Reflections on the BlizzCon 2023 Opening Ceremony and the Future of Blizzard

It’s been almost a month since BlizzCon 2023 was held in Anaheim California. News about the embattled World of Warcraft MMORPG was the only thing that piqued my curiosity. For almost two decades WoW has sucked the oxygen out of the entire genre. Love WoW or hate WoW if you are a MMORPG enthusiast worth your salt, you have to at least pause and consider what Blizzard is up to.

I originally wanted to write an article on the entire event, but there are simply too many things to cover and comment on. So, this will just be some general observations on the Opening Ceremonies and some general commentary on the vibe I was feeling.

As always, the opening ceremony is a time of great anticipation for Blizzard players. We never really know what is going to happen and what information will be divulged.

Honestly, I’m feeling ambivalent about the entire spectacle. I usually spend a lot of time honing my articles. Considering the subject matter, it’s not worth my time regurgitating points I’ve made many times before. So here we go…

Mike Ybarra: An Unconvincing Stiff

The CEO of Blizzard Mike Ybarra seems like a poser. He feels fake to me. It’s not that Mike Morhaime was much better but at least Morhaime was with the Irvine studio from the beginning and has credibility. I could cut Morhaime slack, even if he’s really not a gamer at heart.

Ybarra is from my neck of the woods in Redmond, Washington. He’s a Microsoft alumnus who was running the Xbox division. Video games have never been Microsoft’s strong suit because being a company that is too big and too woke stifles the kind of creative freedom is at the heart of amazing games.

I’ve never been impressed by him or his credentials. He seemed desperate to be liked on that stage — he was trying too hard. Even though Ybarra said all the right things about how important the Blizzard community of gamers is, I was not buying it. He did nothing to convince me that Blizzard is salvageable at this point.

He made some bold promises about a new era for the company. As we all know, talk is cheap in an industry plagued with broken promises.

Phil Spencer: A Woke Empty Suit

Eventually, Ybarra introduced the current head of Xbox, his friend Phil Spencer. I was not impressed by this guy at all. He looked like a typical sleazy, carpetbagging upper management type. I’ve been exposed to enough CEOs and VPs in my life. You can always tell.

In my mind, he had only one job: reassure Blizzard fans that Microsoft was not going to mess with Blizzard and its magic formula for success (yes, I know this formula no longer exists in reality). I think he failed. He responded that he wanted to make sure that Microsoft “nurtured” Blizzard so they could continue to make great games. For me, that was not enough. He should have unequivocally stated that Microsoft will not be micromanaging Blizzard and that they will keep an arm’s length relationship. But he did not.

Then he made the stupidest comment of the night when he praised Overwatch for its (implied racial and sexual) representation. Nobody cheered. He followed with some more vacuous nonsense about inclusion.

It’s obvious that his speech was written for him. It was boilerplate pap and a complete waste of time. This guy was so oily that I felt like taking a shower after watching him.

Given that Microsoft is located on the ultra-woke “left” coast of America, his dog whistling about diversity, equity, and inclusion was par for the course.

Seeing the obsequious Ybarra shout “How about that!” after Spencer gave his speech felt very contrived and left a bad taste in my mouth.

Overwatch, Diablo, Hearthstone, et al

I didn’t bother to watch the Overwatch and Diablo presentations. Overwatch is a silly Disneyesque garish-looking first-person shooter game that I find utterly repugnant. The shoehorned “representation” in Overwatch is an affront to my intelligence and an insult to any rational person.

To pander to Asians and indigenous peoples and offer praise to the god of diversity, Blizzard introduced a new Overwatch character called Mauga. He looks like a Pacific islander and looks like a cheezy cross between Jason Momoa and Dwight Johnson. This is an obvious virtue-signaling move on their part. A non-binary character is planned soon. Shock! They sent a Jeff Kaplan soy-drinking look-a-like on the stage as well as a European female non-binary Megan Rapinoe meets Tracer look-a-like witch. Unimpressive and boring.

For me, Diablo IV with its Satanic imagery is obvious blasphemy, and borders on outright devil worship — another hard pass. Also, I hear the game sucks. I also ignored the Heartstone and Warcraft Rumble presentations. I cannot stand the cutesy cheesiness of both of those games.

What irritated me the most was the annoying Hispanic female who came on to talk about WoW. Her Spanish accent was so thick that I could barely understand a word she said. As she was a token diversity trophy hire, I was unimpressed. Blizzard cares more about projecting their cultish devotion to diversity, equity, inclusion, and representation than they care about their fans ability to understand the presentation.

