In an odd twist of fate, Bobby Kotick said something about running Activision/Blizzard that’s quotable, and not for being evil and threatening. During a conference call from San Francisco’s Web 2.0 Summit, Bobby talked about the benefits of listening to customers and taking the time to get a game right. No, really.
I think [listening to customers] matters more now than ever before…” said Kotick in remarks listened in on by Gamasutra, “because you have incredibly passionate and vocal consumers, and they are really thoughtful and articulate about what they would like to see in a game, how you can enhance the experience.”
“So if you take the time and actually listen to what your customers have to say, you are going to create much better experiences,” he added. Kotick said that World of Warcraft has a customer support team of around 2,000 workers.
Currently in beta is World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, the third expansion to the MMORPG, which currently has 12 million players worldwide. Gordon commented on beta periods for online products like MMOs, which these days can take an extended period of time as game companies make tweaks. Cataclysm is set for launch December 7.
Kotick said that these long periods of testing are a result of a more comfortable financial position for the game maker, which this month raised calendar year forecasts to $4.28 billion in revenues following a successful launch of Blizzard’s StarCraft II.
“I would say that one of the great benefits of the merger of Activision and Blizzard is the elevation of patience,” Kotick said. “Partly because we have the financial resources to do it, but we’re now in a place where we can really take the time to make sure that we’re going to deliver the best games. And that’s an incredible luxury.”
He continued, “You have to instill that value into the culture. Blizzard has that as a unique value of the culture, and it’s now been very well-instilled across all of Activision Blizzard. Patience is rewarded.”</blockquote
The patience to do long beta tests and get the games right has always been a value at Blizzard. The only one who’s new to this is Bobby, and perhaps some of the other devs at Activision, who might be breathing a sigh of relief that their whip-cracking boss is backing off a bit on the deadlines. Or is this just what Mr. Kotick says when speaking publicly and trying to sound less than vein-poppingly infuriated at the long beta tests he can’t shake Blizzard out of abandoning?