Blizzard Entertainment at GDC Austin

Blizzard Entertainment hosted a couple of keynotes at this year's GDC Austin, during which they talked a bit about their cancelled squad-based sci-fi RPG Nomad, the staggering number of bugs in World of Warcraft, the losses they incur from each BlizzCon, and more. There are write-ups on the discussion at Gamasutra, Kotaku, GameSpot, and Joystiq, and, but I'll pick a few choice paragraphs out for the sake of summary:
However, the most interesting part of the keynote was when they briefly spoke about Nomad, the canceled squad-based sci-fi game. Ten years ago, Blizzard put a lot of work in on the game, but eventually looked at it and said "Is this really the game we want to be working on right now? The answer ended up being "no," and the team went on to start work on World of Warcraft. Here we are ten years later with WoW going strong, and no Nomad in sight.

They'd mentioned this canceled game, along with a slew of others, at last year's DICE summit, but without any other information. Sadly, the only thing they had to show were pieces of concept art, including some by "The Bourbon Cowboy," Chris Metzen. The art itself isn't that exciting (the best one is above and there's a couple more in the gallery below), but the words "squad-based sci-fi RPG" are exciting. Could this be Blizzard's next game? Possibly mutated into MMO form? Who knows when we'll find out, since one of the stats they flashed onscreen this morning was "Number of Unannounced MMOs: 1."


During the keynote today at the Austin Game Developers Conference, Executive Vice President Frank Pearce and Production Director J. Allen Brack spoke at length about the internal workings of the WoW team and how they get their jobs done.

One of the more stunning things to come out of the keynote, which we'll have fully written up for you later today, is the fact that there are just under 180k bugs Blizzard is tracking in WoW. That means their bug database has 180,000 entries which are in some stage of being fixed (have been fixed, have not been fixed, or being worked on).


Today at the 2009 Austin Game Developers Conference, Blizzard Entertainment cofounder and executive vice president of product development Frank Pearce revealed that his company still doesn't make a profit on the expo. "BlizzCon is operated at a substantial loss for the company," said Pearce. "It's a huge marketing opportunity, so that's the benefit we get out of that. But in terms of any kind of financial gain, it actually is a loss for us."

When asked how much Blizzard loses on each event, reps offered the following statement: "For competitive and confidentiality reasons, we don't provide specific financial data. However, this year 20,000 players purchased tickets to the show, and tens of thousands more followed along on television and the Web via DirecTV."

Though Blizzard wouldn't get into specifics, its BlizzCon losses likely stem from a variety of sources. First, the company has to rent the Anaheim Convention Center and provide nearly 2,000 computers for demos and the expo's tournaments--which themselves have cash prizes to be paid out. Secondly, the company must fly in staffers from around the globe to man the event, causing a major crimp in productivity in the weeks leading up to it.