Winners and Losers: Blizzard whip up a storm while Apple Watch dominates

There were more losers than winners in the world of tech this week, with several companies upsetting customers and generally dropping the ball. It’s not all doom and gloom though…

Apple’s recent earnings update shed light on just how fast the company’s wearables business is growing. Now, one eye-opening statistic has thrown that success back into the spotlight. More on this later.

It was a race to the bottom to decide this week’s biggest ‘loser’. Google took some hard knocks, with the Pixel 4 selling badly and several Chinese brands basically forming an alliance to work around Google. Also notable were comments from Jon von Teztschner, founder of Opera and Vivaldi, who took aim at Google Chrome when he spoke to Trusted Reviews.

Vodafone had a bad week too, after it was revealed it’s going to cost the company £169m to remove Huawei equipment from  its 5G network.

But, it was Blizzard that really took the biscuit when it came to messing up. The release of Warcraft III: Reforged saw the game become the lowest rated game on Metacritic in the history of, well… games on Metacritic.

Related: Removing Huawei from 5G networks is going to cost Vodafone £169m

Winner: Apple Watch

In 2019 Apple sold more watches than the entire Swiss watch industry, around 10 million more in-fact, according to research from Strategy Analytics. If that’s not a win for Apple, I don’t know what is.

The analysts estimated that Apple shipped 30.7 million Apple Watch units worldwide in 2019. That’s 36% from 22.5 million in 2018.

Neil Mawston, Executive Director at Strategy Analytics, said: “We estimate the entire Swiss watch industry together shipped 21.1 million units worldwide in 2019, falling 13 percent from 24.2 million in 2018. Analogue wristwatches remain popular among older consumers, but younger buyers are tipping toward smartwatches and computerised wrist-wear.”

These numbers are a little bit heart-breaking for traditionalists. Is it the beginning of the end for traditional analogue watches? There’s plenty of life in them yet, with so many huge premium brands in the business, but this is a definite warning sign to the industry’s behemoth brands – the likes of Hublot, Omega and Rolex.

It also begs the question, could we see more of these traditional watch brands looking to incorporate smart tech into their products? Or teaming up with established tech firms to create cross-over products? It certainly feels like a natural progression for the industry, with these sales figures in mind.

Related: Our full Apple Watch 5 review

Loser: Blizzard and Warcraft III: Reforged

Blizzard’s latest game didn’t exactly go down a storm. The re-boot of Warcraft III enraged fans and bagged the lowest Metacritic rating for a game ever.

A landslide of almost 26,000 negative reviews has poured in since the game was released. Compare that to the circa 1000 positive reviews and you can see just how badly this title has gone down.

One particularly enraged gamer told Metacritic readers: “I’d rather have paid to prevent them from releasing this.” Another added: “Blizzard should be ashamed”.

Not exactly glowing, is it?

One of the biggest reasons for this was that Blizzard fell short of delivering on its original promises. When the game was originally revealed we saw some interesting new visuals and additions. What gamers actually got to play in the end had barely changed since the 2002 version and the changes that had been made were not all for the better, according to fans.

In the end the game was a glorified re-release, packed with bugs, rather than an actual legitimate re-make. Things went so badly that Blizzard are actually offering re-funds.

Blizzard said in a statement: “We want to say we’re sorry to those of you who didn’t have the experience you wanted”.

The developers are planning patches but, at this point, that fix sounds like a sticking plaster on an open wound. The damage is done and Blizzard’s reputation as a developer seems to have suffered.

What’s the good news in all of this? If you bought the game and you hate it, then you can actually get a re-fund. Blizzard have made an exception to the company’s re-fund policy because of quite how much flak the game has received.

The firm posted on Battle.net:

“Blizzard stands by the quality of our products and our services. Normally we set limits for refund availability on a game, based on time since purchase and whether it has been used. However we want to give players the option of a refund if they feel that Warcraft III: Reforged does not provide the experience they wanted. So, we’ve decided to allow refunds upon request for the time being. You may request a refund here on our Support Site.”

Related: Best PS5 Games: All the titles we want on Sony’s next-gen console

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