The Blizzard BlitzMay 9, 2008
It would be a dangerous assumption to view Blizzard as being naive and complacent this year. They know that while they’re wielding the single biggest MMORPG on the planet, their game is pushing four years now and has plenty of disgruntled players upset with the glacial pace of the expansions and the recent fixation on Arena PvP. While they’re in no danger of being toppled, Blizz has to know that they stand to lose a nice chunk of their player base to the fresh young MMO upstarts this year, what with their spiffy graphics, brand new content and promise that they’ve learned WoW’s lessons and have built something even better.
So today we’ve seen something I’m calling the “Blizzard Blitz”: a PR flood of information designed to divert attention from the upcoming MMOs and retain player interest in their product. Call it coincidence if you like, but you can’t deny these simple facts:
1. Age of Conan, a highly-touted and anticipated MMORPG, is launching in about two weeks.
2. As a result of being the only AAA MMO releasing in this spring window, AoC is enjoying a near-domination of the MMO news cycle. They want a huge launch, and they’re going all out with the publicity (as would any MMO, really).
3. Right as gamers are deciding whether or not to plunk down $50 and a fair share of their summer gaming time on Conan, Blizzard — who has been holding back info on their next expansion with an iron-clad grip — suddenly explodes over all the usual gaming sites with brand-new info, screenies, videos, interviews and revelations about Wrath of the Lich King.
Deliberate on the part of their marketing department (and I truly believe it is), this Blizzard Blitz is a brilliant counter-stroke to Funcom’s own marketing. WoW gamers have been eagerly anticipating new info on Lich King for months, and right as they’re at the point of possibly jumping ship, boom. Hook, line and sinker.
So why am I noting this? As WAR fans, we should be just as alert for this blitz when the fall rolls around. Both Blizzard and Mythic aren’t committing to a firm release date just yet, but I’ll put good money on the possibility that when Mythic comes out to say “We’re launching on [month/day] and here’s a gob of pre-release goodies”, then Blizzard will try to steal their thunder by either releasing Lich King in the same time frame, or (if they’re not at the point of launch), try to get the spotlight back with another surge of press pointed back at them.