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BlizzCon is a semi-regular convention held by Blizzard Entertainment to celebrate their major franchises: Warcraft, StarCraft and Diablo.
BlizzCon first started in October of 2005, held at the Anaheim Convention Center where it has been held since. Some features included the announcements of release of new content for their franchises, previews of content for upcoming games, and Blizzard developer Q&A sessions.
Throughout the days are hands-on experience of new and existing games, various panels related to the multiple franchises, and judging of the contests being held - including costume and songwriting. The closing night has held a concert, previously The Offspring and Blizzard's in-house band (whose members are employees) Level (60, 70, or 80) Elite Tauren Chieftain.
Everyone attending gets a "Goodie Bag", which consists of various items related to the Blizzard Franchises. For example, at the 2005 BlizzCon, there was a code that could be exchanged for an in-game pet from World of Warcraft, which was a baby Murloc named 'Murky'. As well, there have been passes to get in to the closed beta test of an upcoming Blizzard game - World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade from 2005, World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King for 2007, and StarCraft II for 2008.
Ticket prices for all years have been US$100 each, which include admission to both days of activities. All of the extras in the gift bag, concerts, panels, and contests are included in the price.
The similar event is the Blizzard Worldwide Invitational and it can be held in other countries.
Approximately 8,000 people attended the first BlizzCon, held on October 28 and October 29, 2005. For the first time, the general public were able to try the new races for upcoming expansion, World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade. Playable demos of the single and multiplayer modes of the currently halted Starcraft: Ghost were available. A songwriting competition was judged by Jonathan Davis of Korn. Level 70 Elite Tauren Chieftain, comedian Christian Finnegan; and punk rock band The Offspring performed at the closing concert. Among other gifts, attendees received a card with two special codes. One code allowed the attendee to sign up for the The Burning Crusade closed beta test. The other allowed players to obtain Murky, the pet murloc, in-game.
On April 12, 2007, Blizzard announced their second BlizzCon, taking place again at the Anaheim Convention Center on August 3 and August 4, 2007. StarCraft II was allowed for public play, as single player or 2v2 as Terran or Protoss. Much of the game was revealed and explained as well as Q&A with attendees. The Zerg race was, however, not unveiled at that time. The second expansion to World of Warcraft, titled Wrath of the Lich King, was officially announced. All attendees received a "swag bag" upon registration which included various items, including an access key to a beta test of an upcoming title (Wrath of the Lich King), a Murloc suit for use in World Of Warcraft, and starter packs for the World of Warcraft Trading Card Game. Level 70 Elite Tauren Chieftain (who changed their name to reflect the new level cap in The Burning Crusade) and comedian Jay Mohr performed at the closing concert alongside Video Games Live.
On May 12, 2008 Blizzard announced the third BlizzCon to take place on October 10 and 11, 2008. Like previous years, it took place at the Anaheim Convention Center, and approximately 15,000 people attended.
In the opening ceremonies, Blizzard president Michael Morhaime welcomed everyone to the convention, and expressed his gratitude for everyone attending. He also revealed the third playable class for Diablo III: the Wizard.
Playable versions of Diablo III, StarCraft II, and World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King were available for patrons to test for the length of the convention. As well, there were tournaments and competitions for the World of Warcraft Trading Card Game, World of Warcraft miniatures game, StarCraft, StarCraft II, Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne, and World of Warcraft arena.
On the Friday night, comedian Jay Mohr hosted a costume contest, dance contest, and one-line joke "/silly" contest.
For the closing ceremonies on Saturday, Blizzard CEO Paul Sams thanked everyone for coming. After that, comedians Kyle Kinane and Patton Oswalt entertained the audience before Level 80 Elite Tauren Chieftan came on stage for their performance. Closing out the night was Video Games Live, playing arrangements from all of the Blizzard games, and a brand new performance including the Wrath of the Lich King music.
