The Activision Blizzard Third Quarter Financial conference call took place on November 6th, 2013 at 1:30pm PDT.

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Bobby Kotick, Chief Executive Officer of Activision Blizzard, said: “Our third-quarter results exceeded our expectations, and we are able to raise our outlook for 2013 net revenues and earnings per share.

Robust continued engagement with our core franchises drove digi tal revenue, which constituted a majority of all revenue. This quarter demonstrates that games like Call of Duty and World of Warcraft engage and entertain our fans year round.”

Kotick added, “We recently released new titles in two of the most popular franchises in entertainment, Call of Duty: Ghosts and Skylanders SWAP Force. We are thrilled by the quality of those games and we are excited to show what we can do with them on next-generation consoles in the coming weeks. We are also in the process of a beta launch for our first major free-to-play game, Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft.

However, we continue to believe that the fourth quarter this year presents a unique and challenging landscape due to increased competition and uncertainties surrounding the console transition.

We are confident in our ability to navigate these challenges successfully, particularly in light of the recent completion of our transaction with Vivendi and the focus and flexibility provided by our return to independence.”

  • As of September 30, 2013, Blizzard Entertainment’s World of Warcraft remains the #1 subscription-based MMORPG, with approximately 7.6 million subscribers.
  • In North America, Blizzard Entertainment’s StarCraft® II: Heart of the Swarm® was the #1 PC game for the first nine months of 2013.

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Morhaime: Q3 was an eventful quarter for Blizzard. We launched our first console game in many years with Diablo III. We also announced an expansion pack for Diablo III — Reaper of Souls.

Additionally, beta testing for Hearthstone kicked off and we released significant content update for World of Warcraft.

All of this activity has netted out to a strong quarter where we ended higher in net revenue and operating income versus Q2 mostly due to the Diablo III console launch on September.

Revenues and income were down year over year — as expected — due to the successful launch of Mists of Pandaria and the ongoing sales of Diablo III during the same quarter last year.

Going into more specific details with World of Warcraft, we’re very pleased with the response to Siege of Orgrimmar — the massive content update we released in September. This update included a huge new raid dungeon with major story elements, as well as a new area to explore and features that improved the game’s accessibility.

Flexible rates now allow groups of variable size to participate in the end-game raiding dungeons. Meanwhile, the Proving Grounds feature trains players to improve their play in specific roles, preparing them to participate in end-game content. Player response to the content has been good, and we saw increased engagement that has contributed to maintaining relatively stable subscribership quarter-over-quarter. We’ll continue to invest heavily in World of Warcraft to deliver frequent, high-quality content to our players.

Moving on to Diablo III, we are pleased with the response to the games launched on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Lifetime sell-through of the game across all platforms has reached over 14 million copies, and reviews have been very positive about how the game plays on console. Much of the praise has been centered on changes we made to the loot system and our decision to keep the auction house off of the console platform. Players and critics alike have noted that these changes have resulted in a more fun and satisfying game experience. That reaction factored in our decision to remove the auction house from the PC version of Diablo III effective next March, which players have also responded very positively to.

We’re building upon those design philosophies for loot and incorporating them into Reaper of Souls, the Diablo III expansion pack — which is coming for PC and PS4 in 2014.

In addition to the new loot system, Reaper of Souls will include an additional player class, the Crusader, and more gameplay modes for the endgame to keep players engaged. The reaction to Reaper of Souls at Gamescom was very positive, and we are looking forward to revealing more about the game at BlizzCon.

It was also a busy quarter for Hearthstone, our free-to-play digital card game for PC and iPad based on the Warcraft universe. In Hearthstone, players build decks of cards that feature familiar spells and creatures from World of Warcraft, and battle against each other using the cards. Players can collect cards simply by playing or by purchasing digital packs. They can also purchase entries into a special competitive mode of play called The Arena in exchange for either in-game currency or a small fee.

We’ve seen a great response from the community with the closed beta test, which kicked off in August. Hearthstone quickly became one of the most popular streaming games on Twitch, and we have been expanding the beta test to encompass more regions and a wider group of players. We’re continuing to work on polishing the game as we drive towards open beta testing.

Rounding out our big announcements since the last call is the name change of Blizzard All-Stars to Heroes of the Storm, which is our take on free-to-play hero brawlers. We’ve done an extensive internal test on Heroes over the past several months, and as the game has evolved, we felt it was appropriate to change the name to something more fitting of the gameplay experience.

We’re looking forward to sharing more details about Heroes at BlizzCon, which is taking place this weekend at the Anaheim Convention Center. This is another sold-out show, with more than 20,000 attendees coming to Anaheim from more than 40 different countries.

