COMMENTARY | COLUMNISTS | A.T. NELSON

BlizzCon attracts thousands; TIGA submits funding proposal

It was quite a week around the video game industry. As BlizzCon did its best to steal most of the spotlight over the weekend, the TIGA quietly submitted a proposal to establish a government-backed creative content fund in the United Kingdom.

There is little doubt that BlizzCon was on more than a few people’s minds this past weekend, as more than 26,000 fans of games such as “World of Warcraft,” “StarCraft,” and “Diablo” descended upon the Anaheim Convention Center.

As in past years, tickets for the annual event sold out within minutes of going on sale, as enthusiastic gamers sought to catch a glimpse of what Activision Blizzard Inc. has planned for their favorite franchises.

Coming out of this year’s event, the company made several key announcements, including details on the upcoming expansion of “World of Warcraft.”

Dubbed “Mists of Pandaria,” this fourth expansion to the hugely successful title raises the existing player cap to 90, while also adding a new monk class, as well as a new race called the “pandaren” that can play as either of the game’s two factions.

Some have already been quick to criticize this new expansion for drawing too many parallels with DreamWorks' “Kung Fu Panda,” but most players seem more than eager for the release of the company’s latest offering.

Activision Blizzard also announced that annual subscribers to "World of Warcraft" will be getting a free copy of “Diablo 3” once it hits store shelves. This offer only extends to existing users who have already registered a full version of the game, and players must also complete the full-year subscription to "World of Warcraft" in order to keep “Diablo 3” free of charge.

The company also succeeded in whetting more than a few appetites as it showed off trailers for “Blizzard DOTA” and “StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm.”

Unfortunately, the company had nothing to offer the ravenous group of onlookers on release dates, save Activision Blizzard’s predictable “when it’s ready” response.

U.K.-based trade organization TIGA also made news last week as the association presented a proposal to the Scottish government to establish a creative content fund.

Under the terms of the proposal, the fund would provide game developers up to 100,000 euros to spur development in that country.

Backers of the measure say that this fund would help to not only put Scotland on the map as a global hub for video game development, but that it would also help to stem the flow of jobs going overseas to countries like Canada that have succeeded in attracting developers with generous tax incentives.

According to TIGA Chief Executive Officer Richard Wilson, “The Westminster coalition government is failing to invest in the Scottish and U.K. game development sector.”

Wilson added, “TIGA's proposed (creative content fund) would improve developers' access to finance, stimulate original IP generation and promote studio growth. It would enhance the independence of developers and strengthen the prospects for the expansion of the Scottish video games industry.”

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