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Role Playing (Games)

Blizzard's Warcraft Booty 69

Posted by Zonk
from the not-that-kind-of-booty dept.
CNN's Game Over column tackles the big daddy of MMOGs this week, with a column on World of Warcraft's financial success. From the article: "By 11pm on Nov. 22, there were over 4,000 gamers queued up to be among the first to get a copy of 'WoW' (as it has become known). The problem was: there were only 2,500 copies of the game in the store, and no one had thought to hire security for the event. By raiding other nearby locations, the retailer was able to meet demand. And the Blizzard crew knew they had a hit on their hands, one unlike anything they had created before."
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Blizzard's Warcraft Booty

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  • heh heh heh (Score:1, Offtopic)

    by Leiterfluid (876193)
    You said "booty"
  • Bliz should have offered something similar to Valve with HL2 - some kind of system to let gamers download the game and use their accounts as CD keys. ...

    To hell with that, Bliz should have used Steam. Would've saved a whole pile of money on release day. It's got integrated billing, server finding, IM (though shaky), and anti-cheat - why code something yourself when it's already out there?
    • (to make up for my earlier, retarded post. I had a beavis moment) I agree, when I bought HL2, I really enjoyed having the ability to download content, whenever and wherever I was. I remember there were a lot of people early on in Steam's deployment that complained about its invasiveness, but quite frankly, the fact that I can run and download games from the same account on any of my machines without having to re-enter a CDKey is freakin awesome.
    • I rember epic threads, all around the internet, that took steam back out to whack it with a two-by-four. Granted, the frustration caused by not being able to play offline, because the online authentication server was down wouldn't arise with WoW. Still, steam would have introduced an other point of failure and whats worse: one that comes before the gameworld.
      Also: WoW shipped on DvD, if I recall correctly. I don't like to download this much, especially if the whole civilized world tries to download at th
      • Also: WoW shipped on DvD, if I recall correctly. I don't like to download this much, especially if the whole civilized world tries to download at the exact same moment

        WoW shipped on 4 CD's (A DVD version may have been available, I never saw one). I am almost positive that HL2 shipped on 4 CD's as well. So the downloads are comparable. What Valve did to help prevent a bottleneck was allow users to download the game before the release date and then on the release date lock it. Remember that there is a g

        • yeah, true :) .. Still, I can understand blizzards reluctance to out-source what amounts to player happieness. When Steam is down, Blizzard would be the ones hearing about it and loose customers due to it.
    • Re:A better solution (Score:2, Informative)

      by yasth (203461)
      They didn't want to sell every possible copy. With the copies they realeased they had enough trouble meeting demand, physical copies in this case served another purpose, to restrict the number of players (at least initially).
    • Well, for one thing, they already got more players than they could handle. More sales probably would not have been a good thing.

      For another, remember how pissed Vivendi got about Steam? Guess who publishes Blizzard games.
  • by TripMaster Monkey (862126) * on Friday September 02, 2005 @11:17AM (#13463990)

    From TFA:
    When Blizzard published "Warcraft 3" in mid-2003, it made the conscious decision to chase the Chinese market. China has a very active gaming population, but software piracy runs rampant in the country. Legitimate copies of games sell for what works out to $15 in U.S. dollars. Pirated copies are $1 U.S.

    Blizzard, despite the increased piracy it was sure to face, released the game in the country, but opted to drop its retail price to within an "arm's reach" of the pirate price.

    "The idea was let's create a real market of authentic players and see if we can change the mindset," said Sams. "Let's see if we can change the mindset by showing we're willing to meet them partway."

    The gamble worked. While there were still millions of pirated copies available, Blizzard sold 1 million authorized copies.
    Perhaps other software companies should try to meet the users partway...

    Microsoft, I'm looking at you.

    You too, Adobe.
    • I'll definitely agree with meeting the user partway, but while Blizzard may have done so in China, it would be nice if they would do something similar over here, especially for a game with a monthly fee.

      While I understand they need some sort of monthly fee to pay for the new content and work that always goes on in an MMO, what I think is unjustified is the initial $50 for the game. Personally I'd be much more likely to try multiple MMOs if I could pay for a month, download the client and play, and then un
      • "I'll definitely agree with meeting the user partway, but while Blizzard may have done so in China, it would be nice if they would do something similar over here...