Our global community will also follow along through DIRECTV, online pay-per-view on blizzcon.com and partner broadcast in other regions. We will be showcasing our biggest pipeline of games ever and showing our appreciation for our community through contests, meet-and-greets and of course, major eSports spectacles.

The World of Warcraft Arena invitational and the global grand finals of the StarCraft II World Championship Series will be taking place, along with an invitational tournament for Hearthstone, featuring popular community personalities.

All of us at Blizzard can’t wait to get back to BlizzCon and connect with our players. We hope you’ll join us there or follow along online with a virtual ticket available online at blizzcon.com.

We are looking forward to celebrating a shared passion of gaming with our players, hearing their feedback on our newest game content and taking that energy and knowledge back to work as we drive towards an exciting 2014 for Blizzard.

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Blizzard Entertainment sent a press release to all Battle.net subscribers giving a round up of events to happen at BlizzCon, and the goodies obtained by purchasing the BlizzCon Virtual Ticket to watch the livestream.

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IRVINE, Calif. –(BUSINESS WIRE)– BlizzCon® 2013, Blizzard Entertainment’s two-day gaming festival, makes a long-awaited return on Friday, November 8 , at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, CA. The sold-out show celebrates all things geek, featuring sneak peeks at what’s going on behind the scenes at Blizzard Entertainment .

This year’s BlizzCon includes discussion panels with Blizzard developers; community cosplayers; and Duncan Jones , director of the upcoming Warcraft® film. Also taking place are the StarCraft® II World Championship Series Global Final and World of Warcraft® Arena Invitational, in which top pro gamers from around the world will be competing for cash prizes and ultimate glory. Jay Mohr is back this year to host the ever-popular community contests, and SoCal punk legends Blink-182 will be performing an epic rock concert to wrap up the show on Saturday night.

BlizzCon tickets once again sold out in seconds, but anyone can still attend the event from the comfort of their home with the BlizzCon Virtual Ticket. Viewers will receive over 60 hours of live HD coverage of the event (including Blink’s sure-to-be-wild performance) across five channels over the Internet. Virtual Ticket holders will also receive all the BlizzCon-exclusive in-game goodies:

  • World of Warcraft in-game pet—the valiant Murkalot
  • To-be-revealed Hearthstone™: Heroes of Warcraft™ card
  • BlizzCon-themed “Mark of Death” Diablo® III banner
  • “Tearin’ Stitches” StarCraft II portrait and Stitches’ Hook decal

DIRECTV® customers in the United States can also order BlizzCon 2013 as a Pay Per View event and receive a free Virtual Ticket. In addition, the BlizzCon opening ceremony and eSports tournaments will be streamed free online at www.blizzcon.com. More info on the Virtual Ticket can be found at www.blizzcon.com/virtual-ticket/.

“We can’t wait to get back to BlizzCon and share details about our latest games with our most passionate players,” said Mike Morhaime , CEO and cofounder of Blizzard Entertainment . “It’s going to be a truly unforgettable weekend.”

BlizzCons of years past have featured an array of exciting panels, unveilings, and entertainment, including the world debuts of the latest World of Warcraft content, the first-ever public hands-on with StarCraft II and Diablo III, and epic rock performances by Foo Fighters and Tenacious D.

BlizzCon would not be possible without the enthusiasm of Blizzard Entertainment gamers around the world and the generous support of the event’s partners, who provide demo-station hardware, peripherals, and more. This year’s sponsors are Intel, NVIDIA, Sony Computer Entertainment , DIRECTV, SteelSeries, GIGABYTE, Rosewill, and EVGA.

Anyone attending BlizzCon who’s looking to join the ranks at Blizzard should bring their resumes, portfolios, or business cards. The Blizzard recruiting team will be on hand to review materials and discuss any job-related questions. More information on available Blizzard career opportunities can be found at https://jobs.blizzard.com, LinkedIn Blizzard Careers, and https://twitter.com/@blizzardcareers.

 

Blizzard Entertainment sent out a press release to reveal that Blink-182 will play music during the closing ceremony at BlizzCon 2013 on November 9th.

This concert will be aired via DirecTV and through the Virtual Ticket’s livestream. Visit the BlizzCon Virtual Ticket order page.

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IRVINE, Calif. –(BUSINESS WIRE)– Thousands of gamers are about to come to a party and celebrate all the big things (and all the small things too) . . . and maybe even fall in love with a gnome at a rock show when legendary Southern California punk rock trio Blink-182 headlines the closing concert at Blizzard Entertainment’s sold-out BlizzCon® gaming convention, taking place November 8—9 at the Anaheim Convention Center.

