Here is why Heroes of the Storm is likely to be WoW's fifth expansion - not Hearthstone or Blizzard All-Stars.
1. The Trademark Description
IC 009. US 021 023 026 036 038. G & S: Computer game software, computer game discs, downloadable computer game software, computer game software downloadable from a global computer network, interactive multimedia computer game program; Downloadable electronic game software for use on portable electronic devices such as mobile and cellular phones, laptops, handheld computers, and tablet PCs
The name itself is quite similar to Hearthstone's subtitle: 'Heroes of Warcraft'. But that's where the similarities end.
Heroes of the Storm's trademark description specifically mentions computer game discs. Hearthstone won't have physical discs, which rules a Hearthstone expansion out. Furthermore, it is much too early for a Hearthstone expansion anyway. But the physical discs is really what gives it away. This is not for Hearthstone.
Heroes of the Storm also sounds like a nice re-naming of Blizzard All-Stars, with 'Heroes' referring to the characters you'll play and 'Storm' referring to the location, much like the abstract 'Mists' in Guild Wars 2, where players do PvP.
However, notice how the Heroes of the Storm Goods and Services description mentions electronic devices such as mobile and cellular phones [...]. The Blizzard All-Stars description, seen below, does not.
There is a reason for this. A MOBA is a fiercely tactical and competitive game, meant for e-sports primarily. Its players require a maximum amount of control input and flexibility, and have to be able to use mouses and keyboard hotkeys for quick reactions within the game.IC 009. US 021 023 026 036 038. G & S: Computer game software, computer game discs, computer game software and related instruction manuals and guides sold together as a unit, downloadable computer game software, computer game software downloadable from a global computer network, downloadable electronic games via the internet and wireless devices, interactive multimedia computer game program
Tablets could run MOBAs fine, hardware-wise, but they wouldn't offer the sophisticated control input to players as PCs would. Furthermore, there is no way you could play a MOBA on a mobile phone - it is much too small. This tells us that the section about mobiles and handheld devices in the Goods and Services description for Heroes of the Storm is more likely meant for a feature in a game, not for a game itself.
World of Warcraft?
WoW has physical discs, it has downloadable computer game software, and downloadable game software to use on portable devices. It has the Armory, the Auction House, and Pet Battles. With Hearthstone and All-Stars ruled out, it seems increasingly plausible that this section of the text refers to Blizzard simply expanding these features in the next expansion, giving them more mobile integration. We don't have evidence for this, but seeing as we do have evidence that rules out everything but the WoW expansion or an unheard of potential new IP, it is safe to assume WoW is the answer.
2. The Name
The trademark has received a lot of blame for its name. People say it sounds silly, or not like WoW.
I disagree, and think the name fits perfectly.
What storms do we know of?
This article by Joystiq.com sums up our storms nicely.
One of the storms they focus on is the obvious one. The one that's been in our collective consciousness for years, the one Blizzard has refused to let us forget throughout Mists of Pandaria; continuously referencing it in lore, the Wrathion quest line, the Shaohao videos, and so on.
The Burning Legion, and the Reign of Fire. I'll quote the article:
One of the biggest storms in the history of the universe absolutely has to be the backlash that ripped across Draenor after the end of the Second War. It didn't just separate one continent into many, like the Sundering on Azeroth -- it completely destroyed an entire world. The destruction of Draenor wasn't due to demonic invasion or the influence of the Old Gods, however. It was one orc, Ner'zhul, who opened portals all over the planet with the intent of giving the orcs new worlds to conquer and destroy. In order to do this, he used four powerful artifacts stolen from Azeroth -- the Book of Medivh, the Eye of Dalaran, the Jeweled Scepter of Sargeras, and a memento from his former student, the Skull of Gul'dan.
As he opened the portals, Draenor was overwhelmed and collapsed. Ner'zhul, seeking a quick escape, decided to abandon the Horde and head through the nearest portal in an attempt to escape the world's destruction -- an act that ended with him being discovered by Kil'jaeden and transformed into the Lich King. Draenor itself collapsed under the strain of so many magic portals, and shattered into remnants of the world that now float in the Twisting Nether -- a place we call Outland. As far as storms go, this one was pretty significant.
In the majority of these cases, storms, whether they be raw arcane magic or fire raining from the sky, seem to herald the Burning Legion in one form or another. Ner'zhul would not have gotten to where he was at that point in history were in not for the influence of the Burning Legion on his people -- the Sundering never would have happened if it weren't for the original portal and the contact established between Queen Azshara's followers and the Burning Legion.
As we all know, Metzen specifically told us that we will need Turalyon and Alleria for what's next. He said this in response to my tweet during the MoP launch ceremony.
The five heroes from Beyond the Dark Portal haven't had much spotlight since WoW began. There are big statues erected of them in the Valley of Heroes; Kurdran, Khadgar, and Danath all play the roles of quest givers in The Burning Crusade; and Turalyon and Alleria are missing, being mentioned only by their son, and a Loading Screen in the game.
