Blizzard has reached a point that every studio, every developer, and every publisher strive to reach: a brand. You heard of them, I heard of them and everyone else heard of them, even if they don’t necessarily play their games or even like them. I have a friend who never played either Starcraft, Warcraft or Diablo, but he gets them. He knows them, he deeply understands their characters, plot and mechanics. So it’s safe to say that Blizzard has reached a legendary level. And up until a year ago, they have been kind of a sleeping giant, taking years between new releases of major content. But now, they have awoken. And they’re ready to take over the world.
Blizzard already owned the MMORPG genre. World of Warcraft has been staying at the top rank for years and years and it has been one of the most successful games ever made, revolving around an incredible lore and a ridiculous fanbase. And with its constant flow of new content, like this year’s Warlords of Draenor, is sending the message that it won’t go down very soon. I tend to think it will never go down. So that’s one.
Another legendary series is represented by Starcraft. While it may not be seen as the best Real-Time Strategy game out there, it is certainly the most successful, just like its cousin, WoW. And the RTS market is one of today’s worst, as there aren’t too many developers working on this genre left, so it’s clear that with the upcoming Legacy of the Void, Blizzard will totally own the RTS table as well. And that’s two.
Last, but not least, there’s Diablo. While the release version of Diablo III was problematic, Blizzard quickly recovered with the help of well-thought patching, updating and new-content adding such as last year’s Reaper of Souls expansion. And what makes the Diablo series unique is that its representative genre is a bit ambiguous. Some may say it’s hack and slash. others that it’s just an action role-playing game, while most of us think it’s a hybrid of the two. So there isn’t a certain and set category for Blizzard to take over, but nonetheless, that’s a wonderful thing as Diablo represents Blizzard’s innovation, and with more games copying it, like Torchlight and Path of Exile, it seems that Diablo gets some tough competition. And competition is always good because it makes the developers try harder in order to make their game better and stay at the top. That’s three.
So up until a while ago, Blizzard owned monopoly over the MMO and RTS genres, as well as having set an example in the action-rpg category as well. But that wasn’t enough and they introduced us to their first new IP in years: Hearthstone. The card-trading zone wasn’t a very popular one and it was inhabited mainly by Magic: The Gathering elitists. Other card-trading games tried to make something out of it, but either failed or fell into the unknown. But Blizzard wasn’t going to fail so they pumped lots of cash into the marketing and advertising of their game and it paid off. Hearthstone was one of the hottest and most trending games even in its closed beta stage. And with Blizzard pumping new content very soon after its launch was like putting gas on fire. The Naxramass expansion was a huge success and now, with the Goblins vs Gnomes thematic which adds 120 new cards to the meta, helps Blizzard taking over the card-trading genre as well, not to mention that it’s one of the best games you could play on your tablet. And that it’s totally free. Four.
But why stop there? What’s the number one game that everyone plays and everyone talks about? League of Legends. Or Dota 2, for that matter. No matter what side you’re in, or even if you’re part of it at all, MOBAs are the new thing. I, myself, tried to get in this hype train and have a go at both giants, but I drew the conclusion that they’re not for me. And here comes Blizzard and sends me a key for their new and first game in the MOBA area, Heroes of the Storm. I found the idea of pitting Diablo and Raynor against each other very entertaining and amusing so I gave it a go. And it totally convinced me. What does that say? That Blizzard took a gamer that was not interested in a certain genre at all and managed to make him spend hours and hours in that exact universe. And we’re talking about a genre controlled by LoL and Dota 2 which are the two most popular titles at this time. So basically, Blizzard took what these two games offer best and improved them, got rid of the unnecessary parts and threw their own twist on them and, in my opinion, created the LoL/Dota 2 killing machine. I’m not yet sure if they will manage to rise up to number one as it’s the toughest challenge they ever faced, but it will certainly be a major player in the market. And that’s five.
The last piece of the puzzle is Overwatch, a multiplayer-based first-person shooter recently announced at this year’s Blizzcon. Blizzard tried making a FPS a long time ago, but it failed. Now, it seems, they’ll have another go at it, but this time, it aims higher. Blizzard aims to provide a huge competitor for another legendary game that it currently finds itself in a league of their own: Team Fortress 2. TF2 is one of the most played and most successful first-person shooters out there and Blizzard wants in on the ride. With Overwatch, they plan to take over this area as well, and they totally have a good chance of succeeding. Their best advantage, just like in Heroes of the Storm’s case, is that they can observe the already-present TF2 and build upon its flaws and its qualities. And with that, we have six.
Six major genres, six major games that Blizzard wants to take over the gaming world with. In the last couple of years, they had a tremendous climb in the industry and they proved a great amount of courage to just ask themselves “Hey, what are the most popular games of our time?” and try to put their own answer up there. I tend to think that in their many years of silence they just sit and observe, analyzing the industry, making plans and plots behind closed curtains. And now they smelled the opportunity and chose to strike in so many places at once. That, my friends, is having balls.