The same goes for the annual BlizzCon, which is (usually) hosted by Blizzard. What is usually a celebratory moment usually ends in frustrated fans and hostility during his final meetings. This year, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, BlizzCon was moved from its usual November to February date and became an online event known, annoyingly, as BlizzConline. The event will take place over several days.
Given the volatile environment surrounding the brand, this year’s show is a defining moment. What Blizzard does this weekend will ultimately determine whether it can win back at least some of the fans it has lost in recent years. But we think there is a way. We’ve gathered some key ideas here on how Blizzard can do the right thing with its inflated goodwill.
1. Setting appropriate expectations
Photo TVby Senad Palic/Creative Commons; image Diablo IV via Blizzard; Remix by.
Even before the online event begins, Blizzard has to make its expectations clear. Somehow he has to move the story to something he can work with.
We all remember 2018, when everyone was excited about the announcement of Diablo IV. The entire day of the opening ceremony was dominated by a big Diablo announcement, and expectations were astronomically high. Attendees were salivating to see the next step in the Dungeon Crawl series. Blizzard knew it too, she must have known. Then instead of Diablo IV, the mobile phone title Diablo Immortal was unveiled, causing the audience to literally boo the presenters on stage, joking Is it an April 1 joke? and Don’t you have a phone? Comments that have since gone through life as memes.
The problem is not that Diablo Immortal is a mobile title, but that it was made as another 2018 convention moment. Blizzard knew its fans were ready for the announcement of a new Diablo game, but apparently it didn’t know its fans well enough to realize how awful it would be to announce a mobile-only title in a room full of computer fanatics. If Diablo Immortal had been announced elsewhere in the show, it probably wouldn’t have been handled as badly as it was. Blizzard got confused by making fans expect too much and showing something that was essentially the opposite of what loyal fans expected.
2. Shaw, don’t tell me you’re listening – andis learning.
Photo TVby Alberto Contreras/Creative Commons; image available on TV via Blizzard; remixed by
We already have a pretty good idea of what we’ll be seeing at this year’s show, and the biggest expectations are on the shoulders of Diablo players. Diablo IV was announced at the 2019 Lightning Concert, but was overshadowed by the controversy at the Lightning Concert. And Activision CFO Dennis Durkin recently confirmed to investors that there are no plans to launch Diablo IV or Overwatch 2 in 2021 – and fans want to know lots of details. Diablo Immortal isn’t out yet either, and Blizzard needs to be very careful about how it presents it, especially after it got good press from some YouTubers, streamers, and members of the media who may have read it a few months ago.
And then there’s the rumor of a remake of Diablo II, which has been doing the rounds since Blizzard acquired Vicarious Visions last month. If the remake of Diablo II does not air this year, Blizzard is expected to announce it in a post on social media prior to the series. If this doesn’t happen and a Diablo II remake isn’t released, we could see similar consequences from Diablo fans.
Diablo aside, it seems that more information needs to be revealed about Overwatch 2, and anything without a release date is a failure in our eyes. Overwatch fans are hungry for new content, and given the limited amount Overwatch got last year, Blizzard should excite fans of the intellectual property again.
World of Warcraft, Starcraft and Hearthstone are in a similar boat. If the pandemic has significantly delayed plans, Blizzard should say so in advance to show that things are better than before. If he acknowledges the difficulties but still gives the fans something to expect, he’ll get through it eventually.
3. Correct handling of past problems
TV photoStephen Monteroso/Coreative Commons; Warcraft III image in a snowstorm; remix.
One of the best ways to show the blizzard world how it was is to deal adequately with the contradictions and problems of the past.
One is how to deal with the negative nature of his role in the 2019 lightning scandal. This is the first BlizzCon since then, and while it’s almost guaranteed that they won’t talk about it, the company might try to redeem itself by making the right decisions. A good start would be to get Blitzchung and Virtual and Mr. Yee – the people who were fired for interviewing Blitzchung during his support of the Hong Kong protests – to join BlizzConline in some capacity. This small gesture would go so far as to show that Blizzard has changed its mindset and is admitting its mistakes.
The other task is to take care of Warcraft III : The problems of the reformers. What was promised as a full remake with new cuts turned out to be a minor remastering with substandard and anti-consumer terms. More than a year after the game’s release, Blizzard announced new updates to fix these problems, which would go a long way to turning the tide.
The old scars won’t heal completely, but clearing up these issues and ending the Diablo Immortal fiasco by releasing a good game will go a lot further than a lame apology speech at the event. These elements will show that Blizzard is willing to admit where it went wrong and make improvements.
But however it goes, not everything will be paid off. This decline has been going on for years, and one event will not change the situation overnight. Blizzard needs to rise to the occasion and prove he’s better than that.
Blizzard knew how to create excitement in their communities with their games and ads. But the more it grew, the more it lost the identity that attracted so many people in the first place, until we got to the point where we are now. BlizzConline may be the company’s last chance to regain that identity. Or maybe forge a new one for the future. It’s up to Blizzard to decide if it’s for better or worse, and if the fans are behind it. It all depends on how he handles things this weekend.