Blizzard Trademarks “Eye of Azshara”?

Here we go again.

So it beginsAccording to a post on MMO-Champion, Blizzard has trademarked the title, “Eye of Azshara.”

Now, there is an excellent chance this is a hoax. After the “Dark Below” fiasco,* I’m not going to jump to any conclusions. There is some evidence it may be legit — as far as anyone can tell, someone had to spend a few hundred Euros to register this, which is a lot for a hoax — and the fact that Blizzcon is only a few days away is also suspicious. But I do think there is at least a 50/50 chance this is a hoax.

*(It is however interesting to note that The Dark Below may not have been a hoax after all, though it definitely wasn’t related to World of Warcraft. The first expansion for Activision’s Destiny is called “The Dark Below.” It seems very strange to me that Blizzard would file the first trademark application for a game published by their affiliate, but it’s also hard to believe these two things are totally unrelated.)

But speculation is fun, so for the sake of argument, let’s think about what this could mean.

I desperately want this to be a WoW expansion, or maybe even Warcraft IV.

Azshara is by far the expansion concept that most excites me. Azshara is perhaps the last great Warcraft villain left undefeated by players, barring godlike beings such as Sargeras that really aren’t suited to be raid bosses.

Art of Queen Azshara from the Warcraft trading card gameShe is one of the most powerful individuals in Warcraft lore — a mage of incalculable power and skill who has also been empowered by the Old Gods and may now control the elemental of water. She is also one of the most selfish, twisted, and cruel individuals in the Warcraft universe.

An expansion featuring Azshara as the main villain and the Great Sea as its setting could bring in all sorts of long-overlooked locations and ideas in Warcraft lore. We could finally go to Kul Tiras. We could visit the Tomb of Sargeras. We could journey to Zandalar and have our long-overdue reckoning with Zul. We could come face-to-face with N’Zoth, the Drowned God. Want to visit the Emerald Dream? This would be the ideal time to do it.

Furthermore, Blizzard has been foreshadowing something terrible brewing in Azeroth’s oceans since Warcraft III. That’s how we wound up with Murlocs; something drove them from the depths. And they’ve been dropping more hints ever since.

I think an expansion based on Azshara would be the first and perhaps only expansion to rival Wrath of the Lich King in its epic grandeur and significance to the ongoing Warcraft story.

It’d also be a great chance to finally give Tyrande the attention she deserves. As Azshara’s most obvious rival, Tyrande is the ideal choice to be the protagonist of such an expansion. Although knowing how Blizzard is going lately they’d probably make her play second fiddle to Malfurion or resurrected Illidan or maybe just make the protagonist someone else completely random for no reason, like Velen.

Art of Tyrande Whisperwind from the World of Warcraft trading card gameAll that said, I think the odds of this being a WoW expansion are very low. A lot of people are guessing they’ll announce the next expansion at this year’s BlizzCon, but as I’ve said before, I think that’s very improbable.

Yes, Blizzard keeps going on about how they want to do yearly expansions. But they’ve been saying that since Wrath, and the wait between expansions has actually been getting longer.

Even if they were far enough along to have something to show from 7.0, it would be a monumentally foolish PR move to unveil it before Warlords of Draenor is even released, thus stealing their own thunder.

The odds of Eye of Azshara being a new Warcraft RTS are even more abysmal. Blizzard’s RTS team is already splitting its attention between StarCraft II and Heroes of the Storm, and I don’t think we’ll see another Warcraft RTS while WoW is around, much as it pains me to say that.

One intriguing — though, again, highly improbable — possibility that I haven’t seen mentioned is that Eye of Azshara might be a new expansion for Warcraft III.

Sounds crazy — and it probably is — but it’s not entirely outside the bounds of possibility. There’s a lot of talk of an HD re-release of WC3, and it’s concievable that Blizzard might want to sweeten the pot by including some new content. A short new campaign set around the time of the Frozen Throne — either a prequel dealing with how the Naga joined Illidan or a sequel dealing with the aftermath of their defeat in Northrend — probably wouldn’t tax the RTS team too badly.

Interesting to think about, but again, it doesn’t seem likely.

If Eye of Azshara isn’t a hoax, I think it’s probably a Hearthstone expansion.

A game of HearthstoneWe know Blizzard is working on a big Hearthstone expansion, and there’s a pretty good chance they’d announce it at this year’s BlizzCon. Now would be the right time to trademark its title. So it makes sense.

So I think Eye of Azshara is probably a hoax, but there’s also a fairly strong chance it’s a Hearthstone expansion. It could be related to WoW — I hope it is, and I won’t rule it out — but it seems improbable.

* * *

It’s also worth noting that the same post on MMO-Champion mentions that “Overwatch” has continued to proliferate across trademark databases, so there’s a good chance that’s legit. I have no further thoughts on the matter beyond what I’ve already said, though.

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