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Gamespot talked to Blizzard's President J. Allen Brack about WoW Classic, mobile titles, porting WoW to consoles, and Activision. Here are the highlights.
Announcing WoW Classic at BlizzCon and the game being released has been a peak career experience for J. Allen Brack. Despite the recent layoffs, Blizzard is a values-driven and values-led company, and they make all their big strategic decisions through that lense. They still prioritize gameplay first and focus on delivering great player experiences and focus on the community. Blizzard did a poor job at communicating the announcement of Diablo: Immortal. The key thing that was lost is that they are a PC developer first. Mobile doesn't have to be a lesser-quality experience, and they think it's possible to make Blizzard-quality games on various platforms, which is why they ported Diablo to all both Xbox and PlayStation along with the Switch. They had a candid look at themselves, post-BlizzCon, to digest the fan reaction. Hearthstone is the only mobile game they've done so far, and it took them quite a while to figure out how they were going to find the Blizzard way of making a good mobile game. Blizzard doesn't have a history of having Mike Morhaime or someone else at the top saying, "Hey, Blizzard should go make, insert type of game." Instead, a team of developers who are passionate about a particular idea or genre are given the space to create and iterate and deliver something that they think it's excellent. In a question about the influence of Activision on the company, J. Allen Brack responded that Overwatch League Finals had been created in conjunction with some people at Activision Blizzard and the desire that they have is the same as the desire they have, which is to have their games exposed to and played by millions of players around the world and while both companies have different ways to think about how to achieve that goal, their goals are very aligned with them. The fact that a developer was put in charge of the company after Mike and the fact they promoted Ray Gresko to be the chief development officer speaks to not only what Blizzard values are but is also an indication that Activision Blizzard understands what's important to Blizzard. They've talked about porting WoW over to consoles, but the game has been built for a keyboard type experience from a UI standpoint. The controls would be also bad due to classes having more than 50 abilities at level 60. Click here to read the full Gamespot interview.
It came as quite a shock to all of us when Chris Metzen announced he was retiring, not only from Blizzard but from gaming in general. Now, in an interview with Scott Johnson of the Instance podcast, Chris talks about the reasons behind his decision. The whole thing is well worth a listen, but here are some highlights:.
"Leaving Blizzard was an incredibly difficult thing. I'd been there since, essentially, I was a kid. I think I was 19 when I got hired and it was my whole life, it was my identity. And it was in many ways, all-consuming. It was just incredible, but there can be a cost sometimes to running that hard."
As expected, developing Titan and then transforming it into Overwatch was extremely difficult and took its toll.
"I think during those years I burned out really hard. I think in my heart, I needed a change in my life. I wanted to slow down, I wanted to just not carry the weight of it all. But when you've been at a company like Blizzard for as long as I have, I think about Shawshank Redemption: I'm an institutional man now. I'm a Blizzard guy, through and through. I love that place. I love the people. It made me feel schizophrenic."
"I started having panic attacks left and right and just non-stop anxiety. Before I finally retired, I think I had been having panic attacks all the time, but I didn't know what they were. Kat and I would go on dates to go to a movie and almost all the time, I would start panicking in the middle of a movie. I had no idea what was going on."
That and his new born daughter added up to the decision to leave Blizzard and the wider gaming world behind, a decision we can all respect, and, in our own selfish way, be saddened by.
Unfortunately SoundCloud embeds don't seem to be working right now so you can listen to the full interview here.
Classic is pretty popular right now, which is evident from the huge queues and massive sever overpopulation, as well as its massive twitch popularity on the first day. 1.1 Million viewers tuned in to see the origins of WoW once more and this huge spike in attention, as well as the big crowds of people literally waiting in line to be able to play on some servers, and the game trending on twitter, pushed Activision Blizzard's stocks up by as much as 6%.
The stock topped out at $48.69 the day before Classic and peaked at $52.22 today, but we'll see how it finishes up at the end of the day. It's certainly a big indication that everyone is paying attention to Classic, and that at least as far as the launch went, it's turned out to be a massive hit. Unfortunately it's a bigger hit than even Blizzard expected (directly mirroring the Vanilla launch), as dozens of new servers had to be put up during launch day and even more are being added today as well and Blizzard even rethinking their realm population calculation system.
The Q2 2019 Earnings Call was held on August 8 and Blizzard remains at 32 million monthly active users (MAUs). WoW subscribers increased since mid-May, following the release of WoW Classic Beta and Rise of Azshara.
Q2 2019 Earnings Call Highlights
Hearthstone MAUs increased Q/Q following the release of the Rise of Shadows expansion and deeper, more engaging new single-player content in the quarter. Overwatch MAUs were relatively stable Q/Q, with engagement increasing following the release of the Workshop. World of Warcraft® subscribers increased since mid-May, following the release date announcement and beta for World of Warcraft Classic and the Rise of Azshara update. At Blizzard, daily time spent per player increased Y/Y. Overwatch League hours viewed continued to grow Y/Y in the two stages held during Q2. Season to date, viewership and average minute audience have grown double digits Y/Y. Activision Blizzard delivered approximately $800M of in-game net bookings in Q2. Revenues and operating income are down Y/Y, reflecting lower in-game revenues. Operating margin fell Y/Y, with the revenue decline partially offset by lower costs. They continue expanding their development teams and resources to accelerate the delivery of content in their pipeline, pursue business models, etc. Slide Presentation
Blizzard today confirmed they no longer manufacture physical authenticators. If you own one, it will still work, though.
Forum users wondered whether the physical authenticator has been discontinued and Blizzard confirmed they no longer manufacture them, but they are still supported. If you own one and think it may run out of juice, consider switching to the mobile app.
I’ve been searching all over the place, and I can’t see a place where it says that these have been discontinued. But the link to the store where they used to sell them is just a 404 now.
So, does Blizzard no longer provide hardware authentication? I’m starting to make the move away from phone apps and into authentication hardware like a yubikey.
We no longer manufacture, or offer physical authenticators. Sorry!
Wow…ok that is totally unexpected!
I still have mine. I assume it will be supported as long as the battery lasts. Is that the case? I really really dislike phone apps.
Yes, they’re still supported just no longer manufactured.
Will there be a new physical authenticator down the pipeline, or should we just think of it gone from now on?
I don’t have any information to share on that front.
Any information how they are supposed to change up their authenticators?
The process for changing or removing an authenticator hasn’t changed. Nothing about the authenticator system has changed except that the physical keychain is no longer available for purchase.
If their keychain authenticators are still working* and they would like to change to a mobile authenticator they can do so pretty easily:
Removing the Blizzard Authenticator Once the old authenticator is removed, they can immediately attach the new one.
*If the authenticator is no longer working, this article will still be able to assist them. If they have a SMS number associated with their account they can use that for removal or they can contact customer support if they need assistance.