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Role Playing (Games) Businesses

11 Innovation Lessons From the Creators of World of Warcraft 243

Posted by Zonk
from the all-about-dragons-in-the-boardroom dept.
Ant writes "Colin Stewart's OC Register Inside Innovation blog has up a post discussing Blizzard Entertainment's success in the games industry. According to the site, Blizzard has learned eleven lessons on innovation that can help almost any business. The industry leader used these innovation methods not only to create the world's most popular massively multiplayer online game, World of Warcraft, but also to keep the game fresh and challenging for more than 10 million players. Because many of those customers pay $15 a month to continue playing, Blizzard's ongoing creative achievement is worth more than $1 billion a year in revenues, not counting the multi-millions it tallies from its other games."
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11 Innovation Lessons From the Creators of World of Warcraft

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  • Platitudes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by OMNIpotusCOM (1230884) * on Sunday April 06, 2008 @05:42PM (#22983112) Homepage Journal
    Look, the game is pretty, fun for a while, and very addictive. They took the tried and true method of giving item hoarders, dungeon crawlers, D&D fans, and basic gamers a basic concept that each one could easily get addicted to. TFA had nothing you didn't already know. They basically took the best parts of Evercrack, UO, and D20 systems and made a pretty game out of it. End of article. Making red-colored crack and successfully getting a whole bunch of people addicted to it isn't really that impressive, and neither was TFA.
    • Re:Platitudes (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Pennidren (1211474) on Sunday April 06, 2008 @05:52PM (#22983176)
      In some ways you are correct. The game isn't very remarkable or innovative.

      But on the other hand, people are finicky. To have kept the subscription count as high as they have for as long as they have is impressive no matter how much you want to label it as obvious and inevitable.

      Simply put, Blizzard's best skill has always been to shine and polish an old idea.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by somersault (912633)
      The article doesn't mention many specifics from WoW; it does talk about company values and such though, did you even read it?

      Getting people addicted to a game is very impressive. If you've ever tried to design and develop a game you'd know that. Personally I don't want to be addicted to WoW so I'm not going to play it, I'd probably enjoy it, but I get more satisfaction out of more skill based/action games than repetitive RPGs... the social aspects of it are slightly attractive, though the social aspects
      • Getting people addicted to a game is very impressive. If you've ever tried to design and develop a game you'd know that. Personally I don't want to be addicted to WoW so I'm not going to play it, I'd probably enjoy it, but I get more satisfaction out of more skill based/action games than repetitive RPGs... the social aspects of it are slightly attractive, though the social aspects of real life are preferable :P

        Actually one of the lessons I've taken from MMOs is it's shamefully easy to get people addicted.
        • Re:Platitudes (Score:4, Insightful)

          by snkline (542610) on Sunday April 06, 2008 @10:32PM (#22985000)
          This is absolutely true. Certainly WoW is very polished, and has alot of fun to it. But what keeps you going after your 200th night in the Black Temple or Hyjal, is your sense of obligation to your guildmates. It is the social connectedness people develop with the people they play with that keeps people playing, even when they have grown rather bored with the game.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by somersault (912633)
            I do kinda have to concede that. I started playing Maplestory just because I literally felt I had nothing else to do at that time in my life and one of my friends introduced me to it. I played the game all by myself for a month or two, then joined a guild (leader was the person that introduced me to the game), and stayed in the guild for a while, enjoying the social aspects, having a fake online marriage and such (as you do), hehe. One day I just stopped playing though, and didn't start again. That was of c
    • Re:Platitudes (Score:5, Informative)

      by DarkProphet (114727) <chadwick_nofx@@@hotmail...com> on Sunday April 06, 2008 @06:26PM (#22983416)
      <verbose active="true">

      I think the reason that WoW STILL has 10 million subscribers is simply because it takes a LONG time to do things right. Levelling goes very fast(faster than ever since patch 2.3), but grinding for reputation, items, gold, and professions is a huge time-sink, in terms of hours. If you are the kind of person who ISN'T allowed to play for 12 hours a day, it can take many many months to move toward end-game content.

      And that is to say nothing about PvP and Battlegrounds. The only other online games I've ever bothered to get into are Quake2 and Quake3. There is something irresistible about CTF and the other battlegrounds games. But to kick ass, you need a twink, which obviates the need for your main to spend all kinds of time grinding to fund your twink.

      Then there is arena, where you attempt to twink your main, basically.

      To have it all, it takes a huge time investment, which is reflected in the number of subscriptions Blizzard maintains over the long-term.

      Now, I am not saying it is wrong for Blizz to extend the gameplay time by making it take forever to get anywhere on foot, or low drop rates, or the price of an epic mount versus the amount one can reasonably grind in say, 50 hours of play.

