Blizzard Entertainment is a real colossus in modern gamedev, which owns three well-known and incredibly profitable trademarks – “Warcraft”, “Starcraft” and “Diablo”. But it was the “military craft” (Warcraft) that brought the company a worldwide and sharp success. For example, WoW has been occupying the list of the best MMORPGs according to many publications and various TOPs for almost fourteen years. Therefore, it’s time to refresh everyone’s memory and remind why this franchise was so successful.
1994 – Warcraft: Orcs & Humans released
In fact, the first real-time strategy was released back in 1974, but still the first really popular project in the RTS genre on the PC, which laid the key mechanics in the canons of this genre, is “Dune 2” of the 1992 release. For two years, the game reigned and dominated the gaming market, but until in 1994, the small and little-known studio Blizzard Entertainment released one of its first legendary strategies – Warcraft. It is also worth noting that at that time Blizzard was known only to a small number of players and only thanks to crazy races called Rock N’ Roll Racing.
In the first “Warcraft” were laid almost the same ideas that existed at that time in “Dune 2”, but at the same time the game received a decent development. However, this is not surprising, because Blizzard employees have never hidden the fact that during the creation of the first part they played Dune in their spare time. And this was the very case when, as the saying goes, “the student surpassed his teacher.” Since unlike the exclusively rifle battles in Dune 2, in Warcraft long-range units had to be combined with units that fought in close combat. Due to the new mechanics, the dynamics of battles in terms of gameplay has grown several times.
In addition, humans and orcs, if you look at it again from the point of view of gameplay and technical component, had their own analogies from the other side. For example, if humans had foot soldiers, the orcs had shirts, or if the orcs had necrolites, the people had their own clerics. Another major difference was that each unit was not repainted simply in a different color, as it was in the “Dune”. Each unit had a cardinal appearance. Absolutely the same thing affected the buildings, which, with similar functions, had a different appearance and thus differed. Therefore, people stood out for their pathos and elegance, and orcs for their brutality and massiveness. Battle magic, summonses and upgrades were also radically different from each other. All this made each campaign more interesting and exciting, and the gameplay did not bother.
Another important difference between the first Warcraft and Dune was the strong and step-by-step storyline. Therefore, if Dune took the famous entourage of Frank Herbert as its basis, after which it simply gave the opportunity to banally fight for territories, choosing one of the factions, then in the case of the game “Warcraft” an incredible saga was invented and written, which was based on the confrontation of two completely different races. This is how everyone’s favorite world appeared, which was called Azeroth. The plot for the game was so rich that the passage of any campaign for one of the key factions radically differed not only in a variety of units under control, but also in tasks.
It is curious that if the developers adhered to the concept that was “born” initially, then Warcraft turned out to be a mostly realistic project and told about the various wars that took place on Earth. There is still no exact information about who first decided to offer to write his own and unique fantasy story. In any case, perhaps it was thanks to the new concept and the decision to follow it that “Blizzard” (as Blizzard studio is affectionately called in narrow fan circles) eventually became a real monster in the gaming industry and did not fall into the abyss of obscurity, creating albeit really original, but quite niche projects.
In addition to all this, the original “Warcraft” was the first RTS project in the style of fantasy. And, finally, it was in this game that the famous and popular mechanic appeared, when you need to frame the units and then command a whole group of units. By the way, without this mechanic today it is impossible to imagine any modern strategy.
However, the key achievement of the first part was not in the “smart frame”. The bottom line is that Warcraft is the first project in its genre where the multiplayer was as well done and worked out as the single part. At the same time, gradually accustoming fans to the online component, Blizzard themselves then still not fully realizing, laid the foundations in a huge fan base for all their subsequent games, including the most important and large-scale.
Despite the fact that the first part brought along with it really revolutionary mechanics and features, many critics rather “coldly” perceived the project. This is explained by the fact that at that time almost every game that came out created a certain subgenre with it, so critics called the first Warcraft “fantasy clone of Dune 2” and thereby gave mediocre assessments of the project. Fortunately, back then, players read magazines and sat on thematic sites much less, so they trusted their own opinion and view more than now, so Warcraft proved popular. Of course, the mountains of gold for the ziggurats at the studio were just around the corner, so the question of the release of the sequel remained only a matter of time.
