Blizz-o-News!

By Jim Rossignol on February 11th, 2010 at 10:49 am.


A whole bunch of news has emerged from the nameless tendrils of the Acti-Blizz games leviathan, as the company makes its public financials call. The biggest of these regards World Of Warcraft, which has basically stopped growing. No! But yes! Because it’s the same as it was back in 2008. Arguably this has something to do with all the trouble the game has had in China, where it has been suspended for the best part of a year. Also interesting is this story, which says that only 30% of new WoW players ever get past level 10.

Blizz-o-News continues below.

Also revealed in last night’s call was the fact that both new WoW expansion Cataclysm and Starcraft 2 would hit this year, probably by the summer. In fact Starcraft 2 is gearing up for a beta, which will happen “later this month”. If I recall correctly, the way to get involved in this beta is to opt-in for betas in the revamped Battlenet. And speaking of Battlenet, more information has been revealed on how the new service will work. It’s been directed by Greg Canessa, who previously designed systems on the Xbox 360′s Live service. Battlenet will be similar, with an “always on” service, matchmaking, and all that malarky. The full preview is available over on the Starcraft II site. A more recent bit of news has revealed that Starcraft II be downloadable from this service on launch, which is nice.

The call also revealed that the company made a lot of money, which I actually don’t care so much about.

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55 Comments »

  1. 1nightstand says:

    Zomg! Manboobs!!

    • Rich says:

      Underboob.

      That is all.

    • Lilliput King says:

      The one on the right is so much bigger than the one on the left.

      I think he should get it checked.

    • D says:

      Re: Battlenet matchmaking
      A learning system that determines a players skill from his/hers playing the game, and not just based on a win/loss ratio? If Blizzard can pull that off, SC2 could be the first game to accommodate casual play (in a funny twist of market demographics), like we all had a good rant about in the discussion post earlier. Interesting development, altho I have never been interested in SC2.

    • D says:

      Dammit

    • Lilliput King says:

      Sorry, are you lost? The actual thread is over there.

      This is the manboob thread.

  2. Lobotomist says:

    Questions they didnt answer:

    1. Will Battlenet have payable elements / subscription

    2. Would you have to be connected to internet in order to play singleplayer

    Those are the real hard cookies. And i suspect they omitted talking about it for the worst reasons.

    • Johnny says:

      No, they omitted it because they’ve already been answered by Blizzard earlier.
      The answers are no and no.

    • pkt-zer0 says:

      Unless they changed their mind since the last time:

      1. Yes. (they’ve mostly been focusing on free part so far, though)
      2. No. (but you won’t get cloud saves and achievements and all that)

    • JeCa says:

      Haven’t they stated that there will be a system of payment for accessing additional scenarios/maps/mods over battle.net, including user-made material if the author would like to charge for his custom games (Defense of the Xel’Naga anyone)?

    • Lobotomist says:

      Thats good news than.
      I dont mind paying couple of bucks for getting new content and maps. But paying subscription for “advanced” features (like guild, or friends list..etc) would be huge letdown

      And also as far i can play single player (and save) offline. Its all good.

  3. Colthor says:

    only 30% of new WoW players ever get past level 10
    That many? I played it at a friend’s house, many moons ago, and was bored with it by level 6.

    • Sonic Goo says:

      That’s why they recently tweaked and twiddled a bit with the starting areas and quests. And then there’s that whole Cataclysm thing coming up that will completely redo the lower level continents as well.

      Off course, the strength of WoW lies in its width and depth, which is not something you notice in 5 levels anyway…

  4. mcwizardry says:

    Does anyone know how many people will be picked for the beta? I signed up yesterday and I hope my chances aren’t that bad, demand should be pretty high I guess.

    • Kakksakkamaddafakka says:

      Depends on how they choose the candidates, I guess.

      I’m betting a lot of people signed up when it was first possible (like I did). That was ages ago.

  5. PixelCody says:

    That 30% figure had me shocked until I realised that it only referred to trial accounts.

    70% of players downloading the trial and not investing much into it before time runs out sounds perfectly normal to me. Heck I’ve contributed twice to that statistic, even though I have an inactive account with higher level characters.

  6. sfury says:

    Blizarro-news-o-rama!