      Well, the travel time actually is nothing short of ridiculous. Travel-time between "flight points" should be instantaneous. Just replace flight points with portals. PLEASE! Travel time between kalimdor and anywhere in outland is just crap. C'mon now.

      OTOH, Blizz has been pretty good about regularly adding new content (even outside expansion releases), adjusting item and talent specs, and generally making the game more accessible to people with less time on their hands.

      They've struck a good balance between making their product more open to new subscribers, as well as maintaining their long-term customer.

      They've executed a well-crafted plan to widen their subscriber base while retaining a solid number of existing customers. That is the hallmark of any successful business. </verbose>
      • by LilGuy (150110)
        You sir are already a lost soul I'm afraid. I played the game for about 10 days out of my 14 day trial and I have no idea what you're even talking about.

        Scary!
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by walnutmon (988223)
        "Well, the travel time actually is nothing short of ridiculous. Travel-time between "flight points" should be instantaneous. Just replace flight points with portals. PLEASE! Travel time between kalimdor and anywhere in outland is just crap. C'mon now. "

        I respectfully disagree with you. I think having time between points is what makes it imersive and fun, the large world does the same. You made the best point I've read here though, subtley... This game is successful because it's good for a long time. Whe
      • by fractoid (1076465)
        Your points about travel time betray a fundamental lack of understanding about virtual worlds. Travel time is vital to give players a feeling of size and distance within the world, and adds to the suspension of disbelief even while you find it annoying. Realise your hearth's down when you're in Kargath, and you genuinely feel like it's a "long way". Same for acquiring gear - what gives items value is in equal parts the time taken to acquire them and the in-game power of the item. Arena gear is really pushin
        • by AuMatar (183847)
          Nope, sorry, you're dead wrong on all points. Travel time is a waste of time. I don't want to feel the size and distance of the world- I want to go somewhere and do something. Travel time doesn't add to the fun, it takes it away. Thats one of the reasons why WoW is more popular than EQ- because it took things like travel, which were even worse in EQ, and made them far less painful.

          Sorry acquiring gear is not fun. Of the 100+ people I know who play WoW, only 2 actually like the gear grind. Everyone el
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Swampash (1131503)
      They basically took the best parts of Evercrack, UO, and D20 systems and made a pretty game out of it. End of article.

      Way to miss the point, genius. The article wasn't about WoW, it was about Blizzard's internal policies and processes.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by OMNIpotusCOM (1230884) *
        Not that it's worth the time or bandwidth to get into a geek slap fight with you, but since you put the condescention in your post, I'll take the time to enlighten you. The article was about innovation. The article also spoke at length about the innovations in WoW. My point was that WoW was not that innovative, and therefore not worth reading. The game was pretty, it was shiny, and it was a rehash of things that have already been done, while the article was rhetoric fitting for a Slashdot Sunday.

        Now if
      • by Minwee (522556) <dcr@neverwhen.org> on Sunday April 06, 2008 @09:24PM (#22984580) Homepage

        Way to miss the point, genius. The article wasn't about WoW, it was about Blizzard's internal policies and processes.

        What's an "article"? Is it something you're supposed to read before commenting?

    • Look, the game is pretty, fun for a while, and very addictive. They took the tried and true method of giving item hoarders, dungeon crawlers, D&D fans, and basic gamers a basic concept that each one could easily get addicted to. TFA had nothing you didn't already know. They basically took the best parts of Evercrack, UO, and D20 systems and made a pretty game out of it. End of article. Making red-colored crack and successfully getting a whole bunch of people addicted to it isn't really that impressive, and neither was TFA.

      Obviously thats why ever developer has a 6 million + MMORPG... ohh wait a minute...

    • by Moraelin (679338) on Monday April 07, 2008 @02:12AM (#22986130) Journal
      You'd be surprised how non-obvious it is to some people exactly wth Blizzard did right, even when it's spelled out for them.

      E.g., Sony has been in a frenzy to copy the secret sauce of WoW into their own games for years, but it mostly resulted in blunders of epic proportions. Yes, eventually they got some things right-ish by sheer trial an error, but it's been a lot of trial an error, and a lot of changing people's characters and skills completely, for no good reason.

      Just as one example, and I'll deliberately pick a mild one, because I'm not trying to start a flame war: the rested xp bonus in WoW. It's been discussed to death since WoW beta, and spelled out repeatedly why it's there and what effects it has, so you'd think it would be a no-brainer to copy it. Right? Well, Sony's first attempt was to go, basically, "oh, yeah? Well, we'll give ten times more in EQ2! And not make you go to an inn either!" So effectively, unless you were in a group all the time and/or playing 16 hours a day, the rested time would rise faster than you could possibly use it. Even as you'd run to the next mob in the middle of nowhere, you'd gain at least half of what you used on the last mob.

