Video Q&A: Blizzard's Pearce, Pardo whip up storm

MMORPG barons tell GameSpot the fabled WOW-killer will be internally developed, address PC piracy and Starcraft II's trifurcation.

"We aren't in a situation where we feel that we're untouchable."

Such were the sentiments expressed by Blizzard Entertainment cofounder Frank Pearce in an interview with GameSpot during last week's BlizzCon 2008. Humble words, but if there were anything in the game industry that could be considered untouchable, it would be Blizzard's World of Warcraft. After all, the game boasts nearly 11 million players worldwide, a figure several times larger than the closest competition.

"We feel we've done a great job with WOW, but there's definitely a lot of talent in the industry," said Pearce. "There's going to be a game that comes along that tops WOW--hopefully it will be our game, but who knows. We'll have to wait and see. Even in the event that happens, hopefully WOW will still be a viable experience for many of our fans."

Many, namely those making massively multiplayer online games, are hoping that game comes along sooner rather than later. In an interview with MTV shortly before Warhammer Online launched, Mythic head Mark Jacobs said, "If we don't succeed with EA behind us, the Warhammer IP behind us, with one of the most experienced teams in the industry, that's not going to be good for the industry."

How does Blizzard take these kinds of comments? "It depends on what someone means when they say it's not good for the industry," Pearce told GameSpot. "As a whole, the MMO genre has exploded in terms of the size of the market. When we launched in Europe originally...we launched to a bigger base than the experts said was the size of the market. The market has grown incredibly over the last five years or so, so that's a good thing for everyone."

World of Warcraft may be Blizzard's bread and butter, but the company is far from a one-trick pony. Also on the horizon are Starcraft II and Diablo III. With both traditionally being PC games, Pearce also addressed how Blizzard plans to handle the omnipresent problem of piracy that plagues the desktop market.

"We learned a lot in terms of minimizing piracy with World of Warcraft," he said. "Everyone that wants the full experience has to play connected to the World of Warcraft servers. So we're definitely talking about ways with Battle.net that we can provide the best online experience for our customers so that there's not an incentive to pirate the product but instead an incentive to be part of that community of gamers playing that game and they'd want to be part of that social experience on top of the single-player experience. We have some ideas--nothing specific in terms of technology but more in terms of the experience online."

Speaking of Starcraft II, GameSpot also sat down with Blizzard VP of game design Rob Pardo, who shed more light on the decision to break the sci-fi real-time strategy game into three separate products. As revealed with much fanfare at the show, Starcract II will now be broken into three games, with the Terran campaign Wings of Liberty leading, followed by Zerg: Heart of the Swarm, and then Protoss: Legacy of the Void.

"The main reason that we decided to do Starcraft II as a trilogy--rather than the way we've done previous games where we include all three campaigns--is really the size and the scope of the story we wanted to tell," commented Pardo. "We learned pretty early on that if we really wanted to have a really interesting, branching story and to have all these different characters and all these different resources, it ended up being an entire game just to tell one campaign story. And then we really got faced with that hard decision of, 'OK, well, what are we going to do? Do we go back to the Warcraft III approach so that we can include all three campaigns, or do we go ahead and just treat each race as its own product?'"

Pardo was also quick to emphasize that Starcraft II's multiplayer component will in no way be adversely affected by Blizzard's decision to split the game up into a trilogy.

"One of the things that comes out of the decision to ship as a trilogy is that it really only affects the single-player campaign," he said. "The multiplayer will still be fully featured with all three races, so there's not going to be any emphasis on the Terrans in multiplayer as opposed to the Zerg and the Protoss. All three races will be fully featured, similar number of units, equal amount of production behind all of them. It's only the single-player that's affected by the trilogy decision."

Check out GameSpot's BlizzCon 2008 hub for the rest of the news and previews from this year's show.

