BlizzCon 07: Morhaime masters opening ceremonies

Blizzard CEO welcomes attendees of semiannual community event, highlights upcoming competitions, Starcraft 2, and WOW expansion.

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ANAHEIM, Calif.--A little more than two hours after the doors opened to BlizzCon 2007, the convention's opening ceremony officially welcomed the masses to the Southern California-based publisher and developer's second fan gathering. Gary Platner, one of the artists on World of Warcraft, greeted the jam-packed masses to this year's event, pumping up the crowd by asking for shout-outs from the various classes. Once the throngs were sufficiently riled up, Platner introduced president and cofounder Michael Morhaime, who took the stage to thunderous applause.

Blizzard president Michael Morhaime.
Blizzard president Michael Morhaime.

After thanking attendees for helping make World of Warcraft the most popular massively multiplayer online game in the world--citing Azeroth's current population of more than 9 million--Morhaime touched on some highlights the WOW juggernaut has had over the past year. Morhaime noted Burning Crusade's record-breaking sales, becoming the fastest-selling PC game of all time when it was released--breaking WarCraft III's previous record. In addition, he noted WOW's entry into pop culture, calling out the Emmy-nominated World of Warcraft episode of South Park.

Morhaime offered special mention to the loyalty and devotion of the assembled fans who snapped up tickets for the event, which sold out in three days. The spread of fans was impressive, as Morhaime noted that attendees had come from all over the world, including Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and Asia. After thanking fans again for attending, Morhaime ran through the event's agenda. Included in the festivities will be amateur competitions with thousands of dollars in prizes, a Starcraft invitational, and the finals for pro gamer World of Warcraft and Warcraft III competitions.

Other events include World of Warcraft Trading Card Game tournaments, as well as dance and costume contests. The events gain a Hollywood buff of +5 with the presence of Jay Mohr, who is set to handle hosting duties this evening and tomorrow at the Videogames Live concert, which will feature music from Blizzard games. Beyond the game-focused events, Morhaime mentioned the Sunday panel featuring staff from Legendary Pictures and Blizzard, who will discuss the Warcraft movie.

The audience stares on, transfixed by Morhaime's spell.
The audience stares on, transfixed by Morhaime's spell.

Following the run-through of event highlights, Morhaime introduced a video of Blizzard's recent Invitational in Korea, where the company unveiled Starcraft II. Morhaime noted that whereas Korean players had the chance to see the Protoss, Blizzcon attendees would be done one better, having the chance to play the Protoss and Terrans in the single-player skirmishes and multiplayer stations. He called out the upcoming panels on the game, noting that the gameplay panel would show off some of the single-player and offer some info on how players will interact with familiar faces from the Starcraft universe and chart your course through the game.

Morhaime then segued over to Frank Pierce, executive VP of product development, who touched on some of the upcoming content for WOW, including integrated voice chat and guild banks. However, Pierce noted that as exciting as that content was, the team has been working on bigger things as well and officially announced the rumored expansion.

Following his run through the expansion and debut of the trailer, Pierce sent the masses off for two days of revelry.

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