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Blizzard President J. Allen Brack on Warcraft III Reforged Launch

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Blizzard President J. Allen Brack talked to concerned investors regarding the launch of Warcraft III Reforged during yesterday's Q4 2019 earnings conference call.

Warcraft III Reforged had a rough launch. First, the developers responded to the criticism surrounding the game. Then, the company started to offer automated refunds for the title, as they continue to refine the game through new updates.

One of the investors asked a question regarding the game's launch during the call and here's what J. Allen Brack to say:

Blizzard LogoBlizzard (Source)

"Concerning Warcraft III Reforged, honestly, it's been a bit of a hard week. Our community has come to expect really amazing things from us, and we've heard from them that we did not achieve that bar, but we stand behind our games and have consistently shown that not only do we support them, but we continue to build on them even after launch, and we're committed to doing that here as well, and so, we're going to continue to update the game, and we'll continue to update the community with our plans going forward."

J. Allen Brack

Blizzard President

It seems the company is not particularly happy with the release of Warcraft III, and they will continue to release updates for the game to meet community standards.

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consistently shown that not only do we support them, but we continue to build on them even after launch, and we're committed to doing that here as well, and so, we're going to continue to update the game, and we'll continue to update the community with our plans going forward."

[Heroes of the Storm has left the Chat]

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While I understand that some fans had unrealistic expectations (Expecting features and stuff that wasn't even listed on the game's official website), this kinda comes off like he's blaming the customers for not being happy with a remaster that was a downgrade in several ways.

Several old features like custom campaigns were completely removed, many new technical issues were introduced that affected Classic users as well as Reforged users, and there's still some rather misleading marketing on the website, advertising cutscenes that aren't actually in the game.

I give WC3 Reforged a 3/10 as a remaster, and that's being generous. The new graphics look decent, but the missing features, the numerous technical issues and the misleading marketing are inexcusable. This is just sloppy craftsmanship, and the old Blizzard would never have released the game in such a sorry state.

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I think that a lot of the time consumers put unrealistic demands on developers, including Blizzard, and have no perspective whatsoever on game design tradeoffs or the difficulty and costs of development, overinflate concerns dramatically at random, and just make themselves look like uninformed idiots.

WC3 reforged is not one of those times. This statement from Brack tries to dismiss how severely bad WC3R is. It is a straight up downgrade in almost every regard except raw graphics and balance.

 

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"Concerning Warcraft III Reforged, honestly, it's been a bit of a hard week. Our community has come to expect really amazing things from us, and we've heard from them that we did not achieve that bar, but we stand behind our games and have consistently shown that not only do we support them, but we continue to build on them even after launch, and we're committed to doing that here as well, and so, we're going to continue to update the game, and we'll continue to update the community with our plans going forward."

Translation:
Concerning Warcraft III Refunded, honestly, we know it sucks. Our community has come to expect a product that is at least as good as the original, and we know we half-assed it, but the Malaysian company we outsourced it to didn't fulfill their contract, and so, they're just going to drag it out for as long as possible until deemed "complete", and we'll continue to blame them and the community with our plans going forward.

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1 hour ago, Monlyth said:

While I understand that some fans had unrealistic expectations (Expecting features and stuff that wasn't even listed on the game's official website), this kinda comes off like he's blaming the customers for not being happy with a remaster that was a downgrade in several ways.

Several old features like custom campaigns were completely removed, many new technical issues were introduced that affected Classic users as well as Reforged users, and there's still some rather misleading marketing on the website, advertising cutscenes that aren't actually in the game.

I give WC3 Reforged a 3/10 as a remaster, and that's being generous. The new graphics look decent, but the missing features, the numerous technical issues and the misleading marketing are inexcusable. This is just sloppy craftsmanship, and the old Blizzard would never have released the game in such a sorry state.

I was honestly just expecting what they showed in the E3 Demo, remastered cutscenes....in the released version......no remastered cutscenes, the E3 Demo i believe had the new UI, the released version doesn't have that, so i think i had a realistic expectation of features, which i did not get.

