Category: Real-time strategy (RTS)

The Best Blizzard Games For Esports Competitions

The Best Blizzard Games For Esports Competitions

Blizzard Entertainment is a true titan of the gaming scene and it has understandably carved out an enviable position in the burgeoning world of esports. The iconic developer and publisher has been releasing cult titles since it was founded by a trio of UCLA graduates in 1991 and it is now part of America’s largest gaming company. Activision Blizzard boasted revenue of $7.5 billion in 2018 and Blizzard Entertainment games played a huge part in that strong performance.

Nowadays, it is hugely important for publishers to crack the competitive gaming scene as it is extremely lucrative and leading esports enjoy remarkable longevity. Blizzard Entertainment may have lost the rights to Dota 2–one of the world’s most popular esports–to Valve Corporation in a bitter dispute, but it still possesses a formidable stable of giants in the competitive gaming scene.

Here are its five most important titles:

Overwatch

Blizzard released this multiplayer first-person shooter to global acclaim in 2016, with reviewers praising its class-based combat, polished gameplay, and utterly magnificent artwork. Overwatch was hailed as fun, accessible and extremely well-made, and it became an instant classic.

It pits teams featuring soldiers, mercenaries, scientists, and adventurers against one another in the near future, and it is perfectly set up for the sort of intense multiplayer action that lends itself well to competitive gaming.

The Blizzard team did not initially set out to create a new esport, but they soon recognized its potential in this field. The first organized, prize-winning competitions were launched just a few months after the game’s release, and ESL quickly put together the Overwatch Atlantic Showdown. At Blizzcon 2016, Blizzard announced that it would launch the Overwatch League as a result of intense demand from fans. It began in 2018 and boasted a $3.5 million prize pool, instantly catapulting Overwatch into the top 10 most lucrative esports for gamers to compete in.

The first season proved to be a smashing success, as London Spitfire beat Philadelphia Fusion at the Grand Finals in New York’s Barclays Center to become the first league champions.

Intel and HP were the league’s first sponsors, before Toyota got on board, while ABC, ESPN, and Disney XDaired contests live. The prize pool was increased to $5 million for the 2019 season and new franchises joined from across the world, ensuring competitive Overwatch gaming as it continued to soar.

Hearthstone

This free-to-play digital card game dazzled critics when it was launched in 2016. Eurogamer gave it a perfect 100 score and said it was “overflowing with character and imagination, feeds off and fuels a vibrant community of players and performers, and it only stands to improve as Blizzard introduces new features”. The game builds upon the Warcraft lore, so it instantly appealed to a huge group of fans, and it reeled in all manner of gamers thanks to its fun, accessible, fast-paced gameplay.

It is also blessed with sophistication, subtlety and a high skill ceiling that has enabled it to become one of the world’s most popular esports game. It was behind only LoL, CS:GO, Dota 2, and Overwatch in Twitch viewing hours in 2018, with Heroes of the Storm in sixth and StarCraft II seventh in a strong showing for Blizzard.

Wagering on esports has become a hugely important factor in the growth of this nascent scene, as many fans love to grab a stake in the action. Dedicated betting sites like https://unikrn.com/bet offer a huge range of markets in esports, and Hearthstone is one of the most important titles in this regard. It now faces intense competition from the digital version of Magic The Gathering Arena, but Hearthstone has a loyal following and it should continue to flourish in future.

StarCraft II

This is the most established esport in the Blizzard roster, as there have already been more than 5,000 professional StarCraft 2 tournaments. A grand total prize money of $30 million has been dished out to 1,900 pros over the years, and it is another important esport for wagering purposes. The game was launched all the way back in 2010 but, like LoL and Dota 2, it has achieved fantastic longevity thanks to its popularity within the competitive gaming scene.

It is a real-time strategy game that continues the epic saga of the Protoss, Terran, and Zerg as they wage battle across the galaxy. StarCraft II was released on a free-to-play basis as of November 2017, with microtransactions for skins, voice packs, and so on, making it a commercial success.

Professional play began upon its launch and, after a blip that lasted for a couple of years, it is going strong once more. The last three World Championship Series have carried prize pools of $700,000 and it also recently featured at IEM Katowice 2019, with a $400,000 contest.