      Now it's definitely not game-breaking. I did say I'd pick a mild one. And, hey, I'm not gonna say "no" to free xp. But it missed the point by a mile.

      As a less mild example, Sony seems to have done a lot of over-simplification to their games (arguably even the much maligned and surrealistic SWG NGE) based on their and their fanboys' view that, surely, WoW only gets so many people because it's simplistic stuff for retards. Actually it's the contrary. WoW is a more complex game by far, and that makes it more interesting. It's intuitive and has a gentle learning curve, as it feeds you that complexity gently and gradually, but that's very different from being oversimplified. Essentially, Sony lobotomized their games, well at least SWG is as good as lobotomized, based on not understanding what they're trying to copy.

      So, yes, bleeding obvious as that stuff might seem to _you_, I'd say it's good to see someone spell it out. Because some people seem that unable to comprehend it on their own.
    • by Moraelin (679338) on Monday April 07, 2008 @03:13AM (#22986358) Journal
      Just to go through that list and tell you from first hand experience how non-obvious that can be to some people:

      1. RELY ON CRITICS

      I've actually been in places where they treat you like an Enemy Of The People criticizing the Communist Party, if you dare question the tiniest detail of their masterpiece. Heck, half the industry still is in a mind that deleting posts and suspending accounts is the right way to deal with bug reports. Sony is still infamous for beaming into space the people protesting one of their most heavy-handed and ill-advised ban-sprees.

      Others just let the fanboys run amok and call everyone names if they report a bug or make a sugestion.

      Heck, I've worked in one place where even internal criticisms didn't make it past the designer's continent-sized ego.

      2. USE YOUR OWN PRODUCT

      It should be obvious, but it isn't. I've seen for example FPS where the demos were recorded in god mode. That should have been obvious right there that even the devs can't play it on the normal difficulty setting. It's one of the things that should give one pause for thought, you know: if playing the game as you ship it isn't funny even for you, then why inflict it on the rest of the world like that?

      3. MAKE CONTINUAL IMPROVEMENTS

      Again, it should be obvious, but it isn't. E.g., one syndrome of many games is to rush to do an expansion pack, while the old crap is left as it is.

      But more importantly, it really ties in with #1 and #2 above. What it says there is that long before the customers even see the product, they have internal teams trying to find out what sucks about it. In an industry which routinely ignores even the beta-testers' bug reports, that would explain why Blizzard's games are launched more finshed and polished than other games get after a dozen patches.

      4. GO BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD

      Basically what TFA there really says, is: if your co-workers or testers say "dude, that idea sucks", then listen to them. In fact, see #3, encourage them to be honest and think about which stuff sounds good and which doesn't.

      As an example of where that obviously wasn't the case, take SWG's NGE. There's (among many other blunders) a quest for example whose reward is a scope for a sword. Worse yet, it's really a potion, because they don't have item slots and such, so you can't actually attach it to the sword. The very fact that someone just shrugged and coded it like that, tells me that any kind of internal review or criticism, is non-existent or doesn't work. In any normal place, one of the guys who has to script, review or test it, would go "excuse me? am I the only one who thinks it's freaking stupid?" That noone listened, or maybe even they felt so much like a cog with a quota that they didn't even bother reporting it, speaks volumes.

      Similarly in EQ2 there still are such dumb quests in the game as killing bears and deer to see if they stole a book. I mean, FFS, what would they do with it and where would they keep it? And then you get to kill your faction's own foresters to see if they stole the book. And that's the good faction, btw. And later you have to beat up badgers until they tell you where a sage is. (And it's not a druid quest or anything.) You have stuff like giving yourself a quest to avenge a knight, then digging up his tomb and taking his shield as a reward. You have stuff like giving yourself quests, and then giving yourself some money and an item as a reward. How schizophrenic is that? Etc, etc, etc. That that kind of mass-produced drivel even made it into the game at all, much less survived there since launch, tells me that their internal review process doesn't work. Or maybe reviews only if you met your quota of lines of script/code.

      And again, I've been in one place myself where ideas were a one way street, from the High Priest... err... designer to us peons, and it wasn't the peons' job to criticize them.

      5. DESIGN FOR DIFFERENT KINDS OF CUSTOMERS

      Again, this should sound obvious, but it's not.
  • by nick_davison (217681) on Sunday April 06, 2008 @05:56PM (#22983214)

    the company created a new type of product line by selling ongoing subscriptions for online access to the game, said Unnikrishnan at CSU Fullerton.
    "Blizzard remains ahead of the competition because the company was able to parlay its strength in one game format to create an online service, which created a whole new product line and different type of revenue stream," he said.
    Wow. Imagine a world before WoW where there were absolutely no MMOs an no one had ever thought of a monthly fee for these games that didn't exist.

