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Fifteen Years of Warcraft: The Interview
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Fifteen Years of Warcraft: The Interview

December 18, 2009 Article Start Previous Page 4 of 4

The way you were describing development, it sounds like you have one team that's largely RTS-focused, having gone from StarCraft to Warcraft III to StarCraft II.

SD: No, the way it started is the team that I'm on is called Team One, because it was the first team we had here. That team worked on the bulk of Nintendo and Sega games, then Warcraft, StarCraft, Warcraft III.

And we did have Blizzard North; that was our dedicated Diablo team. But when World of Warcraft was starting, some of the artists from [Team One] moved over to starting up that team, so the [World of Warcraft team] got founded as Team Two. Then the Diablo team is Team Three.

We also have about seventeen other teams that are working on super secret things that we can tell you about later if the price is right. [laughs]

But because we've worked on RTSes, it doesn't necessarily preclude us from working on anything else. It's just that after StarCraft, we wanted to hit up Warcraft again. And after Warcraft, we wanted to go back and see StarCraft.

I don't know what the calling will be after we finish StarCraft II, but by then it will be about 2020 [laughs]. So, we'll have to see how that goes.

Will there be a Warcraft IV?

SD: We haven't actually done any talking about it, but who knows? With the way Blizzard runs its studios, the team leadership is really in charge of what that team does.

And there's obviously a lot of input. We've got [creative director] Chris Metzen and [game design executive VP] Rob Pardo, who have a lot of opinions, and Frank Pearce, who has a lot of opinions about what we should be doing.

The bottom line really is that things that the team is excited about turn out great. So whenever StarCraft II is done, that team will start brainstorming about something they want to figure out and see what they get excited about, and that's probably what they will end up working on, because it takes a lot of energy and it takes a lot of effort to make games. It's really the passion you have, the success that you want to receive from that product that really makes it an awesome experience.

Warcraft III

I've gotten the sense from various statements made by [Activision CEO] Bobby Kotick that he'd like to capitalize more on the PC in the future -- in part because of its lack of platform royalties and oversight by a platform holder -- but in general Activision is geared much more towards understanding the console market. With Blizzard now being part of the family, do you guys do any consulting along those lines for the parent company or other studios?

JAB: We do talk with other studios. Activision is a big company and has a lot of smaller studios underneath the Activision umbrella. We meet with guys from those studios from time to time. We met with the Infinity Ward guys. We met with the Guitar Hero folks. It's more an informal get-together than it is any kind of, "Let's chart the course for the PC for the next five years type of thing." It's more just organic things.

People from Blizzard have said when they started working on World of Warcraft, they were targeting subscriber counts of a few hundred thousand or so, because that was what had been previously demonstrated in MMOs. Why do you think Blizzard's success has been so uniquely massive in the traditional subscription-driven space?

SD: I can tell you that, dealing with dark powers, we've made allegiances with things that we probably shouldn't, but we don't talk about that. He who shall not be named has told me not to talk about it.

Really, it's kind of a stupid answer, but I think Warcraft is just an easy world to get into. Everybody knows some little bit of fantasy, whether it's from playing Dungeons & Dragons when they were kids, or reading Lord of the Rings. It's a pretty simple world to get into immediately. As far as the game itself, the reason why it's so popular is it's just a fun game. If the game sucked, no one would be playing it. It's just a fun game.

JAB: I think the archetypes for fantasy games are well known. Our generation has kind of grown up, as Sammy said, with D&D and Lord of the Rings. It's really weird as a kid to be the outcast.

SD: Outcast is a little cool and powerful. I'd say the dork, the geek.

JAB: Okay, to be surrounded by other geek guys who were looked upon with disdain. Being that guy as a kid, and then growing up, we've [seen] the rise of geek culture and the takeover of geek culture -- shows like Fringe and Heroes that could never have existed on TV just a few years ago. Movies like Dark Knight and Iron Man. Things that, years ago, would've bombed. The generation is starting to be itself and be part of the world. Here's a game that really resonates with a lot of people who had that experience.

You also now have generations growing up who, even if they don't have experience with those particular things, are born into a world where there have always been video games.

SD: We're making babies, and our babies will continue on in our legacy.

JAB: Yeah, I think that's the maturing of the game industry. The generation that is here now is the first gamer generation that was there from the beginning, that remembers a time when there were no video games.

Now they're in this epoch where there are video games. Life and culture have changed as a result of that. It's hugely significant. There's no one being born now into a world where video games didn't exist. For them, video games are just like TV. They're just like radio. They're just like movies. It's not a new or special thing. It's just another form of entertainment.

We're getting really philosophical here!

Article Start Previous Page 4 of 4

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