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Author Topic: Business lessons learned from WoW  (Read 1951 times)
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unbreakable
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« on: April 07, 2008, 10:46:54 PM »

I thought of putting this in Off Topic, since it's really about business and not WoW, but I figured it would be moved anyway.

11 innovation lessons from creators of World of Warcraft

One striking thing to me is that, unfortunately, there will probably never be a Pandaran race:

Quote
In the recent panel discussion, Blizzard executives focused on how the company tailors its games for multi-national audiences — after making mistakes based on game developers’ inexperience with different cultures.

Frank Pearce, executive vice president of product development, told of a Japanese panda character that an artist drew for Warcraft III.

“He drew this Samurai panda. Turns out the Japanese and the Chinese aren’t big fans of each other, and the Chinese people objected to this animal of theirs being dressed in Japanese garb. So we had to change it,” Pearce said.

 icon_frown
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Daehawk
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« Reply #1 on: April 07, 2008, 11:08:18 PM »

To crush your MMO rivals, to see them driven before you, and to hear the lamtations of their customer base.
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« Reply #2 on: April 07, 2008, 11:30:43 PM »

What?

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10. CREATE A NEW TYPE OF PRODUCT

Blizzard was one of the pioneers in a new category of game – massively multi-player online role-playing games.

Uh...NO. They're forgetting everybody that came before Blizzard - Ultima Online, Neverwinter Nights (on AOL), Everquest, DAoC, etc. Blizzard is most definitely not a pioneer in the MMO world (short of being the most successful one).

That said - the rest of the points are pretty good ones.
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« Reply #3 on: April 08, 2008, 01:06:47 PM »

It's just their definition of being "one of the pioneers" differs from yours. They think if you come, recycle all of their ideas, kick them in the balls and steal all their customers, you can call yourself one of them. biggrin

I like Blizzard, but the only thing they are pioneers in is probably popularization of their products to wide audiences.
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StriderGG
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« Reply #4 on: April 08, 2008, 01:10:09 PM »

BTW I've been always wondering.

I see the 10 million figure thrown around a lot. But I've never seen a clarification, is it the number of active players at the moment or is it the number of copies (serial codes) sold over the last 3.5 years?
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« Reply #5 on: April 08, 2008, 01:25:34 PM »

supposedly that is active subscriptions and does not count lapsed ones.  Seems pretty high for that imo, but I think they've sold more than 10million copies of the game
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« Reply #6 on: April 08, 2008, 01:30:43 PM »

Quote from: Harkonis on April 08, 2008, 01:25:34 PM

supposedly that is active subscriptions and does not count lapsed ones.  Seems pretty high for that imo, but I think they've sold more than 10million copies of the game

I've also heard that it's supposedly active subscriptions, and I agree it seems a bit hard to believe.  I wonder if they're counting each activated but undepleted subscription card in Asia as an active account.  I'm guessing there's a lot of discarded or forgotten cards that still have a few won left.
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« Reply #7 on: April 08, 2008, 02:47:28 PM »

Quote from: StriderGG on April 08, 2008, 01:10:09 PM

BTW I've been always wondering.

I see the 10 million figure thrown around a lot. But I've never seen a clarification, is it the number of active players at the moment or is it the number of copies (serial codes) sold over the last 3.5 years?

From  http://www.blizzard.com/us/press/080122.html


Quote
IRVINE, Calif. -- January 22, 2008 -- Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. announced today that subscribership for World of Warcraft®, its award-winning massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG), has continued to climb, recently passing 10 million worldwide. Interest in the game has remained high in all regions, with thousands of new and returning players signing up through the holiday season. World of Warcraft now hosts more than 2 million subscribers in Europe, more than 2.5 million in North America, and approximately 5.5 million in Asia.

"It's very gratifying to see gamers around the world continuing to show such enthusiasm and support for World of Warcraft," said Mike Morhaime, CEO and cofounder of Blizzard Entertainment. "We're always pleased to welcome new players to the game, and we're looking forward to sharing the next major content update with the entire community in the months ahead."