Acclaimed worldwide for their influential and groundbreaking pop-punk sound, Blink-182 has achieved massive critical and commercial success, with over 35 million albums sold. Their third album, Enema of the State, went quintuple platinum and catapulted the band into superstardom.

Unfortunately for fans of Blink-182’s “What’s My Age Again?” video, Anaheim city ordinances strictly forbid the band from running naked through the streets around the convention center. BlizzCon attendees are kindly asked to adhere to the same policy.

“After two days of hard work watching games and playing games and talking about games, we can’t think of a better way to kick back and relax than to have your face melted by Blink-182,” said Mike Morhaime , CEO and cofounder of Blizzard Entertainment . “We’re thrilled to have such an awesome band helping us bring BlizzCon to an epic conclusion.”

“Nothing beats touring and playing in front of a live crowd,” said Tom DeLonge , Blink-182 guitarist and vocalist. “Our roots are in Southern California , so playing at BlizzCon will be like having a show in our own backyard—only with a couple thousand more orcs and elves in loincloths and bikini armor.”

BlizzCon is a celebration of the global player communities surrounding Blizzard Entertainment’s Warcraft®, Diablo®, and StarCraft® game universes. The show will have an array of activities, including discussion panels, competitive and casual tournaments, contests, hands-on playtime with current and upcoming Blizzard Entertainment games, and more.

While tickets to the convention are no longer available, viewers at home can join the excitement by ordering a BlizzCon Virtual Ticket, which offers comprehensive live coverage of both days of the event, including Blink-182’s performance, via multi-channel HD Internet stream for $39.99 USD (pricing and availability may vary by region).

DIRECTV customers in the United States can order the BlizzCon 2013 Pay Per View event, priced at $49.99 USD , which includes access to the Virtual Ticket online stream. Visit www.directv.com/blizzcon for more details.

With multiple games in development, Blizzard Entertainment has numerous positions currently available—visit https://jobs.blizzard.com for more information and to learn how to apply. As BlizzCon draws closer, further details about the show will be announced at www.blizzcon.com.

 

Blizzplanet is giving away a BlizzCon ticket courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment. We’d like to give this ticket to a lucky fan. This is a ticket only with no flight nor hotel accommodations.

Several fansites have similar giveaways (check them out at the bottom of the page). You should participate in as many of them as possible to increase your chances at winning one.

The winner must show a Photo ID at the Anaheim Convention Center’s entrance and the name in the Photo ID must match the winner’s full name.

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That said, read the instructions to find out how to participate.

1. You must either be following us on Facebook or Twitter (click the links to reach our social pages). The winner picked must be in the list of followers.

Privacy Policy: Blizzplanet will not share any of this info with any third-parties. Only Blizzard Entertainment will have the info of the winner to be able to print the BlizzCon Badge. After the winner is chosen randomly, all data will be deleted permanently. By participating in this giveaway you give us authorization to share this with Blizzard Entertainment.

This giveaway ends on Saturday, November 2 at noon (EST / New York). The winner will be contacted shortly after. Please, respond within 48 hours.

Visit the www.BlizzCon.com website to see the panel schedule for November 8-9th.

If you were not a winner, don’t forget to order the BlizzCon Virtual Ticket which allows you to watch the livestream on your internet browser. VODs will be playable for two weeks. Or check details with DirecTV.

2. Fill the form below with accurate information (The selected winner’s full name, email and character name will be provided to Blizzard Entertainment to create the BlizzCon badge). Only one entry per participant allowed. Duplicates will disqualify the participant.

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Other Blizzard Fansites – BlizzCon Ticket Giveaway

Blizzard Entertainment just posted the entire BlizzCon 2013 Schedule which reveals Duncan Jones will be a panelist along with Chris Metzen and Rob Pardo to discuss details of the upcoming Warcraft Film by Legendary Pictures, Atlas Entertainment and NBCUniversal.

Warcraft Movie Presentation

Main Stage
Saturday November 8 at 1:00pm – 2:00pm

Please join the Warcraft movie director, Duncan Jones, along with key Blizzard developers as they discuss the thrilling collaborative process of translating Azeroth’s game world to the big screen.

Panel includes: Duncan Jones (Director), Chris Metzen (Senior Vice President of Story and Franchise Development) and Rob pardo (Chief Creative Officer)

 

The BlizzCon 2013 Floor Map shows all the playable video games: Hearthstone, Diablo III (PS4), World of Warcraft, Heroes of the Storm, and Diablo III: Reaper of Souls. The big absent stage is StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void.

