Joystiq has posted a new interview with Frank Pearce, Executive Vice President of Product Development and one of the co-founders of Blizzard Entertainment. It’s largely about World of Warcraft and the various milestones that game has achieved as it moves into its fifth year, but there were questions about Diablo 3 and Blizzcon scheduling I thought worth quoting:
Frank Pearce: Yeah, I think you could say that. I think we recognize, at least we work to recognize, that we are very fortunate, and that if we want to maintain our good fortune, it is going to require a lot of effort on our part. I mean the guys that work on the World of Warcraft team work their asses off all the time to be creating cool and compelling content for the fans. Certainly there is that balance between … okay, there is the World of Warcraft community and the people that are devoting their time to World of Warcraft.
What happens when we launch Starcraft 2? Will we be cannibalizing our own audience from WoW for players that are going to play Starcraft 2? And the same question comes up for Diablo 3. You know, one of the philosophies we have is that someone is going to come along and be able to compete with World of Warcraft. And if someone is going to create a game that competes with World of Warcraft for the time of those fans, it may as well be us, right? I mean if someone is going to take the fans, we are better off taking them for ourselves with our own games than someone else taking them.
That’s not to say that … I think if there are great games out there, and I think that the players have the bandwidth to experience them. I think they have the time to devote to them if it is a really great game, regardless of who makes it. So that is not to say that if someone else comes out with a great game that competes with World of Warcraft that we can’t maintain our audience by continuing to make great content.
Click through for another quote about Blizzcon in Vegas, and info about how Blizzard schedules their convention appearances.
This interview was apparently conducted around the middle of last month, when the Blizzcon 2010 in Vegas rumor broke, judging by this question:
Frank Pearce: Vegas in July …? Oh, is that when the convention center says they are hosting BlizzCon? So the challenge we have with BlizzCon … like, most conventions operate on a very annual basis. And with BlizzCon, we want to make sure that when we host BlizzCon, we are hosting it at a time when we actually have cool things to show our fans so that when they show up for this event that they actually have preliminary versions of the games that they can play. And so, it is tough for us to do that on a perfectly annual schedule, host BlizzCon and make sure that we are providing a compelling experience.
So we want the flexibility to host BlizzCon when it makes sense to host BlizzCon. And all these convention centers operate on these very fixed schedules. If the motorcycle convention is being hosted at the convention center in whatever city, they host it there every year that weekend. And so it is really hard for us to get weekends. So like in this case, the weekend that we were looking at … I mean it wasn’t like we decided we were going to host BlizzCon in Vegas that weekend. We thought, you know, if we want to host BlizzCon in Vegas, we need a hold on the convention center. So well in advance, we saw what dates they had available and we put a hold. But then in evaluating it, that is not the right date to host BlizzCon.
It’s been years since Blizzard made a big announcement that wasn’t through their own WWI or Blizzcon conventions, and as Frank says in this interview, that’s not an accident. Not only do they reserve their announcements for their own conventions, but they schedule their conventions to occur when they have big announcements to make. This probably beats the externally-imposed schedule that most companies are slaves to, where they have to rush (or delay) announcements to coincide with E3 or other big shows, if they want to get heavy media coverage. At the same time, would it really hurt Blizzard to have some unchangeable deadlines to have to meet, once in a while?