There are definitely a lot of things I can imagine. Even Valve has started doing the Mann Co. Store for the virtual items with Team Fortress 2. I can see somewhere down the line where if you guys want to do something like that, Battle.net is there.
GC: Sure. Well, look at our own StarCraft marketplace. We talked about it at last year's Blizzcon. That's still on the roadmap. We do plan to put out a whole marketplace for our content. We've got a huge vibrant map community -- maps and mods for StarCraft II. We have our Galaxy Map Editor.
Just for StarCraft II, there are over 50,000 maps just in the U.S., maps and mods. There are puzzle game mods, first-person shooters, tower defense games, you name it. Maps, mods. We have this huge vibrant community.
We're going to roll in at some point in the near future with a StarCraft II marketplace. We're going to provide an opportunity for people to distribute those maps at a central location for free if they want, or to even charge for them and share in that revenue, so the map creator or mod creator could gain some revenue from it.
We've got a lot of huge ambitious plans. It’s just really hard to build this stuff. It goes back to your first point... which is that it really is hard attracting this talent, and people underestimate the complexity in building these things.
So, I hope, and my hope and dream and aspiration is that we can draw some attention in the industry to this space, and we can attract that top talent into the game service space because there's such untapped potential.
I feel like honestly we've tapped 5 to 10 percent of what's possible ultimately out there, and in 15, 20 years we'll look back at this time, [and realize] we've just scratched the surface of what's possible with the game service by way of social features, community features, meta-game features and competitive features... The sky's the limit, and there's very little out there right now.
World of Warcraft: Cataclysm
Some people do just have this idea of a game service, that it's just about throwing some achievements on there, and support some matchmaking.
GC: [laughs] The point is the game service, if done right, can enhance the gameplay experience in ways that are totally critical to the game's success itself. Let me give you an example. The example is StarCraft II with the matchmaking system. The automatic matchmaking system in StarCraft II, the leagues and ladder system, has become the meta-game, and it has become really the way that StarCraft II is played.
Because the matchmaking system -- personally, I have a lot of pride for what the team has done -- the matchmaking system is probably the single-best thing we've accomplished in the whole new Battle.net. It is super accurate. It always gets you a close game. It's to the point where it's actually begun to change the meta-game, the way that people are playing the game. Like, their league placement and their division placement is influencing how people are playing StarCraft II.
We're seeing all kinds of that type of stuff with the way people are using achievements and the fanaticism around getting that little badge on your profile that says "Campaign Complete" or "Campaign Ace Hard" or "Campaign Ace Brutal." People are playing through the campaign five times just so they can get like all the achievements. We see that.
And it's nice because Battle.net is set up so that you can feature certain achievements on your profile page, and highlight the ones that you want.
GC: Exactly. The sky is the limit with this stuff. And we're getting into spectating, tournaments, the marketplace and other stuff going forward. We've just got so much potential here, I only wish we could stop time and get some of this stuff sooner. It takes a long time to build this stuff.
But you guys have a 10 year roadmap.
GC: We do. We have a 10 year roadmap.