In an interview with Gamasutra, Frank Pearce was asked whether Diablo 3 will ‘cannibalize’ WoW players. Frank responded:
“For us, I think it’s really important that we recognize that somewhere, sometime it’s likely that someone is going to cannibalize World of Warcraft players. So it’s better we cannibalize them ourselves than let someone else do that, because if we cannibalize them ourselves, they’re still a Blizzard customer.” Diablo III currently has no announced release date.
“Whether it’s a Blizzard game or another great MMO, I think there’s plenty of space in the market for great MMOs to share customers.
Blizzard are putting on a brave face with competition for their WoW space now growing. RIFT recently launched and many World of Warcraft player having already migrated over to the new MMO from TRION which is doing very well and is probably the best fantasy MMO around on the market. There is also Star Wars: The Old Republic which is due to hit around September. With Titan unlikely to be released any time soon, the competition is hotting up this year.
Whether Diablo players will move away from WoW is a different matter. As we know from the community here there is a large portion that don’t even play WoW or have no interest in it at all. Blizzard’s greatest competition is not it’s own products but those that are coming from other developers. WoW has lost its way a little since the launch of Cataclysm and the game has been receiving constant hotfixes to resolve issues. With the original core WoW team now having moved onto Titan development, WoW could well have had its day, although it will always have a core playerbase because it has been running for so many years.