Tag: Warcraft

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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How the Storytelling of WoW Keeps Evolving

For over 14 years now, World of Warcraft has remained to only be active, but relevant as a whole in the gaming community. While it did not define the massively-multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) genre that we have today, it continues to be a part of it. More importantly, it continues to evolve with it. With the release of its seventh expansion, Battle for Azeroth, WoW boasts a thriving fanbase, along with tons of third-party marketplaces selling WoW accounts, WoW Gold and boosting services. However, there’s one thing that the players all agree on—the storytelling of the lore has definitely improved.

Storytelling in WoW: Then & Now

Game storytelling doesn’t get much more epic than the Warcraft universe. With the franchise turning 25 years old soon and having released the seventh expansion, World of Warcraft stories have been told as a fantasy world set in conflict. Epic struggles, each with grand heroes and vicious villains push players into the spotlight while these wars raged, with the players protecting the safety of the virtual lands they live on. And since then, players have been held in captive awe as to how Blizzard has told its stories since the early days. Mind you that they’ve managed to evolve their stories to keep up with the changing tastes and technologies of the time and to keep the players immersed and entertained.

How Battle of Azeroth Keeps Things Entertaining

Back when World of Warcraft launched Facebook, Youtube, or smartphones weren’t even in existence. WoW was the first MMORPG to have a social network, with the millions of players playing the game.  Since then, the newest expansion, Battle for Azeroth, has taken place in the shadow of the opening act for World of Warcraft, the War of the Thorns. In this event, both Horde and Alliance players head to the Night Elf territory of Darkshore to take part in the battle. Eventually, the Alliance falls back and the Horde claims Darnassus, the capital city of the Night Elves. Sylvanas Wind runner, the Horde Warchief, then makes the decision to burn Darnassus down while still full of civilians in an unprecedented act of genocide. Whether you choose to be a member of the Alliance of the Horde is up to you.

Blizzard decided to mix things up on patch 8.1, Tides of Vengeance. A quest line called the Fate of Saurfangwill now have a rare player choice inside it. When players meet up with Zekhan, they’ll now have an option to either accept his quest or reject it. Accepting the quest will have it play out like normal, but a rejection leads players down a darker, more loyal path. Upon rejecting Zekhan, loyal Horde players will be given a quest to return to Sylvanas and tell her of this treachery. Sylvanas then reveals that she has “special plans” for Zekhan, which doesn’t sound particularly good for anyone.

Wrap Up

While World of Warcraft has offered light choices like this in the past, these quests usually revolve around the character (or an NPC) killing someone. The choice with Zekhan is far more involved than most other World of Warcraft choices, especially since it has the potential to drastically impact the narrative.

Ultimately, the ability for characters to choose which sides to serve, Saurfang or Sylvanas, is fantastic. It’s exciting, new, and may lead to a whole new avenue that’ll eventually open up WoW to more people. The question is what comes next? How will this new method of storytelling be used for both sides? One thing’s for sure, it’s going to take more than a branching story to create a satisfying ending for those who are hyped for the new expansion.