BlizzCon 2008: Blizzard greets its horde

World of Warcraft maker delivers opening remarks at annual convention, unveils wizard class in Diablo III and talks up first-ever Starcraft II tourney.


ANAHEIM, California--It isn't at all out of the ordinary to see a line at nearby Disneyland. However, unlike the throngs of screaming children bent on seeing Walt's iconic rodent, the crowds that descended upon the Anaheim Convention Center last night and into this morning were reminiscent of a Zergling rush, eager to pay homage to a prince of darkness, a Lich King, and all else that is Blizzard Entertainment. Their goal? That would be an entry badge to this year's show and the coveted BlizzCon swag bag, the contents of which are now conveniently listed on your local eBay.

For the fortunate few who managed to secure a ticket to Blizzard's annual exhibition, the show will feature two days of tournaments, developer panels, and guild meetings. Many will also have an opportunity to see firsthand Blizzard's slate of highly anticipated upcoming titles, including Starcraft II, Diablo III, and World of Warcraft's second expansion, Wrath of the Lich King.

The exhibition and gaming halls opened their doors to bleary-eyed gamers at a (relatively) early 10 a.m. on this overcast day in Anaheim. However, the show doesn't really begin until Blizzard brass take to the stage to deliver the gamemaker's annual opening ceremonies address. That event begins in a matter of minutes.

At last year's show, Blizzard used its opening remarks to reveal Wrath of the Lich King. That announcement was flanked by Starcraft II, which was revealed at the 2007 Worldwide Invitational in Korea, and Diablo III, a game Blizzard sprung at its first European Worldwide Invitational in June. It seems unlikely, but will Blizzard go for a four-peat of game announcements? There is always that unannounced massively multiplayer online game that isn't WOW. And whatever happened to that Starcraft: Ghost, anyway? World of Guitar Hero, anyone? Blizzard holds forth.

[11:01] The Anaheim Convention Hall A is cavernous, and Blizzard's faithful are having no problems filling it..and then some.

[11:02] Gary Platner takes the stage, pumping up the crowd

[11:03] Mike Morhaime takes the stage to raucous applause.

[11:03] The crowd shouts something...cheers ensue.

[11:04] "Hello everyone. Welcome to our third BlizzCon!" More cheers.

[11:04] "We've got a great show, and we better, after what you all had to go through to get tickets."

[11:05] The crowd appears to be jeering the massively wealthy Blizzard CEO, all in good fun. Morhaime talks up sharing "prerelease versions of our games" with the company's most passioniate and dedicated gamers.

[11:06] Morhaime reminisces about the first BlizzCon. He said it took three weeks to sell out the first year. This year, it was all gone within 15 minutes, and they sold 15,000 tickets.

[11:06] If World of Warcraft were a country, he said it would be the 75th most populated country in the world.

[11:07] Morhaime talks about having all three major franchises from Blizzard for the first time at a BlizzCon. Diablo III will be shown on the floor.

[11:08] The crowd erupts at that last bit, eagerly awaiting delving into the infernal dungeons.

[11:08] Morhaime calls for a trailer to run from the European event where Diablo III was announced.

[11:09] The trailer, backed by Blizzard's brand of epic music, shows the teams that competed, the cosplayers that attended, and the unveiling of Diablo III.

[11:09] Here the crowd erupts, as it did when the game was first announced, and then we see some more...cosplay! Yay.

[11:11] The Euro Invitational trailer is still running. Enough of "then," lets get some of the "now"...

[11:12] And the trailer wraps. The eager crowd cheers again.

[11:12] Morhaime is back, thanking the crowd for its support over the years.

[11:13] The world's very first Starcraft II tournament will headline this BlizzCon's tournament scene.

[11:13] The total prize package at this year's BlizzCon is 0K, not a bad chunk of change.

[11:14] "I know many of you came here to get updates on some of your favorite games..."

[11:14] On November 13, Northrend will be open, and "Arthas will be waiting," Morhaime says.

[11:15] Thousands of stores are going to be hosting midnight launches, with developers heading to these launches over the world.

[11:15] The Lich King beta is going well, he says.

[11:16] "Two years ago, at Leipzig, we unveiled the intro cinematic," Morhaime says before rolling that same cinematic up on the big screens.

[11:17] The crowd stares transfixed at the trailer, seeing it again seemingly for the first time.

[11:18] The trailer concludes, and on cue, the crowd goes wild.

[11:18] "We also have news to share about Starcraft II!"

[11:19] "We aren't ready for beta testing yet, but when we are you all will have access."

[11:19] The beta key was apparently included in the goodie bag, along with the polar bear mount.

[11:19] Morhaime promises more info on the game's single-player later today.

[11:20] "Do we have any Diablo players here?" The crowd responds with a resounding yes.

[11:20] Diablo III will let you play as the witch doctor and barbarian...and a new playable class, the wizard.

[11:21] A trailer rolls for Diablo III, with a bit more to see of this wizard.

[11:21] A female wizard enters a mausoleum, much like the one seen in the barbarian demo from earlier this year.

[11:22] She holds an orb of power in her hand; it looks a bit like a static electricity bauble.

[11:22] The wizard appears to be of Asian descent. Gameplay footage rolls, showing she has a lot of area of effect spells, blowing up enemies in large groups.

[11:23] More gameplay footage, more skeletons turned to dust, and the trailer wraps.

[11:23] Looks like that will be the big announcement during this keynote. No new games, sorry folks.

[11:24] Morhaime outlines the remainder of the show. Apparently Jay Mohr and Patton Oswald will be here.

[11:24] And it looks like we're done!

[11:25] Check back later today for more from BlizzCon, including GameSpot's impressions of Starcraft II, Diablo III, and Wrath of the Lich King.

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