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Posts with tag paul-sams

University of Texas and Blizzard COO Paul Sams launch game design academy

If you're looking to go pro in game design, Blizzard COO Paul Sams has teamed up with the University of Texas at Austin to create the Denius-Sams Gaming Academy. The academy will be led and taught by gaming industry executives and the curriculum will be guided by industry veteran Warren Spector. The 12-month, post-baccalaureate program will guide students through creating a game from start to finish, giving them the experience they need to join the gaming industry when they graduate.

"The University of Texas at Austin has a tremendous track record of building nationally recognized programs that generate the leaders and critical thinkers the gaming industry needs," Sams said. "The program will focus on building the skills required for students to lead teams and develop games from concept to completion, while growing talent for the gaming industry."

The program starts in 2014, but with only 20 spots available, you probably have a better chance of getting into a competitive raid guild.

Filed under: News items

WoW Archivist: Vanilla WoW's launch event was out of control

A goblin rocket-launching platform
WoW Archivist explores the secrets of World of Warcraft's past. What did the game look like years ago? Who is etched into WoW's history? What secrets does the game still hold?

This Monday, WoW fans will line up at stores around the world to buy the game's fourth expansion, Mists of Pandaria. For Blizzard, the past eight years have been an incredible run, setting records for sales and building one of the largest virtual communities on Earth.

Let's look back at the game's original launch, when Blizzard wasn't quite as prepared as they are today for the game's overwhelming popularity.

A moonlit walk

Blizzard's chief operating officer Paul Sams couldn't wrap his head around what he was seeing. Just after 11 p.m. on November 22, 2004, he was sitting in deadlock traffic on a freeway offramp in Fountain Valley, California. He looked over at the Fry's Electronics outlet not far from the road. The store had been surrounded by some sort of dark, seething mass.

Caught in traffic, Sams was in danger of missing the game's launch event at Fry's. Rather than fight his way through the jumble of cars, he decided to park some distance away. It was still unclear to him what was happening. The electronics store was only minutes from Blizzard's headquarters in Irvine. He thought he had left the office with plenty of time to spare. He never imagined that getting to the store would be difficult this late at night.

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Filed under: WoW Archivist

BlizzCon 2010: Closing ceremonies

As BlizzCon 2010 comes to an end, Paul Sams (chief operating officer of Blizzard) started out the ceremonies. A series of intentionally bad gamer jokes followed as he got the crowd ready. He then took it to a serious note and thanked attendees both attending in person and at home.

Blizzard used this opportunity to bring out the tournament winners. Warcraft 3 winner Remind (night elf) from South Korea and StarCraft 2 winner NEXGenius (protoss), also from South Korea, were presented with $25,000 for being grand prize winners. They will also be getting an eSports ring customized to their game that's the size of Superbowl rings. The WoW Arena tournament was still going on at this point (*aAa* vs compLexity.Red), so there was no winner to announce for it yet.

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Filed under: Events, Blizzard, BlizzCon

Paul Sams: "We will not pull the rug out from under them"

In a fascinating post over at Gamesindustry.biz, Blizzard COO Paul Sams takes great pains to emphasize that Blizzard will ship no game before its time (to rip off an old wine slogan): "We will not pull the rug out from under them and ship it before it's done, so people feel that when they out their heart and soul into a game, they'll be able to deliver the game they envisioned."

This is interesting to me on a couple of levels: the first is the long time between the original idea that World of Warcraft would get an expansion a year and the actual time (more than two) that it took for The Burning Crusade to ship. It seems that over time they must feel they've gotten more proficient at the development process since Wrath of the Lich King and now Cataclysm seem to be getting ready to ship even faster. You can read the excerpt from Sams at gamesindustry.biz (which requires creating a new account) as well as a full interview with Sams and executive producer Rob Pardo.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, News items, The Burning Crusade, Interviews, Wrath of the Lich King, Cataclysm

Interview with Paul Sams, Steelers owner


As we reported the other week, Blizzard COO Paul Sams is now co-owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers (who are stepping up lately), and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette hit up Mr. Sams for a quick interview about being at the intersection of Azeroth and Steeler Nation. Turns out the man who collects everything Blizzard has also been a Steelers fan since he was four years old, even though he's from California. And we were right with all of the speculation: he got connected with the Steelers management through Legendary Pictures producer Thomas Tull, and when the chance came to own part of the franchise, he jumped.

They also talk about expanding out to Carnagie Mellon University -- Blizzard has a thriving educational program in Irvine, but Sams says that they are looking to expand that, so Pittsburgh is a possibility. And finally, he says that the Warcraft movie is being scripted at the moment -- Sam Raimi will do Spider-man 4, and then it's all Azeroth for him. In the meantime, let's see about getting some of this Steelers news in the game -- even if we can't get an epic football to toss around, surely we'll at least see a Tauren somewhere named "Bill COW-her," right?

