The interesting bit about conventions is that most of them today have nothing to do with celebrating the culture, and more about pushing stuff into consumers hands. ComicCon is a solid example. There are certainly exceptions, where there’s this weird balance at hand. PAX fits in this weird space between geek culture and corporate involvement. EvE has it’s own convention with next to no corporate, same with Warframe.
BlizzCon was originally launched as a celebration of all things Blizz (90% WoW culture) and over the years has morphed into a sort of hype machine. Still quite focused on the gamers, and at a price point where there’s a large swath of more casual players that won’t bother. The Diablo Immortal announcement was not the first faux pas, but certainly the most notable. Are there mobile gamers out there? For sure! Are they at BlizzCon? Nope. Where the people at BlizzCon expecting some PC Diablo news? Yup. Ensuing “Do you not own phones?” comments came out and the rest is written down.
This year is a weird one. There’s no scarcity to tickets, and the whole thing is being streamed for free. The potential audience is now in the millions. Sure this is a deal for everyone that used to pay, and Blizz is certainly still eating a few dimes to get it through. And yet Kotick ain’t no fool, and he’s never missed an opportunity to make a buck. And he is smelling blood in the water something fierce now.
What impact does that have? It means that the largest driving factor for any game is going to be daily average users (DAU). This will certainly manifest through an any device, any time, any game model where you are incentivized to always be p(l)aying. It means multiple mobile game launches that interact with their PC environments. I am still amazed that we don’t have a WoW Pet Battles mobile app.
And yet, Bobby is Bobby, and he will copy every bad habit out there (hence owning King) to make a buck. These will certainly have the worst aspects of F2P mobile games as an underlying feature – with a solid gameplay on top. They will not be marketed at the existing client base, but at the folks on the edge. The existing clients are ALREADY paying, and the odds of nickel and dimming them are pretty low.
If I was to look specifically at WoW it seems the larger items on hand would include
- TBC launch date for Classic. This seems easy, but recall this is when flight was added to the game and the “world building” part really went on a different tangent.
- Details on patch 9.05 which currently seems like the balance patch launch should have brought had the devs enough time to do their work in the pandemic.
- An overview of 9.1 in which we see the external factors cause trouble (my money is on Tyrande) and hopefully some Maw tweaks. Maybe solve the whole Primus/Runekeeper dilema.
- A re-jiggering of Torghast rewards. More floors seem the simple choice, but save points in Twisting Corridors would be nice. From my alt leveling experience recently, there are very few people who bother with this place now.
- New legendary levels, which would give some purpose to excess Ash. I’d expect the ability to equip a 2nd legendary to come along as well.
- MASSIVE tweaking of the anima/cosmetic reward structure in each covenant. The 1K weekly anima quest is currently the only reason to even bother with this system.
Tin Foil here for a last bit. Bastion is the weirdest of all covenants, as it essentially memory wipes you to get you down to base. Sylvanas is foundationally a good person, and under insane levels of trauma has reached insane levels of evil. Clearly the devs want her to have a redeeeming arc, and I’m betting dollars to donuts she gets converted through the same mechanics as Bastion to get her back to her original state.
So yeah, mechanics of BlizzCon are about pumping more money out of the consumer’s pocket, and WoW is going to focus on balancing (rather than rebuilding in 8.1).