Covid-19 has put a damper on convention and event plans for everyone this year. Blizzard has not been immune to the effects, they announced earlier in the year that the 2020 BlizzCon was officially cancelled and they would be providing an online alternative, BlizzConline.
There was some confusion around the new event, in previous years BlizzCon was a paid event both in-person and online. If you wanted to watch any panels, esports events, or reveals you would need to fork out some cash for a “virtual ticket”.
Well, the questions have been answered, President J. Allen Brack revealed on a fireside chat video that BlizzConline will be completely free for everyone to watch when it starts in February 2021.
This is great news, for many people this will be the first time that they will get a front-row seat to watch the videos live.
What can we expect?
This could be a big year for BlizzCon, Blizzard is well known for announcing and even launching games and new IP’s at their opening ceremonies. These have been a staple of previous Blizzcon’s and even though we do not have any concrete information on the schedule, it is likely that something will be announced.
That “something” may very well be Overwatch 2. In late October we reported that one of the most recognisable leakers in the Overwatch community, Metro, tweeted a rumour that the Overwatch 2 release date will be announced at BlizzConline. This would be huge news for the esports community; a whole new meta may be introduced, we could see certain pro-players become irrelevant in the new scene, maybe even a split in the esports market divided between the two games.
What else did they announce?
Outside of the BlizzConline announcement, Brack also provided some other interesting pieces of information. The pandemic has had a major effect on the company, both from a staffing standpoint and from their user base. He mentioned that more than 95% of the Blizzard global workforce is now working from home, there have been more than 100 million characters created in World of Warcraft and reached more than 1.5 billion levels.
In the competitive scene, there is a new reporting system that has been put in place for competitive online games such as Heroes of the Storm and Overwatch. Also, in Overwatch, there is a change to the profanity filter, there are now three different tiers, which the player can alter when they so choose to.
BlizzConline takes place in the same month that Blizzard Entertainment celebrate their 30-year anniversary as a company. It is likely that will feature heavily at the event and they may be planning some major reveals and launches to celebrate it. Nothing is 100% certain right now so don’t get your hopes up too high yet but it is safe to assume that we will be getting some juicy details in the weeks and months to come.