Today, Blizzard CEO J. Allen Brack shared an 8-minute video that might be comparable as a company-wide State of the Union.
Jay briefly mentioned Diablo Immortal: "We recently conducted our largest ever internal playtest, and we’ll be sharing more of our plans as the work progresses."
Jay could have said we'll be sharing more of our plans at BlizzConline... but he did not. This could mean that another article similar to Wyatt Cheng's Mid-Year 2020 might be in the horizon between now and February. Hopefully, more than one update? Read the full transcript below:
Special thanks to RedOctober for transcribing the video and emailing it to me.
J. Allen Brack: Hello, Blizzard community!
As we look toward the end of a very unusual year, I wanted to pause and connect with everyone briefly, as we’re unable to have our physical BlizzCon experience this year.
It’s hard to believe that the first ever BlizzCon was 15 year ago in October of 2005. I, personally, have a deep love of BlizzCon and these are strong words from someone who’s actually a shy introvert. It’s a great opportunity for us to showcase games in progress, talk to players face to face, and see the creative community in person. It also recharges our geek batteries. And while we won’t have a physical show this year, we’re very much looking forward to BlizzConline early next.
We want it to be a big virtual celebration, so BlizzConline will be free to watch and engage in. Adjusting to the isolated COVID world that many of us are living in, has been a challenge. That said, at Blizzard, we deeply love video games, and we are grateful that games are offering millions of people around the world a way to stay connected.
This connection is not just happening in-game, but in surrounding communities as well. We’ve been cheering together from our homes, while watching Hearthstone, World of Warcraft, and Startcraft 2 eSports; as well as this season of the Overwatch League. We held the Grand Finals in Seoul, Korea last month, and it was the most watched Overwatch League match of all time. Congrats again to our first back-to-back champions, the San Francisco Shock.
We’ve seen Blizzard communities rally in compassion this year, providing support to each other during the pandemic, taking part in Pride Month activities, uniting in grief over lost friends, and activating in support of social justice.
I’m proud of these communities and I’m also proud of our teams.
Despite the many challenges of the pandemic, over 95% of the global Blizzard workforce is working from home, working hard to bring the great experiences that you expect across all of our games.
Speaking of games, we recently announced our new Shadowlands release date, and we’re looking forward to getting the game in your hands on November 23rd. Delaying the release was a difficult decision, but we felt it was the right one. We appreciate the positive feedback that we’ve received on this news. The team is currently pouring a lot of love into bringing the best experience possible. Until then, Shadowlands pre-patch is live, where you’ve been exploring our revamped character leveling, the new player experience on Exile’s Reach, and perhaps most importantly getting all those hours at the barbershop out of the way, with new character customization. So far, you have completed over ten million visits.
For WoW Classic, we’ve announced Naxxramas. The storied 15-boss and final raid from this era. We will go live in December. Kel’Thuzad is, personally, one of my all-time favorite bosses in WoW. It looks like you are preparing for this event. Already, you’ve crafted over six and a half million Greater Frost Protection Potions. Be careful out there. We’ve already seen nine billion Ghosts and Wisps from WoW Classic this year. It’s a good note to be nice to your healers.
Experiencing this content again, both as developers and as players, is awesome. It’s great to see the excitement of those who enjoyed it the first time around, as well as a new generation of players, who have joined WoW Classic for their very first time.
2020 is already a big year for World of Warcraft. To date, you’ve created over 100 million characters in WoW, and dinged over 1.5 billion levels. And all of this has happened ahead of the Shadowlands launch.
Moving on to HearthStone, we recently announced the newest expansion, featuring a visit from Azeroth’s traveling carnival, the Darkmoon Faire. Along with a healthy dose of the Old Gods. It also comes with a new mode called Duels. We’ve had a lot of fun playing it internally, and we’re really excited to hear what you think.
Diablo Immortal is also coming along. We recently conducted our largest ever internal playtest, and we’ll be sharing more of our plans as the work progress.
We also know some of our ideas around Diablo IV, and Overwatch 2. And it’s safe to assume that we are exploring other things further out on PC, console, and mobile as well.
When we think about development, the highest value to us is the moment-to-moment gameplay that players experience. We are constantly asking ourselves, “Is this idea fun? Is this an awesome expression of the universe?” We’re going to apply the same level of craftsmanship that we’ve always demanded of ourselves to future games, regardless of platform, with the ultimate goal of bringing deep and compelling gameplay experiences to players, even more than we already do.
Part of having a good game experience is finding ways to ensure that all are welcome within the worlds, no matter their background or identity. Something that we’ve spoken about publicly a little bit in the past is our machine learning system that helps us verify player reports around offensive behavior and offensive language. This system has been in place in Overwatch and in Heroes of the Storm. It allows us to issue appropriate penalties quicker, and we’ve seen an incredible decrease not only in toxic text chat, but an overall decrease in re-offense rates.
A few months ago, we expanded this system into World of Warcraft’s public channels, and we’ve already seen a decrease in the time disruptive player stick around, by half, and we’re continuing to improve the speed and the accuracy of this system.
In Overwatch, we recently increased the severity of penalties, and have implemented improved profanity filter options, giving you, the player, more control. You can choose three different levels of accepted language, and you have the ability to customize those settings as well.
These are small steps, but they can add up to lasting change. Combating offensive behavior and encouraging inclusivity in all of our games and our workplaces will always be an ongoing effort for us. Games have been a home to many of us, for many years, and they, as well as the communities surrounding them, are worth protecting.
In February, we’ll be celebrating our 30th anniversary as a company. Thirty years is a long, long time in video game years. Through it all, we’ve explored and pursued many different gaming experiences to keep up with not only the creativity of our teams, but also the interests of our players. You don’t survive long in the video game world, without adapting, and you don’t survive without people who believe in you, celebrate with you, when you get it right.
We’ll be doing our best to get it right for the next 30 years, and beyond, and I want to thank everyone in the community for their continued enthusiasm.
February is also when we’ll be holding BlizzConline. We’re very much looking forward to channeling as much of the BlizzCon spirit as we can into an online, virtual celebration. The communities across these games are really at the heart of everything that we do, and so, in addition to sharing our latest news, we’re also really excited to be spotlighting the very creative community contest submissions, and connecting with everyone again, albeit virtually this time around.
Until then, stay safe, wear a mask, wash your hands, be good to each other. This is the way. En Taro Adun, friends.
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