1995 – Warcraft 2: Tides of Darkness released
Just a year later, the history of the Warcraft series began to develop again, when a new part of the “military craft” appeared on the shelves of stores. Due to the fact that, unlike humans, orcs in fact were alien invaders, the victory over us marked the end of this whole saga, as a basis, the developers took the end of the original campaign of the first part for the greenskins. Therefore, the campaign began with the fact that people had to evacuate from the once defeated great Stormwind and the desperate attempts of mankind to create the very legendary Alliance, which was to include not only people, but also elves, dwarves and dwarves to repel the invasion of the Horde.
The main innovation in the sequel was the appearance of the two sides of the conflict not only new ground units, but also air and water. From now on, the game has made another huge step towards dynamic and diverse battles. In addition, it was no longer possible to assemble every time exactly the same army for each mission in the campaign, because now somewhere infantry is more useful, and somewhere it is impossible to go further without the support of a powerful fleet.
In addition to new types of units, then there was a new type of resource atypical for fantasy – oil. However, the new types of units were also not fabulous unicorns, since they were smoking and smoking submarines, steamships, ships and helicopters. Therefore, from a certain point of view, it seemed to some that the setting gradually went into steampunk, although this, of course, was not the case.
Along with this, new original races also appeared. Playing as people, you could control elves and dwarves, and choosing the Horde, you could take control of ogres, trolls, undead and even some demons. Along with this, the set of important plot characters expanded: people had a new king, and in the meantime an internecine war for power began in the Horde. At the same time, plot characters began to appear not only during various briefings, but also began to take part in especially important plot tasks.
The technical component has also changed. For example, in the second part, there is no longer a need to prepare the territory for the construction of any buildings, which irritated even in the “Dune” (in the first part of the “Warcraft” it was necessary to connect all the buildings by roads). There was also a whole new fog of war. Thus, if in the original the terrain was originally black, after which it was opened forever, then in the sequel the dark explored part is now gray and only what is in the field of view of your units is visible.
From now on, it is possible to improve in the second part not only one unit, but also buildings, various types of technologies and resource extraction, thereby increasing their inflow. In addition, from now on it was possible to build a couple more key buildings in absolutely any convenient place, thereby creating an excellent tactical opportunity to build other bases at other points on the map. From now on, the number of allowable controlled units increased to nine (in the original, only four units could be kept under control at a time). The maximum number of simultaneously playing players in multiplayer mode has increased from 2 to 8. Also, the scale of battles and various tactical elements of the gameplay have increased several times.
Meanwhile, critics, apparently aware of their bias and short-sightedness, this time decided to praise the project. This time, many gamers agreed with the opinion of critics, so in commercial terms, the second part was more successful than the original.
1996 – Warcraft 2: Beyond the Dark Portal released
To write a large-scale and logical continuation of the storyline “Blizzard” did not want yet, but despite this, interest in the Warcraft universe continued to grow exponentially, so the developers decided to develop an add-on. The Dark Portal expansion was designed to increase the importance and role of the characters not only in terms of the storyline, but also in terms of gameplay. From now on, the heroes look stronger than ordinary units, and the lion’s share of tasks requires not only to save the life of their hero, but also to kill the heroes of the enemy.
The storyline in the add-on was no longer dedicated to Azeroth, but to the native world of the orcs – Drenorus. Despite the fact that the Dark Portal, through which the Horde came to the world of humans and other races, was crushed, it still retained its working capacity. The powerful Oroch shaman Ner’zulu managed to unite the fragmented clans of orcs and ravage Azeroth, so humanity was fed up with all this, it gathered its Alliance and decided to attack the native world of the Horde. Thus, all battles now take place in a completely new territory.
Another main difference between the add-on is that the large-scale add-on was developed and created not by Blizzard, but by the controlled studio Cyberlore. And, perhaps, for this reason, it turned out to be good, but far from excellent, like the previous parts of the series.
2002 – Release of Warcraft 3: Reign of Chaos
From 1996 to 2002, Metelitsa developed and released three more legendary projects: Diablo (two parts) and Starcraft. Therefore, the developers not only did not have the strength to create the continuation of Warcraft, but even the necessary resources. Nevertheless, even before the announcement of Warcraft 3 in 1999, games in the Warcraft universe won the hearts of many players, so fans eagerly awaited and believed in the continuation. Blizzard simply could not take and fail all its loyal fans.
