Blizzard's Bill Roper interviewed (part one)

by Mark Asher

Qt3: What's this 3D game you guys are rumored to be making?

Roper: [laughs] Oh, they’d break my legs if I said anything about it.

Qt3: Why not make a Blizzard MMORPG?

Roper: It’s almost a different breed of game. You almost need to invest more time in the product after it t launches, which is what makes the subscription model a necessity. The subscription model allows you to constantly evolve the game. That’s why a game like Majestic needs a team. With our games we spend most of the time in development.

Qt3: But you’d have a big advantage over so many of the MMORPGs in development right now with your brand name recognition. Isn’t that hard to resist?

Roper: I think the MMORPGs are getting closer to being the kinds of games that game developers got into the business for in the first place, the creation of virtual worlds. So yeah, there’s a big attraction there and many Blizzard people are big fans of these games and play them a lot. It would take a change in the way we do business though to start making these games.

As to us getting a good start with a game from our recognizable brands, sure, that would happen. But the game has to be fun. A well known license is important, but if it's not fun, players won't stay. Even the Star Wars game that Sony is working on, sure it will get a big launch, but if it’s not fun the players won’t stay.

Qt3: Will we see Blizzard games on the next gen consoles?

Roper: We don’t have anything in the works right now, but it’s been fun to see the new consoles. We got our start as a videogame company, so we like those kinds of games. We just see computer games and videogames as being separate markets. What works for one rarely works for the other. About the only exception is Tomb Raider, which has sold well for both markets.

Qt3: What’s this new Warcraft novel that’s just been published?

Roper: It’s a great book by a veteran writer, Richard Knaak, who’s been on the Times bestseller list with Dragonlance books. It’s just the first in a series of books about our games that are coming out. We went out and got established writers like Charles Grant and Jeff Grubb to do these. Jeff has also done a lot of D&D work for Wizards of the Coast. We put together a writing bible so these writers would have a good basis to work from, but they’re free to be creative to some extent too. In this first book some of the events that were hinted at in Warcraft 2 are explained. It’s good stuff.

Qt3: Anything beyond books?

Roper: Sure. We’d love to see films and TV series based on our games. We’re open to all kinds of things.

Qt3: Anything you want to add?

Roper: Just let people know about our tenth anniversary sweepstakes giveaway. We’re giving away some cool prizes, some stuff you can’t find anymore. We went around and found things like pewter statuettes that were promotional items for our older games. As long as we had at least one for our vaults, we’re giving the others away. There’s still another week or so left. Just visit our website.

 

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