Game Masters: Blizzard and Harmonix

Find out what makes two of the gaming industry's biggest publishers tick.

41 Comments

This interview is part of GameSpot's Game Masters: Behind the Talent feature, which explores some of the biggest names in game development. The feature coincides with a new exhibition celebrating video game culture taking place at the Australian Centre for Moving Image (ACMI) in Melbourne, Victoria.

The exhibition showcases the works of celebrated game designers from Australia and overseas through a combination of concept art, interviews, and more than 125 playable games from the arcade era through to new releases.

Blizzard

In this video, vice presidents of Blizzard Rob Pardo and Chris Metzen discuss the importance of context and themes adding to the game experience, how shocking it is that geek culture has become popular culture, and being inspiring role models.

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Harmonix

Harmonix co-founders Alex Rigopulos and Eran Egozy speak about replicating the experience of creating music and performing in front of a crowd, and helping people connect and interact with music in a deeper way.

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To find out more about GameSpot's Game Masters feature, visit the home page.

Read our Game Masters interviews with Tim Schafer, Warren Spector, Peter Molyneux, and Tetsuya Mizuguchi.

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SolidTy

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Two great developers, definitely watching this.

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dwringer

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People are talking about the release of Diablo 3 like it double charged all their credit cards, installed spyware on their computer, started corrupting random hard disk sectors, and signed them all up for 400 free mailing lists. Really the only troubles I had were not being able to play for 7 hours the day after launch (congestion) and several "Maintenance Tuesdays" where the game was unplayable, something that I accepted in WoW but that was a little irritating in a game like this.

EVERY SINGLE PERSON who was affected by EVERY ONE OF THESE ISSUES knew what they were signing up for when they saw the game required online connection and the use of battle.net. It was nonetheless frustrating, and you may or may not personally enjoy the game (I do, minor balancing issues aside), but really if something like this turns you off not only a product but an entire developer, you are in for a life of sadness and disappointment; let me tell you.

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BlowingBlizzard

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You sir apparently work for Blizzard as you are lying through your teeth and conveying great sattire in the face of a very true issue. You sir are a true blue idiot.

"Every single person" did not know what they were signing up for, a game that only worked when there was a constant internet connection, a company who's servers keeping that connection dropped those connections even up through two weeks ago (before I uninstalled the joke of a game and tossed it in the trash), that greed was the core foundation of it all nerfing everything to ridiculous heights at patch 1.03, sucking up the faux gold, making the "monsters" ridiculously over statted, and forcing any sheeple who couldn't see the truth behind their actions to go to the RMAH to begin ciphoning their wallets. Clearly you are delusional, Blizzard paid, a Blizzard VP/CEO, Blizzard lobbiest, or Mommy of a Blizzard thug. At least here one can detail their scheme without it being deleted and then being banned from their crappy forums. I'm smiling ear to ear seeing their game die like a weed shot with Roundup. AMF, Blizzard. You reaped what you sowed.

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dwringer

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@BlowingBlizzard No, I just play games for enjoyment. I choose not to get emotionally invested in them as you clearly have done.

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stoposto

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I'm not a fanboy, but if blizzard now raped me (as they did with diablo 3 and wow at some point)

I would still like them for all the memories we shared. Playing Diablo 1 at the age of 11 being generally scared when entering the first level of Tristram church or what ever. Playing Warcraft 3 when the phone rang and my mate shouting about this new amazing online game called World of Warcraft he just saw at his friends house.

(Before I knew the web was more than porn and free illegal music <3)

People can hate them all they want, I love the look of an old Mustang in its 60's but I don't really agree with the way the new fords nor mustangs are looking nor the way the company is promoting itself.

You can hate blizzard till you are soaked in hatred for everyone and everything. Or you can accept that you have grown up and that the games they make today also need to include stuff for people who know who Justice Beaver is.

I got D3, played it for a week or so before getting hacked, got back up on the saddle but quit after a week more. Yet i have not posted a hate letter to blizzard anywhere, I think I'm old enough to say "Hey man, it's just not me"

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Agent-M

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Blizzard has fallen from grace after the Diablo 3 fiasco. I will never buy another Blizzard product again.

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-Unreal-

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@Agent-M Yet I see you constantly posting in Blizzard related news stories. I doubt your sincerity.

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Agent-M

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@-Unreal One has nothing to do with the other. I can post on as many Blizzard articles as I like and I still will think Diablo 3 is a bad game and that Blizzard has lost its way.

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megakick

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Step 1> Don't waste too much money on R&D just rehash the same old stuff over and over.

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george43

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Blizzard is a company past its prime.

They are releasing games that have terrible narratives so they can prop up e-sports.

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Ravenshout

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@george43 Because Story is more important than Gameplay right? Because a game is a game, therefore story should be given the utmost attention, RIGHT?

