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Thursday, January 01, 2009

Top 10 Blizzard-related Moments of 2008

With 2008 now coming to a close, we figured we'd put together our Top 10 Blizzard-related Moments of 2008 for you, as a look back at everything Blizzard gaming from the past year.

10. Fury of the Sunwell Released
Patch 2.4 released on March 25th, 2008 to much fanfaire. Titled "Fury of the Sunwell," the patch was comprised of much more than just a new raid instance. It was truly the culmination of The Burning Crusade as an expansion, by giving players the chance to battle Kil'Jaeden the Deceiver in Sunwell Plateau, a weakened Kael'thas Sunstrider in both Normal and Heroic Magisters' Terrace, and the Isle of Quel'Danas -- a dynamic, changing quest hub that allowed players to progress through some of the best solo-player content the game had ever seen.

It also introduced a new reputation -- the Shattered Sun Offensive -- allowing players to work their way to Exalted through a combination of Daily Quests and dungeon runs, something that hadn't been done previously.

9. The Burning Crusade Comes to a Close With Defeat of Kil'Jaeden
Two months after Sunwell Plateau was released, SK-Gaming achieved a World First defeat of Kil'jaeden the Deceiver, ending the run of Nihilum, who had previously gotten World First kills on all end-bosses since C'Thun in the Temple of Ahn'qiraj.

8. Achievement System Announced
In July of 2008, Blizzard officially announced the WoW Achievement System bringing XBOX Live-like achievement meta-gameplay to World of Warcraft for the first time. It would add a new layer of complexity to character progression in some cases, and in others -- primarily introduced with Wrath of the Lich King -- increase the challenges of content. The system would truly change the game forever, and was introduced later in the year in patch 3.0, prior to Wrath of the Lich King's launch.

7. 10- and- 25-player Versions of Raids Announced
In May of 2008, Blizzard -- through a media gathering at Blizzard HQ -- announced they would be introducing 10- and- 25-player versions of all Wrath of the Lich King raid instances, allowing players to progress through all of the game's end-game content, even if they'd rather do so with 10 of their closest friends, instead of 25. What this meant for end-game content wouldn't really be felt until Wrath of the Lich King's release, but many players were extremely excited at the chance of facing the Lich King, even if they couldn't commit to a 25-player raid.

6. BlizzCon 2008 Tickets Sell Out In Minutes
BlizzCon 2008 shattered a number of records for Blizzard. Not only was it one of the most popular events Blizzard has ever hosted, it also set a record for how fast tickets sold out. Only minutes after BlizzCon 2008 tickets went on sale, the Blizzard Store came crashing down as hundreds of thousands -- perhaps even millions -- of World of Warcraft and Blizzard fans hammered the website in attempts to purchase tickets. The verdict? A lot of unhappy players and one of the fastest event sellouts ever. On the bright side, the demand did prompt Blizzard to offer 3,000 tickets more via a lottery, something they likely didn't originally plan to do.

5. StarCraft II Becomes Three Separate Games
Blizzard shocked StarCraft fans worldwide at BlizzCon 2008, as Rob Pardo announced StarCraft II would now be three separate games, each focusing on a race's campaign. While many were upset at the news, Blizzard's philosophy of "It's finished when it's finished" glared through the haze created by thousands of tears. Their ambitions got the best of them, but they were determined to release a quality game -- even if it meant three separate titles.

4. World of Warcraft Breaches 11.5 Million Milestone
Blizzard's now-flagship title, World of Warcraft, continued its surge into households everywhere as they announced in December of 2008 that the game now has more than 11.5 million subscribers worldwide. Included in a month of heavy activity for sales of World of Warcraft was a media barrage that introduced new WoW TV Commercials. These commercials would air all over network television, even on sports networks like ESPN during major sporting events. While excited about the new milestone, Blizzard is sure to see it isn't the last.

3. Wrath of the Lich King Sells 4 Million Copies
In November of 2008, Wrath of the Lich King launched and unsurprisingly sold a record-shattering number of copies not only in its first day, but also its first month. In the end, Blizzard trumped themselves and their Burning Crusade launch by selling more than 4 million copies of Wrath of the Lich King in its first month of availability, the highest-selling PC title for its first month in the history of PC gaming.

2. Diablo III Announced
The 2008 Worldwide Invitational was the first ever held in Europe, and Blizzard clearly wanted to commemorate that with something major. Boy did fans ever get something major. At the end of June, Blizzard capped off a brilliant marketing strategy by officially announcing Diablo III. While many diehard Diablo fans were upset at the new art direction, this was clearly one of Blizzard's most ambitious titles yet as it thrust Diablo players into a 3D world for the first time ever.

1. Wrath of the Lich King Midnight Release
To say the midnight release of Wrath of the Lich King was a spectacle in itself -- beyond the fact that a new expansion was waiting -- would be an understatement. Thousands upon thousands of fans lined the streets outside of their favorite games store worldwide -- some camping out as early as that morning -- to get their hands on a copy before anyone else. Experiencing it firsthand, and seeing so many excited players -- chatting with fellow players while waiting in line -- was by far the number one moment of 2008 for Blizzard. This night was exactly what Blizzard games are all about


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