Since debuting in North America on November 23, 2004, World of Warcraft has become the most popular MMORPG around the world. It was the bestselling PC game of 2005 and 2006 worldwide, and finished behind only World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade®, the first expansion pack for the game, in 2007.* In addition to being the bestselling PC game of 2007 in both North America and Europe, The Burning Crusade holds the record for fastest-selling PC game of all time, with nearly 2.4 million copies sold in its first 24 hours of availability and approximately 3.5 million in its first month.* Development is underway on World of Warcraft's second expansion, Wrath of the Lich King™, which was unveiled at the company's BlizzCon™ gaming festival in August 2007.

World of Warcraft is currently available in seven languages, with a Russian version in development and scheduled for release later this year. In addition to North America and Europe, World of Warcraft is played in mainland China, Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, and the regions of Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau.

For further information on World of Warcraft, The Burning Crusade, and Wrath of the Lich King, please visit the official website at www.worldofwarcraft.com. To keep pace with the continued growth of World of Warcraft as well as development on other Blizzard Entertainment games, the company is currently hiring for numerous open positions -- more information on available career opportunities at Blizzard Entertainment can be found at http://www.blizzard.com/jobopp/.

World of Warcraft's Subscriber Definition
World of Warcraft subscribers include individuals who have paid a subscription fee or have an active prepaid card to play World of Warcraft, as well as those who have purchased the game and are within their free month of access. Internet Game Room players who have accessed the game over the last thirty days are also counted as subscribers. The above definition excludes all players under free promotional subscriptions, expired or cancelled subscriptions, and expired prepaid cards. Subscribers in licensees' territories are defined along the same rules.
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« Reply #8 on: April 08, 2008, 04:47:34 PM »

I would say Blizz are pioneers in the MMO field.  I was actually getting out of the genre just because everything being offered sucked.

I went from UO (which sucked) to EQ (which was ok, but nobody I knew played), to AO (which helped redefine suck), to DAoC (which started out good, but continuously integrated suck into the game).  And really... nobody was doing anything which Everquest had not done, the game interfaces were either the same or worse, and gameplay was just grind grind grind.

After that I played CoH, which I really liked, but mainly because of Super Jump.  A lot of times I would log in and just climb stuff, and not even fight or quest.  It was still a grind, but I can't say anything bad about it because Super Jump was just... so... awesome.

But then I left CoH for WoW, and haven't looked back (except to bash, of course).  They really did bring a LOT of improvements to the genre, which people who's first or second MMOG was WoW may not appreciate.  I'd have to say a lot of current MMOG's are almost forced to rip off WoW, just because they brought so much new stuff to the table... and a lot of it is little things, like quest givers having a clear indication over their head (and they recently put the ! and ? onto your minimap [another innovation in an MMOG?], making questing even easier).  By comparison... in EQ you had to walk up to each NPC and start a conversation with them, and hope they gave you a quest... which wouldn't even enter a quest log or anything, nor could you monitor your progress.
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« Reply #9 on: April 08, 2008, 04:52:06 PM »

If those are the top 11 innovations, then the zeroth business innovation lesson from Blizzard should be "Find a Way to Add Recurring Revenue to Your Product."
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« Reply #10 on: April 08, 2008, 06:19:18 PM »

Quote from: Harkonis on April 08, 2008, 01:25:34 PM

supposedly that is active subscriptions and does not count lapsed ones.  Seems pretty high for that imo, but I think they've sold more than 10million copies of the game

I'm not surprised, the sheer number of active realms is overwhelming and they all seem to have people in it. WW is  still very high pop to feel like you are in a living environment, yet Blizz has implemented changes so the number of people playing don't really affect your own gameplay.
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StriderGG
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« Reply #11 on: April 08, 2008, 07:53:36 PM »

Quote
They really did bring a LOT of improvements to the genre

Improving other people's inventions does not make them pioneers by definition - "one who is first or among the earliest in any field of inquiry, enterprise, or progress". They were more like 15th smile

Quote
...subscribership for World of Warcraft®, its award-winning massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG), has continued to climb, recently passing 10 million worldwide...