WoW Classic and Holly Longdale, and MMORPG Adultery

The Warcraft phase of the opening ceremony was what I wanted to see. It’s interesting that they are using the name “Warcraft” as a branding category for Warcraft RTS, WoW, Hearthstone, and Warcraft Rumble.

Holly Longdale did a serviceable job representing their World of Warcraft division. As I noted when she got hired, Blizzard predictably trotted out a powerful girl boss woman for full effect. Unlike most of the useless female hires at Blizzard, at least Holly has spent a good 20 years in the MMORPG industry and has paid her dues.

The fact that Holly was openly reminiscing about waiting in line to purchase WoW back in 2004 broke my heart a bit. At the time, she worked for Sony Online Entertainment as a narrative designer for EverQuest. That fact that she was playing WoW all those years while being a SOE employee kinda bugged me. I wonder how many other Daybreak and Darpaw employees are huge WoW fans while letting their own MMORPG go to shit?

Perhaps it was all a lie and she was playing to the crowd. Who really knows.

Thumbs Up for WoW Classic: Season of Discovery

Perhaps the biggest thumbs up from me was the announcement of WoW Classic: Seasons of Discovery due to launch today November 30, 2023. Revitalizing existing content with new things to explore while preserving the integrity of the geography and storylines was the right thing to do.

The Return of the King

The obvious highlight of the opening ceremony was the triumphant return of Chris Metzen. He stole the show in my opinion. Chris exhibited the confidence, gravitas, and swagger of BlizCons of old. He’s the only person at Blizzard right now that I have an iota of respect for. In actuality, he’s probably one of the only original studio members still left as even the mercurial artist Samwise Didier — created the signature Warcraft art style — has finally had enough and departed the intergalactic garbage scow that is Blizzard.

My only beef with Samwise is that he’s the guy who invented the Panderans — a ridiculous panda humanoid race. I think that was a self-indulgent mistake and helped to corrupt Blizzard with needless Disneyfication.

I watched a few reaction videos and many people were visibly moved to see Metzen back. I must admit I was a bit choked up as well. Seeing him on stage with his swagger unrestrained bravado and enthusiasm was worth the price of admission. The crowd went wild and gave him a standing ovation.

I confess that his arrival on stage made me feel very nostalgic for the apogee of WoW of between 2004 and 2009, before boy blunder Morhaime shipped the entire WoW “A” team to the ill-fated Project Titan. The moment that happened Blizzard started their death spiral.

Metzen talked about the 3 next expansions with extreme confidence and enthusiasm. Thankfully there was no sign of woke Steve Danuser or other posers like the fabulous Johnny Cash who has since left and is busy gaying up Fortnite for Epic Games. Danuser is one of these guys who has managed to exist in the MMO industry with a knack for survival despite any remarkable achievements.

Metzen made a coded reference to Danuser and Cash when he said:

Blizzcon, my hope, our dear hope, that you can see: we ain’t screwing around.

The MMO is full of grifters that get hired because they know a guy who knows a guy. The industry is rife with talentless hacks that stand on the shoulders of giants and feast on the corpses of their accomplishments.

The only person who can save World of Warcraft from oblivion and irrelevance is Chris Metzen. But he’s walked into a company that has been ravaged by wokeness, countless LGBTQ and non-binary deadweight, chronic mismanagement, serial incompetence, scandal, and meddling by Bobby Kotick and his henchmen at Activision.

The best thing to happen for the WoW franchise is for it to utterly fail and people walk away entirely. Then it could be sold to someone who gives a damn about gamers and is not distracted by trying to be all things to all people.

If Metzen ever has the balls to take over Blizzard, he needs to run the entire show and fire 80% of the staff just like Elon Musk did. Richard Bartle was prophetic when he said that he’d close down WoW for the good of the genre about 16 years ago.

Tying Up Some Loose Ends

I didn’t see one PRIDE flag during the opening ceremony. Metzen had a black t-shirt with a classic blue Blizzard logo.

I really like the idea of delves which is being proposed by Blizzard to help give non-dungeon overland players more love and opportunities to advance their characters.

I also think the idea of World of Warcraft Classic: Season of Discovery is fantastic. It’s their answer to WoW Classic + which fans have long desired. Rewarding explorers (a Bartle archetype) by breathing life into the beloved original Azeroth with new talents and new discoveries makes a lot of sense.

Reflections and Conclusions

Watching BlizzCon 2023 stirred something in me that I feel has died over the years. I used to really love gaming before it went woke around 2014.

I feel like Sherlock Holmes tasked with ferreting out the wokeness in every product I see. It destroys the sense of enjoyment for me. But that is what the focus of my website has become in recent years. Somebody has to stand up and do the heavy lifting. There is no rest for villagers trying to put out fires that invading forces have set. There’s never a good time to become a reluctant warrior. You just do it. No man controls time and fate. You just do the best with what you are given.

