BlizzCon 2010: World Of Warcraft in Anaheim
On the eve of BlizzCon 2010, Alex Bickham takes a look at what fans can expect at this year’s convention.
By Alex Bickham
Published: 22 Oct 2010
Blizzard hits Anaheim: BlizzCon 2010 prepares to open its doors this weekend
There’s no gaming convention quite like BlizzCon. But then, there’s no games developer quite like Blizzard. While the industry at large has spent the last fifteen years in thrall of console growth and the lucrative revenue-stream that cross-platform releases represent, Blizzard has focused solely on creating smash-hit PC titles, and nurturing the communities that have risen around those games.
BlizzCon is Blizzard’s annual public celebration, and it’s more than some onanistic marketing exercise. It’s the time when World Of Warcraft, StarCraft and Diablo fans from around the globe congregate to spend time with each other, and the company that makes their favourite games. They’re also here to play hard, and in many cases, show off the creative results of their gaming passion. With a record 30,000 attendees expected at Blizzcon 2010, this year’ s costume contest should be the most spectacular yet.
The show is held at the convention centre in Anaheim, Orange County. By day, it’s a bright but characterless place; a businessman’s limbo of high-rise chain hotels and calorific eateries. But here, the night before the show, the atmosphere is starting to hum. Hotel lobbies are filling with excited fans, shaking hands and reacquainting, anticipating the next two days with a palpable air of positive expectation.
There’s a lot to look forward to this year. The convention’s opening ceremony kicks off with a keynote from Mike Morhaime, President and co-founder of Blizzard. In a time when the business-leaders of video games talk the language of shareholders rather than customers and fans, this is always an interesting event. After all, without a passionate playerbase, what drives the creativity and innovation of your development teams?
Numerous panels are held over the two days to discuss key aspects of Blizzard’ s games.
These range from the technical, such as community tools, game balancing and forthcoming features, to the creative, such as art direction and cinematics. A big draw for many attendees is the series of live events, where renowned World of Warcraft guilds conduct raids on the big screen, and world’ s best StarCraft II players offer insight and guidance on improving multiplayer skills. There’s also a series of eSports matches, where fans will see the best and brightest Starcraft II and WoW players pit their skills against each other in fierce competition.
For the more extroverted attendees, there are song, dance and costume contests; a kind of X Factor for the impassioned, with big cash prizes for the winners. And to finish up, there’s a closing concert courtesy of Tenacious D (last year’s act was Ozzy Osbourne).
While I’m here, I’ll be talking one-on-one with Mike Morhaim and the developers of Diablo 3, StarCraft II, and Cataclysm, World of Warcraft’ s imminent expansion. I’ll be reporting from the show floor as the convention gets under way, so check back for images and information over the next couple of days