Fact: Blizzard is Building Another MMO
Apr 27, 2007 23:41:03

A few days ago we all heard that Blizzard is going to be announcing their next title very soon. Most people are guessing that Starcraft II is on the roster, but based on Blizzard's head hunting activities, that is not the case. See for yourself:
Lead Engine Programmer - Next-Gen MMO: Blizzard Entertainment is looking for an individual to lead an engine-programming team focused on next-generation massively multiplayer online games. The ideal candidate will possess outstanding communication and coordination skills and be capable of leading a team of programmers in the design and creation of a next-generation engine. This team is responsible for developing and overseeing all engine-related features and technologies.
That says it all. They're building another MMO and they say it is 'next gen'. Wonder what that means? Aside from the elusive next gen bit, only one question remains: what intellectual property is it based on?

I'm going to go way way out on a limb here and say - something new. No one really wants a Diablo MMO. Diablo is an action RPG. Always was, always should be. There simply is no identifiable lore in Diablo that anyone cares a lick about. Starcraft? Yes, it has some solid background, but it isn't personal and dramatic in the same way Warcraft was. The reason Warcraft translated so well is because of the storyline of Warcraft III. Without that, it never would have been such an obvious choice.

And so, that leads me to believe we may get something new from Blizzard? I hope so, and I'm sure their design teams hope so. It has to get tiring rehashing the same stuff over and over. They're due for another property. Clearly Blizzard understands what it takes to build a great video gaming brand. They've repeated it three times over and they're due to flex that particular muscle once again.

Submitted by Brent on Apr 27, 2007 23:41:03 CST (comments: 15)


Comments:


'Totally Agree' by Kanthalos
Submitted on 2007-04-28 01:30:43 CST
To add to this, I forget the specific quote, but basically they said Starcraft would get another sequel within the decade, which was a bit cryptic, but most believed it to be within the next few years based on when the original was created. Furthermore, I agree that Diablo doesn't have nearly enough lore to base an entire MMO around, and furthermore, they stated that there next MMO would be nothing similar to WoW, and though Starcraft was originally an RTS like Warcraft, the setting and the ideas behind both are drastically different. They have no reason to create a new IP, so this is without question the game they will create. Nice call Brent :)


'Adendum' by Kanthalos
Submitted on 2007-04-28 09:12:35 CST
Also, I posted a little article about this over on my blog if anyone wants to go check it out, it's the top one right now so go check it out and let me know what you think. http://mmoreinsight.blogspot.com


'The problem with Starcraft' by Heartless
Submitted on 2007-04-28 19:30:50 CST
The problem with Starcraft is that Starcraft has yet to fade out. Starcraft II, whether they announced it or not, is a slap in the face to their massive Asian fan base that play/watch Starcraft as an eSport. I seriously think it would be dangerous for Blizzard to launch a Starcraft II RTS.

However, a game based in the Starcraft universe, is completely possible. People assume that Starcraft Online is a license to print money, but I honestly believe it wouldn't be the massive success of WoW. It would do well in the Asian market, but don't for a second believe it could unseat Starcraft or WoW. In the American market, I don't think Starcraft and it's Sci-Fi theme would drive it that much. It would be popular, but not as much as what people are expecting.

But that brings me to an interesting idea. A Starcraft Online where you can play Starcraft virtually! Holy cash cow bling :)

In the end, I agree with Brent. It is probably a new game we weren't expecting. I don't believe Blizzard will create a new IP. There is plenty of room in their current IPs to branch out to something like Starcraft Ghost or a non-action Diablo RPG. What we can expect is:

1. The standard Blizzard polish.
2. In-depth online support.
3. A crazed fanbase.



'A slap in the face?' by Grimwell
Submitted on 2007-04-28 19:48:44 CST
On planet 'Unreality' perhaps.

Starcraft turns 10 next year. That is a decade of value in the license and I think even our friends in Asia would welcome another version. You can't say that Blizzard is 'greedy' if they do Starcraft II, it's not like they have pumped out new versions of it every other year. A sequel is due.

As to a MMO. I remember certain powerpoint images floating around the net that indicated that Blizzard had executive intent to do all their IP's in a MMO. Starcraft would be smarter than Diablo (so they don't have 2 fantasy and no other options), but even Diablo could be done. It is also due for more love.