These days I look at everything with a wide angle big picture lens. While I watched the opening ceremony, I was obsessed with finding all the ways in which wokeness and the Marxist globalist agenda were being inserted into Blizzard products. I feel the same way about all forms of entertainment now as I have an inante suspicion of “the message” that Blizzard and their woke staff of Zoomers are attempting to hide in the content.

Since the George Soros color revolution triggered by George Floyd’s death, we have seen almost every entertainment company foist black faces, blackness, anti-white themes, and LGBTQ degeneracy into the screens of the American public. Studios like Blizzard, Daybreak, and Standing Stone Games are no different as they never miss an opportunity to highlight black males and female NPCs into their games and their promotional materials.

As soon as I see an LGBTQ or blackface in any form of advertising for products, films, TV, and video games I make a mental note never to purchase their products again. Insulting your core demographic is insulting and suicidal. Budweiser and Disney learned this hard way. Stop forcing your twisted fetishes and depraved worldview down the throats of the American public.

I’m not even sure the insertion of propaganda is intentional anymore. The fresh-faced Zoomers doing this have grown up in a milieu of wokeness. Like fish swimming in the water who see water like humans see air, they have internalized cultural Marxism and spread it by default because that is all they know. There are no budding J.R.R. Tolkiens in their midst who have experienced any form of authentic hardship like fighting in the trenches in World War 1 or enduring the desperation of the Great Depression.

The best advice given to aspiring writers is to write what you know about. So in theory, these lost intersectional souls are simply writing about what they know: promoting the rights of so-called marginalized people.

This is precisely why the writing from Hollywood and the California-based video game industry is so utterly devoid of substance and has failed to resonate with people. How many more billion dollars does Disney and the industry have to lose before they will learn this lesson?

Promoting the weirdos and crazies while depressing the hard workers and achievers all because you’re a shallow person who wants to feel good about yourself and your slacktivist benevolence, is a recipe for disaster. The truth is that society can and should marginalize people. All societies from primitive, to tribal to developed have the the inherent right to set behavior standards for their populace. Those who fail to do this end up in the garbage heap of history and are never heard from again. I fear this is where we are headed if enough people don’t wake up and stand up to the tyrants who seek to control our lives.

So back to my concluding thoughts about BlizzCon 2023. The entire affair seemed a bit too artificial for me. Ybarra’s performance was stiff and wooden. The XBox carpetbagger did more harm than good. Every new presentation was voiced by an amorphous sci-fi female voice that sounds like it belongs in the Logan’s Run film, in contrast to the BlizzCons of yore when a deep male voice would do all the announcing.

BlizzCon is a soulless smorgasbord of products that has become overly feminized and fragmented. There are far too many games that are different in genre and feel to have any cohesive community. The feminization of BlizzCon was very apparent when the camera would pan to people in the audience. It was all orchestrated and staged. More often than not, they were disgusting fat male and female nerds clutching to emotional support stuffed animals. Sorry, Blizzard. These are not my people. I’d never hang out with them in a million years.

Both Morhaimes are responsible for all of this. They both decided that they didn’t want to appeal to male gamers anymore and instead wanted to “welcome the world” (actually uttered at BlizzCon 2023) and virtue signal. The Overwatchification of Blizzard killed Blizzard.

There was no WoW question and answer session either. Having the populace address the Blizzard nobility was always one of the best parts of BlizzCons. This shows me that Blizzard has lost confidence in themselves and their audience. They do not trust their players. They were deathly afraid of a viral moment coming from a new Red Shirt guy or a “You think you do, but you don’t” or “Don’t you all have phones?” moment.

One positive thing is that I didn’t see any openly gay, lesbian, or trans people this year as I have noticed in other years. Still, there was a lot of emphasis on female and minority developers in most of the presentations and panels. This was all about woke optics and reaching their DEI promises and targets. That tragedy is that Blizzard is content to put the female devs on stage while male devs who are the backbone of Blizzard remain unseen and unsung.

Blizzard is a studio that is full of imposters. That’s a fact, folks. The only hope for Blizzard is for them to return to their man cave roots. I’d prefer if Blizzard and Diablo were spun off into a different studio and relocated to Eastern Europe or even Russia. At least some real men live there unlike most of Europe, America, and Oceania. A WoW fan from Finland on X (AKA Twitter) echoed something I’ve been saying for quite a while now:

I think he nailed it. They really don’t understand Warcraft.

Will Blizzard change enough to make a difference? I’m not hopeful. If anything I am cautiously optimistic that Blizz may be going in the right direction.


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