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71 comments
Lexandru
Lexandru

Blizzard lost their creativity, their innovation and basically all that made it the best game developer in the world. Primary topic on their mind is money and how they can milk more. The bullsh!t reason to make a TRILOGY is simple. More products = more money. I stood in the balance and kinda took Blizzards side at one point but I'm really disappointed now. But Pearce was right: they are untouchable, I'm not touching any one of their products until they come with a new title and good one in fact. I miss Blizzard North.

Dimitriov
Dimitriov

why does the starcraft official website not update, its been the same for like 2 months now and i need my fix. I mean, wow is out in the meantime if your in to that but what are the rest of us supposed to do, cod 5 only has so much playability.....

TehUndeadHorror
TehUndeadHorror

Hope the whole trilogy thing includes extra stuff like units or just random improvements =D That'd be a good incentive cause some people might only want it for the multiplayer therefore not buy the rest of the set...

Jarltheafro
Jarltheafro

Hmm i think they should wait with their mmo till virtual reality systems ship out, they should definitely be the first to bring out a MASSIVE Massively multiplayer online game when the front gets shifted that way though. i also think its nice blizzard is trying to make interesting campaigns, man i've not played a game like that since baldurs gate... :p i just hope they aren't doing it to pull a couple of extra bucks. And if that mmo would be starcraft in virtual reality, just imagine being a zerg! that would be awesome dont you think? but then again when that does happen, a new warcraft and diablo should also be released, but lets not think too far ahead, blizzard is bound to fail in a game sometime, lets hope that the day will come later rather than sooner.

KSigMTSU
KSigMTSU

Wow was a very good game. It is becoming more and more unbalanced, and less fun to play. The PVP and PVE in the game take away from each other, the arena and BG grind necessary to get gear to be able to compete takes away from the game. The focus on grinding and farming takes away from the game. It is not a bad game, it is just not as balanced as it used to be, or as focused, or as good. I have tons of faith in blizzard producing good games, I don't remember them ever making a bad game. People just like to bash on wow (which I no longer play, I must admit I did sell my account when warhammer came out because I was tired of wow) because they don't play or used to play and got sick of it, just because you move on dosen't mean the game is bad. Hell sometimes playing warhammer I miss little things wow does better, or that their code is generally less laggy and more stable. I have more fun playing warhammer now, but both games are very good games. A starcraft MMO would be fantastic, maybe we'll get lucky enough for that to happen I would personally LOVE to play a zerg or protoss.

LandSavage
LandSavage

"Starcraft MMO on the way. It's the reason they "have" to flush out the story." Please oh please I hope your right. I love WoW, I played orcs and humans all the way up through 3:frozen throne, and starcraft and BW. I must say, if they can drop a Future based RPG (ALL HAVE FAILED MISERABLY) around the goodness of Starcraft, with Galaxies to explore, and other factions.... let me stop. I would definately be on it, a ghost or a firebat :)

DivineChampion
DivineChampion

@ Tsunami_pt I personally treat WoW like i treat Star Wars: I hate it. However i spent years loving it. How George Lucas shamed Star Wars with the damn prequels is almost as bad as what Blizzard did to World of Warcraft with their dumb Burning Crusade. Dont get me wrong. World of Warcraft "USED TO BE" the best damn MMORPG on the face of the planet. It's just that its awful NOW. As far as wow haters go, I'm one of them. i think many wow haters post comments on anything remotely WoW or MMORPG related and that's usually because their anger at the BC expansion goes unanswered and that posting mindless comments about how "horrible wow is" perhaps feeds their ever hungering regret at what Blizzard did to WoW: Ruined it. WoW that people currently play is a shadow of its former glory. But hey, that's just me.

Demon3322
Demon3322

@Tsunami pt that sir is true people just give the game a go, a nice long go and try to enjoy it

RomanticFool
RomanticFool

@Tsunami_pt (shrugs) People need something to hate. Personally, as long as Blizzard delivers a high quality product, which not only entertains me but puts coin in their bank (and ergo, mine), I won't care. But I guess thats the entire point of this argument, isn't it?