'Why is this such a surprise?' by Leonai
Submitted on 2007-04-28 20:46:08 CST
Putting aside the last point made by Grimwell about Blizzard already stating their intentions surrounding turning their other IPs into MMOs pending the success of WoW, it just makes good business sense.

Everquest showed that the venture into the MMO land could be more than just a profit and to compare World of Warcaft's numbers with what previously was the most profitable MMO released makes one wonder when Blizzard is going to start working on converting their other more popular IPs to an MMO format.

I myself believe starcraft is next, and i cannot wait to play a Protoss.



'Misguided' by Heartless
Submitted on 2007-04-28 20:57:44 CST
The slides you refer to were actually Vivendi slides that stated they had a "process" installed to develop an MMORPG in a 3 year period with Blizzard (read: a hook line for investors). This got misconstrued into; "Blizzard is making Starcraft Online, Diablo Online, etc.!@!!!"

You underestimate Starcraft's importance in the Asian market. Blizzard would have to create the quintessential "perfect game" with Starcraft II, and that is impossible. It just doesn't happen. If memory serves correctly (and I'm not sure if this is true) a good sized uproar occurred when the last Starcraft II rumor leaked out.

Blizzard is also the only western developer with any sort of foothold in the Asian market. I can not imagine them jeopardizing that for the sake of a quick cash in on Starcraft. Starcraft still sells extremely well in Korea and drives a massive business in the internet gaming cafe scene. Ask anyone that has ever visited S. Korea. This is even more paramount with companies like SOE supposedly moving head-on into the Asian market.

It could be a Starcraft game, but it won't be Starcraft II.



'I want a Adiablo MMO' by Celestian
Submitted on 2007-04-28 21:14:29 CST
"I'm going to go way way out on a limb here and say - something new. No one really wants a Diablo MMO. "

No? That's a pretty big statement. I know a lot of people that would. Sure there are people like Brent and the MOG guys that complain about to many fantasy MMOs but then there are people like me that like them. I could care less about a SciFi MMO or even this White Wolf junk that MOG seems to think the EvE producers will make...

I just wanted to say that statement was wrong. I'd love another fantasy, even a Diablo MMO. That's not to say I think SciFi ones will do bad however though I have no interest in them at all beyond a passing fancy.




'Sound far off though' by Ogrebears
Submitted on 2007-04-28 21:26:32 CST
Honestly if there looking for people to work on the engine of the game, then there a couple years away from finishing it. And it most likely won't be something they announce this year.


'What's missing right now?' by scytale2
Submitted on 2007-04-29 04:25:26 CST
One thing that WoW won't be doing is starting a new MMO which will steal loads of business from WoW, which has at least another 5 years in it, before a sequel, unless it is a direct sequel, which will eventually replace WoW 1 over time.

I'm certain that they are looking at:
a) The intellectual properties they own e.g. Diablo and Starcraft (and maybe others)
b) What we don't have right now

Diablo seems a risky MMO to make. Anything with demons and devils is prone to criticism in today's environment (rightly imho) and making a game that 10m play with demons and devils could easily end up with Blizzard ebing charged with corrupting the young. Besides, Diablo has used almost all its ideas in the making of WoW.

Starcraft is another matter. Right now there is no SF game for kids. Tabula Rasa on the horizon looks dubious at best and if it's exclusively about combat it won't have the universal appeal that WoW has. Wonderful Anarchy On-line is aging gracefully, but it's not a serious competitor to anything new and sparkly any more. Star Trek On-line will be shunned by many, especially kids, due to its more "thougthful" approach. So, all in all, Starcraft seems an obvious choice.

I suppose we could hope for something really radical from Blizzard. The tools, expertise and cash is there to create something really unusual and groundbreaking, but even if we do get this, I still feel that it will be in the SF genre.

Lastly, will it be an on-line RTS? I think no. The market is saturated with these at the moment and no one pays to play them. It would take a monumentally creative approach to change this market into a pay to play. See how difficult the FPS genre has also been to shift in the same way e.g. Planetside?

My money's on Starcraft On-line, with new engines and some new creative approaches and fun play, which only Blizzard seem to know how to deliver right now. There is a receptive market for it.



