Before I begin, a reasonable and well thought out comment brought it to the table that Blizzard only does what every other company out there does. This is true. My feelings towards these actions may in part be skewed by my feelings as far as how businesses should conduct themselves; that their proprietors should look towards the common good of gamers and the gaming industry as a whole. I don’t it when companies try to undermine other, smaller companies. So, for the sake of insight, that’s where I’m coming from.

The last thing I want to do is turn this blog into a place to complain about Blizzard, since our primary focus is WAR and all the things we enjoy about it as enthusiasts. Given yesterday’s post though, I thought this a little too relevant to overlook.

Blizzard announced Monday that they’ll be offering a free content patch that will offer many of the highlights to Wrath of the Lich King. I was a little behind the game and didn’t come by this announcement until this morning. Some of the things they’ll be offering are:

New class spells and talents
Stormwind Harbor
Barbershops in capital cities
Zeppelin towers outside of Orgrimmar and Tirisfal Glades
Two brand-new Arenas featuring challenging new layouts, terrain hazards, and moving obstacles
Guild calendar
Hunter pet skill revamp
New profession: Inscription

You’ll never guess when this patch, presumably 3.0, is set to drop either. “In the coming weeks.” Funny, I seem to remember something else being released within the “coming weeks” too. Hmm… oh yeah! WoW’s next best competitor, Warhammer Online!

Coincidence? Unlikely.

Now, Tobold is of the opinion that this announcement is probably not related to WAR’s upcoming release. I disagree. Right now, Blizzard is under a lot of pressure to keep subscribers interested. Many are suffering from pre-expansion burnout and are looking for something new to satiate their gaming appetites. WAR is the answer for many people and Blizzard is trying to avoid the fallout.

We have to keep in mind, when Age of Conan launched, crashed, and burned, only 40% of those players came back. And that’s from a game that, by most accounts, sucked. WAR stands to do much better. Their content is of far higher quality and Mythic is delivering on their promises. Blizzard has shareholders to answer to and, as investors, they won’t be happy with big revenue drops. Hence, we get the pre-emptive patch release. Who wants to bet that they’ll release this patch within a week of WAR’s launch? Now, let me say that I know this happened for The Burning Crusade as well. The fact that there is a pre-expansion patch is not what’s telling here, it’s the timing of the announcement and in all likelihood the timing of the patch’s release.

This is just one more attempt to drown out the competition. As a company, it’s an understandable move; however, it just goes to show that Blizzard has grown away from where they should be as a company. Like I said before, at this point, it’s about money for Blizzard and not innovation. They’re acting defensively and holding the whole industry back as a result. WoW opened doors, sure. Now, it’s the bouncer keeping other people from moving forward.

Let’s hope Mythic sets a great example and helps push that bouncer to the side. More MMOs equals a better gaming market for us all.

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