Tsunami_pt
Tsunami_pt

There used to be a time when ppl loved Blizzard games, because they had the quality that others missed. Games like the original Warcraft, Diablo and Starcraft were really great and everybody loved Blizzard. Now, I see a lot of hate for Blizzard, and acusations that WoW is not a good game. OH, FOR ELUNE'S SAKE, PPL! What happened? Can't stand that Blizzard is now one of the top companies in the world? Can't stand the fact that everybody loves their games, and not just a minority? WoW is great. The best MMO ever, and tbh, if other companies fail to deliver even a quarter of WoW's quality, it's their fault. Geez... I hate these Blizzard haters nowadays. So sick of you guys. All you do is complain that the game sucks and that 11 million players is not important, etc, etc, when most of u spend hundreds of days of game time played on WoW. The game is good! There's nothing wrong in admiting it! Like, Warhammer has a huge fanbase now. I played it, I wanted it to be good. Yet, I found it to be very flawed, and disapointing. But... It "IS" better then WoW, because it's a big MMO that wasnt made by Blizzard! And when I gave my feedback on forums why the game wasnt that good, ppl were all on me! My critics were made with the purpose of making it a better game! And there are ppl complaining that when they wanna leave WoW, Blizz launches new patches with new content that makes them play more? Complaining for that? For more content? LOL! What a strange atitude, guys... If you dont like WoW, then stop the destructive critics that bring nothing new to the game. WoW is the best. It wasnt the timming, it wasnt the developer. It is that good.

skaluv
skaluv

@MurderMode "Relating to the story, I personally think Blizzard's hold on the mmo community is a bad thing. Despite there are many that would argue against me, WoW isn't really that good of a game... it was just a game launched at the right time by the right developer, strategically designed to hold it's player base." What an odd thing to say. I can understand your opinion of not liking the game but to say it's success is luck is just crazy. 1. As stated in the article they are beating the competition by over 2x. 2. There were quite few competitors when the game was launched (Star Wars Galaxies, EQ2, EQ, DAoC, City of Heroes). 3. While they have raised the bar for return on investment in the mmo space the # of new mmos have only increased since its release. 4. Subscriber retention/return business has been amazing. Based on those four statements I would say that quality of product had more than a little to do with the success of WoW. If a game can "strategically" hold on to it's players doesn't that mean its a good game to it's players? I can't say whether or not Blizzard has been or good for the space. I would like to think it has. It seems to of increased investment in companies that make them. Blizzard can't be blamed if those companies fail because investors want Blizzard like #s of subscribers. While most companies are trying to pick a plum from the mmo money tree Blizzard has actually grown their own tree.

Asrafil
Asrafil

"omnipresent problem of piracy that plagues the desktop market." It´s funny that comment (and I´m bored of hearing it), the last time I checked, Fallout 3, Fable 2, Saints Row 2 and Gears of War 2 were pirated(for those who don´t know all these games were on the net before hitting the stores) on Xbox 360 not on PC. The PC has its piracy that is known, but it´s not the only platform for sure.Some see through the ears instead of the eyes.... P.D: sorry for the little off topic, lets hope Starcraft 2 WoL comes out soon.

Lightz39
Lightz39

Blizzard can't screw up...if they did they would shut it down. IE: Starcraft:Ghost.

retrofraction12
retrofraction12

Blizzard really needs to step it up on this one, if they screw up starcraft 2 they will be screwed for the rest of their company's lifetime.

Xdra
Xdra

well that sucks for countries with bad internet connections who want to play with friends :(

drand24
drand24

not effecting multiplayer huh? I'm going to be very surprised if the zerg and toss boxes don't come with additional units like Brood war did. whatever. I'll still buy it. the longer story lines sound awesome, but I'm not sure if this is the proper way to go about doing it. what about selling multiplayer + terran missions for $50 and $30 extra for each of the other two campaigns?

Icky27
Icky27

Starcraft MMO on the way. It's the reason they "have" to flush out the story.