    (i’m terribly sorry…)

  7. l1ddl3monkey says:

    Better phrased as: 30% of all new WoW players think it sucks and quite after it becomes apparent how much grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind is in the game.

    • l1ddl3monkey says:

      quite=quit.

      Damn, that’s even less funny than it was when I thought of it now.

    • Uglycat says:

      I’m a few short of 70, but I still haven’t felt like I’m grinding as the number of quests still remain high. Technically, all I’m doing is grinding by killing things again and again, but at least they hook it into some vague storyline (and rewards), unlike say, Lineage 2, where it was nothing but grind.

      I started at Christmas, so maybe it was worse before, but I’m actually quite enjoying it.

    • Premium User Badge

      skalpadda says:

      @Uglycat:

      It’s always been possible to reach the highest level in WoW purely by questing, but of course a lot of the quests are very grindy. Wrath of the Lich King is no exception to this, but it had a much more focused narrative and mixed up the “Kill X of Y” with a lot of extra flair, like “while riding an enormous giant!”.

      The real grinds come at higher levels, grinding out reputations, gathering crafting materials and the quite tedious dungeon grinding that’s the result of the emblem system. It’s still nothing now compared to what you had to do at lvl 60 however with the crazy resistance gear farms and reputation grinds that took weeks, not to mention the insanity that was the PvP honour system back then.

      Yeah I killed 5000 scorpids for the Darkmoon necklace. Never again.

    • Leelad says:

      New LFG says no.

      Sorry.

      Unless you count grinding as doing the same dungeon a few times spliced with questing in between.Never in WoW have I have to kill mob after mob to level. If you did then you’re clearly a bit of a spaz.

    • Manley Pointer says:

      @skalpadda:

      I remember grinding Sunwell dailies to get some goddamn tanking shield…I’ve never had a gaming experience so close to working a job. I’d show up around the same time every day, knew exactly what to do, had an optimized route, saw the same other people around, was bored to tears. It didn’t really matter that they had dressed it up with a part where I flew around bombing stuff; when you do it 20 times, it feels like straight-up grind. There are certainly worse grinding horror stories (“kiting giants in a field in Norrath for months” or whatever) but I am horrified enough when I remember my own.

    • Premium User Badge

      skalpadda says:

      Leelad: What I mean about dungeon grinding is that dungeons aren’t generally run for fun or even the loot that drops in them, but rather run through as fast as possible to get whatever emblems you need. Even if you’re in a raiding guild you’ll probably feel compelled to do your daily heroic just for the frost emblems.

      I think it’s a problem that there’s not nearly as much new 5-man content being developed as there’s raid content. Three new short dungeons in the entire lifespan of the expansion (I don’t count Trial of the Champion) doesn’t offer much new things to see for those who aren’t into the raiding game.

      Manley Pointer: Don’t get me started on daily quests. The idea is nice and they’ve at least had the decency to randomize some of them in WotLK, but casual content should not equal logging in once a day to do the same quests over and over.

      I think that’s my main issue with Blizzard’s game design philosophy; they seem to equal what’s popular to what people think is fun, when in reality players will often feel compelled to do whatever offers the biggest benefits (money, loot etc.) rather than what they personally think is more fun in the game.

    • tycho says:

      @ Skalpadda

      The very concept of a ‘daily heroic’ quest (surely approaching an oxymoron) is exactly what drove me to quit WoW.

      WoW is a very polished, streamlined experience, but it has about as much atmosphere as Peggle. I never felt immersed in the game – it was just too arcadey for my liking.

  8. asdwergsd says:

    The call also revealed that Activision is really piggie backing on Blizzard’s revenue. LULZ

    • Sonic Goo says:

      Mike Morhaime > Bobby Kotick

      Obvious, really.

    • Premium User Badge

      Sagan says:

      Yeah I’m guiltily feeling a little bit of schadenfreude, because I think this will be the year that it shows that Bobby’s strategy only works in the short term. They have run Tony Hawk into the ground, they are running Guitar Hero into the ground, and they won’t have a big Call of Duty this year. So I predict that this year their profits will come mostly from Blizzard. And maybe that will finally make them realize that too many sequels aren’t a good thing.