On Friday, November 8 — Blizzard will likely announce the new World of Warcraft expansion through the panel titled “World of Warcraft: The Adventure Continues” scheduled at 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM PST.

Danny Perschonok (Naka) informed me Blizzard Entertainment has launched the new Heroes of the Storm website with a video by CarBot Animations. Blizzard Entertainment has renamed Blizzard All-Stars to “Heroes of the Storm”.

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Yep, we’ve changed it again.

Set aside whatever you think you knew about Blizzard All-Stars, and get ready for what’s brewing at this year’s BlizzCon (Nov. 8-9, 2013).

Many thanks to Jon Burton of Carbot Animations for his work. You can find much more of Jon’s talented craft over at his YouTube channel here

 

A few days ago, when the trademark “Heroes of the Storm” appeared in the United States Patents & Trademarks website, I posted an article listing all the possible uses for this trademark. One of them was a possible rename of Blizzard All-Stars as pointed out by a fan.

Activision Blizzard announced they will broadcast the Third Quarter 2013 Financial Results after the close of the market on Wednesday, November 6, 2013. Coincidence? BlizzCon 2013 takes place on November 8-9. Will Mike Morhaime have a few spoilers to share?

Personally, that would be a great move considering some people might want to watch the BlizzCon DirecTV or Livestream. Not all these conferences yield juicy announcements, but some have proven to provide approximate launch dates for beta testing.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013
1:30 p.m. Pacific Time ( 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time )

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An ex-Blizzard Entertainment developer reached me out to tip me about the sale of several StarCraft II goodies acquired as employee-exclusive gifts. I was able to confirm the identity as the name appears in the StarCraft II credits.

Some of these items are rare, and some are commonly found on eBay. Most of these can be acquired directly by texting the ex-developer by phone. The employee-exclusive goodies will be placed on eBay in a few days (I’ll update once the ex-developer provides the links).

In the meantime, here is a sneak peek into some of the items currently available for sale.

Dethling

The Dethling was a BlizzCon 2010 Exclusive item included in the Swag bag given to the event attendees. The ex-developer has two available for $60 each.

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BlizzCon 2010|2011 Pet Cards

These are BlizzCon 2010 and 2011 exclusive pet cards which contain a scratch redeem code which enables a Battle.net account to obtain a Deathy (a murloc with a jaw and features of Deathwing) and Grunty (World of Warcraft space marine companion pet) — there are two cards on sale each for $85; and another two cards with the Murkablo (World of Warcraft companion pet) and the Panda Space Marine (StarCraft II avatar). I’m not certain if these will be on sale or if they will be placed in the upcoming auction instead. Text just in case.

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Circle of Honor Limited Edition Stein

This stein is given exclusively to employees. This one seems to be given to those who have worked at Blizzard for two years. It is sealed in its box (unopened). On sale for $250.

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Diablo III Collector’s Edition

There are two factory-sealed copies on sale for $150. The Collector’s Edition includes the Fetish Shaman (World of Warcraft companion pet), the Tyrael wings (Diablo III character cosmetic wings); and three exclusive StarCraft II avatars (Diablo III-themed). It also contains the Diablo II and Diablo II: Lord of Destruction inside a USB-flash drive shaped like the soulstone which can be inserted in a Diablo skull souvenir, the Behind-the-Scenes DVD, Soundtrack DVD, and other goodies.

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Kwurky Green Egg Murloc Plush

This is a rare Blizzcon 2009 exclusive plush toy. There is one available for $120.

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StarCraft II Chips

While there are some of these showing up on eBay from time to time, the one the ex-developer is selling is the Employee-Exclusive version, and thus a rare item. This below is the complete Blizzard chip set + the full set of the StarCraft II chips. On sale for $200.

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StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty Collector’s Edition

The factory-sealed StarCraft II Collector’s Edition includes the Mini Thor (World of Warcraft companion pet), three StarCraft II exclusive avatars, an exclusive-version of the Thor unit within StarCraft II, a DC Comics StarCraft comics # 0, the Art of StarCraft II book, the Behind-the-Scenes DVD, Soundtrack and other goodies. On sale for $250.

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Additional Goodies

Not all items have images, but these can be purchased directly without eBay listing by contacting the ex-employee directly.

  • How about a sealed Employee staff-exclusive shirt (Size: Large)? Only $50.

