Blizzard | BlizzCon predictions

Once again, we ask the Mystic Frog to part the veils and consider what BlizzCon 2016 might hold.

Something completely new?

There are lots of games to consider the in Blizzard stable. But first lets address the spectre of a new IP. This is highly unlikely this year. They still have plenty of scope in the existing IPs and these take a long time to develop. The only chance of a new IP right now is if they are making games for an existing IP outside of their own (i.e. a film IP or the like) and this seems unlikely at this time. Its never been something they have done and all the major IPs are already tied to other studios.

But a new game? This is more likely. It would have to be based on an existing IP and would have to add something new to its stable. You aren't going to see a StarCraft themed version of Hearthstone, for example. Your options are an upgrade, or a new genre. So lets look at the existing games and IPs.

World of Warcraft

Given where we are in the Legion cycle, its highly unlikely we will see a new expansion announced. They have stated recently that they are moving away from faster expansions and are going to focus instead on frequency of content within an expansion. Also, Legion is very new, and to announce an expansion now would undermine it.

Instead, I would expect to see detail about the content coming after 7.1. Also, I would hope to see some of the social changes that were delayed from Legion launch. I am still hoping for cross-realm guilds and multiple guild membership in particular. Even better would be Blizzard Clans.

Blizzard Clans?

Clans would be cross-game and provide you with a communications space via the launcher. You could see what games your clan members are playing and join up with them. You could organise events. You could chat via Blizzard Voice and see when your clan members are streaming. How awesome does that sound? Lets hope it happens.

Hearthstone

We may well get an expansion announcement for Hearthstone at BlizzCon, simply because they are normally quite frequent. I'm not sure where else they can really go with this game in terms of new features, but I would like to see achievements.

StarCraft II

Various bits and bobs have been added to StarCraft over the last few months. New announcers, tweaks to competitive play. I don't expect anything major for StarCraft II this year beyond a new MIssion Pack of some kind. Blizzard Clans would be useful for some of the group play options ...

We could potentially see a new game in the StarCraft IP in the future. Logically, a space fighter game would be an addition to the stable. More likely, however, is something that can re-use the StarCraft tools the way Heroes of the Storm does. If they can do this, it ups the chances of a new game significantly.

Overwatch

We're expecting a new hero at least (Sombra), but what else could Overwatch add? Theres actually a huge amount of potential in this game. Remember they started with this as an MMO, so there are likely other assets kicking around out there. A PvE campaign is what I am hoping for. It would attract a whole different player whilst re-using some art assets. Thats a bit hopeful, however. We may well see a new map (maybe even with a new objective type) and some kind of other new tweak such as weapon options or ability options or skills, etc. Maybe daily quests or something similar.

Diablo

This is where all the speculation seems to be at the moment. The rumours say Diablo IV. I sincerely doubt this. Firstly, Diablo III is not that old technology wise. What would Diablo IV look like? Well, a lot like Diablo III. Thats right, draw all new art and build new game systems so you can make a game that looks just like Diablo III! Er, no.

Thats not to say there isn't likely to be something big in the Diablo space. There are a few options here:

  • A new expansion to Diablo. Theres only been one so far and this would definitely be more logical than a new game.
  • A new game mode of some kind in Diablo III. This could work very well, but it we're going to get something like this its going to be monetized in some way, or be a variation on a theme.
  • A mobile version of Diablo (possibly of Diablo I or II). This is the most likely option given they hired some developers a while back to work on older games. Diablo would work well on mobile.
  • A new game in the Diablo IP, but of a different genre.
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Heroes of the Storm

Heroes has really been going for it recently. I would expect to see another campaign following the current StarCraft based one. In particular I think an Overwatch themed one could work. Perhaps with some kind of payload escort or capture the point mechanics. The way Overwatch heroes have been ported in is very consistent in its use of Overwatch style mechanics (reload, etc.) so Overwatch style map objectives seems likely. Alternatively, a Warcraft themed campaign could work as that still has loads of material ripe for use.

What other genres could Blizzard take over?

So far we have an MMO, an action RPG, an RTS, an FPS, a MOBA and a collectible card game. What could be next on the cards for Blizzard?

  • A space fighter - likely in the StarCraft universe.
  • A racing game - likely in the Overwatch universe.
  • A beat-em-up - any IP would work (or a combination of IPs), perhaps with a retro feel?
  • A stealth game - likely in the StarCraft or Overwatch universes.
  • A sim game - any IP would work but Overwatch seems the most likely? Perhaps run your own Omnium ... (I would LOVE to see this)
  • A music/party game - Warcraft: Dance Studio?
  • A story driven adventure game or puzzle game - any IP would work
  • A platformer - any IP would work and this could exploit console and mobile

Overall I expect some will be disappointed with BlizzCon 2016. Theres unlikely to be something big and unexpected in any game. A big development to the-software-formerly-known-as-battle-net is the most exciting option, consolidating their player base which is now split across many games. Blizzard know that few players restrict themselves to a single game these days. Rather, they will want to optimise gamers coming into their overall system and encourage them to move around from Blizzard game to Blizzard game, rather than leave for pastures new.