MurderMode
MurderMode

gringbot - Playing single player SC2 isn't going to give you an edge in the multiplayer, playing multiplayer is going to give you an edge in multiplayer. Oh, and if single player is all you care for, then the announcement of 3 stand-alone game sized campaigns should excite you... so why say you aren't going to buy it? Weird logic Relating to the story, I personally think Blizzard's hold on the mmo community is a bad thing. Despite there are many that would argue against me, WoW isn't really that good of a game... it was just a game launched at the right time by the right developer, strategically designed to hold it's player base. I don't really see the benefit of playing a game with 11 million players... I mean I live in a city with only 2 million people and I doubt I've even briefly met more then 0.5% of them, nor do I care to. I'd much prefer having a larger amount of good quality games to choose from even with a smaller fanbase, but with Blizzard holding the reigns not to many people are willing to step up to the plate.

gringbot
gringbot

@suomi_rock "Well I maybe imagining this but wasn't Starcraft so massively popular as an online game in the far east that they were still holding tournaments as late as last summer. In fact I think the last big tournament was played on the west cost of the U.S.A." of course this is true. what my point is, is the CASUAL players, generally hold only a little interest in online multiplayer. they might dabble around in it, but they generally get heavily rocked and dont come back. its the skilled players that remain online which really is such a minority of gamers, considering how mainstream gaming is today, and really the only players online that will have proper training with their race will be, you guessed it, terrans. because they have the 30 missions to learn the ins and outs of each unit. but thats not my real point, unless your interested in multiplayer, or only SOLELY the terrans, you just probably wont buy this game. which, in my mind, is a lot of people not buying the game. to me terrans are only 1/3 the cool in starcraft, and as i previously stated, i wont be playing much online, because im just not a serious online RTS'er. @js0823 you sure seem to know a lot about me as a person, i guess its because you've met me in real life, and even read my mind about what my values are as a whole. i cant imagine why anyone would question your reasonings with such incredible amounts of evidence.

Mega_Loser
Mega_Loser

[at Eko_Eko_Azarak: My friend, I really hope you're right about Diablo 3, although, according to this post ,things don't look up for most fans :(

Eko_Eko_Azarak
Eko_Eko_Azarak

Blizzard is awesome and its great to see that they are working on Diablo 3. I love what they are doing with Starcraft II. It will really open the game up and give it more single-player depth. Diablo 3's gonna be sick.

MasterofOrion
MasterofOrion

I predict the chances of the expansions not altering multiplayer are the same you had of finding a Zod without duping :D Can't believe all the pope. .er CEO and their ilk say.

Mega_Loser
Mega_Loser

[at gringbot: your reasoning is perfectly normal, what is this, just what ammount of work went into creating either of the three campaigns.] [@ suomi_rock: yes totaly! SC was a great success in multiplay, i know the east asian people had years and years of fun!] I WILL buy all three of them (and i imagine many more)if the price is right. I will steer clear of them if they are priced as any other newly released games in the market. My reasoning is that, the only thing that seperates these three is the single-player campaign. That is somewhat short-sighted. I've known that, it is relatively easy in average, to crack an offline game. So what everybody can do is buy any of the three packages for multiplay, then pirate the other two and have a full experience on single playing. I hope the blizzard fatpockets see this and price them right. I see many people were not satisfied reading my earlier comments, how so, I only speak the truth that many others would accept as their own, also. Thanks for reading this far, cheers.

suomi_rock
suomi_rock

@ gringbot "really only a minority played the original starcraft online," Well I maybe imagining this but wasn't Starcraft so massively popular as an online game in the far east that they were still holding tournaments as late as last summer. In fact I think the last big tournament was played on the west cost of the U.S.A. As for me personally, I will not mind getting all three products. I enjoy a massive story arc, and since this has been announced lots of my friends and I have dusted down our old Starcrafts and gone online again.

js0823
js0823

@gringbot I bet you will be one of the first one to buy bth Starcraft II and Diablo III.

