Tornado Alley

It may have made the news near you, but my city got hit with a couple tornadoes on Friday.  First time in 25 years.

 

It’s an oddly built city, with a sister city just across the river (in another province), a we’re in a valley.  This makes for interesting storm paths that hit the west end of the city, cross the river, hit that city, then come back to this side farther in the east.  I live on top of a hill, which is often spared the brunt of any large storm.  I saw the black clouds and a bit of heavy wind… but that’s it.

Luckily there were no fatalities, and just 6 critical injuries.  Power was lost to half the city for most of the weekend, with just over 5,000 left impacted on Monday.  The majority of the city is closed today to allow people to worry about their family and homes, rather than office work.  Except the french school board, but that’s a different topic.

No one on my team was directly impacted, but quite a few of their family members were.  That’s some good news.  My friends and family are mostly unaffected, except for a few with power issues.  That’s also some good news.

I work in IT.  We have multiple data centers in this city, as it’s the core of our operations.  A lot of those centers offer critical services both internally and to clients, so it was an all-hands on deck type of weekend.  Disaster recovery plans are the types of plans you never want to execute, but are glad that you have when you need them.  It’s impressive how thorough and passionate people can be during these types of events.   More than happy with what my team pulled through this weekend, and what the organization was able to do given the circumstances.

Now we start the period of rebuilding.   And to see what kind of help we can provide.

Blizzard Rumors

So first some light reading, all speculation from an inside source.

The gist being

  • Low faith from the senior execs in Heroes of the Storm
  • The next WoW expansion is near complete, with a boost to the art department
  • SC2 is done with no release date
  • Overwatch has no business model
  • Hearthstone is raking it in
  • D3 dev team has been assigned to another project, in the SC universe

Blizzard’s only response so far is related to D3, in that the team continues to support the game and there is no mystery project.

Heroes

This one is reasonable.  HotS is coming into a heavily saturated market, where there are 3 front runners – LoL, DOTA2 and SMITE.  There are dozens of other MOBA games as well.  And they all share the same thing that HotS doesn’t have: free to enter and feature complete.

$40 for a beta entry is high.  There’s no trial to see if you actually like the game, so I am guessing that Blizz has had significantly lower demand than expected.  WoW, HS and SC are all top of pile products.  They lead the industry and have more or less since they launched.  It would be naive to think that HotS could unseat the top 3 in a fell swoop. Prospects should be tempered.

WoW

While this is also reasonable, the timing seems off.  Blizzard takes ~8-10 months to polish a feature complete game.  Math-wise, that would be another release near the holidays.  My bet’s on a Burning Legion expansion, given the hints so far, though my guess there’s a fair amount of story to go.   Still, there are how many Warlords dead?  Blackhand is next and that’s before 6.1 so we’re well over the 50% mark before the first major patch.

Plus, Blizzard tends to make a very, very big deal about expansion announcements, and then proceed to wait over a year for release.  Would be quite a shift if this rumor were true.

Starcraft

The silence on this is quite odd.  The last part (zerg) was well received, and is quite popular.  It’s a game that doesn’t make money outside of expansions though, so an odd choice to not have some release/hype around the next one.  It’s not like we’re looking at a month to go, as the Blizz PR machine hasn’t even started and it typically runs for a few months.

Overwatch

No business model?  I would guess this to be false as business models aren’t a last minute decision, due to the design implications.  Expansions with characters or single character sales seems like a rather obvious decision.  I don’t even see a decision to be made.

Hearthstone

This being top of pile?  Yeah, I can see that.  It’s #4 in Twitch.  Only available on Tablets and not phones, so the actual mobile numbers are hard as hell to find.  It’s leagues beyond it’s closest competitor.

Diablo3

D3 today is a very solid game.  I think Marvel Heroes offers a similar experience.  You’d be spending more on the latter though, as it’s F2P and not B2P.  That would also mean that it’s making more money (at least more than 0).  D3 a year ago had an auction house and the RMAH was running at a decent enough pace.  Blizzard made a cut off that and they shut off the tap.  I’d be curious to see where the metrics are on that.

D3 can only make money on expansions.  Free content in between expansions doesn’t make money.  From a business perspective, Blizz isn’t really in the “more than 1 expansion” market.  It would make sense, based on historical evidence, that Blizz is simply in maintenance mode.

Conclusion

While there’s a lot in here that seems reasonable, it’s a period of the year of typical gaming studio silence.  There’s nothing off the wall, which makes for the worst kind of rumors.  If there’s any truth to it however, it would seem that we’re in for a pretty big flurry of Blizzard announcements before E3.