Game franchises like World of Warcraft
weren't the only factors in the 2007 marriage between Activision and Blizzard Entertainment.
In an interview with Gamasutra earlier this month, Battle.net project director Greg Canessa says Activision Blizzard president and CEO Bobby Kotick knew that Blizzard's turnkey expertise in online game communities, customer service and infrastructure would play a central role in his company's roadmap.
And with Kotick talking about applying subscription models to Activision franchises like Call of Duty
, there is analyst speculation as to what role Blizzard could play in Activision Blizzard's overall online strategy.
Could we see Call of Duty
or other Activision franchises on Blizzard's online multiplayer gaming service Battle.net, or a separate service derived from that framework?
"I'll tell you this, Bobby Kotick and all the folks at Activision are very supportive of Battle.net and what we're doing," Canessa said.
The new version of Battle.net launched in July with the release of StarCraft II
, and will continue to expand and evolve as new Blizzard titles hit the service.
"[Activision has] ... said that Battle.net is one of the top five strategic initiatives going on at Activision Blizzard," he explained. "Having said that, Blizzard and Activision really are two separate entities, and we really do our own thing."
At his recent Battle.net post-mortem
at GDC Online, Canessa described Battle.net as a "living game service" that is continually evolving. He said the service is on a 10-year roadmap, and during that time new features and functionality will be added to Battle.net.
Right now, Blizzard is focusing on the near-term challenges, such as integrating the service with the upcoming action RPG, Diablo III
. "I go back to what Mike Morhaime [Blizzard CEO] said at last year's Blizzcon -- it's all about focus. We have so many things going on right now. We have this vibrant World of Warcraft
business, the StarCraft II
business and eSports, we've got Diablo III
and what's going on there, that's going to be a huge phenomenon for us."
One of the major Battle.net updates currently in the works is the StarCraft II
Marketplace. There, modders will be able to share their creations with StarCraft II
players, who will be able to browse, download, comment on, rate and also buy mods if their creators choose to price them. Modders would share any revenue with Blizzard.
There's certainly an active mod community for Blizzard to address. Canessa told Gamasutra that for StarCraft II
alone, there are over 50,000 user-created mods in the U.S. "We've got a huge vibrant community," said Canessa.
Blizzard is playing out its roadmap one step at a time, and for now, the company won't confirm if any non-Blizzard games could eventually use the service down the line. But Canessa didn't rule out the possibility. "We've got so many opportunities in front of us, I think the mistake we could make as a company -- and I don't think we will make the mistake because we are aware of it -- is to get spread too thin and go into too many different directions," said Canessa.
"Today, [the focus is] Blizzard games, and making sure Diablo III
is a kick-ass online experience, and making sure we evolve and add features of StarCraft II
, make sure that WoW
kicks ass for Cataclysm
and beyond," he added.
"... Someday, maybe we'll add other titles in there, who knows. When we really feel like we've delivered that great set of experiences for Blizzard games, and we feel that we've grown the team... when I've got that sustainability, when we really feel like we've got that dialed in and nailed down, who knows what the future holds."