Players and fans from around the world play World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria at BlizzCon 2011 in Anaheim on Friday, Oct. 21, 2011.
BlizzCon 2012 has been canceled. The annual convention for gamers who love World of Warcraft, Diablo and Starcraft has been held in Anaheim every fall since 2005 (with one previous exception being no convention in 2006), but now Blizzard Entertainment has announced no convention this year due to a "jam-packed schedule," according to a press release.
Why would they cancel the popular convention, with fevered fans coming from around the world in order to spend money on your products? It's grown from 8,000 fans when first held in 2005 to sellouts of 27,000 fans in 2010 and 26,000 in 2011, with tickets selling at $175 a pop. The convention's featured concerts by the Foo Fighters, Ozzy Osbourne and Tenacious D.
Blizzard's press release also noted that they're holding a major gaming tournament in Asia later this year, as well as working on Diablo III and expansion packs for both World of Warcraft and Starcraft II, but it seems like the company's turning down free money. Of course, the company has also said that it loses money on the conventions, but the marketing value of an event like this can't be underestimated.
It's also a convention where having key staff available is important, and they noted that they were busy getting out a variety of games. Could pulling them away for a few days for the convention, and perhaps a bit more for prep, significantly impact development?
"It's a bit disappointing because we all really do enjoy being able to 'open the doors' so to speak," World of Warcraft online community manager "Bashiok" wrote in a message board post. "But, it is an enormous effort by all employees, including our game designers and artists, not to mention customer support and quality assurance, PR, our business departments, and *hot breath on fingernails & shirt rub* Community & eSports to make a BlizzCon happen.
It can be difficult for a staff to organize major conventions. San Diego Comic-Con has faced some growing pains in recent years, with delays and hiccups due to both technological and staffing issues. However, it seems that a company like Blizzard could choose to higher additional staff to make something like this work.
Are they afraid of backlash at a convention if they fail to meet release dates? They've shown Diablo III at BlizzCons for the past four years, so they could always be wanting to hold back on a convention if they don't feel they have enough new to show off, but it seems that fans are excited enough that they wouldn't completely cancel the convention.
"In a year when we're working to release multiple titles (knock on wood) it makes sense to focus our efforts," community manager "Bashiok" wrote. "Also with multiple game releases we just wonder if we'd be at a point with any of them where we'd have anything really big or new or cool to talk about."
Perhaps one other key point in that post: "Thinking about our year and what we're trying to get done already without a BlizzCon, and having to think pretty hard about what we'd have to announce or demo, it just makes sense to me not to have one." While a convention can certainly be fun without having anything to announce or demonstrate, it's understandable that they may want to hold off until they can leave fans wanting more instead of leaving fans feeling let down.
Will BlizzCon move to being a biannual convention? It could help build anticipation and make each trip to Anaheim a more special experience. Disney's relatively new D23 convention is biannual, with conventions held in 2009 and 2011 and another coming in 2013, but it at least thus far hasn't reached the epic level of BlizzCon or Comic-Con.
Blizzard wasn't immediately available for comment when contacted by KPCC.
(via Geeks Are Sexy)