        They don't need to do that here, they have better copyright protection. You can bet your bottom dollar that they would sic the dogs on any large-scale piracy operation in the US.

      • You have time to play multiple mmo's?

        I stick to the 1 MMO rule.

        You can play 2 FPS's.
        You can play 1 FPS and 1 MMO.
        You can't play 2 MMO's.

        They're too time consuming as it is. I couldn't imagine playing two.

        • No, I don't have time for multiple MMOs, but I would probably go and try most of the current ones for a month each if I could just pay the monthly subscription. However, having to pay the initial $50 or so to try an MMO prevents me from doing so.

          If I could try an MMO by just paying the monthly fee for a month I would be much more apt to try a few and find one that I really like.
          • I'm the same, I looked at wow and it looks fun, but I know there is about a 70% chance I won't enjoy it. And I'm not willing to risk the initial investment to find out.

            Of course I realize the 50 buck entry fee is there because the distributor wants it that way. Blizzard would sell it for under 20 if they had a choice in the matter.
        • play two like WoW, where time logged out nets you double advancement rate once you log back in.
      • I completely understand the concern about paying $50 for a subscription-based game that you might not like anyway. I agree that it would be best if you could just download for free. I also believe that the monthly cost should be based partly on time played, but that's another thread. However...

        Each purchased copy of the game comes with a 10 day free trial that you can give to a friend. I used this method to sample the game, and knew pretty much within the first hour that I would like it, so hopefull
    • Maybe music and movie companies should try a similar tactic too. I mean how hard is this? I get so sick and tired of hearing them continually complain about slipping numbers and piracy yet they do nothing to try to solve the problem besides suing 13-year olds and their parents.

      A little OT but related. I am similarly amazed at how Americans sit and watch the reality shows about rich kids, celebs, musicians showing all their opulence and low IQ's... yet Americans still idolize these people that have IQ's on p
      • Honestly, most pop music and hollywood movies aren't worth the media they come on,

        That's why I buy a good deal of music at used books/music stores. Dead artists (I love jazz from the 40's) can't get the money I spend on new discs. The labels won't see my pennies. But I still buy the regular release of some CDs. Especially if they are independent artists.

        Most smaller labels will actualy give artists their share of the profits, rather than hosing them with a massive overhead, and making them pay for s

        • I don't buy pop music either, but that's not the point. Ever notice how some of those smaller lables don't fight piracy at all, don't have to, and don't care? It's because they have produced a good product that people are willing to pay for. I wouldn't dream of pirating an independant artist like a local Pittsburgh guy named Brad Yoder, I willingly pay him DOUBLE what he's asking when I'm at one of his shows and he is very appreciative. (he generally sells CD's at shows for $5-10) Why would I pirate anythin
          • Ever notice how some of those smaller lables don't fight piracy at all, don't have to, and don't care? It's because they have produced a good product that people are willing to pay for.

            Just playing devil's advocate: wouldn't the RIAA claim this merely shows that if a label doesn't fight piracy, they can't grow? Maybe if they fought piracy, they'd be a bigger label?

            • I can appreciate the counter-argument, but I still just can't for the life of me ever understand the music industry. When the switch from Cassete Tape to CD came, Cassettes were still cheaper to buy. Even now there is simply no excuse for CD's to be much more than $5-10 tops. The whole thing is that you need to get your product to a price that makes the effort to pirate it a loss. You wil always have people who will pirate stuff no matter what, but if I know that for $5 I get liner notes, art, and a pressed
  • At over 4 million players multiplied by 15$ a month, that makes 720$ million a year. Almost a billion dollars.
    • Thats not quite accurate.

      All though they have over 4 million subscribers, the subscription plans vary by region. North America is $15 per month, but i doubt thats the same in Korea or China.

      Secondly, operations in China at least have been outsourced to another company. Blizzard still makes money on it, but probably less than they would if they ran it there as well.
    • Re:Cash CoW indeed (Score:2, Informative)

      by Tilmitt (856895)
      "At over 4 million players multiplied by 15$ a month, that makes 720$ million a year. Almost a billion dollars."