  • Employee platform services button up 2012 shirt (sealed) – $120

  • One-year Subscription World of Warcraft cards x3 for only $75 each. Buying these directly on Battle.net would cost about $84.86 (with Tax included). You save about $9.86 (depending what U.S. State you live at. Tax Example provided: New York)

Upcoming eBay Auction

I’ll update fans in the front page and at the Blizzplanet Facebook and Twitter pages when these become available on eBay. If you don’t follow Blizzplanet social network pages do so now. I was told these will be uploaded soon. These are for the hardcore fans out there with the passion to collect extremely rare Blizzard employee-exclusive memorabilia.

The Thor and Vulture original artwork was painted by artist Jack Luke Mancini. The auction will start with $300 for this limited exclusive piece.

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The StarCraft II Kerrigan Queen of Blades original artwork was used as the front cover of the Starcraft: Queen of Blades by Aaron Rosenberg. This 22″ x 42″ original artwork by Glenn Rane will be in auction starting at $12,000.

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This one of a kind original Brian Huang Starcraft II Concept Art Hydralisk will be in auction for $2,200.

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Sideshow Collectibles only made 5100 copies of the Kerrigan Queen of Blades Bust Statue. So far there have been only four of these statues showing up on eBay by ex-employees and sold for about $900. This one is sealed in its box and it will be auctioned for $750.

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Stay tuned to Blizzplanet to find out when these last four items hit eBay. All other items mentioned are available directly with the ex-employee (no-eBay) by texting (310) 801-7802.

The ex-employee is willing to show photos of pay stubs and the employee plaque for verification and authenticity purposes. Prices are also negotiable.

I arrived to the New York Comic Con in Manhattan about 10:45am before the scheduled book signing at the Insight Editions booth (#1564). The place was packed with thousands of fans and I wasn’t even inside the Javits Center yet. I bypassed most of the horde of people outside the building by walking along the street to the farthest entry point (which is closer to the Exhibition Hall). Still took me about 15 minutes to get inside just to enter into yet another traffic jam of people walking the aisles. Not so easy with a Rollator Walker.

Insight Editions Booth # 1564

I got to meet Joseph Lacroix (DC Comics Diablo: Sword of Justice artist) and Doug Alexander (Senior Art Editor in Creative Development at Blizzard Entertainment) at the Insight Editions booth and both signed my copy of Diablo III: Book of Tyrael. I was delighted. It was so cool when I wrote Blizzplanet.com on the book and showed it to Joseph. He went like: “Ohh! Blizzplanet!” He explained Doug about the fansite.

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I informed him that Arthur “Handclaw” Lorenz recently interviewed him at GamesCom 2013 on behalf of Blizzplanet, and he remembered him. It was awesome to meet these guys and handshake.

Insight Editions marketing director Mark Anderson and sales & marketing manager Chris Parnell will ship a few Blizzard licensed products to me in upcoming days to giveaway here at Blizzplanet. So keep an eye for these announcements on the front page and the Blizzplanet social networks. It might be a few Diablo III: Book of Tyrael and/or the World of Warcraft® Alliance Hardcover Ruled Journal and World of Warcraft Horde Journal.

Simon & Schuster, Inc. Booth # 1828

The Simon & Schuster booth had Blizzard lead publishing and New York Times best selling author Micky Neilson as a guest to sign books for Blizzard Entertainment fans. Simon & Schuster gave away 50 copies of World of Warcraft: Vol’jin: Shadows of the Horde and 50 copies of Diablo III: The Order for free to those who came to the book signing event.

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There was a long line of fans waiting to get their books signed. The line went all around the corner.

I talked briefly with Micky Neilson at the end of the book signing. I asked him whether someone would step forward to take the role of the avatar of Justice now that Tyrael answered the call of the Crystal Arch to take the mantle of Wisdom.

Whoa? Tyrael “answered the call”? Yea — read the Diablo III: Book of Tyrael. That wasn’t something specified in-game.

Whether someone would answer the call to fill the shoes of the avatar of Justice in the future or not is unknown. It is something that has been discussed internally, but they haven’t yet come to a decision. I argued there is still Justice to be met with Adria betraying Tyrael, Leah and all of mankind. Of course, what Malthael is orchestrating demands justice too.

On another note, there is a Diablo short story or novella in progress to be released somewhere around 2014. It is based on a character mentioned in the “Figures of Interest” section of Diablo III: Book of Tyrael.

The character is named Morbed (a former thief) who roams the lands of Sanctuary helping adventurers. The description in the book is open to interpretation. Maybe players might find him in the Reaper of Souls expansion. Don’t take my word on that.

The video below shows the book signing by Micky Neilson — HD1080 available. Let the playlist run to load both videos. The sound is a bit chaotic. I cleaned a bit of it, but you can still hear it. There was a nearby booth with really amped-up music in the background on top of the thousands of people talking in the distance.