Filed under: Virtual selves, Blizzard, Humor, NPCs, Interviews

Paul Sams owns part of the Steelers


Ok, admittedly, this is about as far away from the World of Warcraft as we go on this site, but stick with me here, it'll be worth it for the jokes: Blizzplanet has discovered that Blizzard COO Paul Sams and his family are now major shareholders in the Pittsburgh Steelers, of all things. The connection seems a little hard to find, until you check the rest of the list: Thomas Tull is also a shareholder, and he happens to be CEO of Legendary Pictures, the same company that has made a deal with Sams and Blizzard to make the Warcraft movie. I can't say I know that many CEOs personally, but I have to imagine that the conversation went something like, "Hey, wanna own part of a football team with me?" And who would pass up an opportunity like that?

Fortunately for Sams and his team, they're supposed to do pretty well this year (and of course they're coming off of a Super Bowl win last year), so the investment is likely a good one. But, more importantly, we can now point out that if the Steelers make their way to the conference championships and half of Blizzard travels to Pittsburgh to see the game, we'll know why the patch isn't coming out that week.

Filed under: Virtual selves, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Humor, Battlegrounds

The Los Angeles Times visits BlizzCon


The LA Times has a story up that's about a month late -- it tells the story of a guild meeting up at BlizzCon last month (they were actually at the Lost Bar, a place we at WoW.com know well from past meetups) and doing everything players do at BlizzCon: meet each other face to face, talk Warcraft, and enjoy everything Blizzard has set up on the convention floor. Truth be told, the experience sounds pretty tame to us -- BlizzCon is BlizzCon, it's a ton of fun, but it's not that alien of an experience to go with your ingame friends to a gaming convention.

Then again, maybe we're just biased. Maybe having guildies as friends is really a fascinating thing to someone who's never done it before, and maybe the spectacle of BlizzCon really is so interesting that you can just report it in the paper. They do chat with Morgan Webb (why?) and they get one line from Blizzard COO Paul Sams, but otherwise, it's just basically the story of the Dread Pirates and their trip to BlizzCon (complete with veiled accusations of misogyny and a dictatorial guildleader -- thanks, LA Times!). To folks who don't play World of Warcraft, it might be interesting, but for most players, especially those who've been to BlizzCon already, it's mostly business as usual.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Guilds, Odds and ends, BlizzCon

Mike Morhaime and Paul Sams accept Guinness World Record awards

Apparently there were a few Blizzard blokes at E3 last week, even though we didn't see them wandering the floor at all. Mike Morhaime and Paul Sams were both there to accept their awards for world records from Guinness after making it into the 2009 Gaming edition. World of Warcraft picked up a record for the most popular MMORPG in the world (with, as you probably know, 12 million players), and Starcraft gained recognition for being the best-selling PC strategy game, with 9.5 million copies sold worldwide. Neither of these awards are really that much of a surprise -- both games have already garnered tons of other awards, and both games are already squarely in the pantheon of the best and biggest PC games ever sold. But being recognized is always nice, we're sure.

They honored a number of other extremely popular games and services as well, including two big Activision Blizzard titles: Call of Duty 4 was recognized for being the most-played online video game, and Guitar Hero was recognized for being the best-selling rhythm game series (though Red Octane, the game's original publisher, was honored, and they've only recently been acquired by the Activision overlords).

Congrats to all the award winners, as if they even needed it. Something tells us the millions and millions of dollars in revenue from all of these games was probably a nicer reward than Guinness recognition. Just a guess.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, Odds and ends, Blizzard

Working at Blizzard: Sunshine, rainbows, claymores, backrubs

I know what you're thinking! "If anyone could write up a scandalous exposé of what working at Blizzard is really like, it'd be our old pal Mike. I bet he's got the inside scoop of what goes on at Big Blue behind closed doors. I paid for the whole seat but I'll only need the edge."

Yeah, well. I'm going to disappoint you here and instead link you to an article from the OC Register, longtime reporter of all news Blizzard given the company's stature in the SoCal business world. They interviewed Blizzard COO Paul Sams about the studio's recent award of "One of the best places to work in Orange County" and why that award was deserved.


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Filed under: Blizzard, News items, Interviews

Paul Sams on WoW, PC game sales, and Blizzard's next challenge

Blizzard COO Paul Sams sat down with PC Retail magazine for the first time after Wrath's sales numbers have come out to talk about PC game sales in general and Blizzard's huge effect on them. First question, Sams says that no, PC gaming is not dead, and Blizzard isn't saving it. As long as people have PCs, he says, people will play games on them. If PC gaming was dead, Blizzard wouldn't be releasing Starcraft II and Diablo III -- as long as they make great games on PC, people will shell out the money to play them.

