Blizzard Interview

The folks at VentureBeat had the chance to attend to this year's edition of BlizzCon and, while they were at it, talk with Blizzard's COO Paul Sams on a variety of subjects, such as the reason for giving Diablo III as a gift to people who subscribe to their newly-announced World of Warcraft annual pass, the upcoming Mists of Pandaria expansion and more. Here's an excerpt:
VentureBeat: The World of Warcraft Annual Pass was a big announcement. It's an ambitious decision, especially to give away Diablo III. Does it tie back into reports from earlier this year of declining subscribers for World of Warcraft?

Paul Sams: Honestly, what it ties into [is that] we always are looking for ways to show an amount of, I guess . gratitude or what-have-you to our player base. We talk about, all the time, how can we do something cool for our players that's going to benefit them, benefit us, and that they'll feel is a give-back of sorts. That's where this started. There's a variety of benefits that come from it. Certainly the players get DIII, which is pretty exciting. That doesn't mean they get the expansion sets, it means that they get DIII, right? So we get people excited about playing that . they get to touch it, feel it, experience it. And then from our perspective, it also is a situation where they aren't necessarily going to leave WoW to play our own game. We don't want to take players from our universe and shift them over from World of Warcraft. There's a lot of players playing WoW that have huge amounts of friends and family that they play World of Warcraft with, so [giving Annual Pass subscribers Diablo III] says, enjoy both of them. You don't have to pay any more than you already do for WoW.

VB: Is the potential profit that Blizzard stands to make from the real-money auction houses in Diablo III an incentive to try and get more people into Diablo, by giving away the base game?

PS: Yeah, I guess it could. That hasn't been the primary focus, to be honest. We thought it would be a cool thing to have our players be able to experience that game without having to leave WoW. We really view it as a give-back to the players. Will that mean that there's more people potentially playing DIII? Maybe. Does that mean more people might engage in the real-money auction house? Possibly. That could be very positive for the organization, and I think for the players.