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I was also essentially expecting updated graphics/models, as well as all features in game to remain intact.

As far as remastered cutscenes go, I would have been content with the remastered Grom/Thrall/Mannoroth cutscene.

 

Also WEIRD THING: During the orc campaign, listen closely anytime Thrall address Grom. You can clearly he they have gone out of their way to dub over any mention of "Grom" and replaced it with "Hellscream". it's the weirdest thing ever. Thrall called him Grom because they were close, instead they went out of their way to make them appear more business like. big WTF.

 

Seriously, go listen to it. You can hear the audio cuts.

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1 hour ago, TyZone said:

Also WEIRD THING: During the orc campaign, listen closely anytime Thrall address Grom. You can clearly he they have gone out of their way to dub over any mention of "Grom" and replaced it with "Hellscream". it's the weirdest thing ever. Thrall called him Grom because they were close, instead they went out of their way to make them appear more business like. big WTF.

I've also noticed that, don't know a reason behind this decision, Grom is a common word, so it couldn't be copyrighted by someone. Btw, cinematics were never to be remastered, only intro was, so Grom's fight with Mannoroth would remain the same, only upscaled. In-game cutscenes were supposed to receive changes (like the one from Stratholme demo), but this was cut, perhaps they realised it was too ambitious to redo them with very limited time and budget. At least those who didn't want any lore changes are happy...

Brack's response is saying something and nothing, they should at least apologise for rushing the release. Patch being released recently is a good sign. It's still not enough and they've got quite a lot of stuff to fix. Honestly, I care more about being able to play custom campaigns again, than features like clans, which we know are returning eventually.

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Our community has come to expect really amazing things from us, and we've heard from them that we did not achieve that bar, but we stand behind our games and have consistently shown that not only do we support them, but we continue to build on them even after launch, and we're committed to doing that here as well, and so, we're going to continue to update the game, and we'll continue to update the community with our plans going forward.

Speech: 0
<insert_INDIE_COMPANY_joke_here>

Jump on the hate train, with this much hate fuel we will be going places.

Edited by Skayan

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As I wrote earlier in the other news regarding the Remastered, nonetheless how they solve it, in the end its another catastrophe in their relentless quest to ruin one of the most respected Developers of all time.

I doubt there will be THAT much refunds of the Remastered, its more of a shitstorm, and the only way to show them that something goes wrong is to be careful about what they do.

I neither preordered the remastered nor Shadowlands and wont preorder D4 either. I became very careful when it comes to Blizzard and only order if the critics at release are at least acceptable. 

 

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Well, this is the nail in the coffin of Blizzard for me. Not just a poorly made, unsupervised and rushed remaster, but also the deletion the original Warcraft 3, with the upcoming wow addon that is not based on anything so far presented in the game while the all the buildup and potential of Nzoth and Nyalotha, Legion and it's multiple planets was utterly wasted on just the one patch for each, cashgrab-y marketing of overwatch 1.5 as ow2, turning diablo 4 into a mmo, decent of heartstone into the cartoonish happy-rainbow madness (and it's also affecting the wow) and so on.
I'm not even sad or dissapointed at this point, i'm no longer interested in Blizzard and what they're making, and it's frightening to me as a one who's one of the silly child's dreams was working at Blizzard making Warcraft 4 or Diablo 3.

Edited by MrOger

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RIP blizzard north. I find myself very reasonable but backing off of the tuning it to follow WoW canon and not redoing at least more of the cutscenes was a big miss. I used to love them so much after SC I preorded all of their games or anticipated them (Ghost and Project Titan). They have long been gone from that, I think I lost faith after vanilla D3 launch and that god awful AH system. I still know they put out some good games but man they always mess it up somehow and it always seems like its a decision from Activision or their shareholders and not the actual devs that are making the game. Shame really.

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56 minutes ago, Soarlozer said:

RIP blizzard north. I find myself very reasonable but backing off of the tuning it to follow WoW canon and not redoing at least more of the cutscenes was a big miss. I used to love them so much after SC I preorded all of their games or anticipated them (Ghost and Project Titan). They have long been gone from that, I think I lost faith after vanilla D3 launch and that god awful AH system. I still know they put out some good games but man they always mess it up somehow and it always seems like its a decision from Activision or their shareholders and not the actual devs that are making the game. Shame really.