  9. asdwergsd says:

    Another thing… I have kind of always been eying Blizzard’s MMO ever since I got Warhammer Online, and was repeatedly told that WoW is superior… However, I cannot stomach 50$ for WoW+1rst expo, 40$ for 2nd expo, and a 15$ fee on top of that for monthly play! THEN, another 40$ when this expo hits this year…

    120$ just to play the game. Geez, I think I’ll just go for another MMO instead… But I won’t, because WoW is superior according to a lot of sources. Guess I won’t get into the MMO scene!

    Just wanted to point that out.

    • R. says:

      Doesn’t the Wrath of the Lich King DVD contain everything on it? Might be wrong but I got the impression you just buy that and you’ve got all 3 versions of the game with a single purchase..? Pretty sure you don’t have to spend $120 on software alone whatever the case (not counting subs of course).

    • mrmud says:

      At any rate it would be silly to pay for both the expansions right away since you wont get to expansion content for while and you might decide the game isnt for you before you get there.

    • Premium User Badge

      skalpadda says:

      The Battle Chest (WoW + Burning Crusade) is 40$ in the Blizzard Store, WotLK is another 40$ and you get some free play time with that, so it would come to 80$ to get playing if you want the full thing right away. I’m pretty sure you can find it cheaper in retail or online stores though.

    • heartlessgamer says:

      @R

      No, there is no disc for WoW that contains everything. Each expansion must be bought separately.

    • Catastrophe says:

      Umm, original game = £6, TBC = £10, WOTLK = £17. = £33

      Or WoW Battlechest (Original + TBC) = £10 + WOTLK = £17 = £27

      Amazon.co.uk.

      I also believe each CD comes with a months playtime, so that may add up to 3 months playtime included, though I could be wrong.

      Its then £8.99 per month.

    • Catastrophe says:

      Coincidentally, currently posted on the European official WoW forums:

      Blizzard is celebrating five wonderful years of World of Warcraft in Europe by offering WoW for the amazingly low price of 5€/£5 and the WoW Battle Chest for only 15Є/£13! These fantastic deals are available for one week only, on the 11-18th February 2010, from the Blizzard Store, via Digital Download and at selected retail stores all over Europe. There’s never been a better time to gift World of Warcraft!

      Blizzard Store Link: http://eu.blizzard.com/store/details.xml?id=210000091
      Retail Stores Link: http://media.wow-europe.com/promo/index_en.html

  10. fishyjoes says:

    Huh? Why does that news contain anything else but “BETA THIS MONTH! BETA THIS MONTH! BETA THIS MONTH! BETA THIS MONTH!”?

    Guys, beta is coming this month!

  11. Zaphid says:

    Aren’t majority of new account spambots that advertise gold selling sites in the game? Those never have to get over lvl 10, am I right? They just spam, then create a new character on a different server and rinse and repeat until they get banned.

  12. Farewell says:

    Why do they insist on forcing people to use boring built in avatars/portraits instead of allowing everyone to upload their own unique avatar (like on Steam)?

    • mrmud says:

      Because the internet would be filled with porn.
      Im actually quite amazed that steam allows you to use your own avatar.

  13. Dreamhacker says:

    WOW stopped growing? Ouch, does this mean Blizzard will have to come up with something thats actually new and innovative?

  14. RenegadeRed says:

    Oh crap I gotta start saving up… [looks into wallet]… NOT ENOUGH MINERALS.

  15. Max says:

    I don’t think Blizzard is too worried about lack of growth of WoW – or even the lack of new players becoming addicts.

    They already have millions of addicts subscribing to the game – all they need to do is release an expansion and millions of current players will pour even more money into the company.

  16. yns88 says:

    So they’re setting up Cataclysm for new players, but in order to see Cataclysm content you must first spend $40 on Wrath of the Lich King, which has no content for players under level 55. In total, you’d have to pay $120 (or $110 if they drop the price of WotLK) to make a level 1 goblin.

    I don’t really see how this will entice new players.

    • PHeMoX says:

      It doesn’t and won’t. But that’s a good thing. WoW is graphically outdated, it’s gameplay is abominable and basically requires nothing but grinding to level-up. Obviously this will take insane amounts of time and dedication.

      Who would even seriously want to begin playing any such kind of game anyway? It’s basically a stupid and pointless endeavor.

    • Kirkburn says:

      @PHeMoX, wow, where did WoW touch you?