Tickets went on sale August 11, 2008, but sales were brisk as few managed to make a purchase. After sales opened, the site quickly suffered from heavy traffic which soon overloaded the servers. Blizzard promptly shut down the site for maintenance as they hoped to come up with a solution for the problem. Some tickets were sold that night, before the site was brought down for the night to try and fix the problems which occurred that day.
On August 12, 2008, shortly after the site reopened, patrons only saw a "sold out" message. There were no messages posted explaining why it said this so shortly after the on-sale time, and people posting on the BlizzCon forums were confused. No explanation was immediately given as to this message on either the online store, company homepage, or forums. It soon seemed that the tickets were coming in batches.
That afternoon, Blizzard once again halted online store functions and updated their official website; stating that most of their tickets were sold and that their last batch would go on sale later that evening. When the site reopened a third and final time at 8:05 pm, the rest of the tickets sold out in two minutes.
The first update of information in the midst of the confusion came many hours later, and did not address any problems or complaints but only notified that tickets were officially sold out. Telephone support at the time had no information on the matter and redirected callers back to the online forum.
On August 13, Blizzard President Mike Morhaime released an official apology:
'On behalf of everyone at Blizzard, I want to apologize for the challenges and frustrations you experienced while trying to purchase BlizzCon tickets on Monday and Tuesday. BlizzCon is about the positive experiences you all have had with Blizzard games. As a result of this week's events, the excitement that many of you felt about the show has turned into dissatisfaction and disappointment. I, and everyone else at Blizzard, share the frustration and disappointment that many of you have expressed as a result of this process. We'll do what it takes to avoid this type of situation in the future.'
He also stated that there would be more tickets available for purchase, but this time with a lottery system:
'Due to these circumstances, we've reevaluated our convention hall space and come up with some solutions that will allow us to offer 3,000 more tickets for sale. We know this will not be enough to satisfy the very high level of demand for tickets this year, but we want to ensure that BlizzCon remains a great experience for those of you who are able to attend. To avoid the issues many of you faced this week, we'll be selling these 3,000 via a lottery. We'll post further details once our plans are finalized. Please note that the lottery will only be open to those with an active Blizzard Account as of 9:00 PM PDT on August 12, the time that the “Sold Out” notice was posted.'
BlizzCon 2008 was broadcast live on both days as a PPV event (free for some South American countries), for eight hours per day in high definition. The broadcast allowed gamers who were unable to get tickets to get a real time view of the events at BlizzCon.
The broadcast was live on DirecTV in the United States, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela and live on Mainevent in Australia available through Foxtel and Austar.
Official Blizzard fansite WoW Radio broadcasted live audio via shoutcast. They claim that they covered all announcements, panels and scheduled events via multiple audio streams and downloadable podcast content after the fact. WoW Radio was the original broadcaster for the first Blizzcon in 2005.
On February 17, 2009, Blizzard announced their fourth BlizzCon, taking place again at the Anaheim Convention Center on August 21 and August 22, 2009.
In an attempt to reduce frustrations linked to lack of tickets’ availability during previous BlizzCons, there will be four halls (increased from three) of space available.
Tickets went on sale on May 16 and May 30 2009. For this batch of ticket sales, Blizzard implemented an entirely new system designed to make buying BlizzCon tickets much easier than the previous year. The new system implemented an online queue, effectively creating an organized online "line" for anyone who wants to purchase tickets, an improvement on 2008's chaotic sale of Blizzcon tickets. The ticket queue system worked much more fairly during both the May 16th and May 30 sales though many did not get tickets due to quick sales time. There were, however, a number of browser related issues that caused a number of people to be unable to purchase tickets. For many, their queue stayed at the same spot no matter how long they waited, and others noticed their queue go up, effectively keeping them at the end of the line and preventing them from purchasing tickets. Blizzard also created a new flash game "Failocalypse" to play while waiting in line.
BlizzCon 2009 was sold out in a matter of eight minutes when online tickets went on sale on August 7, 2009.