After a year's hiatus, Blizzard Entertainment returned to the Anaheim Convention Center this week to host the 7th BlizzCon fan event.
"From everyone at Blizzard, thank you for being here. Welcome home," said Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime as he took the stage on Friday to kick off the BlizzCon keynote address.
"I love you!" screamed a man in the crowd.
BlizzCon is first and foremost a show for the fans, but there's always a decent smorgasbord of news about Blizzard's games sandwiched between the festivities. This year's keynote was no different, as Blizzard's finest took the stage to announce a new World of Warcraft expansion, new platforms and details about Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm, and more.
Blizzard apologizes for the Diablo III auction house
Blizzard didn't really talk much about its new Diablo III expansion, Reaper of Souls. No bombastic, inspirational video. No fireworks. No giant demon bursting through the wall of the Anaheim Convention Center, murdering the crowd and feasting on souls.
All we got was an apology. "Two months ago we announced we were getting rid of the auction house," said President of Blizzard Michael Morhaime. The entire crowd erupted. My eardrums are still bleeding.
The auction house was a much-lambasted Diablo III feature where people could sell their rare loot for real-world money. It ruined both the process and the thrill of finding loot, and was largely responsible for the game's controversial "always-online" status.
Blizzard had already said they were nixing the feature and improving loot drops in the upcoming expansion, but today we got a real apology. A chastened Michael Morhaime looked the crowd in its collective eyes and said, "We're going to make it right, and we're not going to stop there."
Heroes of the Storm tries to make "hero brawler" a thing
And then we were off! Real announcement time! Trailers galore! People flipping over chairs!
Blizzard DOTA/Blizzard All-Stars/Heroes of the Storm is Blizzard's long-in-production MOBA that's supposed to compete with games like Valve's DOTA 2 and Riot's League of Legends. Blizzard's claim to the genre is that the original DOTA started life as a Warcraft III user mod, so clearly Blizzard is the correct company to make a new version.
"When we had the chance to make one of these games our own, we just couldn't resist," said game director Dustin Browder. Of course, Blizzard foolishly let the rights to DOTA slip over to Valve in the first place. He also referred to it as the "hero brawler" genre. Sorry, Browder. Not going to happen.
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