It is important to note that at the time of the announcement and during the development of Warcraft 3: Reign of Chaos, the gaming industry was going through another stage of the revolution. So RPGs and RPG elements came into vogue in all games: from ordinary races to simulators. In addition, special attention was paid to the graphics, since from now on the players became more demanding. Therefore, the third part, retaining all its key advantages, has acquired new bonuses and features. After all, the graphics in video games are now truly three-dimensional and look a lot juicier than they used to be. The number of game races in Warcraft 3 has increased to 4: in addition to radically updated races (Alliance and Orcs), the developers have added a race of Night Elves and Undead. All heroes now appear in all tasks. The role of all the characters was brought to the fore. From now on, heroes were not just ordinary “fat” units: each hero now had his own model, experience scale, level, attributes and abilities that were important to pump.
Thanks to new living heroes with their own history, unique character and incredible destinies, the third part of Warcraft rose to a new level and turned out to be no less iconic than the previous projects of this series. In addition, the story of the rise and after the incredible fall of the brave, noble and young Prince Arthas Menetil is a vivid and canonical example of how even the best intentions and self-confidence can easily lead to complete failure. Therefore, “Warcraft 3” is now a cult game.
2003 – Warcraft 3: The Frozen Throne released
An important add-on to Warcraft 3, which brought a huge number of important innovations to the original: new units, heroes and things. From now on, in addition to the very pumping of heroes, everyone was able to buy cool things in the corresponding shop. In addition, the skills have become much more, and the role of all the heroes has increased significantly.
There were also neutral heroes who could be hired as additional ones. The campaign for the Horde now looked more like an RPG than the usual RTS. What can we say, if it was on the basis of the add-on “Ice Throne” that the legendary mod “DotA”, now known as DOTA 2 and “League of Legends”, appeared, which created a completely new genre – MOBA.
Warcraft Story by Plot
A fallen powerful titan named Sargeras was creating a plan through which he could destroy Azeroth. To realize his plans, the titan managed to subdue the will and mind of the powerful magician Medivh by means of tricks. After that, he forced him to turn to his faithful servant, the Oroch warlock Gul’dan, who lived in the vastness of Draenor. Sargeras, along with his Burning Legion, turned the peaceful orcs into a Horde driven only by war. Next, with the help of the Dark Portal, which Gul’dan discovered with Medivh, the Horde attacked Azeroth and the people. Soon the Horde managed to reach the important city of people – Stormwind. The city was besieged, and Anduin Lothar and Garon Half-Orphan stood up to defend it. However, the resistance was too weak, so soon the city fell. And in the heat of battle, Garon, on the orders of Gul’dan, killed the current king.
Despite the fact that Stormwind fell and was subsequently ravaged by the orcs, the brave knight Anduin Lothair managed to unite the remaining troops and then go with the remnants of the people to Lordaeron. Upon arrival, Anduin enlisted the support of three races. Lothar managed to create an Alliance that could now give a worthy rebuff to the Horde under the control of the Hammer of Rock. At the same time, trolls and ogres decided to join the Horde. The victory of the orcs was just around the corner, but suddenly Gul’dan, along with his followers, betrayed the Horde and went in search of the powerful artifacts of Sargeras, where they later met their death. At this time, the weakened orcs had to retreat. A little later, the Horde still managed to rest to regroup, after which in a heavy battle the Hammer of Rock killed Anduin Lothar. And yet the death of the leader could not break the morale of the Alliance. Therefore, anduin Lothar was replaced by his friend Turalion. Following the commands of Turalion, finally, the people in alliance with other races still managed to defeat the powerful Horde.
After the destruction of the portal in the territory of Azeroth, which still retained its functionality, the powerful Orochi shaman Ner’zul decided to lead the Horde in the territory of Draenor. His goal was other worlds, but for this he needed to open new portals. However, this required powerful artifacts. To do this, Ner’zul sent orcs through another portal, which was also located in the territory of Draenor, to make their way back to Azeroth and get everything they needed. The Alliance became aware of Ner’zula’s cunning plan, so they gathered their forces and invaded Draenor’s territory. The defeat of the Oroch shaman was inevitable, but in order to avoid death at the hands of enemies, Ner’zul decides to open a huge number of portals to other worlds. Releasing so much energy caused Draenor to split apart. The remnants of the Alliance, who were arriving at that moment in the territory of Draenor, were imprisoned. And henceforth, Draenor was called the Outland.
