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The Design of StarCraft II
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The Design of StarCraft II

October 26, 2009 Article Start Previous Page 3 of 3

On a coincidental note, it's interesting that EA recently said that with Command & Conquer 4, they would be doing a lot of the online authentication processes with single-player that you guys soon after also announced -- really trying to link the single-player and multiplayer experiences. There definitely has been an outcry against both Blizzard and EA in response. Do you feel you needed to reach a certain point historically before you could just say, "Alright, internet is pervasive enough that we can just do this now"?

DB: I don't know what the thinking is at EA, but I know for us, we've seen the success of World of Warcraft. We know people have internet connections. We know a lot of them do. And every PC you bought for however many years now comes ready to go. And how common is broadband?

When we shipped the original StarCraft, you were looking at a game where a lot of people were on dial-up. Not everyone is up on dial-up. We built a game that was functionally designed to work on your PC, and if you have this piece of equipment and you know how to make it work, you can then play this other part of the game.

Now, looking at what the PC is today, that's not how the PC ships. The PC ships today with the internet. It comes with everything that you need to make that work. That is the machine we're building for.

That is the platform, so it just makes a lot of sense to us, since that is the way it's been now for many, many years. We've seen online-only games become a huge, huge success that it's something we can actually use.

We can actually leverage this now into our design process and actually do something cool with it, we hope, and have a fully integrated experience that shows you the news -- "Oh, there's the campaign right there," "Hey, my friends are on," "Hey, what are my friends doing?" You can just feel like you're all part of the experience.

Certainly, looking at what other companies have done, and looking at Xbox Live, which is just a blast to play on, you see another example there of someone who's fairly successfully integrated the whole experience in a really positive way. We hope to accomplish that as well.

From another angle, what about pessimism about the PC platform generally?

DB: Whatever. PC games have been drying for, how long now? Shouldn't it be dead by now? I mean, it's been on its sickbed for ten years. Give me a break. Obviously, it's doing fine. I think that if developers make great games, people will find them, wherever they are.

We get this every couple of years from the movie industry. They're like, "Aw, nobody's going to the movies." And I always think to myself, "Yeah, but you know what? You haven't put out anything I want to see?" And then they ship, I don't know, The Dark Knight, and they're like, "Naw, we're having a great year! Who knows why!?" Well, you made that great movie so we all came. Make great movies, and we'll come.

So, if people make great games, then they'll show up. But if people don't make great games, people will wander off. But they'll always come back if there are great games. It's hard for me to say, though, being inside Blizzard. Obviously, we're a PC company, and obviously we're very comfortable with that, and we feel we've had a certain amount of success with it.

Looking at what we do, I think it's fine. I think it's a very viable platform. I think it's a very fun platform to play on. I think there are things about the PC platform that make it superior to other platforms. It's all about what kind of games people play.

At this point, Blizzard hasn't made a non-WarCraft game since 2001. It's now spent longer just releasing WarCraft games than it did making all the other games for its three main franchises up until that point. Does that seem odd at all, especially from the perspective of someone not working on a WarCraft game?

DB: For me, I don't think it has anything to do with anything. It's just all about scheduling and resources and what happened. World of Warcraft was not something this company expected to be this successful by far. They were hoping for a couple hundred thousand subscribers. That was what had been done in the past -- "If we could equal those numbers, we'd be fine."

So, I don't think there's any sort of conscious focus on a particular franchise in that respect. The Diablo III team has been working really hard to get their stuff to a point where they could present it, and they finally did. It was last year when they announced and said, "Hey, we've got something to show."

We wish we were shipping by now as opposed to still working on the game. So, I think it's just that these games are taking longer to make than we'd like. And the World of Warcraft team is doing expansions. They've got a strong team. They've got an established toolset. These guys know what they're doing. I think it shows in every expansion. They just get better and better and better every year.

Certainly, we're hoping, as we're developing this new engine [for StarCraft II], that once we get to that point, we'll be able to maintain a higher rate of speed than we have in the past, but I think up until now it's just the way it's worked out.

Article Start Previous Page 3 of 3

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