gringbot
gringbot

"One of the things that comes out of the decision to ship as a trilogy is that it really only affects the single-player campaign," he said. exactly, and not everybody buys starcraft II to play online. really only a minority played the original starcraft online, most people, aka "casuals" WONT EVEN TOUCH MULTIPLAYER. THIS is simply what blizzard fails to grasp. this whole "it has to be in 3 games for the whole story" is just bullcrap, when i believe around half of the 30 missions are actually OPTIONAL. truth is, if someone is not interested in multiplayer, or the terrans, they just wont buy this game. im only sort of interested in multiplayer, so i probably wont buy this game unless i wanted to play the terran missions over and over again. want to play zerg or protoss? play online with no single player to introduce units and their purposes, great plan blizz. this really cuts people off and trys to structure them into what blizzard belives to be "enjoyment", its like they enforce it, and its silly. we all saw it in world of warcraft with arena. just my opinion, and i no longer play WoW (havent for a while) and WONT be buying starcraft II, or diablo 3 for that matter if they make any crazy "announcements" just a few months before its release.

bahamut_au
bahamut_au

It's gonna make learning how to use the Zerg and Protoss in multiplayer very trial-and-error if there is no campaign for the new units and mechanics to be properly introcuced.

Daniel526
Daniel526

The split of SC2 is a good thing and not a bad thing, I for one will be buying. Stop whining and get with the program. No technology in combating pirates means no securom, no dailling home and bull like that. So buy the game otherwise they might want to DRM next Blizz game and DRM suck big time.

ratavaquera
ratavaquera

"The multiplayer will still be fully featured with all three races, so there's not going to be any emphasis on the Terrans in multiplayer as opposed to the Zerg and the Protos. All three races will be fully featured, similar number of units, equal amount of production behind all of them. It's only the single-player that's affected by the trilogy decision." OOOOH im not sad now, CHEERS BLIZZARD

Berianor117
Berianor117

Typing "Protos" twice is rather lame... man, it's "Protoss"! wtf...

Nikalai_88
Nikalai_88

endocrine, please read, this is not a mini-expansion but a Blizzard expansion pack which usually have more content to them than most full games. But I am sure you also hated Brood War, Lord of Destruction, the Frozen Throne and felt that they are terrible deals that you did not purchase. In fact from where did you get the idea that these will be released as Sims type content? Please stop making up false facts and accusing me of supporting business models that having nothing to do with this. As far as I am concerned Blizzard made the reasoning very clear, they wanted to provide a better gameplay experience that is of the same length as the original and to do this they had to focus on only one race at a time. To not ignore the other two races they have to release two expansion packs instead of one. Rather obvious. Using the ‘I am too poor’ excuse is even lamer. Lets see $50 for the original and $40 X2 for the expansions adds up to $130, in the end being around $150 with the taxes. Spread out over three years its less than 14 cents a day or $1 a week. Again I find it amusing that Blizzard choosing to do two expansions instead of the usual one for very well explained gameplay reasons is causing such as storm. All this does is add to my perception that PC gamers are increasingly becoming whiners who will pirate a game at the smallest fault and use that as an excuse. Not only that but I doubt it will work as they intended since Blizzard expansion packs always add new multiplayer content.

Mega_Loser
Mega_Loser

This isn't looking good. I don't see how they would invest in 3 different packages for offline play when SC2 is obviously multiplayer-oriented, online play made SC as popular as it is. And now, Diablo 3 is looking visually, like an WOW clone. No random exteriors, last i read is, the stats wont be manually distributed, either. I'm not whining, really. Ive accepted these will be that different to their prequels. And without trying to provoke, and as much as it hurts me to say it, I'll use a pirated copy of them, and if one cannot exist, never play neither. Really sad. And thanks for reading this far.

endocrine
endocrine

Nikalai, while you may not care about paying $30 for nothing significantly new and are one of the few people not associated with EA or Microsoft that likes the idea of the mini-expansion, most of us do not. All companies are starting to use the Sims 2 and XBLA business model where they charge 2x as much for half the content. If this is where you want the video game business to go, than by all means, complain about all the people that do not like this business model.