    The irony of this whole piece is that just about every single on of Blizzards "innovations" are things Sony Online was doing with EverQuest for half a decade before it (Beta tests, test servers, employees playing the game, upgrades, cancelling titles that didn't work, broad demographics, stats analysis, the fun of a gaming company).

    The more interesting thing is, EverQuest only ever achieved roughly a twentieth of WoW's subscription figures. So, more valuable than simply listing the things SOE already did as Blizzard innovations* would be to look at what Blizzard did differently that got them 20 times SOE's subscriber base - and fifty times that of most other competitors.

    As a fluff piece, it's nice to congratulate Blizzard for innovations they didn't come up with. The thing is, they evidently did something different and the article manages to miss that far more fascinating angle.

    *Note: Not claiming SOE came up with the innovations either. Ultima Online was doing much of it several years earlier still. And they took over from a lot of MUDs, MUSHes, etc. If anything, there've been a series of advances that have been made one at a time, everyone else copying whenever someone else has success with a new idea.

    I'd suggest Blizzards real achievements were something more like:

    Truly earn loyalty from your customers: People who bought Diablo and Starcraft played for years on a service they didn't have to pay any extra for. Any other company would have turned those servers off once they weren't making money from boxed copies of the game. Blizzard kept providing it and earned a fierce loyalty from their fans where everyone else leaves their fans feeling screwed the moment the dollar signs don't add up in the short term.

    Set the barrier of entry LOW: While SOE was playing with the brilliant idea but agonizing experience of StarWars Galaxies and everyone else was chasing prettier graphics, Blizzard put out a game with cartoony graphics that everyone and their mom could play. Ten million general players doing something simpler beats out a few hundred thousand beardy ones and housewives with enough time to learn your complex game mechanics.

    Don't milk the cash cow until its teats fall off: Blizzard's managed to get what, one expansion out so far? SOE has put out how many for EQ2 that was released at the same time? Sure, your balance sheet looks better if you can say, "I'm going to get 200% revenue from my begrudging players this year." It actually looks even better if you say, "I'll stick with 110% revenue from 2000% of the number of happier players."
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I haven't read TFA. But your arguments seem about right:

      - The reputation is a big one. In addition to keeping the servers going, you also have things like the patch to Diablo II years after it came out that was so huge as to almost be an expansion pack. Also, Blizzard has arguably never made a bad game. That carries a lot of weight. It also helps that people knew and already liked the Warcraft world.

      - Balance. People love to whine, but the truth of the matter is every Blizzard game is scrupulously balanced
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      Exactly what I was thinking when I read this. Everything WoW does was done before, WoW just happened to do it better and marketed it in a way that appealed to more people...
    • by Wilson_6500 (896824) on Sunday April 06, 2008 @06:19PM (#22983366)
      Don't milk the cash cow until its teats fall off: Blizzard's managed to get what, one expansion out so far? SOE has put out how many for EQ2 that was released at the same time? Sure, your balance sheet looks better if you can say, "I'm going to get 200% revenue from my begrudging players this year." It actually looks even better if you say, "I'll stick with 110% revenue from 2000% of the number of happier players."

      My MMO playing friends would from time to time claim that the continuing fees of MMOs were there at least in part to ensure that there would be continuing updates and new content, aside from server maintenance costs. Naturally, I'd look at it as a slap in the face if, having that attitude, a company asked me to pay an additional charge for that content in the form of an expansion pack.

      Something I've always wanted to see would be a serious, impartial, disinterested observer sitting down and going through a point-by-point comparison of WoW, Guild Wars, and Diablo II, and maybe throw in FFXI or some one of the other popular MMOs, just to see what is objectively different between them. It would be interesting to see in light of all the noise of fans crying that such-and-such is an MMO, is worth the money, etc. Of course, that latter point is nearly entirely subjective. Most of what people claim to get out of modern MMOs I was able to get out of games like Halflife--and that without paying every month for it.
      • by Dutch Gun (899105)

        My MMO playing friends would from time to time claim that the continuing fees of MMOs were there at least in part to ensure that there would be continuing updates and new content, aside from server maintenance costs.

        Yeah, I've never quite bought that line either... Most MMOs charge both for the game AND for expansions, as well as the monthly fee. If they gave the game client away, or at least gave you more than a month of free play time, I could see it (maybe six months). But the part about server maintenance - I'm not sure I buy that either. No way does a player cost Blizzard anywhere close to $15 dollars a month (see: Guild Wars). That's just what they've figured out people are willing to pay. But the monthly

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by GaryPatterson (852699)
        Blizzard have released many expansions without cost. The most recent patch, 2.4, added a whole new island with end-game content. Sure, it's for 5- and 25-player groupings, but there are several 'dungeon' areas (some outside) there.