'Correction....' by trollonfire
Submitted on 2007-04-29 10:54:47 CST
Quote:

"One thing that WoW won't be doing is starting a new MMO which will steal loads of business from WoW, which has at least another 5 years in it, before a sequel, unless it is a direct sequel, which will eventually replace WoW 1 over time."

My question to you scytale2 is: "Why?"

If Blizzard is directly competing with itself, who benefits? Blizzard. So 4 million people leave WoW and go to "Diablo, the MMO".... big deal. Blizzard doesn't lose any subscriptions, they move from one IP to another IP. One franchise may not do as well as another, true.... but again, does Blizzard care? They've gotten close to 100 times their initial investment into WoW; that's a pretty damn good ROI (Return On Investment) for any product. And as these new titles come online, like WHO, PotBS, Age of Conan, Spellborn, Darkfall..... Blizzard *IS* going to be losing subs; as much as everyone thinks WoW will run for a very long time, with the way they release expansions, people are getting bored and will be looking for new options. I'm pretty sure Blizzard would rather lose them to a title they own vs their competitors' product.



'Ok, here's why...' by scytale2
Submitted on 2007-04-29 11:33:00 CST
Firstly, I think you have a point. There's no reason why they shouldn't want to "protect their market share" by bringing out a product, which is an enhanced version of their old one. However, this is pretty negative for the market leader, who still has the best product on the market.

However, there are good reasons why they won't want to plough money into a product that will take away from an existing winner:

1. WoW still has a lot of market to aim for - probably 30m more people or more. Diluting their original offering by bringing out something similar, which had better graphics, will confuse the market horribly for minimal gain.
2. If they invest in a totally new game like WoW, then why not spend all the money just making an enhanced WoW? It will be cheaper to market one, rather than two offerings.
3. Fantasy + Fantasy does not equal Fantasy x 2. Fantasy + SF doesn't either, but is likely to be a bigger number.
4. Psychologically, Blizzard are the market leaders and therefore they will have the staff to expand their market share. So why would they choose an option which has less chance of bringing in new customers?
5. Building a new Fantasy MMO will cost the same as building a new SciFi MMO, I am guessing. If Blizzard are competing with themselves, then they won't be benefiting, they will be losing money, due to their extra cost base?

None of the new games you mention have sufficient market penetration to be serious competitors. Only LOTRO had that and they've blown their chance with a game almost as bland as EVE. Gods and Heroes is a possibility that wasn't on your list, though.

Lastly, maybe you are right in saying that Blizzard will sit on their laurels, now they've got 100x their investment back. Somehow, I think they'll be going for 200x, though...



'bah!' by darrenl
Submitted on 2007-04-30 09:33:47 CST
I think this all just hand-waving at the very least since Blizz is inherently constipated when it comes to releasing information.

..but if I had to guess, the MMO will probably be a different IP that Blizz has been sitting on for the last 2-3 years. And no....I don't think the coming announcement has anything to with the MMO, but it would be interesting if it was :)



'I Hate that I will Play It' by Saylah
Submitted on 2007-04-30 22:02:45 CST
I hate that I want to know what the game is and that I'm likely to play it. Blizzard and their high-handed antics really piss me off as a consumer. However, the fact remains that they make a quality game. More over, the exciitment and euphoria of a new game by them, will render me oblivious to their BS for at least the first couple of months.

Then when the shiney wears off and I'm tired of being batted upsidemyhead, and being told to make bricks without straw, I'll be back to ranting on my blog. Oh the sweet circle of life.



'Engine only?' by tdous
Submitted on 2007-05-07 06:22:23 CST
The vacancy ad doesn't necessarily suggest a new MMO depending on your point if view. The only thing that does is the use of the phrase "next-generation" which we would not apply to WoW, but Blizzard might.

WoW is built in a modular fashion with the graphics engine being replaceable. We know they're announcing something soon, not necessarily an MMO. I wonder if this advert is more about updating WoW than a new MMO.



'Eve meets WoW' by Brent
Submitted on 2007-05-10 11:29:16 CST
What the world needs now is a game with all the cool space gadgetry of Eve Online with all the fun and action of WoW. If they do make a StarCraft MMO... maybe it'll be more like Eve than WoW. That would be ok in my book.



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