Activision-Blizzard and King Digital Entertainment have released a joint statement announcing that Activision-Blizzard has acquired the mobile development company. King is most famous for Candy Crush Saga and has released numerous successful mobile titles under the free-to-play business model. Activision-Blizzard acquired the company at $18 per share for a total of $5.9 billion. It doesn’t appear that any major changes will take place at King following the acquisition as the statement makes clear that King will still operate independently and that Chief Executive Officer Riccardo Zacconi, Chief Creative Officer Sebastian Knutsson, and Chief Operating Officer Stephane Kurgan will retain their positions within King as prior. Along with profiting from the emerging mobile market in general, a major motivation for the acquisition appears to be bringing Activision and Blizzard’s IP’s to mobile as the statement puts a fair deal of emphasis on franchises owned by the companies. You can read the full joint statement here.
While Activision and Blizzard are major names among core gamers, King is far from revered with the same crowd. Along with the general bias often held against mobile games, King stirred up controversy last year when it filed lawsuits against smaller studios using the words ‘candy’ or ‘saga’ in their titles, including a “Notice of Opposition” against Stoic for their viking-based strategy-RPG The Banner Saga. It seems unlikely that fans of Call of Duty, Diablo, or the like would be too excited about any mobile spin-offs with King’s name on them.
What are your thoughts on Activision, Blizzard, and King joining forces? Are there any franchises you would like to see or dread seeing worked on by King? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think.
Heroes Of The Storm
Heroes of the Storm, previously known as Blizzard All-Stars, gets a new in-game event kicked off titled the Eternal Conflict which is themed around Diablo. The event introduces a new playable character and a new map called Battlefield of Eternity map. The new character is called the Butcher who is well-known in the Diablo universe. He won’t be the only new character this patch brings as in the near future The Skeleton King and the Monk.
The heavily Diablo-themed patch isn’t at all surprising since a recent press event at Blizzard HQ done by Heroes of the Storm game director Dustin Browder along with Alan Dabiri, technical director of the game detailed their plans on bringing this new Diablo content including characters, maps and skins to certain angels and villains.
“This is something the players have been asking for,” added Dabiri “Up until now, we’ve had all these different battlegrounds, but they haven’t been in our Blizzard universe. This is the first opportunity for players to see one of their favorite game worlds… and we’ll keep doing that.”
The map is inspired by Diablo III and is split into two lanes where each team fights to protect a giant NPC that its main objective is to destroy the enemy’s base which also has a giant NPC of their own. The map is split into parts, Heaven and Hell and the NPCs will fight each other in the center of the map which according to Alan is the peak of the gameplay session.
“There are a lot of different decisions you have to make,” Dabiri said. “Some of the other battlegrounds, they have map objectives that the goal is to bring you together and have a team fight. But for the most part there’s really just one pivot on it. When the Immortals spawn, you either try to DPS down the enemy’s immortal, or say, ‘Let’s defend our Immortal.’ Or ‘Let’s try to take out the enemy team.’ Or stay in lane, and push while everyone else is fighting. Each of them has a different advantage or disadvantage.”
Heroes of the Storm
With Blizzard’s crossover MOBA game, Heroes of the Storm, having recently launched, there has been a big push to get it into the public eye and the latest example is the announcement of the Eternal Conflict event. Eternal Conflict will be a number of content updates for the game based around the Diablo franchise, including new maps and new heroes taken from the series. One new map and character have been revealed so far, but much more has been hinted at for the event. The first new hero to join the roster will be The Butcher, one of the most iconic boss fights from the first Diablo game and the first boss in Diablo III. In Heroes of the Storm, The Butcher is a melee assassin based around high damage and lifesteal. He can charge opponents down with Ruthless Onslaught, debuff them with Butcher’s Brand, and deal a massive blow with Hamstring. His special trait, Fresh Meat, lets him collect blood droplets left behind by any defeated enemy and gradually increase his attack power. He is certainly a major threat made to capture the sense of fear that he invoked in the Diablo games, but he is more fragile than he appears and his entire Fresh Meat buff will be wiped upon death. Finally, his heroic abilities are Lamb to the Slaughter and Furnace, with the former chaining a single opponent to a spot for a short period and is good for snaring tanky or evasive characters. Furnace is an AoE burst that takes some time to fire off but surrounds The Butcher with a powerful, 360 degree blast.
The next map to be added will be Battlefield of Eternity and it will capture the war between the High Heavens and the Burning Hells that features so prominently in the Diablo series. This two-lane map will be aesthetically divided between heaven and hell with the two teams each taking a side in the conflict. Every now and then, two Immortals will begin fighting in the center of the map and each team will need to work to ensure that the Immortal on their side wins the struggle. There are four different spots that the Immortals can randomly appear at when they start fighting and, while they’re all in close proximity of each other, preemptive positioning for these events will be tricky. The Immortals will also change their positions when one of them reaches half health. Once one of the Immortals falls, the other will start pushing against the stronger lane of the enemy team. Siege giants also work differently on this map, dealing large damage to a single target rather than the splash damage of giants on other maps. Battlefield of Eternity and The Butcher are set to enter the nexus and kick off Eternal Conflict on June 30th.