      $720 million is not almost a billion. It's only 72% of a billion. That is no where near "almost" a billion, it is a significant amount less.
  • Not unlike... (Score:4, Informative)

    by KDan (90353) on Friday September 02, 2005 @11:25AM (#13464039) Homepage
    Blizzard have had a fair number of hits, excellent games which were very well made and sold many copies. Warcraft 2 was a major hit. Diablo 2 is *still* selling copies. Stacraft - don't get me started. Warcraft 3 itself is hardly a failure. I'd say they're pretty used to publishing successful games. I doubt that WoW's success came as a shock to them.

    Daniel
  • Development plans (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Red Flayer (890720) on Friday September 02, 2005 @11:35AM (#13464131) Journal
    FTA: "The gaming grapevine has it that "Diablo 3" was (and may still be) under development - though Blizzard will not confirm that. But given the success and profit of "World of Warcraft," it's not out of the realm of possibility that the company may create persistent world games revolving around its other flagships."

    Except, of course, that they'd be competing with themselves.

    I could see Blizzard publishing another MMORPG in a different genre, but it would be idiotic of them to publish another fantasy MMORPG until WoW has become a lot less profitable.

    Any dilution of their subscriber base will hurt them in the long run... if MMORPG players explore a different product by Blizzard, they are more likely to try a product from a competitor.

    IMO, Blizzard's best course of action (in the MMORPG market) is to continue strong support of WoW, publishing new content to keep the subscribers happy.

    • Alright, so maybe not an MMORPG based on Diablo. But what about an MMORTS based on StarCraft? It'd be enough different from WoW (Sci-Fi, RTS) that it wouldn't be competition with themselves.

      Would they be the first to make a successful MMORTS? I think they'd have a good chance, as long as it was done right. Sure, you can play StarCraft online, but in a persistant, story-based setting? There's too many opportunities there to ignore.

      • They would still be competing with themselves, just to a smaller extent.

        I would love to play a MMORTS if it was done properly, I'd probably not play MMORPGs anymore. I just wouldn't have enough time to advance a character/civilization in both.

        This would be a good move for Blizzard when WoW slows down.
      • Would they be the first to make a successful MMORTS? I think they'd have a good chance, as long as it was done right.

        That was one of my daydreams back in the golden days of UO. It would have to be simplified tactically, but more complex strategically. You'd have to choose carefully where to build walls and defense towers, but controlling every little action of your invasion force (like in Warcraft et al.) would get very tedious. Could be lots of fun to let players carve out their own kingdom. Add a seriou

        • One problem with a MMORTS game would be the fact that players control multiple units. With, say, Starcraft, players were restricted to 200 food units (although, if you played Protoss and mind controlled a builder of another race you could get up to 600). And an 8 player game where everyone had maxed out their units started to lag terribly. Just trying to imagine a game server with 1000 people all controlling 100+ units makes my modem cry.

          Also, what happens when a player logs off? In MMORPGs, it doesn't re
    • " if MMORPG players explore a different product by Blizzard, they are more likely to try a product from a competitor."

      That sentence doesn't make sense. It's a sure thing that eventually, some players are gonna want to try something else wheter or not Blizzard makes another MMORPG so it's in Blizzard's advantage to try to keep them on a Blizzard game, whatever it is.
      • "It's a sure thing that eventually, some players are gonna want to try something else wheter or not Blizzard makes another MMORPG

        Which is why Blizzard needs to continue to release novel content -- keep them on WoW for as long as possible.

        Do WoW players know there are other MMORPGs out there? Sure. But do they want to spend months leveling a character in that game, to get to where they are in WoW?

        If Blizzard keeps producing novel content for WoW endgamers, their subscribers have less incentive to
        • This response seems to exhibit a troubling assumption: that the "real fun" of an MMORPG comes after all the levelling is over, not in the process of levelling itself. That may be the case in most MMORPG's, but it is not good game design. The game should be fun at all levels and stages of character development, and the "new content" should address all levels and stages of character development. Also, a significant part of WoW's player base are new to the MMO genre. A number of them, myself included, pla
    • Which brings up another problem... ... If I was Blizzard, I would be afraid to release a Diablo 3. A lot of the people who play WoW used to play Diablo 2 but are now tired of it.

      I'd say if they release a non subscription, Diablo game they would still be competing with themselves and whats worse, competing with a product that potentialy brings in less money. Only unit sales and not a subscription.

      I predict Diablo 3 will eather be changed significantly so that it does not overlap with WoW fans, or that wil
      • You've hit the nail on the head.