        Same with many other patches. Zul'Aman was introduced a while back, as was Ahn'Qiraj and a whole bunch of other places.

        PvP content is updated every so often as well, and a whole slew of new items (green, blue and purple) are introduced over time as well.

        The paid expansion packs ar
    • by QuantumG (50515) *
      Simplify the game play.
      Make a very big world.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Truly earn loyalty from your customers: People who bought Diablo and Starcraft played for years on a service they didn't have to pay any extra for. Any other company would have turned those servers off once they weren't making money from boxed copies of the game. Blizzard kept providing it and earned a fierce loyalty from their fans where everyone else leaves their fans feeling screwed the moment the dollar signs don't add up in the short term.

      Blizzard was making money off of those services. They got sponso

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Koby77 (992785)

      Don't milk the cash cow until its teats fall off: Blizzard's managed to get what, one expansion out so far? SOE has put out how many for EQ2 that was released at the same time? Sure, your balance sheet looks better if you can say, "I'm going to get 200% revenue from my begrudging players this year." It actually looks even better if you say, "I'll stick with 110% revenue from 2000% of the number of happier players."

      I also agree that Blizzard's success has nothing to do with following certain business principles. Instead, Blizzard's popularity was because it brought MMOs to the masses, and it achieved that because it set the speed of game play correctly.

      For single player games, especially console RPGs, you progress in the game at a certain pace. You may earn a level increase every few minutes. You'll go back to town and purchase some new equipment every now and then. But MMORPGs prior to WoW were unacceptably

    • "The thing is, they evidently did something different "

      Yeah they took an established franchise millions loved (warcraft) and made an MMO out of it, what gamer has not played warcraft?

      They had huge mindshare, if they used a different property other then warcraft (i..e something new) do you really think they would have had such runaway success? I doubt it very much. Warcraft has a history from gamers playing it all over the world and those who played any of the warcrafts (1, 2, 3, etc) are of course going t
      • Yeah they took an established franchise millions loved (warcraft) and made an MMO out of it

        StarWars is vastly more beloved but sandbox so beautifully complex it took two years to seed itself and never really became easy to use before being so brutally modified as to lose what those who had persevered loved didn't make anywhere near WoW numbers.

        Marvel Online got cancelled before ever seeing the light of day despite massive numbers of comic book readers past and present.

        Matrix Online had a HUGE franchise that translated in to a game no one cared about.

        Disney has a massive fanbase yet Toontown putt

      • There's more to it than that, unless you're ignoring Star Wars Galaxies.

        It's not just the initial point that matters, but where they go from there. WoW is more accessible than just about any other MMORPG, looks great on just about any computer above the minimum spec and has a solid reward mechanism as players level.

        It's not perfect by any means, but Blizzard has done a lot of things better than other companies (assuming the goal is maximum players and profits).

        Personally I'd like to see a real story in WoW,
      • Yeah they took an established franchise millions loved (warcraft) and made an MMO out of it, what gamer has not played warcraft?
        Survey the MMO market. How many games there weren't an established franchise millions loved(~50%)? How many ave 6 million or more subscribers (1)... yeah.
    • Timing, maybe? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Shazow (263582)

      The more interesting thing is, EverQuest only ever achieved roughly a twentieth of WoW's subscription figures. So, more valuable than simply listing the things SOE already did as Blizzard innovations* would be to look at what Blizzard did differently that got them 20 times SOE's subscriber base - and fifty times that of most other competitors.

      Might have something to do with the fact that EverQuest was released in 1999, while World of Warcraft was released in 2005. A lot changes in six years. I wouldn't be surprised if the amount of people with internet access grew more than 20 times in that time span.

      - shazow

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by VGPowerlord (621254)
        I must point out that EQ2 and WoW launched within a few weeks of each other. EQ2's userbase is nowhere near where WoW's is.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Shazow (263582)

          EQ2's userbase is nowhere near where WoW's is.
          Neither is the game quality for today's standards.

          Ultima Online surpassed MUDs.
          EverQuest surpassed Ultima Online.
          World of Warcraft surpassed EverQuest.
          EverQuest 2 surpassed a shriveled piece of ginger root vaguely shaped like a one-armed voodoo doll.

          - shazow
          • True, but timing wise, EQ2 was WoW's main competition, with near contemporaries Star Wars Galaxies (also SOE) and Final Fantasy XI. It just goes to reinforce nick_davison's point: What WoW did differently was what sold it.
            • by Shazow (263582)
              Absolutely. WoW is clearly a vastly superior product to SWG, FFXI, Asheron's Call 2, EQ2, DAoC, etc. I just didn't think that comparing it to EQ1 made a lot of sense due to the time gap.