I feel pretty similar. I think a lot of the people working at Blizzard sincerely want to make great games, but incompetent/greedy decisions from upper management get in the way of that. WC3 Reforged definitely needed more development time before release, but I'm guessing the suits insisted that the team release it in an unfinished state.

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Implying that their release plan hasn’t (for at least the last year) been to release a game they know isn’t finished/completely workable and patch it into an acceptable state.  Shaaaaady Blizzard strikes again.

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On 2/7/2020 at 10:06 PM, miggfo said:

I think that a lot of the time consumers put unrealistic demands on developers, including Blizzard, and have no perspective whatsoever on game design tradeoffs or the difficulty and costs of development, overinflate concerns dramatically at random, and just make themselves look like uninformed idiots.

WC3 reforged is not one of those times. This statement from Brack tries to dismiss how severely bad WC3R is. It is a straight up downgrade in almost every regard except raw graphics and balance.

 

Had us in the first half, not gunna lie...

 

I actually looked at some of the quarterly releases, and for blizz, they're running at ~19% operating margin on ~1.6bn a year. JUST for Blizzard, ignoring Activision, and King games or w.e it is that pushed Candy crush. OM is after costs and taxes, so the actual profit, so they're clearly doing bloody well truth be told and could afford to put a bit more back into the games, but hey ho.

 

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On 2/7/2020 at 10:30 PM, Monlyth said:

While I understand that some fans had unrealistic expectations (Expecting features and stuff that wasn't even listed on the game's official website), this kinda comes off like he's blaming the customers for not being happy with a remaster that was a downgrade in several ways.

Several old features like custom campaigns were completely removed, many new technical issues were introduced that affected Classic users as well as Reforged users, and there's still some rather misleading marketing on the website, advertising cutscenes that aren't actually in the game.

I give WC3 Reforged a 3/10 as a remaster, and that's being generous. The new graphics look decent, but the missing features, the numerous technical issues and the misleading marketing are inexcusable. This is just sloppy craftsmanship, and the old Blizzard would never have released the game in such a sorry state.

And here I am enjoying the campaign. Though it's the only thing I will ever play in WC3 Reforged, which was the plan all along. 

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On 2/22/2020 at 5:16 AM, Znifler said:

And here I am enjoying the campaign. Though it's the only thing I will ever play in WC3 Reforged, which was the plan all along. 

Well, I enjoyed the campaign too, but I have to acknowledge a poorly-made remaster when I see one.

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On 2/23/2020 at 7:54 PM, Monlyth said:

Well, I enjoyed the campaign too, but I have to acknowledge a poorly-made remaster when I see one.

Might be, but I haven't encountered any issues. Though I only expected a revamp of the graphics. To be honest, I'd love if they made som changes to the original game in terms of pathing. My gosh it's infuriating. 