        The only way I could see them releasing Diablo III in the near future is if they set up a subcription service for all their online content. I see it operating similar to cable TV pricing structures:

        $15 a month for all the "basic" games.
        $10 a month for each "premium" game account.
        $ALOT for all premium games.
        Can't get the premium games without paying for the basic games.
        When subscriptions for a premium game drop off, relegate the game to "basic" status.

        If they prov
    • If they could create another development team that could take a manageable portion of the wow game, and recreate another genre game it would make sense for the blizzard style of small teams working to create big projects.

      If players could play both games for a heavy discount they could keep the game from cannibalizing itself.

      If they could just fix the PVP system so people could actually find a battleground easier then guildwars. Maybe they wouldn't find themselves developing an industry with a hunger they ca
  • $60,000,000 a MONTH! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by rAiNsT0rm (877553) on Friday September 02, 2005 @12:06PM (#13464393) Homepage
    $60 Freakin Million A MONTH is what they are basically making with WoW. $14.99 x 4 million users. Now I'm sure it is a bit less overall, but honestly what other business affords this type of income in the gaming industry? It is almost obscene.

    I was really hoping Guild Wars was going to be a runaway hit, it kind of has been popular due to the no monthly fee but after just a couple months people are GLAD to pay for a better more immersive game. Kind of had the opposite effect unfortunately.

    I just wish a MMO could debut with a reasonable fee like $4.99 a month or even a tiered approach: $2.99 a month for 20 hours, 4.99 for 40hrs., 9.99 for unlimited. That way normal folks who work, sleep, bathe, date, etc. could play and not feel like they are getting ripped compared to the 1337 24x7 players. I mean I may get to log on and play 20-30 hours a month max, If I could pay a variable rate with a upper-end cap I'd be glad to. Months where I'm away or only get on for 5 hours should not cost me the same as a month where I play every day. There has to be better business models, but what incentive is there for MMO companies to even try?
    • Have you tried Tibia? http://www.tibia.com/ [tibia.com] You can play for free, however certain areas and skills are only for premium players. A premium costs about $40 for 6 months, about $6 a month.
    • At this point there is little doubt that Blizzard is doing very well. However, the math isn't always that simple and the profit structure behind the revenue is even more complicated.

      $15 a month is very simplified, that's the fee for a month to month subscription. There are price points for three month and six months subscriptions that are less than that. No monthly payment plan is at a 100% return rate. You have bankruptcy, challenged payments (on credit cards), general default, collection issues and

  • WOW, indeed.

  • And it was insane. I was one of the first people in the door because one of my rugby teammates had set up camp near the front of the line. When three more of us showed up to join him no one really said anything. There were seriously a ton of people though. The line wrapped all the way around the store and out into the parking lot twice, and then snaked down the road into a residential area. The doors opened at midnight, and I heard some people didn't get in until four or five in the morning.

    The whole
  • FTA: "It's a global hit - and every publisher in the industry is furiously trying to figure out how to replicate it."

    The trick to all this is so simple, so of course the big developers can't figure it out: just make a good game. What differentiates WoW from it's competitors is that it is a well produced, well thought out game. If developers put as much time into producing good products, then themoney will follow. It's that simple.

    • not only that, but it comes from a rich and popular franchise, and from a company with a reputation for only releasing fun and incredibly well polished products.
      • not only that, but it comes from a rich and popular franchise, and from a company with a reputation for only releasing fun and incredibly well polished products.

        That point seems irrelevant. The success is from ppl coming in from OUTSIDE the traditional Blizzard fanbase. Reputation doesnt mean any more than the genre (See Sony's Star Wars). Fun matters. That being said, WoW could have been better (another grind?) but, in the face of other Mediocrity (see Dungeon Seige 2), it shines.

        • well it certainly brought in a lot of players who had never played a mmorpg before, but i think most had played some incarnation of starcraft, warcraft, or diablo in the past.
  • heh (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Solikawa (604301)
    It would be nice if they turned that money around and put it back into the friggin game. The servers suck, the PvP system sucks and the game is buggy as hell.

    Make that $59,960,000 addition to your bank account work for its self. It is BS that is has such ultimate potential and can suck so much.
  • Speaking of WoW... Are the answers to this interview [slashdot.org] not coming? :(

A method of solution is perfect if we can forsee from the start, and even prove, that following that method we shall attain our aim. -- Leibnitz

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