BlizzCon 2011

Thank you to Desi Javier for helping me with our coverage and for his assistance with this review.

Blizzard Entertainment has long been associated with quality games that not only set standards for gaming but also inspire legions of highly devoted fans. With titles that include Warcraft, Starcraft, and Diablo series and the phenomenally popular World of Warcraft, Blizzard has long been one to give the fans what they want.

Five years ago they started BlizzCon, a convention where gamers could gather to learn about, see, and play the pending projects from the company. The first convention was a smash success, every year since BlizzCon sells out very quickly, because fans know it is more than a convention, it is a two-day party complete with rock concerts, and a professional gaming tournament.

This year over 26,000 fans descended upon the Anaheim convention center, many decked out in costumes dedicated to their favorite Blizzard characters. Prior to lining up, attendees get a gift bag complete with a collectable figure and many convention exclusives such as the digital pets that can only be obtained by those attending the convention or purchasing the live stream of the convention. This year’s collectible figure was a mini Tyral from Diablo III from Sideshow Collectibles and this year’s digital pet was a Diablo-inspired murloc for WoW.

Once I checked in, I took my seat and waited for the opening ceremonies to begin. Quite a bit early, I took some time to speak with several attendees about what they hoped and expected to see and hear. Many said they expected to hear about the next expansion for WoW as well as what to expect in Diablo III and Starcraft II: The Heart of the Swarm.

Once the show started, the president of the company summarized 20 years of Blizzard and talked about the $300K tournament that would happen that weekend, the Foo Fighters concert, Jay Mohr’s return as host, and many other topics. Since the fans were there to see and hear about games, the video screens came alive with a new trailer from the pending Diablo III which underscores the amazing graphics and deep nature of the game and its story. Starcraft II: The Heart of the Swarm followed which showed off a darker storyline and several new units and a Defense of the Ancients (DOTA) multiplayer mode complete with several classic Blizzard characters.

WoW was what many came to hear about, and they were not disappointed. The unveiling of the new add-on was preceded with the news that players who purchase a 12 month advance pass would also get an exclusive in-game mount, access to the expansion beta, and a copy of Diablo III.

The new expansion Shadows of Pandaria was announced to a thunderous ovation. Shadows of Pandaria will follow all-out war between the Horde and Alliance in a land of peace and tranquility that is populated by the Pandarians. The Pandarians are panda-like creatures who are a Monk class as well as master brewers and martial arts experts. It was also announced that pet versus pet combat will be allowed.

Following the opening ceremonies guests were able to get hands-on time with the new expansion as well as the other pending games. I took the time to explore the convention floor and talk with many of the vendors and checked out the Blizzard-themed products as well as the latest in tech accessories promoted to enhance the gaming experience.

Blizzard knows how difficult it can be to cover all the panels available. When I went to the press room to upload pictures and videos I was happy to see several TV screens that allowed us to see catch panels in session, while we worked and waited for interview appointments or the next panel.

The finale concert by The Foo Fighters capped a great weekend filled with gaming, fun, and music, and underscored that Blizzard really cares about their fans and is dedicated to giving them more of what they love. I had a great time at the convention and while I obtained lots of information, I was disappointed that I did not get any new information on the Warcraft movie or the new MMORPG called Titan. Still for fans of Blizzard, the weekend long party was an event not to be missed and I look forward to seeing what they have in store for us in 2012.