Monday, August 25, 2008

Blizzard's Anti-Warhammer Strategy

Blizzard's strategy for damage control as Warhammer launches next month is becoming increasingly clear; hype Wrath to the gills. Today, Blizzard announced the patch that will presumably go by 3.0. Other than the information that players who own TBC but who decline to upgrade to Wrath will be allowed the lower levels of the inscription profession, there was essentially no news on this patch. Everyone knew that they were going to have to patch TBC in order to make sure that everyone was playing the same classes, roaming the same towns (outside of Northrend), etc. This patch has no ETA and no reason to be announced now.... except that Warhammer's open beta starts in a week and a half.

Syp of Waaagh has been quick to accuse Blizzard of implementing copycat features and other hijincks in an attempt to distract players from Warhammer. His head may actually explode when he hears about this one. (I hope it doesn't, I'd miss the blog.) I don't think that the competition is the only thing that Blizzard is thinking about in setting dev priorities for WoW, but there can be little question that this particular move is aimed squarely at Mythic.

Warhammer launches on Sept 18th, and Blizzard holds Blizzcon '08 Oct 10-11th, conveniently just before Warhammer customers get their first monthly bill. You can bet that Wrath will get a release date at Blizzcon to make sure that's fresh in the minds of gamers deciding whether to give Mythic a second month. I'm going to go out on a limb and predict that the new 3.0 patch will be on the live WoW servers before Warhammer's second monthly bill comes due in mid-Nov. (They might even try to have the actual expansion on the shelves, or at least have the meaningless "gone gold" announcement that MMO's typically have.)

In short, Blizzard isn't out to play fair in this particular fight, they're out to win. Then again, I suppose War (and/or WAR) isn't fair.

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