”
Online gaming and e-sports are getting bigger by the day, and there are literally hundreds of popular online games out there that don’t really fit into the MMO category. Join me each week for Not So Massively, where I gather together the top stories from the biggest MOBAs, competitive card games, first person shooters, and other popular online games in one place.
RuneScape developer Jagex this week announced the closed beta date for its upcoming Hearthstone-like collectible card game Chronicle: RuneScape Legends. The League of Legends world championship finals took place, and North American LoL star Peter “Doublelift” Peng was kicked from CLG only to be picked up by the unlikeliest of competitors. Both Dota 2 and Destiny ran interesting Halloween events, and Heroes of the Storm celebrated the release of Artanis. Elite: Dangerous showed off its upcoming ground-based combat gameplay, SMITE revealed its new Clash game mode, and Overwatch teased players on a weird new IP-crossover character. We also heard the latest developments from Path of Exile, Star Citizen, Dungeon Defenders II, Grey Goo, and Splatoon.
If there’s a game or story you’d like to see covered in next week’s Not So Massively, please drop us a tip and let us know.
It’s a week of games entering closed beta. That is the joke here, if you want to call it a joke. Front and center, of course, is the long-awaited Overwatch beta, which you can join by… well, hoping. If you aren’t in it at this point, you’ll just kind of have to wait and hope that you get added in a subsequent wave. But there’s even more stuff going on in beta-land this week than that.
And what about all of those other games that we talk about every week? Well, they’re still in the list below here, as always. Check them out, and let us know if something has changed without us noticing. It happens from time to time.
So Overwatch is now in closed beta, which I imagine excites some people immensely. Any Blizzard product has that effect, I’ve noticed. But when I read the news, I became a little wistful instead of jazzed, mostly because it reminded me once again that Blizzard ditched its ambitious Project Titan MMO for something safer and far less massively multiplayer.
That’s Blizzard’s right, of course, and I wouldn’t even argue strongly that it was a bad business move. Having a diverse portfolio is a smart way to keep a large studio stable. Even so, I really would love to see what the minds there could do with another MMO. Maybe it won’t happen this year, or the next, or ever, but… yeah, I would like to see it.
Do you think Blizzard will ever make another MMO? What would be the studio’s best shot if so?
Heroes, suit up: Overwatch’s closed beta test for both North America and Europe is now live.
While the test for the superhero-themed multiplayer shooter has commenced, Blizzard said that it is still inviting players in waves, which means that your lucky ticket may still be on the way.
“Our primary objective for the closed beta is to get focused, hands-on gameplay feedback, so the number of participants in this phase of the beta will be relatively small as a result (though we will continue to add more people throughout its duration),” the studio said.
You can watch the developers welcome players to Overwatch’s beta and discuss the goals of the test after the break.