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      Activision Blizzard exceeded its second quarter outlook. Strong execution against our three strategic growth drivers of expanding audience reach, engagement and player investment enabled us to serve fantastic experiences to an enlarged gaming audience, against a backdrop of demand tailwinds from shelter-at-home. Each of our key franchises delivered better-than-expected results, with growth led by the Call of Duty® franchise following the launch of WarzoneTM. The increased investment and successful initiatives that fueled the strong second quarter results position us to continue delighting our global communities, and to deliver sustained greater financial performance.
      Activision
      Activision had 125 million MAUsD in the second quarter. Call of Duty: Warzone has reached over 75 million players to date. In the first full quarter since Warzone launched, hours played in the Modern Warfare® universe increased eight-fold year-over-year, driven by both existing and new players. Modern Warfare added more players outside of a launch quarter to the premium Call of Duty experience than ever before, with the majority coming through upgrades from Warzone. On PC, life-to-date consumption for Modern Warfare is more than double that of the prior title. Call of Duty in-game net bookingsC more than doubled quarter-over-quarter and were around five times higher than the year-ago quarter, reaching a new quarterly record. Call of Duty Mobile saw strong sequential growth in engagement and player investment, benefiting from both shelter-in-place tailwinds and the team’s ongoing work to further optimize gameplay, monthly seasonal content and the in-game economy. The game climbed the top-grossing charts in US app stores1, with each of the three seasons in Q2 generating more net bookingsB per day than the prior. Blizzard
      Blizzard had 32 million MAUsD in the second quarter. World of Warcraft® reach and engagement once again increased sequentially, as shelter-at-home conditions further boosted the franchise’s strong trajectory. The Shadowlands expansion saw an enthusiastic response from players in its public testing, with pre-sales accelerating even further ahead of its release in the fourth quarter. Franchise engagement is the highest in a decade at this point ahead of an expansion. Hearthstone®’s Ashes of OutlandTM expansion launched alongside a new hero class, as the expanded team continued to accelerate the pace of innovative content in the franchise. Overwatch® engagement grew year-over-year, including among returning players. King
      King had 271 million MAUsD in the second quarter. King delivered strong increases in reach and engagement amidst shelter-at-home conditions at the start of the quarter. While these tailwinds moderated in the second half of the quarter, MAUsD remained higher year-over-year, driven by the Candy CrushTM franchise. Candy Crush franchise MAUsD grew by a double-digit percentage year-over-year. Payer conversion grew year-over-year and Candy Crush was once again the top-grossing franchise in the U.S. mobile app stores.1 King announced it will be bringing Activision’s beloved CrashTM franchise to the mobile platform with Crash Bandicoot: On the Run!TM, an ambitious new take on the runner category with deep social and resource management elements. Advertising net bookingsB grew strongly year-over-year, accelerating through the quarter even against the backdrop of ongoing headwinds in the digital advertising sector. Company Outlook
      Our business continues to experience strong momentum, even as tailwinds from shelter-in-place moderate in certain parts of the world. In the second half of the year, we expect to launch major new content into key franchises with meaningfully larger audiences than we have seen previously, creating the opportunity for strong financial performance. The full extent of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our business, operations, and financial results will depend on numerous evolving factors that we are not able to fully predict at this time, and we remain mindful of risks and uncertainties related to global economic weakness, rising unemployment, pressures on the retail channel, pricing and other potential factors. We continue to believe we are being prudent in our guidance to account for these risks, and see the potential for overperformance if these risks do not materialize. Overall, even with this backdrop, we are raising our outlook for net revenues, net bookings and EPS for the year, more than passing through the Q2 outperformance.
      (in millions, except EPS)
      GAAP
      Outlook
      Non-GAAP
      Outlook
      Impact of GAAP
      deferralsA
      CY 2020
       
       
       
      Net Revenues
      $7,275
      $7,275
      $350
      EPS
      $2.46
      $2.87
      $0.18
      Fully Diluted Shares
      780
      780
       
       
       
       
       
      Q3 2020
       
       
       
      Net Revenues
      $1,800
      $1,800
      ($150)
      EPS
      $0.64
      $0.75
      ($0.15)
      Fully Diluted Shares
      780
      780
       
      Net bookingsB are expected to be $7.625 billion for 2020 and $1.650 billion for the third quarter of 2020.
      Capital Allocation
      The company paid a cash dividend of $0.41 per common share, up 11% year-over-year, on May 6, 2020 to shareholders of record at the close of business on April 15, 2020. Cash payments totaled $316 million.
      Conference Call
      Today at 4:30 p.m. EDT, Activision Blizzard’s management will host a conference call and webcast to discuss the company’s results for the quarter ended June 30, 2020 and management’s outlook for the remainder of the calendar year. The company welcomes all members of the financial and media communities and other interested parties to visit https://investor.activision.com to listen to the conference call via live Webcast or to listen to the call live by dialing into 866-777-2509 in the U.S. We encourage participants to pre-register for the conference call using the following link http://dpregister.com/10145881. A replay of the call will also be available after the call's conclusion and archived for one year at https://investor.activision.com/events.cfm.
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