E-sport keeps a game alive for a long time, a great story still ends when it ends.

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deactivated-5abc14ca5e8cc

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Blizzard is math, not mastery.

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carbon78

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I think they should all burn in hell...

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TenraiSenshi

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It's funny how much of a bad vibe there is around Blizzard now.

Sure, maybe not everyone's fond of the new Diablo, but what about Starcraft 2? In my opinion, Starcraft 2 was a prime example of a great game, both as an RTS and as a game in general. It has a load of content, great gameplay, great production values and great, competitive online multiplayer.

So because some people are not happy with Diablo 3, suddenly the world has ended and we forget all of Blizzards successes in favor of obsessing over one potential failure (even though apparently many people still love to play it). It doesn't make sense. <_<

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BlowingBlizzard

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You clearly have no idea on what you're speaking to. Read up, dump 60.00 into a game, find out you can't play it AT ALL if the server drops, and it dropped daily from day one, find out the company rigged it like it was a Las Vegas casino, have the years of Diablo I and Diablo II under your belt expecting and anticipating something great without the hidden agenda, then find out the CEOs are no better than Wall St. swindlers, then you can come back and have an understanding to speak from.

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Philosoph

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@TenraiSenshi Blizz is not the same company that released WC1-3, D1, D2 or SC. as a company they've been resting on their laurels of Wow for years, Activision-Blizzard has since released Wow expansions, including a kung-fu panda expansion SC2 and D3.

Blizzard weren't allowed to stuff up on SC2, it's a commercial game, they had full-on world tournaments in SC1, people actually become professional star craft gamers and become super-stars in Korea, SC2 was great because it had to be. If it wasn't, the backlash would have killed them as a company.

Diablo3 shows blizzards true colours. They didn't expect it to be as big as it is or to carry as much weight as it did. The fact that they completely disregarded community input from the very beginning. http://www.petitiononline.com/petitions/d3art/signatures. then released a Beta...Blizzard wasn't allowed short-comings on SC2 but they messed up where it mattered most.

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cephas90

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@TenraiSenshi Act. Ivision.

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csward

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@TenraiSenshi Starcraft 2 took zero risks and IMO was a boring rehash of a 10+ year old game. Compare Warcraft to Warcraft 2 to Warcraft 3 and tell me I'm wrong.

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Knoar

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@TenraiSenshi It makes sense because the company isn't what it used to be. Most everyone who made all the good games are gone, and they left because they didn't like where the greedy corporate monster was heading. Sure, I purchased and loved every game up to WoW. But I've loved each sequel less and less with time. Blizzard is dead to me because it was killed by greedy businessmen who don't give a shit about the customers or the art of the game. D3 was just the final straw, not the only example.

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-Unreal-

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@Knoar Most of the company is still the same. The people that made WoW so great are still working on WoW.

Saying they don't give a shit about their customers is a plain lie if you've even been on their forums then playing their games. Blizzard is probably the single best example of a company that spends weeks communicating with their customers and tunes their games to how their players want them and they try to please as many of that audience as they can whilst trying to maintain the game's original structure.

I noticed your avatar and name and your comment didn't surprise me. I'm sure I've read similar rubbish from you a short while ago and it was definately long before Diablo 3's release, which you say you bought anyway, so saying that was the last straw is something else coming from you I don't believe.

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Knoar

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@-Unreal- I was referring more to D1, D2, WC1 and 2, and SC1. Those were the "good games" to me. Of course, this is a matter of opinion, like movies or icecream. And sadly, a huge portion of the developers from those games are no longer with Blizzard.I'll admit, it was an overstatement, but Blizzard seems to give less shits about the customer/game enjoyment and more about revenue. Yes, they are active on forums, especially with WoW. But I was talking more about how they are trending to release games in sections (SC2), to charge for the expansions, DLC's, whatever u wanna call em. Or they implement something like the RMAH (D3) and revolve the entire game around maximizing profit, consequently stripping the game of enjoyment. A WoW example would be all the silly charges one pays to transfer characters, etc. They aren't as blatant as say, EA, by holding back content from release and lying about it (ME3), or releasing map packs for an FPS that should have been with the release (Too many examples too list), but they are blatant.I have no idea what you're trying to convey in your last two sentences. Yes, I pre-ordered D3 long before release, when I still hoped (and actually believed) Blizzard would stay true to themselves. I expected greatness equivalent to D1 and D2. Everyone knew those games were so addicting because of their immaculate item-database, drop rates, and randomization - creating incredible longevity. Once I realized that D3's item-database, drop rates, and randomization were crippled because they revolve entirely around the successfulness of the RMAH, I decided that Blizzard is too far gone. And since we're pointing out avatars and names, I just noticed your avatar is a panda from WoW? I can't believe I took this much time out of my day to reply to you. Unreal.

