Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Incorrect Blizzcon Predictions for 2013

It's been so long since a Blizzcon that I've forgotten how I used to post my comically incorrect predictions before the show to see how badly they would turn out.  Coming in late means there are some gaps that have already been filled, but there's plenty of room for me to write stuff that we'll be mocking in a few weeks!

  • New expansion is all-but confirmed and I'd say level 95 is a given - no reason they'd suddenly go back to 10 levels now, but I doubt they'd do fewer than 5.
  • I suspect the foe will be the Burning Legion.  For one reason or another there seems to be a ton of nostalgia for TBC and we're running out of things that are on Azeroth that anyone has heard of but that we haven't fought before.  I'm suspicious that the end of the Garrosh raid leaves a loose end that the Burning Legion would be happy to tie up.  
  • I'm going to go out on a limb and predict no new adventuring classes or races.  We had three races in the last two expansions, and Blizzard had historically said this was a huge load on the art people.  Meanwhile, with holy trinity imbalance being what it is, they cannot add any more classes that are unable to tank or heal, and at some point there are going to be unsustainable balance issues if they have to keep juggling more tanking and healing specs every expansion.  
  • Instead, I'm going to predict a continuing focus on minigames and other things that offer progression but NOT direct adventuring advancement.  The Farmville minigame and Pet Battles have been two of Pandaria's best-regarded features.  A significant overhaul to professions, possibly including one or more new ones and profession-based content would make a ton of sense.
  • Blizzard will NOT announce the game is going Free to Play.  The Blizzcon crowd is the demographic who signs up for the annual pass subscription, not the crowd that wants to pay less.  Even if WoW was going non-subscription, the news would NOT play well to this audience.  
  • I don't expect to see any faster than Blizzard's normal 20-month time table, placing the expansion in summer 2014.  If they were to stand up for the keynote and say "oh by the way, beta starts on Monday and you're all in", that would certainly be the show-stealing headline, but Blizzcon has not been that good at show-stealing headlines.  
Diablo III

The expansion is already announced, will be playable (I think they've confirmed this?), and presumably going to be a big push of the show.  Ditto the console ports.  If there is any major Diablo news, it will be some sort of new cash shop or other form of ongoing revenue to replace the soon-to-be-closed real money auction house. 

Starcraft II

I haven't heard anything about the second expansion (a.k.a. third game in the trilogy, to justify a $60 price tag for a new game rather than a $40 price tag for an expansion).  I assume Blizzard will remedy this.

Heroes of the Storm

Blizzard re-titled their upcoming all-stars MOBA, suggesting that it is moving along.  There will probably be an early build playable.  I doubt this will be launchable anytime before mid 2014.


Probably the closest launch window of Blizzard's projects, so I expect a fair amount of chatter, but probably not a lot of real news with the beta already well underway.  I predict that all attendees will be given closed beta invites. 


Nothing to see here (back in January, I'd predicted this would finally be the year).  

Say what you will about WoW's decline, but Blizzard actually has four separate projects that are in the plausibly live and charging money for something new in the next year (NOT counting SC2, but their expansion is recent by Blizzard standards).  They're pushing a new integrated launcher for all their games through the Hearthstone beta, using one friends list across their entire platform, and handing out cross-title goodies in their Collector's Editions.

I predict they are going to go a step significantly further, to SOE's model with a single in-house currency shared across all the titles (probably re-branding Balance and no longer expressing it in real world dollar amounts), and increased incentives to try multiple games. 

At a minimum, I expect the WoW subscription will include a nominal amount free gold in Hearthstone and possibly free gold or other cash store currency for DIII (if I'm right about expanding that game's cash shop) and Heroes of the Storm - WoW's own longstanding pet and mount shop may move onto this new model.  (Not innovative, SOE has done this for years, even before they were champions of non-subscription models.)  I don't expect to see a higher premium plan along the lines of SOE's All-Access plan because it's not clear what they would offer players of the non-subscription titles other than more Blizzard Bucks.   

What do you all think is coming in just over two weeks?  Are you likely to care? 


Clockwork said...

I'm stuck between thinking the next expansion is going to be "mopping up what's left on Azeroth" or "Legion attack." The legendary cloak storyline rather strongly hints at the latter, but I didn't end it feeling like we were "ready". Plus we still have Azshara and I think one more old god lingering around. So part of me thinks they'll do a sort of "between" expansion in which we more or less fix Azeroth (and somehow come up with reasons to keep fighting each other despite the Wraitheon quest line and SoO cinematic).

Class/Race...I think you're right, but I think at this point it might be a risk they have to take. Sub numbers are dropping and a new race/class gives the people who were burning out something new to play.

I would LOVE if it crafting was moved towards minigames or things like the pet battles or farm...they could also add another profession but I am not sure what it would be.

Sam McKoy said...

It does look like they're leaning towards the Legion, which would make Azshara perfect for one of the earlier raids. Who else would open up the portal?

Helistar said...

Hmmm heirlooms looted in SoO are level 90-100, if I remember right (quick check on wowhead, yes it's right). I would be VERY surprised by heirloom weapons extending 5 level beyond the level cap, so I expect the next expansion to raise the cap to level 100....

....and to arrive later than expected. Which will make for a lot of SoO farming :(

Stabs said...

Regarding Diablo 3 I think they should but the addition of a cash shop a distant second to getting the game back on track.

D3 was a disaster for Blizzard - the first time ever that a main title bombed.

And it should be fun, all the elements are there but what killed it was the RMAH. Diablo has always been a gear collection game, the interest is principally in seeing what drops and the RMAH killed that stone dead.

Removing the RMAH and adding a high quality interesting expansion with enough mudflation to wipe out the advantages people got pre-expansion and we could see it back on track as a very fun gear collection game.

Unless they're dumb enough to sell uberswords in the cash shop for $50.

Stabs said...

*should put.

When oh when will blogger add an edit button.