Early this month, we broke the story that Tokyopop and Blizzard would be going separate ways. Originally thought to be the cause of recent strife inside Tokyopop, it was later revealed that Blizzard felt it didn’t have the time and resources to dedicate to this section of the Expanded Universe. After releasing more than 20 products together, the companies have parted ways, leaving at least one storyline hanging in the void.
Personally, I believe WoW’s universe, its lore, is the title’s greatest asset. People may believe that they don’t care about it, but if it was stripped from the game, I subscribe to the notion that the game would be far less popular. I bring this up because the manga has been a perfect avenue to test the character development waters for Blizzard, to progress storylines. The Warcraft: Legends branch being the epitome of perfect brand extension.
The series enabled Blizzard writers and outside wordsmiths to expand and complete game storylines that, for whatever reason, haven’t been fleshed out in the game. The origins story of the Headless Horseman is a prime example of such expansion. Or we’d be introduced to entirely new characters, some that would be incorporated to the game, delivering extra fan service. Furthermore, the medium allowed for a much quicker turn around than, say, the novels. Tokyopop could produce and (occasionally) had its work vetted by Blizzard in time for major seasonal or storyline events. The medium supported any type of storytelling techniques, from one shots to frame narratives to long-running arcs. Ultimately, it was a perfect testing ground to see what the dedicated lore fans enjoyed. This enabled Blizzard to cherrypick techniques, stories or writers to bring to the digital medium.
That’s why all of us should miss the medium. The stories were good, experimental and conclusive. More importantly, they were frequent. Blizzard is infamous for making tortoises seem reckless. In the immediate Internet age, content from the company comes as often as an Ice Age. By partnering itself with Tokyopop, Blizzard gave gamers a reprise from the massive droughts between digital content. We could continue to invest in the universe – either StarCraft or Warcraft – to see our favorite characters progress or be introduced to new figures as we waited for the next major content package or expansion.