World of Warcraft, StarCraft and Diablo. Three franchises that have carried and ensured Blizzard a spot amongst the top developers in the world. How have they managed to do this? Innovation.
Michael Ryder, Blizzard’s VP of International, recently sat down with GamesIndustry.biz to talk about just that. Ryder explains that the way Blizzard operates is by looking at players’ needs, quality, and gameplay, which are a given if you want to be innovative. But there are other areas in which innovation can provide that extra satisfaction to gamers, which will keep us glued to to our chair and not stop playing.
“It’s not just development either, it’s all the services we provide,” says Ryder. He goes on, “one of the innovations we’ve made recently is using mobile devices for access to the Armory, using mobile devices for authentication – I think that’s the beginning of a trend, perhaps, where we look at using mobile devices to make it easier for players to interface with the game.”
Ryder also wanted to make it clear that Blizzard does not rush things. If stepbacks occur during development, the game will be pushed back. If something isn’t working as it’s supposed to, the game gets pushed back. And you would think this would be irritating enough to stop caring and forget all about it, but when you delay a game like StarCraft II and the side effects turn out to raise your company’s share price by 6 percent, you know you’ve built up a solid reputation and that there are no empty promises. Delaying a game to work out the problems in order to give the gamer the best user experience possible, well there’s something we don’t get every day. It somehow feels that it usually comes down to a developer and/or publisher not believing in that their own game can bear itself, no matter what other titles are being released at the time. Therefore, games get pushed back for no apparent reason and as long as developers don’t inform us about what’s going on, or until we’re told otherwise, this is the conception we’ll have regarding delays.
Ryder also explains that innovation has to take place in order to keep people interested in a game. “When we’re looking at creating more content, that’s the thing that drives continued interest in World of Warcraft, that we continually come out with content,” he says and adds that they have to keep it interesting, because once their work becomes “routine” and “mundane,” we all walk away.