Coin-OpEd: A snowball's chance in hell

BlizzCon 2011 costs $175 this year. Think that's pricey? Don't worry, you won't get a ticket. This should not distress you.


World of Warcraft
Diablo III
Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty

The day is May 25, the time is 6:58 p.m. PDT, and you are seated in front of your computer at home, the face of Diablo staring back at you from the BlizzCon 2011 website. You briefly panic that you forgot to adjust your clock's daylight saving time settings, but then remember that it does so automatically. You feel confident and composed. You are ready to hit the F5 key.

You do not think of the tragic events of May 21, when at 10 a.m. PDT, your boss waded hip-deep into a tirade over your frequent tardiness and absences. The woman is a jerk, and everyone knows this.

The clock flips to 6:59 p.m. PDT, which you fully expected because you had your computer's time-settings window open, and you begin a slow cadence of F5 keystrokes after closing the clock out. You make a mental note to contact Microsoft over the clear and obvious Windows 7 defect of not being able to refresh a Web page while staring at the time-settings window.

You begin counting in your head the seconds as they pass. You are now hitting the F5 key at an increasingly rapid pace. As you say :47, you see the screen flip to a waiting queue and then reflexively fling yourself out of your chair to break the cadence of F5 button presses. Lying on the floor, you realize you can't keep time in your head for crap. You have also hurt your elbow pretty bad. Neither of these facts bothers you, because you are going to BlizzCon 2011.

Yes, I see the skin-tight leather leggings. But does a Demon Hunter reveal really count as a headline-worthy announcement?
Yes, I see the skin-tight leather leggings. But does a Demon Hunter reveal really count as a headline-worthy announcement?

You, who have a honey, will buy two tickets. The two of you will share a modest hotel suite at the Clarion, which is in close proximity to Disneyland. You will be tempted to go to Disneyland, but you will not go, because you know it contains several levels of fail, both perceived and actual. The Clarion is also just 0.20 miles away from the Anaheim Convention Center, which is kind of far but not too bad.

Coming, as you are, from a place other than Orange County, you will buy a pair of Southwest plane tickets. You will select the Wanna Get Away option, because the "and MORE!" promise is tantalizing.

Let's do some math. The tickets themselves are 175 goddamn dollars apiece, which is 25 goddamn dollars more than tickets last year and 50 goddamn dollars more than the year before.

Presumably, you both will want to eat during the trip. Food will cost you $100. I'm sorry, but that's just the way it is. Sandwiches may be involved; Morton's Steakhouse most certainly will not.

Deathwing's arrival, on the other hand, brought BlizzCon to its knees.
Deathwing's arrival, on the other hand, brought BlizzCon to its knees.

Oh, and unless you plan on summoning your Epic Flying Mount to whisk you and your honey from John Wayne to the Anaheim CC, it's going to be a $40 taxi ride there and back. Also, the Pakistani driver on the way back tells hilarious self-deprecating terrorism jokes, so you will give him an extra fiver.

Because you went with Southwest's Wanna Get Away option, even after you realized that the "and MORE!" promise equates to a free groping of your honey at the security checkpoint, the plane tickets will cost $502.80. Who are we kidding? The Clarion is a dump and will cost only $276, total.

You and your honey are going to split this, right? Of course? Should we check with her first? OK, fine. You and your honey will each put about $631.90 on your credit cards. Keep in mind that your mileage may vary (and I've been failing math since I was 12).

Let's take a step back real quick and look at this.

For about $631.90, you could almost buy a pretty sweet Rancilio Silvia Espresso Machine - New 2009 Model V3 ($649). Captain America Comics #72 wouldn't be out of the question (current bid: $650, Buy It Now: $700). Say you were just joking about Disneyland being lame because your honey was in the room. How about a Disney World Premium Annual Pass ($630)? Did you know that a new Luminox 1890 Series Field Chronograph Stainless Steel Men's Watch would absolutely solve your Windows 7 clock problem ($650)?

As your mom would tell you, $631.90 in a Roth IRA would turn into about $13,730 in 40 years, based on a 25 percent marginal tax rate and 8 percent growth assumption.

Here's how this works. I'm not saying that the 175 goddamn dollars that Blizzard wants per ticket to this year's BlizzCon is not worth it. BlizzCon is just one of many trade shows and expos I attend every year, and no other boasts the same level of electricity and excitement from a fan's perspective. I am by nurture an apathetic creature, and even I felt a chill when, say, Chris Metzen took the stage in 2009 to announce in that booming voice of his the arrival of Cataclysm.

But then again, I'm not saying the 175 goddamn dollars that Blizzard wants per ticket is worth it. Take, for instance, last year's show. For those paying for big headline announcements, the best Blizzard could do was a reveal for the last of Diablo III's five classes. The eminently eBay-able schwag bag, too, was wanting, with worthwhile content including just a Deathwing statue and the Deathy in-game pet.

Blizzard: Tell us that Titan is more than just one of Saturn's moons.
Blizzard: Tell us that Titan is more than just one of Saturn's moons.

Blizzard even had the audacity to taunt its fans during the announcement-light 2010 show by first indicating that those in attendance would get a first look at its new massively multiplayer online game Titan, only to then pull a "Psych! Made ya look." And still a $25 premium over the year before, when gamers were treated to a World of Warcraft expansion announcement and a show by the Lord of Darkness himself, Ozzy Osbourne.

Yes, there is the fact that Blizzard "incurs a substantial loss" from BlizzCon, but as VP of product development Frank Pearce said in 2009, the show is "a huge marketing opportunity" for the company. Are these 25 goddamn dollar ticket hikes merely a case of Blizzard passing on the marketing costs to consumers?

What are fans actually getting for these extra 25 goddamn dollars? There certainly are a few things that could make it worthwhile, as all three of its major franchises are currently ripe for announcements. A first showing of Starcraft II: Heart of the Swarm would be nice, as would first word on WOW's fourth expansion. Or, Diablo III still needs a date, and its inevitable (wishful thinking?) trip to consoles has yet to be confirmed.

But really, what would actually be worth this year's 25 goddamn dollar hike? Actually showing Titan, as opposed to last year's cruel tease sounds like it might fit the bill.

But for many of you, these questions are moot. When, invariably, the gestating idea of attending BlizzCon takes a turn toward stillborn, and you aren't among the 20,000 or so who hit that queue just right--sneak in within that seconds-long window that Mike Morhaime described during last year's opening ceremony--remember to take heart. You'll still have GameSpot's coverage. You could maybe get that DirecTV Virtual Ticket ($40). And hey, with the money you and your honey save, why not go ahead and just buy a Banzai Drop Zone Water Slide ($640) instead?

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