Heroes of the Storm

This multiplayer online battle arena game sees legendary heroes and villains from WarCraft, StarCraft, Overwatch, and Diablo summoned to the Nexus to fight for glory. The MOBA genre is arguably the most important to the world of esports, thanks to the success of League of Legends and Dota 2. Since it was released in 2015, Heroes of the Storm has emerged as a serious contender to those leading titles in the popularity stakes, thanks to its varied gameplay and strong cast of characters.

It has already seen prize money in the excess of $18 million at its professional tournaments, making it the sixth most lucrative esports in history. However, Blizzard made the shocking announcement in December 2018 that it was canceling the Heroes Global Championship for 2019. An overwhelming sense of sadness and betrayal were the dominant emotions among pros, yet there is still hope that a competitive scene may be revived for this popular title someday.

Warcraft 3

The original Dota as a custom map creation within Warcraft 3, so that Blizzard execs could feel aggrieved at its success in esports with Valve. Warcraft 3 itself never enjoyed such a strong scene, although it has seen 1,300 tournaments and prize money reaching $5.4 million over the years.

The game was released in 2002 and it is now a grand dame of the industry, but Warcraft 3 Reforged will be released this year and that could give the title a fresh injection of life.

It will boast improved graphics, new dialogue, and better pathfinding, which could make it more appealing as an esport. There are still tournaments going on, but some fans would prefer Blizzard to stop spending so much time remasteringWarcraft 3 and instead channel its efforts into developing a fourth entry in the popular series. Warcraft 4 really could take the esports world by storm.

***DISCLAIMER***

This article is a Guest Post written by James Metcalfe from Unikrn.com

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Classic PC Titles That Continue to Withstand the Test of Time

Classic PC Titles That Continue to Withstand the Test of Time

Timelessness is the one characteristic that separates a classic title from games that come a dime-a-dozen. For a game to truly stand the test of time, however, it needs constant innovation. Moreover, it needs to do so without compromising the core qualities that made it such a standout in the first place. It doesn’t matter if a game may seem dated because of grainy graphics or its mechanics are somewhat passé. It all boils down to the gaming experience that people can take from it. From niche crowds, right up to the mainstream, the world of gaming is strewn with titles that embody the word longevity.

Today, we’ll take a look at a few classic PC titles that continue to stand up to the test of time–80s and 90s PC games that embody versatility and longevity. While there are certainly others that fit the bill as well, we narrowed our choices down to the top three most relevant titles in terms of overall impact in gaming culture and current mainstream relevance.

Ultima Online

The Ultima series had already had numerous iterations—with each release proving to be more successful than its predecessor—under its belt before Origin Systems finally decided to hop on the online bandwagon. The result was Ultima Online which was rolled out way back in 1997 as one of the most highly-touted Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games. To create a buzz, the game was kicked off with the assassination of (producer) Richard Garriot’s avatar during a stress test.

With multiple Guinness records and a rich history to boot, Ultima Online certainly fits the bill as a timeless masterpiece. While the initial subscriber expectation was set at a meager 15,000, it actually reached an excess of 120,000 subscribers after a year. With such numbers, it’s should come as no surprise that it still has steam.

Starcraft

Released all the way back in 1998, Starcraft is amazingly still being updated even two decades later. Though when you think about it, it really should come as no surprise. Gaining a solid fan base right from the get-go—to the tune of 1.5 million copies sold in 1998—it still rides high after 20 years. Starcraft’s appeal and cultural impact is undeniable as it is far-reaching.

A timeless game needs to change with the times while retaining the key components that made it appealing to the masses in the first place. With all the updates over the years, Blizzard Entertainment managed to make Starcraft as relevant today as it was back in the Nineties.

Genesis

Here’s the oldest of our trifecta of classics that refuse to succumb to Father Time: Genesis. In fact, Genesis is so old-school, it’s actually a text-based game! Back in 1989, very few people—if at all—knew about the internet. It was during such Jurassic conditions that a group of savvy Swedish students created the game. It didn’t stay a humble game, though. As the internet grew, so did the game. As a result, there are over 60 guilds for players to join, and a sprawling expanse of the world—including Middle Earth and the Forgotten Realms—to explore.

A great game can be found practically anywhere. You don’t even need to get in on the latest releases to enjoy a fully immersive experience. Do yourself a favor and indulge in these retro games before time finally catches up and snatches them away from us. Enjoy!