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Posts with tag Industry

Online gaming up in the US

Our economy may still be pretty much in the gutter, but one industry is still going strong. If you glanced at what site you were reading this on and guessed "online gaming," congrats! You win a gold star. Here you go: .

Anyway, according to this industry report featured on GameSpot, online gaming overall (including MMOs, in turn including WoW) was up 22% year-over-year in May 2009. 87.1 million people were estimated to game online in the USA, an impressive 28% of our estimated total population.

Of course, a huge chunk of this is browser-based games (think Bejeweled or Yahoo! Games). WoW is apparently the 21st most popular "online locale," clocking in at 2.2 million US visitors. Still, I'd say 21st isn't bad for a game with a subscription fee; 2.2 million players at $15 a month is $33 million a month (assuming the each have exactly one account). The next-closest MMO, according to this report, is RuneScape, at 202,000 players. Really? Aren't there other MMOs with more than that?

Anyway, online gaming, like online everything else, is on the rise. Single-player, localized games are starting to feel positively quaint, although I still think Chrono Trigger is the best computer RPG of all time.

Filed under: Ranking, News items

Activision Blizzard voted most likely to succeed

An industry survey put together by GI.biz has voted WoW's own Activision Blizzard as the most likely videogame publisher to succeed in 2009. Not that surprising -- not only do they have the Warcraft behemoth under their belt, but Starcraft 2 is rumored for a release this year, as is a sequel to 2007's best selling game, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, and a Guitar Hero spinoff called DJ Hero.

And who knows what BlizzCon will hold -- even though we're only now reaching the steps of Icecrown, the time is ripe for Blizzard to start hinting at content patches that come after 3.1, or maybe even expansion number three. Blizzard and their parent company at Activision are on top of the world right now, so there's no question why 30% of the industry folks surveyed said they'd have the biggest 2009 around. We can't wait.

[via Joystiq]

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Expansions, Making money, BlizzCon

Aftereffects of the Activision-Blizzard merger

Unless something crazy happens, it seems that the Activision-Blizzard merger (which is really the Activision-Vivendi merger, actually) will go down without a problem -- shareholders are voting on it this week, so by next week we should see confirmation that Guitar Hero and World of Warcraft are under the same umbrella.

Gamasutra has posted a nice long feature about what exactly that means, for both companies and for the rest of the industry. As we predicted, there probably won't be huge repercussions for either of the biggest companies involved -- both Activision and Blizzard will continue to go their own separate ways for now, sharing only a name among investors (Gamasutra even says the names on the game boxes won't change at all). The biggest impact will be on the little guys in between -- Activision's previous shareholders now have to answer to Vivendi (who will hold a majority stock in the company), and Viviendi's smaller division, the former glory of Sierra Games, will have to answer to Activision before publishing any of their titles.

And of course the other big consequence we've seen so far is that Bobby Kotick apparently feels he knows everything there is to know about the MMO game. Sure. For now, though, it's business as usual for both Activision and Blizzard -- if there will be any change in either company because of the merger, we likely won't see it for a while.

[via Blizzplanet]

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, News items

More Blizzard news from the D.I.C.E. summit

Blizzard Entertainment logoWired's games blog brings us more news from D.I.C.E., with word of a "never before seen" presentation about Blizzard's canceled games over the years. Some of the games were later released by other companies, but others... Well, if you can remember anything about them, you may be a true Blizzard fan, and we'd have to kneel in homage to you.

But really, some of the games sounded pretty awesome by the title alone. Around Blizzard these days, Nomad refers to a new human unit from the upcoming Starcraft II, but it seems at the presentation in question, it was on the list of canceled games accompanied by a picture of two giant Zeppelins. And we, of course, are all about the Zeppelins, so the game would have obviously been cool, if it had Zeppelins.

Starcraft:Ghost, amazingly enough, didn't make the list of games, which brings up the question of whether there's still plans to resurrect it - or if Blizzard, like Wired's blogger suggests, just wants to forget about it altogether.

