There are three other major “announcements” in Blizzard Entertainment’s pipeline. Blizzcon, which is a two-day event, has plenty of room for multiple announcements — much like what Google does for its annual developer conference Google I/O. Here’s what we think the event could hold.
A Diablo 3 release date: Morhaime said the company was delaying the release of Diablo 3 until the first quarter next year. The company started an open beta for the game last week, which indicated a release was on the horizon. But Diablo 3 is one of the company’s most ambitious projects, and Morhaime said they didn’t want to compromise it by releasing it too early.
“While this news might not be a complete surprise, I know that many were hopeful that Diablo 3 would ship this year,” Morhaime said. “We were too.”
The company still hasn’t committed to an official release date.
A release date for Starcraft 2: Heart of the Swarm: Blizzard Entertainment sold more than 700,000 copies of Starcraft 2: Wings of Liberty in the first four days of the game’s release. The company’s real-time strategy game was so popular when it came out in 1998 that, like Diablo, the company decided to make a sequel for the game.
The Starcraft franchise also holds a special place for Blizzard Entertainment as its flagship e-sports title. E-sports leagues are competitive gaming leagues where players battle it out for cash prizes — sometimes upwards of $10,000 for a championship. Blizzard Entertainment hosts major tournaments at Blizzcon each year.
Unveiling a World of Warcraft expansion pack: Blizzard Entertainment unveiled World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, the third expansion pack for its smash hit online game, at Blizzcon in 2009. The game came out in October the following year and broke sales records for its second expansion, Wrath of the Lich King. Blizzard Entertainment sold 3.3 million copies of Cataclysm in its first day of release, compared to 2.8 million copies of Wrath of the Lich King.
A World of Warcraft expansion pack would fill a late 2012 hole, since Diablo 3 is slated for a release earlier that year. There’s always a chance the company will delay its expansion pack, given Blizzard Entertainment’s penchant for holding games until they are ready. But Blizzard Entertainment has been very religious about getting its expansion packs out on time.
Titan news would likely steamroll any announcement that runs alongside it. Blizzard Entertainment has seen incredible success with its three largest franchises, so creating new intellectual property would be an atom bomb for both gamers and investors, and for any other game developer out there that hopes to compete with Blizzard Entertainment. That might prompt the company to wait to announce Titan and unveil new details about its existing franchises, Karlsson said.
“The problem with something that large at Blizzcon is all their other news will get lost,” Karlsson said. “And that makes it pointless to have other news, they need a hole in the cycle to drop something like that.”
That being said, Blizzcon is still the company’s largest event and it only comes around once a year. The event brings in thousands of gamers and press from around the world. There’s a good chance the company will capitalize on the hunger generated by a delay in Diablo 3 that could generate interest in a new game, Pidgeon said.
“We’ve heard some buzz about new content, that would be the blockbuster news,” he said. “Could they announce an extension? Yeah, but it wouldn’t be as exciting as a new title.”
Blizzard representatives have contacted VentureBeat to say that the company does not currently plan on “discussing the unannounced MMO.” But the company still has around a month to decide what to unveil at its largest gamer-centric. Blizzcon begins October 21.
LIVE NOW: GamesBeat's Driving Game Growth Summit