              Anyways, Blizzard has a reputation for releasing incredibly polished, stylized, and innovative games. Every time a "Top 100 games of all time" list comes out, all of Blizzard's games are in the Top 15.

              - shazow
    • The irony of this whole piece is that just about every single on of Blizzards "innovations" are things Sony Online was doing with EverQuest for half a decade before it (Beta tests, test servers, employees playing the game, upgrades, cancelling titles that didn't work, broad demographics, stats analysis, the fun of a gaming company).

      Ultima Online did all or most of those things before Sony or Blizzard did. WoW was a marketing success but hardly any kind of innovation.
    • by JavaLord (680960)
      Increased broadband penetration made MMO's more playable. EQ was released in 1999, UO was before that. Five years after Everquest, WoW came out (late 2004). By then everyone and their brother had broadband. There was simply a bigger player base. This, along with lower barriers of entry that you mentioned, and a well known franchise is what led blizzard to success.

  • by Rinikusu (28164) on Sunday April 06, 2008 @06:00PM (#22983250)
    From Blizzard:
    1) Money doesn't buy you happiness.
    2) Money will buy you lots of shit that make you happy.
    3) Did I mention we have lots of money? I know it's not really a lesson, but it's our list and we're rich, beyotch!
    4) Money isn't very flavorful. We had a buffet lunch of money once and after the 10th or 11th thousand dollar salad, I had to switch to the lo-carb dressing. Ugh.
    5) Money.
    6) If you have money, girls (some) will like you for it. As long as you have a proper pre-nup, wear rubbers (always) or get a Vasectomy to reduce risk, enjoy the ride.
    7) It's amazing what you can do with money. This one time, we filled the company pool up with crisp dollar bills. The first guy to dive in got massive paper cuts from the crispness. Wow, like millions of dollars worth of cuts. We had to drive him to the hospital, while we used $100 bills to try and stem the flow of blood.
    8) The morning commute into the office is so much nicer in my Ferrari. Vroom Vroom my ass, Mazda.
    9) Money money money money money!
    10) Sometimes, you have more money than you can spend. Paper crafts are so much more fun!
    11) Nerf warlocks, bitches.
  • by lancejjj (924211) on Sunday April 06, 2008 @06:05PM (#22983278) Homepage
    This is a piece about some egomaniacs that want to express that they're simply smarter than so many others in business.

    They actually think that their "11 Innovation Lessons" are new, different, and special.

    Even a junior manager at a McDonald's has learned this stuff within their first 30 days on the job. Really. They are intrinsic to running any service organization.

    Read through them, and ask yourself: would a McDonald's Junior Manager know this as an intrinsic part of his job servicing customers?

    The short answer is YES, a junior manager at McDonalds would know 10 of 11 of them. The 11th just doesn't apply to McDonalds. Because Big Macs are perfect.
    • by VGPowerlord (621254) on Sunday April 06, 2008 @06:51PM (#22983576)
      You may think this list is silly, but certain other MMO makers haven't grasped them.

      Sony Online Entertainment, in particular, tends to piss off its userbase on a regular basis. They even totally changed (read: trashed) one of their properties [starwarsgalaxies.com] with about two weeks notice a few years ago.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Missing_dc (1074809)
      "Read through them, and ask yourself: would a McDonald's Junior Manager know this as an intrinsic part of his job servicing customers?"

      And as I read through your post I wondered "What does this guy do for a living, and how is he so intimately acquainted with the training a McManager gets?"
    • by definate (876684)
      1) A McDonalds Junior Manager understands that a marketing orientation is better than a product or production orientation?

      2) A McDonalds Junior Manager understands that when the business uses their own product they get a better sense of its flaws and similar, which allows for them to make better decisions?

      3) A McDownalds Junior Manager understands that a business does not need to produce a perfect work, and can use iterative processes to improve it over time?

      4) A McDonalds Junior Manager would know not to c
    • by Jesus_666 (702802)

      Even a junior manager at a McDonald's has learned this stuff within their first 30 days on the job.
      Especially the part about their own products being dog food.
  • by timmarhy (659436) on Sunday April 06, 2008 @06:19PM (#22983368)
    .... but blizzard did something even MORE important - they did a damn good job of giving people what they wanted.

    not many people give a fuck for super complex game rules (that's why nerds love DnD) they want something that's fun and group based. WoW gives that.

