"Can Blizzard Build Another World of Warcraft?", that's the question Jared Newman from the site technologizer.com asks in his editorial today. While the editorial is fairly short it provides some great links and insight into the situation.
Launching an MMORPG is a dangerous endeavor. Unlike traditional retail games, which are released, purchased and forgotten, MMOs must live on for five or 10 years, supported by servers on the publishers dime. Many MMOs with grand ambitions have failed miserably, their servers shut down, stranding whatever community they had. If a subscription-based MMO succeeds, the payoff is a steady stream of revenue from players who are thoroughly invested in their virtual characters, but its a risky business considering the costs beyond development alone.
The question comes based on some information from the Activision Blizzard Q2 2010 Earnings Call Transcript which can be found over at the site Seeking Alpha.
We have sort of a dual responsibility. You have to have incredibly compelling innovation in the franchises that we own and control, and that's critically important. We've always known that. I think what we've been able to do is elevate the level of innovation in products beyond what we've been ever able to do before. We've talked a lot about the seven different pillars of success that we expect over the course of the next few years. And remember, we have two enormous investments: one in Bungie and the other in another project at Blizzard that we haven't given a lot of visibility to. Those are going to be entirely new intellectual properties. But with the recognition that the way to build them is take long amounts of time, lots of capable talent, an enormous amount of capital and you have to have a real roadmap for innovation and creativity. And I think that those are going to be two very good examples from the ground up original ideas.
In the beginning there were doubts about WoW and whether Blizzard could pull off a successful launch in the MMO market. Time has shown that they pulled it off in spades, and became the #1 all time champion in the MMO marketplace. Following up that success will certainly not be easy, however if there is one game company that has continually followed one success with a larger one, by a larger one, and so on, it has been Blizzard.
While obviously the game content will matter for the pending games long term success, I am pretty sure that it will sell like crazy initially just because of the Blizzard name attached to it, almost regardless of the games topic.
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