...The Burning Crusade holds the record for fastest-selling PC game of all time, with nearly 2.4 million copies sold in its first 24 hours of availability and approximately 3.5 million in its first month.

I still haven't seen the words "active subscribers" anywhere. The number of expansion sales (6M) probably shows the number of their active subscribers back in Feb 2007 pretty accurately. I really doubt it grew by about 60% in 10 months. So I am still not convinced they don't count all those people who cancelled back in 2005.

BTW, it's interesting to see that only 25% of their customer base is in North America. I often see LOTRO (for example) numbers compared to WoW, which is really not fair, since LOTRO is not being sold in Asia AFAIK. So it's not 400K vs. 10M, it's 400K vs. 2M (not sure if 400K is the correct number). And as per above, I am not even sure it's 2M of active subscribers.
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« Reply #12 on: April 08, 2008, 08:00:05 PM »

Quote from: StriderGG on April 08, 2008, 07:53:36 PM

I still haven't seen the words "active subscribers" anywhere.

"World of Warcraft subscribers include individuals who have paid a subscription fee or have an active prepaid card to play World of Warcraft, as well as those who have purchased the game and are within their free month of access. Internet Game Room players who have accessed the game over the last thirty days are also counted as subscribers. The above definition excludes all players under free promotional subscriptions, expired or cancelled subscriptions, and expired prepaid cards. Subscribers in licensees' territories are defined along the same rules."
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StriderGG
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« Reply #13 on: April 08, 2008, 08:09:25 PM »

Oops smile

I blame Toe, he should have underlined that in his original quote smile

Still, it's only 2.5M in NA.
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« Reply #14 on: April 08, 2008, 09:29:20 PM »

I don't know about reported numbers, but this is a list of all US servers all participating in an event that launched with the new patch (note this is NOT asia or europe).

http://us.gorgonnash.info/index.html

That's 225 active realms with probably any where from a few hundred to a few thousand people on each. (woo, my server is #16) That's ALOT of people in the US actively playing this game.  eek
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« Reply #15 on: April 09, 2008, 03:01:30 AM »

As far as LOTORO goes, Turbine late last year said it was making its first push with LOTORO into Asian markets. See this interviewy:
http://www.warcry.com/articles/view/interviews/askturbine/2677-Lord-of-the-Rings-Online-Steefel-Interview-on-Localization-Book-
Quote
"I was in Korea two weeks ago at G-Star," said Executive Producer Jeffrey Steefel. "We went there to sign out distribution agreement with NHN, who run Hangame."

The agreement is the first step in their effort to bring Lord of the Rings Online to one of the world's hottest MMOG markets.
So, that's a good point to make, and it'll be interesting to see if LOTORO gains some steam there.

My take on WoW is it's Lightning in a Bottle. It came out at just the right time. It has drawn tons and tons of people who never played an MMO before, and may well never play one after they quit it. I can tell you lots of stories of gamer buds I had whose lives revolved around military shooters, who said they'd die before they ever paid $12-$15 a month to play an online game. And well, WoW proved them wrong.  saywhat And heck, most online comic guys you can think of probably never gave MMOs a second look before WoW, and they live and breathe it now.

I just think to some extent it's pointless for columnists and reporters to try to draw any lessons from WoW. It's not some formula you can pack in a bottle and sell. It's not some spreadsheet you can copy numbers into, and then get the same results. I fully don't expect Age of Conan (and its audience-shrinking M-rating) or Warhammer Online, or anything else on the MMO lists I see to do anything more than a drop in a bucket compared to WoW. I don't say that as a WoW fan (I bought it, played it 3 weeks and have never felt any urge to try it again), just as a realist.

