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Patch 9.1.5. Makes Me Happy

Soforah and I are having a blast in Shadowlands. Between the Anima hunt, the mushroom quests, Torghast, the covenant upgrades and Korthia, our daily routine is really fun and diverse. However, reading the developer update made us very excited for the things to come. I’m also glad that Blizzard continues to be the kind of developer who listens to the feedback, despite the negative vibe spread by the toxic community.

Well, that’s a lot, but what makes me really happy is:

  • 21 new soul shapes (mostly critters), I wanna be a squirrel and a cat;
  • Soloable Islands expeditions (we didn’t give it enough love during BFA);
  • Recyclable Shadowlands legendaries (bye bye boots, hello pants).

Also, I’ve already re-installed Hearthstone on my phone, because there’s no way that I would miss on the gorgeous new mouse mount!

Meanwhile at Blizzard

Year after year, World of Warcraft has lost its popularity. There’s always been negative people but their voices were lost in the ocean of positivity that was surrounding the game. Expansion after expansion, the game has lost its identity, trying to satisfy too many different types of gamers. Victim of its own success, WoW entered a slow and painful descent, no king rules forever.

Keeping a good PR when only haters can be heard is a difficult job, especially when your product so heavily depends on its community. So, when a developer publicly calls one of the last big streamer “an a**hole”, it’s time for damage control. It never happened and, ultimately, the streamer left for another game, taking with him hundreds of thousand followers.

As one’s misfortune often benefits another, FF14 reaches now a total of 22 millions accounts. The store even has to place people in a queue, only to purchase the game.

As if it wasn’t enough, California sues Activision Blizzard over a culture of ‘constant sexual harassment’. I’m not gonna quote the entire lawsuit, but we’re talking about lack of support by HR to the victims, encouragement of this behaviour by the CEO, J. Allen Brack, and even Alex Afrasiabi being called the Bill Cosby of Blizzard. It goes as far as the suicide of an employee after a week-end/relationship with her manager and her bullying at a company meeting.

From in-game protests, massive unsubscribes and tons of flaming forums, I can tell you, internet reacted accordingly to the gravity of the situation. There can be no compromise toward this kind of attitude, there’s no place for frat boy culture in this world.

Since the departure of its former CEO, the Californian company has only shown disregard for its community and its employees. I remember the last Blizzcon of Mike Morhaime, when he said about J Allen Brack “You think you know him, but you don’t”. I often wondered what he meant… I think that I know, now.

I know that Blizzard isn’t the only company with an horrible behaviour towards women but, if we want the world to change, examples have to be made and Blizzard prepared its own gallows by first angering its own crowd.

Diablo 2 Resurrected Saved the Week

E3 has come and gone. All over internet, gamers were going crazy with anticipation, begging for their yearly fix of hype. And, as usual, the developers threw us scraps. I went back to my cave with my tail shaking, but uncertain whether I should feel excited or disappointed. Between ridiculous announcements like Mario Rabid (lol) and a new BMX game from Ubisoft (there is still a public for that kind of crap in 2021? I’m baffled!), not much happened.

Starfield’s teaser looks good but I was more excited about the Elder Scrolls 6 Easter egg it contained. I’m also happy for Outer Worlds 2 but, once again, the trailer had absolutely no gameplay shooting.

Meanwhile, Blizzard revealed the release date of Diablo 2 Resurrected (23.09.2021). Finally, something concrete came out of that week.

It’s a Diablo Blizzcon!

I’m in Heaven right now and I’ll probably be for a few years. Yes, you read well: YEARS! Diablo 2, the game that ruined my first university years but made the rest of my life better is about to be “resurrected”. Even better, it’ll be released on or before December 2021, which instantly makes this year a great one, filled with news, hype and a huge countdown.

We’ve watched the Diablo II: Resurrected Deep Dive panel and it seems that the remaster is in very capable hands. The folks at Vicarious Visions are very committed to bring Diablo 2 to modern days graphics while keeping the experience as close as possible to the original. Also, we get a shared stash!

The new Diablo 4 class, the Rogue, was announced and it looks amazing, with a mix of range and melee attacks. The trailer is pretty dark, which is a good thing. Diablo 4 development is moving on and it feels great to know that there are so many great things ahead for the Diablo fans.

As if it wasn’t great enough, Blizzard had Metallica perform “For Whom the Bell Tolls” in a studio version exclusively recorded for the Blizzcon.

Oh, I almost forgot, something was said about Diablo Immortal but I didn’t really pay attention. While My initial attitude toward it was pure hate, I think that I’ll probably give it a try anyway but, even if it’s amazing, I doubt that it’ll change my attitude toward phone games.

We’ve spent the morning listening to Metallica and we’ll probably spend the rest of the day playing Diablo 3 and watching all the Diablo panels from the Blizzcon. Life is better than good!

Blizzard’s Backlash

Cataclysm was the first time I was disappointed by Blizzard. So many of my favourite zones were ruined by Deathwing and the new zones were not as great as Storm Peaks, Teldrassil or Shadowmoon Valley… By wanting to do too much, they had lost something.

Diablo 3 was released and it was crippled by the real money auction house. Instead of giving more love to the games that I was playing, they started creating more franchises that I didn’t care about. That’s when I’ve lost the connection I had with the company.

Their fanbase changed and I had less and less the feeling to belong in the community, only to a small part of it.

Those criticisms come from my own experience with their products. Unlike the criticisms that are turned against their behaviour as a company.

People got mad over the layoffs at Blizzard, then they were angry at them for banning a Hearthstone player who broke the rules of his contract.

First, I find it not my place to judge the behaviour of the company regarding the way they handle their management. If they need to do cuts in the staff, it’s their duty to do so.

Second, regarding the Hearthstone player, why is there a rule in the contract that says that players cannot state political opinions? Not because we should all hold hands together and sing songs, but specifically to avoid the kind of situations where you force a company to pick side, at the eventual expense of a part of their market.

Why do people get so mad? I believe that the backlash is very emotional because Blizzard build its success on creating a community of fans. They were the good guys, the geeks making games for the geeks.

I will never forget Chris Metzen’s speech during the Blizzcon 2010.

It’s not because Blizzard is now seen as a corporation instead of a bunch a cool dudes making games that there are no more cool dudes at Blizzard. They are still there and they probably have the same opinions as us, but they also know when to leave the business aside and focus on the real reason why we are all here: live epic adventures.

Diablo remains the Hack’n Slash franchise I’ve played the most in my life and is only second to World of Warcraft when it comes to the amount of hours I already spent in a game. To me, that’s what matters and that’s why I’ll continue playing Blizzard games as long as I have fun.