I will again refer back to the Joystiq.com article, to save myself some time.
After the Second War, a group of heroes traveled through the Dark Portal into Draenor, with the intent of getting the Book of Medivh back from Ner'zhul. There were five heroes that led the expedition -- Archmage Khadgar, Kurdran Wildhammer, Danath Trollbane, Alleria Windrunner, and Turalyon. Their statues can be found at the gates of Stormwind in the Valley of Heroes, named after those that disappeared on the other side of the Dark Portal. In Burning Crusade, we discovered that Khadgar was alive, well, and chatting it up with the naaru in Shattrath City. Danath was holding his own in Honor Hold, and Kurdran had settled in as the Thane of Wildhammer Stronghold in Shadowmoon Valley.
Turalyon, High General, paladin, and second in command to Lord Anduin Lothar during the Second War, was nowhere to be found. Alleria, eldest of the Windrunner sisters, Turalyon's lover and a force to be reckoned with in her own right, was similarly missing. Their son Arator had been left behind when the Alliance Expedition was sent through the Dark Portal -- but in Burning Crusade, he traveled through the portal in search of his mother and father. To the disappointment of many, Turalyon and Alleria were never found, even after carefully combing through every far off reach of Outland.
It's been implied, time and time again, that we will see Turalyon and Alleria make a return. It's been pointed out that this return would theoretically be in the next expansion -- that we would see them return when we needed them most. So where have the two of them been, what have they been doing, and what would mark their return? Well ... actually, if you speak with Arator over in Honor Hold, he's been having a dream about that very moment for years.
I was only an infant when my father was deployed to this wasteland. All that I have ever known of him is what others have told me. Do your dreams change? Mine do not. I have one dream: A crimson skyline envelops me as Legion, numbering beyond comprehension, battle in the distance. I kneel before the body of a man, presumably my father, and weep. As he is gasping for air, his body wholly crushed, he whispers something. Despite every effort, I am unable to hear what he is trying to tell me.
People assumed, in Burning Crusade, that Arator's words meant we'd see his mother and father in an upcoming patch -- but we never did. What if that crimson skyline isn't the wastes of Hellfire Peninsula, or even Outland at all -- what if it's actually referring to Azeroth? And what would High General Turalyon think of the Alliance of today -- what would he think of King Varian Wrynn and the man he's become? How would Alleria react to the news that one of her sisters is a widow and mother, the other an undead leader of a faction the Alliance despises?
So, now we know that the trademark is very, very unlikely to refer to either Hearthstone or Blizzard All-Stars, seeing as how the first or even both do not use physical game discs, and the other would never work as intended on mobile platforms - especially with e-Sports in mind.
This rules out anything but World of Warcraft OR a potential new IP that is yet unheard of.
There is nothing in the description which rules out WoW.
The Clues - Nay, Evidence!
We've seen the clues.
Blizzard have been relentlessly hinting the Burning Legion throughout Mists of Pandaria.
The Chris Metzen quote where he says Turalyon and Alleria are needed for what's next. The only logical connection between them and any plausible expansion goes through the Burning Legion.
The Shaohao videos. While they are set in the past, they certainly spell out Legion. Not only do they remind us of the threat, but they also suggest there is a future challenge for which the Pandaren must be prepared. Honestly, I don't think that challenge was us bringing the war to Pandaria. What did Shaohao do on his journey to become one with Pandaria and protect its people, Pandaren and Mantid alike, from the Burning Legion? He cast out his feelings of Doubt, Despair, Anger, Fear, Hatred, and Violence. What have we done since we arrived at Pandaria? We've overcome our Doubt, Despair, Anger, Fear, Hatred, and Violence. Lastly, during SoO, we defeated the Sha of Pride - we came together to face our foes in a time of need, despite our differences. Pride was the most powerful and sinister of the vices cast off by Shaohao, and it alone could cause all the others to re-emerge over time. Only when he cast that away and decided to protect all the creatures of Pandaria, whether good or bad, did he achieve his goals. What has divided the Horde and Alliance for years, if not the stubborn pride of Garrosh Hellscream and Varian Wrynn? Well, we overcame it together at last. To the extent that Varian Wrynn even allowed the Horde to persist after SoO, despite how bad it would make him look before his suffering people. We are now prepared to protect the world against the Burning Legion. The world is one.
The Wrathion quest line, where he shows us Azeroth being invaded by the Burning Legion, says we have to work together, and wants us to form an army - among other things. You've all heard it before, so I won't go into detail.
The Vision of Velen, in which he foresees an Army of Light being formed to fight the Legion. We've just ended the war, and Garrosh, whose pride continuously infested our relationships through warmongering, has been defeated.
This all means that the trademarked name makes perfect sense, and could very likely be the next WoW expansion.
BRING IT ON, BLIZZARD!