While he never does mention anything about their expectations for sales numbers (we know Wrath broke a number of records), he does reiterate what other Blizzard higherups have said: that they'll be making expansions as long as people are interested in playing them. And he says that the biggest challenge for Blizzard in the next few years will be to balance what they're doing -- they've never had more on their plate before, and they've already gotten a harsh lesson with the splitting of Starcraft II into three games. It'll be interesting to see if they can keep up the quality and popularity even while trying to work on three AAA PC titles (not to mention the unannounced MMO) at the same time.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, Blizzard, Making money, Interviews, Wrath of the Lich King

Paul Sams and his Blizzard collection

The Orange County Register was all over the place yesterday -- being the hometown newspaper of Blizzard's hometown, they posted all day about the release and what Blizzard was doing for it (they've got some really good coverage of the event in Anaheim, which our own Dan O'Halloran attended as well). But perhaps most interesting is this post about Blizzard COO Paul Sams -- we haven't heard a lot from him in press before, but apparently he's a bigger Blizzard fan than any of us, with a collection of Blizzard items that includes a mint Spectral Tiger Card, Blizzard skateboards (which are apparently a licensing deal that never went through, so you can't buy those anywhere), and the second Frostmourne ever made -- we assume the first one went to Arthas.

And not all of it is Blizzard stuff -- he's got a first edition of The Count of Monte Cristo, and lots of sports memorabilia, too (but let's be honest -- a signed jersey is nothing compared to a Frostmourne. It's real.). Sams also collected his wife from Blizzard, too, apparently, and he says he'd be happy spending his whole career with the company. Sounds awesome to have someone who's such a fanboy sitting in one of your top exec positions.

Sams' favorite item, though, is probably the coolest: three drawings by the man Chris Metzen himself. That would be awesome to see. Check out all of Sams' collection in the OC Register's gallery.

Filed under: Items, Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Virtual selves, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Wrath of the Lich King, Fan art

MTV interviews Blizzard execs

At the Worldwide Invitational, MTV interviewed two Blizzard executives: Paul Sams, Chief Operating Officer, and Frank Pearce, Executive Vice President of Product Development. It's an interesting read -- if not the best interview I've ever read -- which includes more info on Diablo 3, mobile apps, and thoughts about MMOs in general. The duo leaves the door open for Blizzard to create an MMO that might "cannibalize" the WoW player base, although for some reason they are not convinced that Diablo 3 will impact that base. (I, for one, disagree. The huge response we got to the Diablo news on WoW Insider tells us that there is a huge amount of crossover between the franchises.) They also don't believe that there's much overlap between Starcraft and WoW. Frank stressed that, regardless of what the marketing research might say, "those aren't necessarily the data points that we use for decision-making when it comes to the games that we want to make."

Read on to see what Blizzard says about time between game releases and new MMOs.

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Filed under: Blizzard, Interviews

World of Starcraft could still be the next-gen MMO

Arena Junkies picked up an interesting tidbit by comparing two different interviews. Rob Pardo, Blizzard's EVP of Game Design, gave an interview to Onlinewelten in which he talks about the next-gen MMO. That interview isn't exactly news on its own. We knew since Diablo III was announced at the WWI that it probably isn't the new MMO, and Pardo confirms that in the interview. "..Diablo 3 isn't an MMO," Pardo says, "So we have another development team."

But what is that new MMO being developed? Some speculate it could be an entirely new property. Well, Paul Sams, Blizzard's Chief Operating Officer, has an interview with Gamasutra that indicates no new IPs are coming soon. "Are we ever going to release a new [franchise]?" Sams says, "I would absolutely say we will at some point. I just don't know when that day will be quite yet."

Okay, so Blizzard's still working on a MMO, but there's no new IP on the horizon. So, what's the next-gen MMO going to be? World of Warcraft 2? World of Starcraft? And if Diablo 3 isn't considered an MMO, then is there a possibility of a World of Diablo? For me, this just means that my hopes of Tauren Marines aren't yet dead.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, News items

Sams: Microsoft could do more for PC gaming

Blizzard's COO Paul Sams spoke with Gamasutra the other day, and he called out Microsoft, of all companies, for not supporting innovation in PC gaming. He says that Microsoft's loyalties are split with their console business, and that if they put as much work into developing gaming on the PC as they did on the Xbox 360, everyone would benefit.

An interesting idea, to be sure. It's not like Blizzard necessarily needs help from Microsoft to promote and develop their games -- if anything, it's Microsoft that could probably take a lesson from Blizzard on how to release software. But it's true that console innovations like achievement points and Xbox Live social networking accounts aren't really finding a solid place in the PC gaming world, and it could be that Blizzard wants to see those types of things on the platform.

Blizzard has always had a rocky relationship with consoles anyway, and the recent announcement of a non-console Diablo 3 definitely shows they're interested in the PC (including Mac) platform only. Can't really blame them for wanting a little more love from an OS developer like Microsoft.

[via BigDownload]

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Hardware

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