Friday, October 3, 2014

What's Next for Blizzard? - Blizzcon Predictions

Predictions: if you're wrong, you look foolish, and if you're right, no one cares. So I've got nothing new to offer you here, just my own speculation. For something more tangible for those of you lucky enough to hear many of these anticipated announcements in-person at Blizzcon, check out my Blizzcon Guide for Noobs.

With Blizzard stating they've effectively cancelled the mystery-MMO we've come to know as Titan, it's left a lot of fans wondering what's next for the game giant. Let's keep in mind that cancelling long-in-development projects isn't uncommon when it comes to Blizzard. We have quite a bit of precedence for it, actually. Analysts are even seeing it as a strength. The action in itself mirrors the Blizzard philosophy of "make games they'd want to play themselves." And as CEO Mike Morhaime said in the Polygon interview, releasing a game that doesn't live up to their expectations isn't an option.

Many players were hoping for an update on Titan's progress at Blizzcon this coming November. Without that prospect, and the likelihood we won't hear much about "what's next" in Warcraft beyond what we already know of Warlords of Draenor, it leaves me wondering what we might see this year. 


There's little doubt we'll hear something about the first expansion to their massively successful trading card game. If not at Blizzcon, then shortly after. The developers have even said as much. With a reported 20+ million players in the game, Hearthstone is slated to receive support for years to come, especially with the growing popularity of esports and its impending availability to the broader mobile market.

Blizzcon Prediction: Details on Hearthstone's first expansion which will introduce the Death Knight hero; firm release dates for availability in wider mobile market.

Starcraft: Legacy of the Void

We know there's one more chapter in the Starcraft II trilogy, and what that will look like is hinted at heavily at the ending of Starcraft II: Heart of the Swarm. Full disclosure: Starcraft is probably the Blizzard game I play the least, so I know even less of what I'm talking about here than normal. Either way, expect to hear about Legacy of the Void at Blizzcon this year, but probably nothing about a release date.

Blizzcon Prediction: Trailer for SCII:LotV with a game release slated for 2016.

Heroes of the Storm

If MOBAs are your thing and you were lucky enough to get into the Alpha, you already know how much potential this game has. With Heroes of the Storm, Blizzard continues its tradition of expanding into new genres and kicking ass at it. I've played Riot's League of Legends and have a summoner near max-level, but there's something about the game that doesn't grab me. I've always been a casual, for-fun LoL player. However, with LoL, it takes a certain time investment---if you really want to progress---even as a casual player. 

Heroes of the Storm aims at broad appeal, like with Hearthstone, where they've created a complex game with a low barrier to entry. I feel it's safe to assume we'll get a vague release target (i.e. Q2 2015) at Blizzcon. My hope is that the game will transition to Open Beta shortly after, if not by the time Blizzcon arrives.

Blizzcon Prediction: Open Beta announcement, new playable heroes including Vol'jin and Deckard Cain, target release date announced.

Diablo III

It's going to be quiet on the Diablo front this year. Reaper of Souls spent a good amount of time in the spotlight at last year's Blizzcon. Considering the title just released for console, I doubt we'll be talking about what's next in Diablo.

Blizzcon Prediction: Diablo does not play a major part at this year's Blizzcon.

World of Warcraft

I want to learn where we're heading after Draenor. And we will eventually, but it might not be at Blizzcon. If that's the case, it means we'll be talking about the expansion we've been talking about since last Blizzcon. Which seems like a rather drab prospect, given---on average---the type of player/fan you're addressing at an event like Blizzcon. Unless they've undersold the expansion to us this whole time (an admittedly difficult notion to swallow with just how much information we have) and are set to unleash new information that will send us into a frenzy. In a good way, of course.

I also think this is a great opportunity to show where the movie's at. Significant time was spent at last year's Blizzcon---Duncan Jones and some of his crew even had a panel, and I assume we'll hear more this year.

Blizzcon Prediction: They'll announce the next expansion; the one after Warlords, but details will be scarce so as not to spoil the ending of Warlords of Draenor. Why? I don't have a whole lot to back that up, but here's someone who took a stance and ran with it. The remainder of the time will focus on what we'll be seeing the week after Blizzcon when the expansion launches. As far as the movie goes, I don't believe we'll see the trailer, but feel confident we'll be shown a short scene.

Additional Titles

With the cancellation of Titan, might there be room for Blizzard to announce another project they're working on? On the other hand, given Titan's demise, perhaps Blizzard will be more cautious about how and when they announce their large-scale projects. I don't think we'll see a new title announced at Blizzcon beyond what's been discussed above. The timing of Titan's cancellation was more about tempering expectations: they didn't want anyone going into the convention thinking they'd hear about Titan. Conversely, announcing the cancellation of a title at such a major event simply wouldn't be wise.

That said, I bet we see Blizzard's updates to the Warcraft RTS games; perhaps not the whole lot, but I believe we'll see an updated Warcraft 3 engine including art assets, as well as the functionality that will tie it to our launchers. 

It doesn't really pay to argue these points, as I've essentially pulled them from my bum. But are there any predictions you'd alter/add?

Leave 'em below. 


  1. I think you're pretty bang on with Blizzard announcing the next expansion for WoW. I came to much the same conclusion, albeit my angle was developer resources. (

    1. I actually stumbled upon your post last week---can't remember how, but totally agree with that angle as well. Either way, time will soon tell.

      Thank you for the comment!