Since then, for many years, the orcs who remained in Azeroth had to sit in captivity, but until a slave named Thrall decided to free them. Thrall managed not only to free his fellow tribesmen, but also to unite them, after which he escaped to the territory of the Western continent (to Kalimdor) to prepare for war with the Burning Legion. Meanwhile, in order to weaken the resistance from the inhabitants of Azeroth, the demons decided to use their secret weapon – the power of the Whip. A key detail in this regard was played by Arthas Menetel, who lives in Lordaeron. He bravely tried to fight the forces of the Whip to protect relatives and friends from the plague and invasion of the undead, but in the end, fear and pride clouded his mind too much, so he himself unknowingly took the side of the Lich King, the leader of the Whip. Meanwhile, in Kalimdor, the Horde, led by Thrall, managed to reconcile with the people in order to push back the invading forces of the Burning Legion under the command of Archimond, a powerful demon. The fragile alliance between humans, night elves and orcs suffered incredible losses, but still they managed to defeat the army of demons on the holy mountain Hijal.
Meanwhile, while the humans, orcs and their other allies tried to heal their wounds as soon as possible after the battle with the Burning Legion, the death knight Arthas Menetel actively replenished the ranks of his Whip, gradually slaughtering everyone in the Eastern Kingdoms. However, a new threat emerged that sought to destroy the Ice Throne and with it the Whip. Silvana the Windwing, whom Arthas turned into a banshee, was led by an undead who nicknamed herself the “Renunciated”. At the same time, the night elf Illidan, once defiled by the demon, lands his troops in the northern part of Northrend to destroy the Lich King. Arthas has to rush to the aid of his master to defeat Illidan. Luck was on the side of the Death Knight, so he banished Illidan to the Outland, after which he did the unbelievable – he merged of his own free will with the spirit of the Lich King.
Development of the company
Blizzard Entertainment Corporation is today the benchmark of modern game construction. It was this company that made a huge contribution to the development of video games, thereby becoming the creator of several cult franchises and even the founder of some eSports disciplines. To date, Blizzard is part of the holding company Activision Blizzard, Inc. – this is one of the largest video game publishers in the United States of America.
The history of Blizzard Entertainment Corporation began in 1991, when three young graduates decided to create their own unique game studio. To create the studio, the guys spent about $ 10,000 from their savings. However, success did not come immediately. The key success, as many believe, “Blizzard” was given by Chris Metzen, who is the creator of the universe of “Diablo”, “Warcraft” and “Starcraft”. Only in fact, in the development of the first part of Warcraft, Chris took part only as an animator and lead artist. And yet, in the future, his role has grown several times, and his contribution to the creation is key.
The first part of Wacraft sold 100,000 copies, but the most successful at that time was Warcraft 2, since it was already played by several million players around the world. The second part sold 3 million copies, while only licensed versions are considered. It is likely that the pirated circulation was much larger, since at that time the world video game distribution system was not as developed as it is now. In any case, this period ended with the fact that Warcraft 2 made the company famous in the gaming industry.
Perhaps when it comes to Blizzard, it’s important to note the studio’s incredible resilience. The bottom line is that the holding called “Davidson & Asscociates” in 1996 was quickly bought out by a large parent company “CUC International”. Just a year after that, the holding announced that it was merging with Cendant Software. A year later, Cendant Software sold its software division (along with Blizzard) to another media holding in France called Havas. And just a few months later, the media holding was absorbed by the local media conglomerate represented by the vivendi SA corporation. Next, the Blizzard studio, which survived all these moments, soon became the official controlled department of Vivendi Games. A few years later, Vivendi announced that it was beginning a merger with Activision Corporation. Thus, a new division of Activision Blizzard is formed. And in 2013, Activision Blizzard decided to buy out the remaining shares from Vivendi SA for $ 423 million, thereby becoming a completely independent company.
And yet the most important thing in the course of the development of the company is that the studio retained its unique autonomy, continuing to work on games. Thanks to this, the developers not only created a successful Warcraft series, which laid the foundations in the RTS genre, but also released the first Diablo in 1995. The breakthrough solution was that Blizzard decided to make the game an isometric action movie (which was atypical for that time) in real time, which created a whole subgenre called “hack and slash”.
Blizzard Entertainment is one of those companies in the modern gaming industry that serves as an example. From now on, whatever the subsequent projects from them, all of them will simply be doomed to success, since the level of trust from fans is huge.