MCV UK had the opportunity to chat with Blizzard Entertainment co-founders Mike Morhaime and Frank Pearce about the company's history, their merger with Activision, the success of World of Warcraft, whether Diablo III will end up on consoles, and much more.
What were your ambitions for World of Warcraft when you originally launched it in 2004?
MM: We had differing views internally. At the time, the king of the hill was EverQuest and I think they had half a million subscribers.
So we thought that by making the game more accessible, attracting fans of the Warcraft universe, we might be able to double that. Maybe we could get to a million, we didn't know.
But we also saw that most EverQuest subscribers came from North America and we thought there might be an opportunity to attract players in Europe.
I think we pegged the opportunity somewhere between 1m and 4m, but internally that was a pretty aggressive forecast.
People thought that was extremely optimistic. We were all completely wrong. So wrong.
It took off immediately. It took us a year to catch up to the demand, in terms of shipping boxes and to support everyone that wanted to play.
FP: Everyone was way wrong about the size of the market. We had people telling us that there was almost no market there. I think Dark Age of Camelot was the biggest at the time, and I think they had 160,000 European subscribers.
MM: Even a couple of weeks before launch we were talking to some wise industry veterans who were telling us that there was no market in Europe. They were telling us horror stories, basically, and we were just silently disagreeing hoping they were wrong.
FP: We had no idea either, though. I mean it turns out we were wrong as well as them it was just differently exponential degrees of wrongness.
And certainly no one knew how much it would change Blizzard as an organisation. I don't think any of us had our eyes closed, I just don't think it was possible for us to have any idea. The day we launched WoW was the day we transitioned from a company that sold boxed products to a service company.
There's been talk about you moving onto consoles, especially since those job postings on your site. What can you tell us about that?
MM: We are looking for a couple of console developers, yes. At this stage though, it's basically an investigation to see if it makes sense for Diablo to be a console game as well as a PC game.
We haven't made any decisions yet, but a lot us feel that if ever there was a Blizzard franchise that could play well as a console game, then that's probably it.