  • by propanol (1223344)
    Blizzard's not exactly the best example when looking for innovation. Sure, they've made some solid games, but all of the ones I'm familiar with (that is, most of the major ones save WoW as I don't do multiplayer-only) were awfully derivative; the RTS stuff from Dune 2/C&C, Diablo from Rogue/Nethack etc.
    • Blizzard's not exactly the best example when looking for innovation. Sure, they've made some solid games, but all of the ones I'm familiar with (that is, most of the major ones save WoW as I don't do multiplayer-only) were awfully derivative; the RTS stuff from Dune 2/C&C, Diablo from Rogue/Nethack etc.

      Game innovation != Business innovation. They were discussing business innovation. Many innovative things have come from very old school business processes (Katamari Damacy) but this article was about how Blizz innovates in business. I think #1 would be the idea that sunk costs should not rule your decision making. Blizz doesn't release a game if it's not up to snuff. From warcraft adventures to Starcraft:Ghost. If it sucks it is cancelled. Many studios can't do this and thus tend to release crap and tend t

  • by sharopolis (819353) on Sunday April 06, 2008 @06:41PM (#22983496)
    ... just lots of little ones. There's not a lot in WOW that hasn't been done before in other games, either MMOs or other genres, but what Blizz has done is make the innovations of previous games work. Previous MMORPGs have been innaccessible, imbalanced, prone to exploits, buggy and often just downright boring.
    WOW has so often overcome these issues to become one of the biggest games of this decade with a lot of well thought out and well designed gameplay.
    Take the whole bind on pickup/bind on equip mechanic for items, meaning that some in game items can be bought and sold freely, but others (usually top tier weapons and armour) can only be gained by achieving in game goals. This means that there is still a viable cash economy, but players cannot simply 'buy' their way to the top, they need to go out and complete quests etc.
    Wow was not the first game to feature an ingame economy, but what it did was make the economy fun and useful to players whilst at the same time limiting it's potential to be expolited.
  • by monoqlith (610041) on Sunday April 06, 2008 @07:09PM (#22983700)
    Blizzard executives went to the crack-addled streets of inner-city LA, bought a bunch of it, gave it to their employees, and said to them, "Figure out how to make this crack into a computer game. Feel free to try some of it too." The crack enabled them to stay up late enough to think of WoW.
  • by VGPowerlord (621254) on Sunday April 06, 2008 @07:12PM (#22983718)
    In my opinion, Blizzard did do a few things differently, but I don't see the ones I'm thinking of in the list.

    What they did differently was this:

    They made a good UI.
    Blizzard usually has good UIs, and WoW's is no exception. They've even modified it over time to add some new things to it (such as additional button bars)... things that were being done by AddOns before.

    They allow... no, encourage people to make UI Addons
    Certain types of Addons have had the ideas behind them incorporated into the main WoW interface, too. Examples of this include the current Raid UI and the multiple button bars.

    They don't nickel and dime you to death. See: EQ2, where even new dungeons (AKA "Adventure Packs") cost money.

    Keep It Simple Stupid (the KISS principle)
    WoW still has the same 9 classes it started with. While the abilities these classes have has changed over time, it's still easier than juggling 20+ classes like most other MMOs. While there will be a 10th class introduced in the next expansion, it will automatically start at a certain level (although Blizzard hasn't yet said which... rumors say 50 or 60) and will only have to be balanced from that level up.

    (This would have been a numbered list, but Slashdot is apparently stripping out ol and ul tags now, despite them being on the Allowed HTML list)
  • success (Score:3, Insightful)

    by g4b (956118) on Sunday April 06, 2008 @07:26PM (#22983804) Homepage
    I admit, I would want to rant about their success. Is it jealousy? Maybe. But let's keep that aside for a moment.
    They talk about innovation.

    Nearly every aspect of World Of Warcraft is stolen from other games.
    Example: UO. You can find a lot of similarities, from mounts to gray death screen. UO still has features, WoW hasn't. But most importantly: UO takes a lot of innovation from the so called freeshard-scene, and i think, this is also the reason origin never pursued those emulated servers in the first place.
    E.g. the speech system which does not allow you to read other's language is something which was developed on UO roleplaying shards (as for I know, but it could have been also in some MUDs) - so it is not new in WoW.

    So, why is WoW still better than the other mmogs? well, let's face it: it is because they took all the good things and tinkered it to something better.
    So, yes, they are successful. And yes, they can talk about how to get successful, how to keep successful.

    However, I rant, because it is not innovation, they should talk about. There is hardly any great innovation in WoW from my perspective.
    It's a fun game, trying to suit the majority of players, the company cares for the players, they did some good decisions (e.g. low hardware specs, scriptable client), and of course, don't forget, they had a lot of publicity from previous games (the warcraft series, diablo, starcraft and lost vikings), and those WERE innovative in a great deal.

    Still, talking about WoW, I think they really should talk about success, not innovation. Because it was more advertisement, more strategy and more publicity behind the success of WoW, than innovation.