      Games, a pointless endeavour? That’s crazy talk! I thought we were building homes in Africa by playing Mass Effect.

      WoW’s gameplay is fine. If it weren’t, it wouldn’t be as popular as it is. You may not like it, but please … don’t speak for the rest of us.

    • sigma83 says:

      I’m actually convinced that lots of people dislike WoW on principle.

  17. Kirkburn says:

    You mean like the new IP they’ve been working on for the past few years, that many (but not you, apparently) know about?

  18. PHeMoX says:

    Hallelujah, World of Warcraft is dying… xD

    Read my lips:

    I am glad about that!

  19. Kirkburn says:

    Rawr, previous response was supposed to be @Dreamhacker

  20. We Fly Spitfires says:

    Am I the only one who really worries about the release date of some of these games? It’s already February and we’re being told Cataclysm and SC2 are “confirmed” for 2010. Just that worries me that we won’t see these titles until Dec 31st.

  21. Collic says:

    Who needs SC2? We already have AI War

    In fact, wasn’t there some play diary thing a while back? *hint hInt* RPS

  22. Some Guy says:

    I’ve been playing this game for years now, and I’ve noticed why the game is ‘leveling off’. There’s no challenge in it for the skilled player. Anyone can get geared in T9/T10 just by running the daily Heroic, weekly Raid for the emblems and VoA (drops). It’s gotten to the point where most servers can PUG most everything where as in Vanilla/BC times that really wasn’t a viable option. While this is appealing to the casual player, the advanced players are bored to death of the game, anyone checking in at WoW Insider might have noticed how quickly big name guilds are downing final bosses and hard modes often withing 24 hours of the fight’s release.

    This, I feel, is why WoW has leveled off, this lack of challenge. Back in Vanilla WoW C’Thun (AQ40) was actually mathmatically impossible to kill when they first put him in and actually HAD to be nerfed or no one would have ever downed him. That represented a ‘challenge’, something to actually try to achieve. When BC came out, SSC, BT and Sunwell (to name some of the raids) provided a ‘challenge’ as very very few people actually cleared those places (especially Sunwell, I know I didn’t).

    Beyond that lack of challenge is another aspect to WoW now versus WoW then that really sums up the overall problem, gimmicky. It feels kinda gimmicky that WotLK features a remake of 2 Vanilla WoW raids (Ony and Naxx), in fact the very first raid was Naxx, which begs the question as to why it took so long for WotLK to come out as that was the only raid available for several months. It seems the only way Blizz has decided to put the ‘challenge’ forward was to make hard modes and achievements which to me make it even more gimmicky.

    If Blizzard wants to make the game more interesting, then fights should be more about skill and understanding the fight than just staying out of the fire/poison/lightning/goop/etc (which is just about every other fight in every single raid). They should focus on what made the old stuff fun/interesting like in old Kara (Chess event) as opposed to what made it annoying (Bad RANDOM Inferno drops on Prince).

    See, if the folks at Blizzard would focus on the good stuff they’ve come up with recently, such as, 10/25 man modes and the LFG system, instead of rehashing the same old stuff, more fights about staying out of the fire, silly vehicle fights (EoE, Ulduar, etc), then they’d have no problem actually GAINING new players, as well as, keeping their existing customers happy. After all, we are talking about a game that is 7 years old with some of the worst graphics compared to other games available on the market. And, that unto itself is saying something; that they had to have done something right at one point. Hopefully their partnership with Activision won’t cause them to turn the WoW franchise into some silly Guitar Hero 7 – Led Zeppelin edition or Tony Hawk 12 – Skating in the Basement at Mom’s House.

    But, what the hell do I know, I keep paying for the damned game.

    • derfalconer says:

      I stopped playing for a couple years, played just about everything in vanilla wow and some of bc, and had recently come back to the game in late dec/early jan. Within 1- 1/12 months I’m already doing the top tier content the game has to offer, that really shocked me. It was almost a kind of disbelief that ‘this is it’ there was nothing more to do after ICC. If it continues this way I might just level an alt after cataclysm has launched to see all the supposedly radically changed content, then probably stop at the BC content because I absolutely hated that and then play my main. I cant imagine they will do any sort of reversing on their policy of making raids quicker and easier to get to.