We now return you to our regularly scheduled gaming post, already in progress.
Blizzcon, the Blizzard Entertainment-created celebration of all things Blizzard Entertainment is over for the year.
Amindst all the officially-sanction public relations releases, we got the heads up on some great new products we can expect to see sometime over the course of the next year.
There was news on the next phase of the Starcraft II war, some Diablo III stuff, and of course World of Warcraft.
The new official expansion for World of Warcraft that MMO Champion cracked has been confirmed.
I remember once someone showed the overall map of Azeroth, and highlighted which areas someone could squeeze more zones into for future expansions. I don’t remember anyone showing us where they could hide an entire continent, but hey, I’m all for it.
I like Pandas. I also am a personal fan of the Pandaren that we were once told, I swear we were told, would never be an actual in-game race. I should look for that quote, I thought there was an interview with Samwise where he was specifically asked about Pandaren in game, and he said something like “We added them a little bit here and there for fun, but were never going to expand on it.” I dunno, maybe I was smoking bacon that day, and the fumes gave me sweet, sweet dreams of big jolly pandas.
I like the Pandaren so much, that I have the Pandaran Monk non-combat pet.
Won’t that be interesting to explain once we meet more Pandaren in the wild?
“Who, this? Oh yeah, I bought him at the market years ago, and he’s never left my side since. I’ve grown in power, killed old gods and lich kings and dragons, and he’s been right there beside me through thick and thin. Oh, he’s your father? Huh, he never said he had family when I bought him. In fact, come to think of it, I’m not sure he knows how to talk. No, no I never tried talking to him myself, but if I bow to him, he does bow back. And he exercises a lot, waving his arms around. Pretty much all he does is follow me around, day after day, never tiring, never complaining.”
There is so much I could gush about, so much I could be snarky about, but hell, why rush? There are months ahead of us to explore all the potential ramifications.
But I DO have two things.
First is this twelve month subscription thing that kinda slid in under the radar.
You might think you’ve got to pay for twelve months of WoW time all up front, but you don’t. You don’t have to change your subscription pattern at all.
You just have to sign a digital contract with Blizzard committing to paying for your monthly account, without cancelation or interruption, for the next twelve months.
You just gotta say, come hell or high water or a drought of content over a spring of new game releases, that Blizzard will still get theirs.
In exchange, you get a free BoA mount that looks really cool on all characters, and you get a free code for the retail version of Diablo III.
Oh yeah, and an automatic beta key for the next WoW expansion.
It’s an interesting trifecta.
You get a new mount, but since it’s in game it only cost a little design and code time. That is an investment, but it’s one they are set up for.
You get a Beta key. Well, again, digital only, and not only is it a small investment on Blizards part for email sending invites and access front ends, but they need beta testers of their digital products anyway.
Both make perfect sense. You’re not actually paying any extra, but Blizzard isn’t actually paying any more either. We get something on a digital download, and Blizzard gets a financial commitment. If you were going to do this anyway, play for another year, why not?
But the third part is a free copy of a retail product they have been working on for years, Diablo III.
Granted we’re not getting a box version mailed to us, but we are getting the code and digital delivery of the final, retail launch version of the game.
We can see what’s in it for us, but what is Blizzard getting that is worth losing out on that many potential sales?
Hugh at MMO Melting Pot has about the best explanation I’ve seen that makes financial sense. If Blizzard anticipates a content drought over a long period of time, between patch 4.3 and the 5.0 Pandaria expansion, then they may have done the math and would prefer to lose a $40 short term sale in exchange for a guaranteed 6 to 8 month game subscription lock-in during the times people normally cancel accounts… you know, summer vacation time.
Especially if there are a lot of great new MMOs coming out to compete.
Cynical? Maybe, but on the other hand… successful.
I already signed up. The mount and beta key are nice, but it was the Diablo III that I was going to buy anyway that sold me.
In my case, Blizzard lost out on the deal. I am someone who WAS going to continue my subscription over the next twelve months anyway, AND I was going to buy Diablo III. So, free game? Gee, thanks!
The other thing I want to touch oh so very briefly on, is this PokéWoW thing.
I have no idea how you think of it, I know I have never liked mini-games in games. I’ve rarely if ever enjoyed a game when someone takes the popular neat thing from another game system and tacks it on their own.
I’m willing to give it a shot, though.
What excites about the concept, the CONCEPT mind you, is that our non-combat pets will become another custom, personalised aspect of our characters.
We will be able to name our pets. A truly ‘duh’ idea, a “Well it’s about damn time” idea, but let’s just keep that on the downlow and give thanks, right?
We’ll also be able to move pets around our characters. Did you get that rare pet Batling from the special, one-season one year only Karazhan event to kill the vampire Prince on only one character, and it’s NOT the character you ever play or collect pets on? Well, now you can fix that and similar situations.
But more interestingly, your pets will be able to be trained, leveled and then taken to an arena to fight other pets.
This is the part that excites me and also amazes the shit out of me.
In order for our pets to be able to fight, they have to have combat moves, defenses, all that stuff. AND, they will need new animations to correspond to what they do.
Doesn’t that seem like a shitload of programming time to devote to this PokéWoW thing?
Again, I love it. It’s great. I think it will be loads of fun, and, again, I get to name my pets.
I’ll be able to field a combat team of Grunty the Murloc Marine, a Pandaren Monk, and Stinker the Skunk if I so choose.
But, and here is the butt….
Nobody asked for PokéWoW that I know of, nobody knew it was coming, and yet here it is, a massive commitment in programming resources.
But quests tailored for specific classes, quests to fill out the Rogue Ravenholdt line, quests to individualize our leveling experience and bring a new, fresh reason and interest to playing an alt in Azeroth for the 500th time…
Thats still a poor use of developmental resources?