Finally, no list of canceled Blizzard games would be complete without a reference to Warcraft Adventures. I was always disappointed that this one got canceled, being a big fan of the old adventure games, and it looks like I even have allies at Blizzard on this point. But the WoW team seems to like to fit the game's story in wherever they can, so it wasn't all in vain, right?

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, News items

Mike Morhaime speaks at D.I.C.E. 08

Blizzard Entertainment logoThe D.I.C.E. Summit's official site describes the event, currently taking place in Las Vegas, as a meeting of "the video game industry's most influential leaders," so of course you know Blizzard's there. Gamesindustry.biz's coverage of Mike Morhaime's presentation today doesn't reveal anything too earth-shattering about the company or the World of Warcraft. It's about the same thing we've heard from him in the past, but hey, if the presentation isn't broke, don't fix it, right?

It's still good to hear that Blizzard's on the right track, of course, and it's actually amazing that even with Mike Morhaime about to get his eighth boss, Blizzard's stayed pretty consistent on quality and dependability, as almost anyone who's had to switch bosses can tell you. But it looks like that, even with the Activision merger, we can expect the same tradition of long development cycles leading to quality games, which is, if familiar news, also comforting news.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, News items

Nonsurprise: WoW was most played PC game of Q3

The Nielson Company -- the uber-powerful organization which tracks the viewership ratings by which TV programs live (like Lost) or die (like Studio 60) -- has determined that World of Warcraft was the #1 most played PC game during the period of April - November 2007.

According to the group, residents of Azeroth and Outland averaged 17 hours of play per week -- 12 hours more than the nearest competition, players of The Sims. So when my family and friends suggest that I'm crazy for playing WoW more than 15 hours a week, I can point to this and say, "Well, if I'm crazy, then so are at least 4.5 million other people!" Yeah, kind of a lame defense, I know.

17 hours seems like a good estimate to me because it falls smack dab in the middle between your casual players (who probably play up to 10 hours a week) and your hardcore types (who probably play 30+ hours per week).

[Via Massively]

Filed under: News items

Breakfast Topic: Has WoW broken Blizzard?

Lots of players have cried, at one point or another, that Blizzard, the company, has somehow irrevocably broken WoW, the game, and that they'll never come back, ever. But this morning, I'd like to take a look at the opposite question: has WoW, the game, broken Blizzard, the company?

Look at Blizzard before World of Warcraft: They were undoubtedly the king of RTS, with not one but two classic, timeless series under their belts (StarCraft, which is still considered the RTS standard by some, and Warcraft, the third of which is still just as popular). They made Diablo and Diablo 2, two of the biggest, if not the biggest, PC RPGs ever. They came from console roots, and were thinking about reentering them with a 3rd person stealther called StarCraft: Ghost that had earned tons of hype already. And then along comes this game called World of Warcraft. I worked at a game store when word first dropped about this game, and we were confused-- a 3D MMORPG set in the Warcraft universe? How do you do that? But Blizzard had a reputation for spit, polish, and quality by the spades-- while they didn't make many games, the few they made were the best of the best.

Cut to now: World of Warcraft is Blizzard's one and only game for the forseeable future. StarCraft: Ghost has been canceled, along with any thoughts Blizzard ever had of reentering the console field. They're now longer a small, powerful games boutique-- now they're the 800 lb gorilla of the gaming world, making deals to put their game in stores, on television, and in movies. And while their game does still have a heck of a lot of spit and polish (they do still have seven million players), they're not so much in the business of cultivating multiple powerful franchises, but instead have gotten very much into the business of hotfixes, bugfixes, and patching.

So has WoW broken Blizzard? At this point, it's very hard to imagine Blizzard having or making the resources to do another game (they're tied up as it is with the expansion). WoW has made a lot of players very happy, but it's also tarnished Blizzard's reputation with their playerbase in a way that Diablo and StarCraft never did. And while there's no question that Blizzard is still respected in the game industry, there is a question as to why: is it because they're reeling in the cash, or is it because of the quality of their product? Back in the days of StarCraft and Diablo, the latter was the case. Is it still?

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Features

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