We'll start at the beginning: BlizzCon is a convention held by Blizzard where they announce new games, hold panels with developers, let the best players in the world show off their skills in tournaments, offer hands-on demos of just-announced games, host costume and talent contests, and other fun Blizzard-centric activities. The con is held in sunny Anaheim, California on a standard Blizzard "when it's ready" schedule -- typically every couple of years. This year's convention will be on November 8 - 9th and if you want to attend... well, unfortunately tickets are sold out. However, you can still pick up a virtual ticket which will let you watch live streams from the convention floor as well as pick up some in-game goodies -- like the Murkalot pet -- for $40.
But is it worth it -- and do you even care? Well, maybe. Here's a rundown of what you can expect to happen at BlizzCon this year -- and how to keep up with the news from afar.
The biggest news of BlizzCon will be announcements: we definitely expect the next World of Warcraft expansion to be announced -- every World of Warcraft expansion to date has been announced at BlizzCon -- and we'll probably hear news about upcoming content for Diablo 3 and its Reaper of Souls expansion, StarCraft 2, Hearthstone, and Blizzard's just-announced Heroes of the Storm MOBA. Will there be any other big announcements? Maybe! Only Blizzard can say for sure -- but we'll find out in November.
Beyond the big announcements, we can expect a host of smaller announcements: panels with developers will give a behind the scene look at the games, class panels will give us a preview of class changes to come, and Q&A panels get straight answers from the development staff. Check out the official schedule to see everything on the agenda this year.
But is this minutia really that exciting? It can be - when they're talking about your class and things that are relevant to your playstyle. Some of this will absolutely be relevant to new players and casual players -- we may find out about new ways to level, new zones to play in, new ways to keep up with our friends, and more. But there will be content for everyone -- which means there will be content you probably aren't interested, like panels talking about hard-core raiding and PvPing.
And of course there will be plenty of fun stuff, too. BlizzCon's contests are blast to watch, and this year there's a costume contest, a talent contest, and a movie contest, and an art contest -- the on-stage talent and contest contests are always a highlight. And the closing ceremonies always feature live music, from Blizzard in-house band Level 90 Elite Tauren Chieftain, and, though we don't know who's playing this year, past years have featured Video Games Live, The Offspring, Tenacious D, Foo Fighters, and Ozzy Osbourne -- yes, Blizzard takes advantage of BlizzCon to throw a real party for gamers.
Is all of this enough to hop on a plane and skulk around the convention center hoping to get in? Well, probably not. But is it worth the cost of a virtual ticket? Depending on how into the game you are right now, maybe. If you really want to keep on top of things, a virtual ticket will give you the ability to watch all of the panels -- live or later -- with a front-row view, all from the comfort of your desk. And as a bonus, you'll get the same in-game swag attendees get, including the Murkalot pet and get a new mystery minion in Hearthstone. To sign up, just head to the BlizzCon website and have your credit card ready.
If you're not ready to shell out cash -- or just not interested enough to spend two days absorbed in watching lifestreams -- you'll be glad to know that the internet have news, photos, and videos from BlizzCon up pretty quickly. The fastest news will be found on social networks, where you'll probably see news as it happens -- try following @Warcraft, @WoWInsider, or any of your other favorite WoW blogs on Twitter for quick updates from the convention floor.
If you're willing to wait a bit, you'll be able to find news roundups and summaries by the end of the convention (or sometimes sooner). These will usually cover all the news there is to know in one place -- and often have analysis or other extras that can help you figure out just what the latest announcements mean. And of course WoW Rookie will have a newbie-friendly wrap-up in store for you. On the web, Blizzard typically posts links to news coverage at the end of each day of the convention and, of course, WoW Insider will be staying on top of the news -- but your favorite WoW, StarCraft, or Diablo site will be sure to have the latest, too.
However you're keeping up, remember: have fun, don't panic, and enjoy BlizzCon!
Just because you're a newbie doesn't mean you can't bring your A-game toWorld of Warcraft! Visit the WoW Rookie Guide for links to everything you need to get started as a new player, from the seven things every newbie ought to know to how to get started as a healer or as a tank.