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Knoar

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Blizzard is dead to me. D3 was the biggest disappointment.

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oflow

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@Knoar ya i'm counting down til my year pass runs out.

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Scorpion2929

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F U Chris Metzen your stories suck balls now.

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nereza

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Milking your fans with endless grindfest and destroying the feel of your current product, so you can drag into the abyss new customers is truly "inspiring".

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Ravenshout

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@nereza So Diablo 2 wasn't a grindfest? It was the epitome of grindfest.

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Philosoph

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@Ravenshout but it was a fun grindfest. 16 people grinding act 1 hell and have a a sea of imps running at you watching your life dwindle while holding down the alt key scanning for drops...Diablo had character, these guys turned it into a microwave meal

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northArrow

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@nereza

Agree. I remember the good old days when WOW was fun

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N30F3N1X

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Scumbag Pardo. Talks about inspiring next generation of entertainers, fills his games with crap.

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ArcherRO

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I always admired Blizzard's art style and their deep gameplay.But that was before WoW.Now everything they do is destroyed by their business department.Probably this is the reason why Max and Erich Schaefer left Blizzard in the first place.

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DaSlyOne

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@ArcherRO @waffles89 If WoW is such a bad game, then explain the subscriber base of 10 million? Granted, WoW is far from great, but it remains the MMO to beat. No MMO has been as successful. As with any business, you go where the money is at, or you won't be in business long.

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Philosoph

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@DaSlyOne once you get stuck in the game it's hard to get out. you invest hours of your life in it, sometimes years...that's what MMO's do. I played a pay2win mmo for 2 years. after 6months a knew it was a money grubbing grind fest, but you decieve yourself with goals. WoW is an brilliant game for an MMO but they could do anything to it, including kung-fu panda expansion pack, and people would still play it.

There is going where the money is by defrauding your fanbase, and then there is achieving success through hard work, diligence and ingenuity, what Blizzard North used to do...

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cephas90

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@DaSlyOne

As a long term ex-WoW vet I can tell you after spending so much of your lifetime invested in a single game it's extremely difficult to just drop it and watch everything you've achieved and poured yourself in really just amount to a subscription running out.

That said, top tier play (i had about 10 toons 70+, 4 at 85 and several others 80+) required HUGE time sinks to be rewarding at even a minimal level. Even honor grinding required hours upon hours dealing with people you didn't know in a manner that was barely any fun. Not to mention the huge skill gaps between Wrath-babies and Vanilla players that became so apparent in the implementation of the LFG function. After turning heroics into simply DPS spamming, suddenly bringing the old school CC mechanics led to confusion and disarray and tons of wiped groups. And the worst part of it all was that as a PvP player, balance was consistently being thrown to the wind as PvE was ALWAYS considered priority. So many PvP nerfs simply to lower someone's healing numbers, or diminish one class's utility so that other roles might get picked to raid. Meanwhile Activision-Blizzard turned a truly challenging and rewarding game into an extremely petty moneyfest that is the only example I've ever seen of pay to play AND microtransactions.

Suffice it to say, WoW became a slave to greed and killed itself (or at least those that had enough self respect to quit).

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ArcherRO

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@DaSlyOne They have good social aspects.But that doesn't mean the gameplay is any good.It's just another grindfest.

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dwringer

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@ArcherRO I think that's a mischaracterization; at the highest level, WoW's gameplay is very well tuned and can be quite rewarding, given the right setting. I would venture to say the game is the finest grindfest ever crafted for the MMO genre. Whether the game has made some questionable turns as a result of business decisions is another argument, one I cede to you.

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waffles89

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@ArcherRO Couldn't agree more WoW sucks, give us warcraft 4.

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ArcherRO

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@waffles89 While I love the idea of another Warcraft RTS I don't think that will happen very soon.And if it does it will probably have the same structure as Starcraft 2.They are so good at bullshiting their customers that they are actually selling the same game in 3 parts(adding a different campaign for another race,some new units,a few new maps and some cinematics is not making it a new game).So a little tweaking+6 years+ hype=180$.Or 180 euros if you live in Europe.Warcraft 4 would probably get the same treatment.

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beast70

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@ArcherRO

aka starcraft expansion packs at full new game retail price :/

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Hakkology

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Even though what Blizzard Entertainment creates is uncomparable to what it had, They are also responsible for many things in Diablo 2 and Warcraft 3 and these games play a great part in my childhood. Chris Metzen is worthy of being a gamemaster.

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Fatbeaverlol

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making up ''cool'' stuff? yes tahts why the next wow expansion is with panda's

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TheDarkNut

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Fun? Nerf moar Diablo 3 pls...