    Face it: Most Innovation comes from innovative and creative minds, which are not bound to deadlines or sallaries. Innovation was to include a modding engine in HalfLife, which kept a very bad coded game alive until CounterStrike came out (so innovation lead to innovation). Innovation was to include a Level Editor and Sound Editor in Warcraft2, which made the game popular for custom maps, and in WC3, innovation from the _users_ has lead to a lot of custom maps, like tower defense or dota (because the game was very scriptable and moddable). WoW lacks all those opportunities of customization and blizzard has hunted down any modding scene from the beginning, who tried to do something else, than interface scripts (which are limited in innovative ideas), like emulator software (but that is perfectly understandable! emulators are bad for business!).

    Because the userbase can't contribute a lot of new ideas, and because the game itself has very few "new elements" at all, but sums up all the other MMOGs before it, I simply can't accept blizzard as teacher in innovation, regarding WoW.
  • by ScrewMaster (602015) on Sunday April 06, 2008 @09:48PM (#22984732)
    12. Hire lots of good lawyers

    13. Use them.
  • I just can't take seriously all this talk about Blizzard's innovation in WoW. WoW released without single ambitious feature, if anything WoW is culmination of shine and polish on tried&true ideas that were tested in countless other games. UO that released in what, 97, had more innovative features than WoW.
  • Blizzard's ongoing creative achievement is worth more than $1 billion a year in revenues, not counting the multi-millions it tallies from its other games."

    I wonder how much of that is getting reinvested in the game. I only ever took the plunge on one MMO, EVE Online. It was a brilliant concept but still sort of half-broken in implementation. I followed it for a year and only ever saw things grow worse with the patches, the fun turning into a grind, the grind turning into repeated punches in the scroticles, the mass tearing out of hair. It seemed like the major bugs never got addressed and management's ideas for "improving" the gameplay always made it worse.

  • I'll just outline what TFA basically says

    1. RELY ON CRITICS
    2. USE YOUR OWN PRODUCT
    6. THE IMPORTANCE OF FREQUENT FAILURES
    8. STATISTICS BOLSTER EXPERIENCE

    find out what people like and dislike about your product

    3. MAKE CONTINUAL IMPROVEMENTS
    4. GO BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD
    7. MOVE QUICKLY, IN PIECES

    improve your product, based on what people like and dislike (and do that fast)

    9. DEMAND EXCELLENCE OR YOU'LL GET MEDIOCRITY
    11. OFFER EMPLOYEES SOMETHING EXTRA

    make your employees do good work

    5. DESIGN FO

  • For anybody with a short attention span, I'll just sum up the 11 points of this article for you:
    • RELY ON CRITICS: Be innovative! When someone has a problem with your product, it needs to be changed. So change it!
    • USE YOUR OWN PRODUCT: Be innovative! If you have a problem with your product, it needs to be changed. So change it!
    • MAKE CONTINUAL IMPROVEMENTS: Be innovative! If there's a problem with your product, it needs to be changed. So change it!
  • Pioneers???? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Evil Kerek (1196573) on Monday April 07, 2008 @07:49AM (#22987436)

    Blizzard was one of the pioneers in a new category of game - massively multi-player online role-playing games.
    Um...I can think of at least 4 MMOs off the top of my head (I'm sure there are way more) that came out WAY before WOW. What place do you have to be in to be considered a pioneer?

    UO gets the pioneer badge for MMOs, IMHO.

    EQ gets the 3D pioneer badge for MMOs, IMHO.

    Shadowbane was probably the first to do massive battles in a working manner. WOW still doesn't have anything like this - and they actively prevent it actually. I do so miss the nightly attacks on Southshore. They use to crash the server - and that's a problem, so blizz did everything they could to basically push people away from world PVP. And they did a very good job of it. Now it exists as mostly people running around griefing a few people. There's no such thing as an epic PVP battle anymore - BGs/Arenas have turned even PVP into a grind. *snoore*.

    So yeah, WOW is pretty cool and they definitely got the glue of MMOs down, but pioneers? Not really. They are behind the curve on several items actually (housing, character customization, mentoring) and the PVP is pretty unbalanced. The UI customzation is awesome however and has set a VERY high watermark for other games to reach.

    And actually that puts at the heart of what makes WOW tick - gear. Everything in WOW is way too gear dependent - but this is one of the primary ways they keep people coming. They are the masters of the treadmill - if you just raise your faction to here, you can get that one piece of armor/weapon that will help you to do better in the arenas. So you can get some more weapons and armor. For the Arena.

    And before you beat me up, I'm a pretty active WOW player with two accounts and 4 70's. The game can be fun, but they have basically perfected the treadmill.

    EK

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