The schedule for Blizzcon is out, and there’s a Warcraft Q&A scheduled on Twitch for today (presumably because we’re getting close to the 7.3 raid being ready to drop) so suddenly there’s a ton of potential news to digest. For me, I have to say, its the Blizzcon stuff that holds the most attention. After complaining for several years that minority interest subjects weren’t getting the stage time they deserved… well, this year there should be absolutely no issues about that from anyone. Podcasts, voice actors, technical details and stories from Blizzard staffers themselves on how they made it, and now work for the company they love. I have to and will offer genuine kudos in large amounts to whoever did the programming as a result.
Then I look at the two scheduled talks around Diablo, and cannot escape what I feel is the biggest issue that remains largely unsaid.
I am 100% convinced that if Blizzard could make an esport based in the Diablo Universe, they would. The fact they can’t, and that the title appears relegated to the status of an afterthought, is an unexpected indictment of what the Company are doing with their collective future. Every other IP, including Warcraft, has been totally monetized this year. If it isn’t merchandising pulling in the extra dollars there are one, possibly two tournaments for each ‘franchise.’ The prize money is nothing compared to what has become the ultimate kudos of being seen by the most faithful of fans at Anaheim. Of course for most the Convention is only part of the equation: the hotel parties and fan-run events now are almost as significant as the concept that spawned them.
From a long way away, however, it becomes increasingly difficult to feel part of a whole.
The Virtual Ticket ‘sweeteners’ this year needed to be significant. The Company clearly knew this or else we wouldn’t be flying about in the best mounts probably ever designed for the game in 12 years. I don’t need to put my cynic hat on to understand that if you’re not in Anaheim, watching events from the outside has, over the last few years, been largely a sterile and toothless affair. With so many third party sites reporting every breath, cough and stutter from the Convention floor, with armies of streamers and news sites almost battering each other for exclusives, you don’t need to pay to be a part of this… yet that’s exactly what Blizzard hope (and plan their finances) on happening. There comes a point when there’s only so much this event can give you, and if you don’t have the financial ability to keep up, that’s the end of the game.
For me, this year may already have been too much.
How other people spend their money is entirely their concern, where you holiday and with whom. For those who live and breathe what can be easily considered the Blizzard Lifestyle, there’s now less of a month of counting down the days and getting excited about what they will do when they get to California. I wish you all the very best, that you enjoy what happens and the experiences you have paid for. For me, with the exception of the Opening Ceremony and the inevitable 90-minute presentation on the Expansion, my time with Blizzcon is already over. I’m surprisingly sanguine, now I’ve been able to reconcile all the variables involved. The only reason I really ever wanted to go to a Convention was to see the people. Nothing else has any real allure, if I’m honest. I don’t need things in my life anymore: memories matter far more, and those could be found without ever stepping foot in the event.
That’s a revelation I’m surprisingly comfortable with accepting.