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Blizzcon '09 Opening Ceremonies Summarized

Posted Fri, Aug 21, 2009 by B. de la Durantaye

20,000 people clamoured outside the Anaheim convention center today in eager anticipation of what Blizzard Entertainment may announce this year at Blizzcon 2009. The crowds swelled, wrapping well around the entire convention center, and the line-up to get into the front doors seemed to go on for miles. With no exaggeration, this event has already rivalled large sporting events in terms of dedicated fans and sheer volume of excited badge-holders. Mike Morheim, CEO of Blizzard Entertainment informed the crowd today that if you didn’t get into the queue to buy a Blizzcon ticket within 30 seconds of the ticket sales site going live, you didn’t get a pass.

As the convention center filled with gamers and press, the excitement was palpable. Rumors have been circulating around the internet quickly about World of Warcraft’s newest expansion, Cataclysm, and it was clear from the start of the epochal event that the rumors would be put to rest, and MMO gamers worldwide would have appreciable materials to satiate their thirst for all things Blizzard.

Hall D, the chosen venue for the opening ceremony was populated quickly, and finding a seat was akin to finding a Furby for Christmas in 1998 – you just couldn’t get one. Even the press box was full, so to our readers who think a Press Badge gets you everything – think again!

Gary Platner, lead artist for World of Warcraft opened the ceremonies and was met with an emphatic welcoming ovation from the attendees. He warmed up the crowd almost instantly with a humorous glance at a recent forum post entitled “Pet Peeves of Blizzcon.”

Diablo III MonkThe crowd didn’t need much warming up though, and soon, Gary segued the ceremonies into an introduction of Mike Morheim.

Morheim then earned more applause and energetic audience response by announcing StarCraft II’s newest award of “Best Game of Cologne Gamescom.”

Also of note, World of Warcraft has been brought back to China. After some publishing disputes with The9, WoW is now going to be distributed by NetEase in China, and beta for the re-release of the game under the new distributer will begin shortly. Crowd response to this news was a somewhat unhurried acknowledgement, perhaps due to mixed feelings about the game’s presence in the East and its potential implications of gold farmers.

After a brief glimpse back to some highlights of last year’s Blizzcon, Morheim announced that World of Warcraft will be celebrating its fifth anniversary come November. As part of the celebratory milestone, the dungeon of Onyxia’s Lair will be revamped to give players an even bigger challenge than they’ve experienced before.

The hot announcements didn’t end there. Also confirmed by Morheim is that StarCraft 2 will be shipped next year along with the new Battlenet platform. Details of the new Battlenet will be available at the convention, and we’ll be sure to keep you up to speed as the particulars are unveiled. StarCraft 2’s first single player campaign is also playable in its entirety this weekend at the convention, and we intend to send staff writer, Adam Stow, in for some hands on impressions.

200,000 dollars in prizes are being fought for this weekend as some of the top professional gamers of the world compete in the various competitions held at Blizzcon. This brings Blizzard’s prize money total given away this year up to $340,000 USD.

The murloc marine pet isn’t the only thing Blizzcon attendees will take home with them this year. Included in the swag bag was a Blizzcon-exclusive N00BZ Figure that will not be reproduced ever again. Collectors will be certainly racketeering to get their hands on these limited edition collectibles.

At this point in the opening ceremonies, Morheim then gave the floor to Chris Metzin, the VP of Creative Development.

Metzin opened his part of the ceremonies by uncovering the Monk Class, Diablo III’s newest class addition. You’ll be able to find the gameplay trailer of the Monk here on Ten Ton Hammer.

Always sensitive to maximizing sensationalism, the best was saved for last.

The Barrens SplitWorld of Warcraft Cataclysm was announced. Putting to rest the rumors, this new expansion quite literally will change the face of Azeroth. Old zones will be changed, and new zones will be added alongside a playable goblin race for the Horde, and the Worgen race for the Alliance. New conflicts for Azeroth’s limited resources will spring forth as players and factions vie for control. Flying Mounts will be able to be used in the “new old” zones and classic classes will be available to more races for more variety. The level cap is being raised to level 85, Archaeology is being added as a profession, and guilds will now have levels and achievements they can earn. Old dungeons are being revamped for a new experience and Deathwing has returned.
 
The crowd roared. The Cataclysm is about to begin.
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