What's lost is you don't *need* those numbers to succeed. You don't need 8 million worldwide subscribers, or X # active subscribers to call your game profitable. I really hope Age of Conan and Warhammer Online at least succeed to the point of "earning their production costs back," so their investors don't feel like they invested millions of dollars into a black hole.
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« Reply #16 on: April 09, 2008, 08:07:07 AM »

Quote from: StriderGG on April 08, 2008, 07:53:36 PM

Quote
They really did bring a LOT of improvements to the genre

Improving other people's inventions does not make them pioneers by definition - "one who is first or among the earliest in any field of inquiry, enterprise, or progress". They were more like 15th smile

Quote
...subscribership for World of Warcraft®, its award-winning massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG), has continued to climb, recently passing 10 million worldwide...

...The Burning Crusade holds the record for fastest-selling PC game of all time, with nearly 2.4 million copies sold in its first 24 hours of availability and approximately 3.5 million in its first month.

I still haven't seen the words "active subscribers" anywhere. The number of expansion sales (6M) probably shows the number of their active subscribers back in Feb 2007 pretty accurately. I really doubt it grew by about 60% in 10 months. So I am still not convinced they don't count all those people who cancelled back in 2005.

BTW, it's interesting to see that only 25% of their customer base is in North America. I often see LOTRO (for example) numbers compared to WoW, which is really not fair, since LOTRO is not being sold in Asia AFAIK. So it's not 400K vs. 10M, it's 400K vs. 2M (not sure if 400K is the correct number). And as per above, I am not even sure it's 2M of active subscribers.

LOTRO is available in Asia. Most of the current MMORPG are available in Asia.
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« Reply #17 on: April 09, 2008, 08:09:15 AM »

Quote from: Jag on April 08, 2008, 09:29:20 PM

I don't know about reported numbers, but this is a list of all US servers all participating in an event that launched with the new patch (note this is NOT asia or europe).

http://us.gorgonnash.info/index.html

That's 225 active realms with probably any where from a few hundred to a few thousand people on each. (woo, my server is #16) That's ALOT of people in the US actively playing this game.  eek

US servers aren't exclusive for US players. A lot of Asia/Australia players play on US servers.
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« Reply #18 on: April 09, 2008, 01:47:56 PM »

Quote from: Victoria Raverna on April 09, 2008, 08:09:15 AM

Quote from: Jag on April 08, 2008, 09:29:20 PM

I don't know about reported numbers, but this is a list of all US servers all participating in an event that launched with the new patch (note this is NOT asia or europe).

http://us.gorgonnash.info/index.html

That's 225 active realms with probably any where from a few hundred to a few thousand people on each. (woo, my server is #16) That's ALOT of people in the US actively playing this game.  eek

US servers aren't exclusive for US players. A lot of Asia/Australia players play on US servers.


I highlighted that because the article talked about Asian game parlors and a different pricing structure for Asian players. I doubt they all play on US servers. I used to play alot with a brother and sister from Malaysia, so I know players from all over do play on the US servers.
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« Reply #19 on: April 09, 2008, 01:54:38 PM »

Quote from: Victoria Raverna on April 09, 2008, 08:07:07 AM


LOTRO is available in Asia. Most of the current MMORPG are available in Asia.


I am not so sure about that. They do have some presence in Australia/Oceania and they did sign an agreement to start distributing it in Korea (they issued a press release about it in Dec 2007). However, to this date I still haven't seen any news about the game being available in Korea and China.
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Jag
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« Reply #20 on: April 09, 2008, 04:19:36 PM »

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Victoria Raverna
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« Reply #21 on: April 12, 2008, 11:15:11 AM »

Quote from: StriderGG on April 09, 2008, 01:54:38 PM

Quote from: Victoria Raverna on April 09, 2008, 08:07:07 AM


LOTRO is available in Asia. Most of the current MMORPG are available in Asia.


I am not so sure about that. They do have some presence in Australia/Oceania and they did sign an agreement to start distributing it in Korea (they issued a press release about it in Dec 2007). However, to this date I still haven't seen any news about the game being available in Korea and China.

I know because I can buy it.smile I'm one of those Asia players that play on US servers.
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