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Having been a company that, for almost all of its life, been a subsidiary of various larger companies, do you ever get the sense that that's something that your given parent company has to adjust for? Internal teams usually aren't given that flexibility. Do you think you're at a point now where you've just demonstrated it will pay off, and they'll leave you alone?
SD: Yeah, definitely. [Blizzard co-founders] Frank [Pearce] and Mike [Morhaime] like to say that they've had half a dozen different bosses over the last fifteen years or so, and that with each of them, they have to sit down and have the discussion: "This is our philosophy. This is what we want to do. This is how we want to do it. And this is the past success we've had following the model."
Like J. said, there are a lot of different ways you can be successful, but luckily, the various different companies that have owned Blizzard have respected that and seen Blizzard grow under their watch, as it were, time and time again.
I think a lot of it is definitely the history and the reputation. We have this legacy and we have this brand following and brand loyalty. That plays into it as well.
JAB: I think as long as we're releasing such awesome games, I think we don't have to [worry]. When we release a bad game, then I think we might have to be worried about more management from above, but we haven't.
As long as we have enough time to make a great game, it's been proven that that game is going to be played for longer than the number of years it took to develop.
The whole Blizzard philosophy is that the Blizzard brand is the most important thing. We want to make sure that no matter what game we ever release, that the player perspective is, "This has Blizzard on it. I don't need to know what's inside. I know it's going to be a great experience."
That's probably gotten a boost from World of Warcraft. There are a lot of people who never played a Blizzard game before that.
JAB: I would definitely agree. I think it's generated a lot of interest in other Warcraft games, and Diablo or StarCraft or other games Blizzard has worked on over the years. With WoW in particular being online, there are a lot of people where it was the first video game that they ever played, which is really mind-boggling.
How invested do you feel in the broader PC market? Blizzard's safety is probably not in question, but do you worry about a less vibrant PC ecosystem going forward?
SD: I don't see the PC market as being bad. I mean, we didn't have 12 million players ten years ago. Whatever the format, console or PC, I think if there is a good game, it's going to be played. We're working on PC because it's familiar to us and it's relatively easy and it's not changing formats every other year and there aren't three different versions. Console, we have to worry about [those things]. I think the PC is really a good market to target.
JAB: It's obviously because we've made only PC games for the last 15 years, but there's a perception, I think, that Blizzard is anti-console, and that's absolutely not the case. We just want to make the right game for the right platform. Think about StarCraft II. Some real-time strategy games have tried to happen on the console. Some of those have been successful, but overall, our experience is that it's going to be a better game on the PC, ergo it's developed on the PC.
It's very similar with World of Warcraft. We developed the game for the PC. It's a very PC-centric control scheme and the way of playing the game is PC-centric. But we're a company of gamers. I have two consoles at home. Sam has consoles. We're a culture of gamers. We will definitely work on a console game at some point. I have no doubt about that. It's just [a matter of] what game. What makes the most sense?
Are you working on one now?
SD: About seven actually. [laughs] We've got StarCraft 17 in the works.
JAB: That's on the Xbox 870, right?
JAB: And World of Lost Vikings. We announced that at Worldwide Invitational Paris a couple years ago.
That one didn't get much pickup in the press, for some reason.
JAB: Probably because it was French.
It's definitely the case though that the PC is changing. It's going in an even more heavily online direction, but in some cases that means away from the traditional core packaged goods business.
JAB: I think we agree with that. And I don't actually think that that's a bad thing. It's one of the strengths of the platform, right? With the introduction of broadband, with the near-infinite hard drive space that everyone has, with the huge amounts of memory, it makes sense that you would play to the platform strength.
So, yeah, PC gaming has definitely changed. Now, to be fair, I've been reading in various magazines and websites that they're very convinced for more than 10 years that PC gaming was dead.
JAB: And here we are still, increasing the number of Blizzard fans on PC.
SD: Or making zombies.
JAB: Let's talk about that. That's a good point.
SD: It's awesome.
JAB: But I think that, looking at the history, every two years there was the article saying, "This thing has happened on the console that's going to make PC gaming die." And then PC gaming always seems to figure out a way to reinvent itself -- either through MMOs or online games or other things that have a strong multiplayer component, or just the superior keyboard and mouse control scheme.