2bitSmOkEy
2bitSmOkEy

as long as they dont add new units and all that stuff to the expansions then im at peace with this. i absolutely do not want to spend 180 bucks to play this game online. not to mention adding new gameplay elements with each game with cause even more problems to inevitable imbalance problems they will have. blizz somehow manage to perfect the original sc. it was safe to say if you lost, you got outplayed. thats not true for war3. there was just SO much stuff to balance they just couldnt do it. lets not see that happen to sc2 :(

Nikalai_88
Nikalai_88

So basically instead of having 3 campaigns with 10 missions each we will have one campaign with 30 missions, and to accomidate all the races they will have two expansion packs instead of just one? This is whats causing the storm online? Its disgusting that PC Gamers are increasingly turning into the whiners of the industry that as long as there is one little thing wrong with the prodcut they proclaim that they will just pirate it.

jarule88
jarule88

Ok... as I see it they won't add additional fee so you can play on Battle net... they just said that if you want to play on battle net you have to have a retail version ... they are making battle net interesting so that you must pay to play it... it's their way how they gonna fight against piracy :D And a good way too :D it's much more interesting playin against human than playing against A.I. :D :D :D

VenomRitual
VenomRitual

lol of course the only game that could ever top WOW will be a game blizzard makes.

SupaTrupa
SupaTrupa

MMO's are bad for the industry, and people's lives. They suck!

halfbreed11111
halfbreed11111

i am just going to pirate the second expansions packs koal jadian is so right

madmenno
madmenno

Well i never completed or played Warcraft or starcraft campaign much. But i'd like to know what extra's it offer? Is there more then 2 hours of cinamtics going on or something? Are these campaign huge like in it takes months to finish? I find it strange since the extra work goes in cinamatics and story line wich already excists mostly. Anyway, i get the zerg package just becaus they are the bomb :D. Can't wait to put 300+ zerglings in my overloards and drop 'm in a base :D.

Koal_Jadian
Koal_Jadian

so it costs 3 times as much to play the single-player campaign in its entirety? How many years has this been in development and we find out just now? This is what will happen: Everyone will buy the first and pirate the second two - since you promised PC gamers that it will in no way adversely affect the multiplayer and that blizznet will provide incentives....it won't provide any for the other installments especially if you're triple charging the already wallet-robbed Blizzard fans (thanks to oldschool WoW and its very very very very very subscription prices for 11 million ppl).

Ilthik
Ilthik

Making a game into a trilogy is a great way to squeeze out $150 for a $50 game.

sbose22
sbose22

They're ideas for combating piracy are pretty smart, offering very strong incentive for connecting to the internet only available through the retail version Not stinking SecuRom....EA needs to work on its DRM...

TurambarGS
TurambarGS

I like to play through all three races in single player and be surprised by all the new cool stuff before I jump onto multiplayer. I do it with every single game I play. Now with these three damn episodes broken up, there will be no 'wow' factor (excuse the pun, cos I hate that game) when I'm playing the zerg and protoss campaigns. Meh. I'm still annoyed.

ZippyDSMLee
ZippyDSMLee

SC2 will be 50$ the expansions will be 30-50$. Daiblo 3 multiplayer is now a MMO. I do not mind what they are doing with SC as long as the AI is not made of fail like on WC3.... If they want a pay setup then offer free play for a max of 5-10 people in a area at a time premium play is as may people as the servers can stand. Also SC2 will have just about everything to run all 3 games but the voice work, GCI films ,custom maps its not about size its more of a time issue but really a money one since they can get twice as much for it.

Slammer612
Slammer612

@MTHoodlum423 Where in this article did it even hint that they were adding a fee to battlenet. Stop making assumptions and wrong assumptions since a little bit ago there was an article that says they have no plans to add a fee. I can't wait for all the games they are coming out with, and for me I don't think there is any other company that I can say that about. Wish Protoss were the 1st in the campaign but thats ok humans are cool too

Marzillius
Marzillius

I wish the Swedish police would shut down The Pirate Bay for good. It is one of the main factors that ruins the gaming industry...

Wolverine565
Wolverine565

If Cryptic makes Star Trek Online right...I could see it being a serious competitor for WoW considering its already hugely massive installed fan-base.