Interview: Blizzard COO Sams Says 'Many Years In Front' Of WoW
World of Warcraft has 12 million subscribers, StarCraft has a massive following and is virtually a national sport in Korea, and Diablo is firmly implanted in PC gamers' memories as one of the best action RPG experiences ever.
So while past performance is no guarantee of future results, it's easy to see why Irvine, CA-headquartered Blizzard is supremely confident that it can continue to deliver with expansions of existing franchises, as well as new IP.
"I think we have a very bright future," Blizzard COO Paul Sams told Gamasutra in a recent interview. "We obviously have Diablo III coming out, which we are very confident in."
"And we're very confident in the other products, supporting products like Warcraft and future expansions there," he said. "And there are future expansions to StarCraft II. Those are real mainstays for us."
World of Warcraft Business 'Effectively Protected'
But while future expansions for World of Warcraft and StarCraft II are poised to move millions, and Diablo III already has enviable buzz, Blizzard now has to answer the question that its competitors have had to try to answer for the past six years: Can you beat World of Warcraft?
Blizzard plans on answering that question with its upcoming unannounced "Titan," the codenamed full MMO that will follow World of Warcraft's extraordinary success.
"I believe [it's] the most ambitious thing we've ever attempted," Sams said. "And I feel like we have set our company up to succeed on that. We have some of our most talented and most experienced developers on that team. Many of the people that built World of Warcraft are full time on that other team."
That expertise in working with the most successful MMORPG in the world for the past several years will prove vital for the success of the new MMO. Sams assured that World of Warcraft is still under the watch of experienced staff, even though key members are moving onto Titan.
"We've spent a lot of time over the last number of years transitioning those people off [of World of Warcraft], and having great people below them that were trained up by them to run World of Warcraft," Sams said. "Those people have been doing it for the last couple of years without the assistance of those people that created it."
"So, I think we've effectively protected that business as it relates to our development resources and capabilities," he added, "and at the same time taking some of those other folks that had all that experience and unleashed them on this new thing."
"Many Years In Front" Of World Of Warcraft
In the coming years, World of Warcraft may lose some of the MMO spotlight to "Titan," but with such a massive, established worldwide player for World of Warcraft, the company will support the game as long as it is feasible to do so.
"I see World of Warcraft as having many more years in front of it," Sams forecast. "We have over 12 million subscribers. We're continuing to grow and we feel very good about them. We're going to continue to support that product for many, many years to come."
"As it relates to that other [MMO], we think that it's going to be very impactful in our industry and, we hope, very impactful to the world," Sams continued. "We think that that will be, after Diablo III, the next big thing from us. The thing that we hope will happen is that it will not stop World of Warcraft but we believe will eclipse it."
"We're very confident in that product. It's an awesome one," Sams added. "We're playing it already. It is a total ball to play. We think that the reach of that product is greater than anything that we've done before. We're very excited about that. I believe that it's the type of game that will have a very long life, much like World of Warcraft has."
"So, hopefully in 10, 15 and 20 years, that [new MMO] will still be growing strong and will have set a new mark in the industry for that type of product."