An article on Ars Technica this week called “From Warcraft to Hearthstone: How Blizzard is leaving its 1990s PC gaming roots behind” discusses how this year’s BlizzCon felt different from previous years and how the company appears to be moving on from what made it such a success.
Diablo players will probably be more aware of the how the company has changed than perhaps other fans who have been playing World of Warcraft or StarCraft. This year at BlizzCon the Diablo franchise received a small amount of attention, certainly a lot less than previous years. The enthusiasm for World of Warcraft looked to have also waned, the crowd didn’t sound as excited with the announcements compared to previous BlizzCon events.
This is not a bad thing, it’s just different. Blizzard has become a little more adventurous with the success of Hearthstone, their Heroes of the Storm MOBA and the announcement of their first shooter Overwatch. Blizzard are moving into new areas which is exciting but there’s no doubt the core audience is changing.
This snip from the article might sum up how some of the Diablo community feel about the new direction.
That’s a pretty massive shift for Blizzard, which has spent the last two decades being the “Warcraft, StarCraft, and sometimes Diablo” company. It also reflects a broader change. While Blizzard always cultivated a reputation for excellence, that excellence was also tied to a degree of conservatism. Blizzard games were polished, perfected versions of good things that either existed elsewhere, or that Blizzard had made before. For a long time, the most daring thing Blizzard did was create an in-game auction house for Diablo III… and its eventual removal was the greatest moment in franchise history since Diablo II.
World of Warcraft is waning, the subscriber numbers show that, and I think we can agree that the Diablo 3 launch was a bit of a disaster and it’s taken some time to fix the game. So how to you feel about this apparent shift? Has Blizzard lost it’s 90s roots?