Page last updated at 14:21 GMT, Monday, 24 August 2009 15:21 UK

Blizzard of new titles at games meet

By Tamer Asfahani

Diablo III screenshot (Blizzard)
Diablo III is the first update to the franchise in over a decade

BlizzCon is a convention for Blizzard Entertaiment fans who will brave just about anything to be able to say they secured a ticket to one of the most popular conventions in the world.

This year, BlizzCon tickets were sold out in seconds, and if you weren't in the queue within 30 seconds, you didn't stand a chance at all.

Blizzard Entertainment is one of the most successful videogames publishers in the world, widely credited with facilitating the videogame crossover to popular culture.

For the last four years, BlizzCon has invited fans to play new titles and give feedback, as well as presenting them with the opportunity to meet the developers behind their favourite games.

New world

This year was largely about World of Warcraft (WoW), Blizzard's most successful title with a global reach of nearly 12 million subscribers, who were glad to hear confirmation of recent rumours of an expansion called Cataclysm.

The expansion will add two new playable races in the game, increase the level cap from 80 to 85, revisit some classic zones as well as introducing some new zones in the WoW universe.

When the announcement was made in the opening ceremony, the roar from the crowd, I'm sure, was heard by everyone in Disneyland, just a few blocks away.

StarCraft2 screenshot (Blizzard)
South Korea is a nation with a particular affinity for StarCraft

But it wasn't just about WoW. Diablo 3, a highly anticipated title from Blizzard, also had its moment in the spotlight. The last Diablo game was released over 10 years ago, and since then Diablo fans have been waiting for its successor with bated breath.

Last year Blizzard confirmed it was working on Diablo 3, and this year a new character class was revealed: the monk. Diablo fans were generally excited by the news; however, there was a mixed reception to the new 3D graphics engine from the show floor. The company offered no news on a release date.

StarCraft 2: Wings of Liberty was another anticipated sequel on show. A real-time strategy game, its popularity in South Korea is so high that there are TV stations dedicated to broadcasting competitions.

Although there wasn't much to report on StarCraft 2, we did learn that the story would pick up where the original left off, and that the title will offer infinite re-playable single player campaigns.

This comes with news of full map-making and three new races in the game. We also learned a lot more about Battle.net, an online server created by Blizzard to facilitate matchmaking across all of its games, which will launch with StarCraft 2, when it's released.

Again, no date has been given, although we anticipate this will make an appearance sometime in 2010.

As for the event itself, there is really no way to explain it.

Gamer queues for World of Warcraft
The last World of Warcraft release saw huge queues of dressed-up fans

Wandering the show floor, you're greeted with all sorts of weird and wonderful characters, some dressed as their favourite personage from the games. Some have come specifically to look at the technology behind the games and others were just there to admire the success of the publisher.

But it's not just a showcase from Blizzard, fans are invited to compete in a dance contest and a costume contest, both of which entertain and perplex.

And if that wasn't entertainment enough, Ozzy Osbourne closed the ceremony with a set of some of his biggest hits, driving the adoring fans wild. The Prince of Darkness has been one of the few celebrities that has promoted World of Warcraft with a humourous parody to the in-game Prince of Darkness, Arthas.

However, snowdrifts and blizzards are doomed not to last in the searing summer heat of the Californian sun, and as the crowds melted away California will have to wait until next before another blizzard strikes.



Print Sponsor


SEE ALSO
Warcraft maker tops studio study
11 May 09 |  Technology
Blizzard gets Warcraft bot payout
01 Oct 08 |  Technology
Hordes greet Warcraft expansion
13 Nov 08 |  Technology
World of Warcraft: The Lich King
13 Nov 08 |  Technology
Fantasy fuels games with finances
30 Dec 05 |  Technology

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific