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Blizzard's Stormy Future

Blizzard game studio in lull of uncertainty is a Seattle Times article (thanks HomeLAN Fed) on the uncertain future faced by Blizzard in light of efforts by Vivendi Universal to sell the games unit of which it is a part. They describe the recent departure of some of the company's mainstays, quote Blizzard's president Mike Morhaime as saying "we don't even know if we're part of the assets being sold," and offer the following perspective on Blizzard's place in VUGames' scheme of things:

Blizzard is a key piece of Vivendi's video and computer games business, which had sales last year of $750 million, about 11 percent of Vivendi's 2002 revenue. Although Blizzard has released just one new title this year an expansion to "Warcraft III" it accounts for 25 percent of Vivendi Universal Games' worldwide revenue.

Vivendi Universal Games also includes Universal Interactive, Fox Interactive, Sierra Entertainment and Knowledge Adventure.

Early on, Vivendi hoped to sell the entire games unit for $2 billion, but analysts said the price has fallen to about $800 million. Even so, there haven't been any offers, despite flirtations with game publisher Electronic Arts and Microsoft.

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53. StarCraft 2 in danger? Sep 4, 2003, 11:16 hkm
 
Damn it!

If Blizzard is going to fold or start producing crappy games, the least thing they can do is to get SC2 done so we can see the rest of the story.

 
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52. No subject Sep 3, 2003, 16:26 D4rkKnight
 
Its not all bad, like the movies, among the crap, no matter how bad it gets, there will always be a few gems.

 
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51. Re: How it went down. Sep 3, 2003, 15:30 snide
 
I think consolodation of the industry is inevitable. Gaming, a realitively new business, has enjoyed independence for way too long. THe simple is fact is that as games movie closer and closer to movie quality, the cost involved in their production will go up. One title makes or breaks a company. You don't see any one team houses survive a game that sells poorly. The only way as a business to beat it is to consolidate studios so that you bet on the overall industry and not on your specific game titles. It's pretty sad, but I'm sure in 5 years the game industry will look very similar to the studio run industry of hollywood, thus making new titles more and more mediocre.

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50. Re: How it went down. Sep 3, 2003, 14:59 Creston
 
During the UXO event, they were saying that UO now has its highest subscription numbers ever...

Sure, but unless that number has reached upwards of five million (which is what the whole Ultima 7 series sold), I'd still say that they've lost quite a goodly amount of their original Ultima fanbase.

Dammit Blue, let us use that edit button, all this tripple posting is getting stupid.

Creston


 
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49. Re: No subject Sep 3, 2003, 14:56 Creston
 
Ultima and Wing Commander were dying franchises, even before Origin was a dying company. Wing Commander peaked long before the movie damaged it. The franchise had been eclipsed by Tie Fighter, and the genre as a whole was selling less and less.

And at the time of it's demise RPGs were considered a dead genre (like adventures are now). A new Ultima wouldn't have sold a huge amount.



I can't deny that Wing Commander wasn't doing all that great anymore, even though Prophecy still sold well over a few hundred thousand copies on its own.
But to say that Ultima wouldn't have sold anything??

May I direct your attention to the following link :

http://reconstruction.voyd.net/index.php?page=project&type=remakes3d

There are about, what, FIFTY remakes currently being done on the Ultima series? Name me ONE game in the entire fucking industry that has over 50 mods currently being developed for it. I doubt that even HALF LIFE can boast that number.

And yes, the RPG were considered a very dead genre, which is why Baldur's Gate, released approximately, oh, six or so months after the fiasco that was Ultima IX, sold, oh, two hundred and eighty three billion copies. Not bad for a dead genre, huh?

As for Crusader, that wasn't the ONLY franchise Origin had that was begging for more. People seem to have forgotten that the SYSTEM SHOCK franchise belonged to Origin as well. Let's face it. Origin was the number one game developer in the world for a LONG time, right up until EA got involved, and was able to fuck it over for a few years.

Damnit, with every post I write, I begin to hate EA more and more.

Creston


 
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48. Oops Sep 3, 2003, 14:45 Creston
 
Sorry that I seem to be depressing so many people with my "Creston's Prophecies of Doom".

To further support my general negativistic attitude, were any of you aware that apparently, Vivendi is no longer for sale?

http://ve3d.ign.com/articles/436/436489p1.html?fromint=1

Which would indicate once again, to me anyways, that Vivendi has decided, man, we can make a fuckload of money of World of Warcraft, just like EA did!


As for Maestro, who asked "How long will it be until we are left with only three or four game companies?"

A : We won't be left with just three or four game companies, there are plenty of new studios founded every year that either make one game, go bankrupt and found a new studio, or don't even make one game, go bankrupt and found a new studio (does bankruptcy actually mean ANYTHING in the United States??). However, we will soon come to the point where everything is released by either Microsoft, EA or Infogrames.
And you know what the sad thing is? We'll be cheering for everyone that decides to join Microsoft, because the other two are just too fucking awful to even comprehend.

Creston, bringing you a daily dose of depression since... well, a long time ago.

 
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47. Re: Blizzard and the LA TImes Sep 3, 2003, 14:45 eunichron
 
Damn no edit.

But it seems NBC scored the deal: http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/dowjones/20030902/bs_dowjones/200309021423001060

 
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46. Re: Blizzard and the LA TImes Sep 3, 2003, 14:41 eunichron
 
cough*HALO*cough...
I see one difference there, Bungie wasn't really a big name company at the time. They had a few titles under their belt (I enjoyed Oni), but nothing blockbuster.

My ex-fanboiness is going to show through now, but a lot of people here don't know how Blizzard is set up. They don't have just one team. They have at least three. There are two at Blizzard, and one at Blizzard North (possibly two at BN, there were rumors about a year ago that they split into two). One Blizzard team up to now has only made the RTS games, StarCraft and WarCraft. The other was a team hired and built from scratch specifically for WoW. The BN team does Diablo. All of the teams interact and give input, but games don't rise and fall depending on the entire company. So the three guys leaving probably won't have as much an effect on the rest as some people think (except Bill Roper, he's dreamy %)). That was kind of proven a couple years ago when two key guys left Blizzard during WarCraft 3's development and formed Arena.Net.

So I'm weary to jump on the doomsday bandwagon. Unless EA buys them, I think Blizzard still has quite a bit left in them to produce some more triple A titles.

 
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45. No subject Sep 3, 2003, 10:57 jalon
 
Blizzard is already dead. After the founders quit, vivendi hired some college kids. The kids came in and fired all the people that made Diablo and Warcraft so they could start up their own little fiefdom. As well as stop paying dot com salaries to the people that made blizzard what it is. If you doubt, check the job listings they been posting lately.

I would not expect anything of quality from Blizzard anymore.

On a total tangent, I always wonder about people who say "Can't they make a new game, don't they have original ideas?" There are no original ideas. There are about 5 game ideas and they cycle in popularity. FPS, RPG, Simulators, then back to FPS etc. Maybe it is an age thing. You do not see the cycles until you been playing games for 10 years or so.

 
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44. Re: How it went down. Sep 3, 2003, 10:32 Gdiguy
 
Sure, there is Ultima Online, which garners a select amount of the original Ultima crowd,

During the UXO event, they were saying that UO now has its highest subscription numbers ever...

 
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43. Yay! Sep 3, 2003, 10:21 Unmaker
 
From Yahoo news: "Fourtou also said that Vivendi has decided not to sell its video games and music businesses, which had previously been earmarked for disposal, for the time being."

 
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42. Re: merger mania Sep 3, 2003, 10:10 JHMirage
 
there was something on tv today about NBC and vivendi possibly merging.

More than possibly... looks like they've reached an agreement.

http://www.mediapost.com/dtls_dsp_news.cfm?SubMatter=Traditional&newsID=217312

I don't really know how I feel about this... the US focus of GE/NBC will probably mean they'll keep Blizzard and the rest of the Entertainment unit around, but since they've not done much (to my knowledge) in the way of games before I don't know how hands-on they're going to try to be...

Jeff

 
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41. Re: Blizzard and the LA TImes Sep 3, 2003, 09:51 BubbleMage
 
...and any publisher that has even an iota of common sense...

And that excludes Vivendi as well, the French morons. These are the same people that want to cancel Christmas to "improve their GNP." Maybe it'd help a little more if everyone in the cuuntry wasn't taking five weeks of vacation per year. And if they'd stop putting flaming socialist idiots into office.

I never thought I'd see a French head of state that made DeGaulle look good. Guess I'll have to stop rooting for the assassin in "Day of the Jackal." Or maybe not.

 
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40. Blizzard, so what. Sep 3, 2003, 09:37 mcsterls
 
I used to think Blizzrd rocked, warcraft2, starcraft, diablo. But their newer games Diablo 2 (yes it was great) and Warcraft 3 (not so great) seem a lot like their older games. Do these guys have any original ideas any more?

I'm so unimpressed there are a lot of other companies out there doing more creative work then I've seen out of Blizzard in years. Can't wait for that rehash - Starcraft 2, if they don't go under.

 
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39. Re: No subject Sep 3, 2003, 09:27 Beamer
 
Ultima and Wing Commander were dying franchises, even before Origin was a dying company. Wing Commander peaked long before the movie damaged it. The franchise had been eclipsed by Tie Fighter, and the genre as a whole was selling less and less.

And at the time of it's demise RPGs were considered a dead genre (like adventures are now). A new Ultima wouldn't have sold a huge amount.


Their best bet would have been to bring back Crusader. That was a franchise begging for a new game with new depth.

 
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38. Re: How it went down. Sep 3, 2003, 09:22 Unmaker
 
Unfortunately Creston is correct about Battle.net if it were in the hands of EA. I've actually heard (as in: with my own ears) a bigwig at EA (I'm not naming names for fear of litigation) say "I can't believe Blizzard isn't charging for Battle.net. What a waste." Let me say here and now, as I have said so many times before: Fuck you EA and fuck the scorched-earth policy you've brought to your many acquisitions.

 
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37. Re: Blizzard and the LA TImes Sep 3, 2003, 08:55 nin
 
I don't think Microsoft would be dumb enough to force anything on Blizzard, if they did end up acquiring them.

cough*HALO*cough...

Supporter of the "A happy fredster is a muted fredster" fanclub.

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36. Game Shops Diluted Sep 3, 2003, 08:53 NoGodForMe
 
There's really nothing left of Blizzard with the 3 main people leaving to start their own studio.

That's what we're seeing these days, a bunch of little studios that can work on a piece of a game, but not the entire thing. Like Raven is doing with Q4. JC makes the engine, and Raven only works on the MP part of the game.

Do you think what's left of Blizzard can make a new game? No.
Do you think the 3 who left can make a new game? No.

It's like a band breaking up. It's never the same. The artist that goes solo usually fades away, and so does the band.

So there's no reason for MS to buy the company, because it's not profitable to them.

 
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35. Re: No subject Sep 3, 2003, 08:20 Ihya
 
Creston you've severely depressed me now with your prophesies of doom on my all time favourite game designer. It does look as though the company is not going anywhere fast. If only they could puch starcraft 2 or even another diablo out of the door my faith would return.

 
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34. No subject Sep 3, 2003, 07:46 SeD
 
$800 million

That is a disgusting number. You know what you can buy with 800 million? You could buy a small country with 800 million. 800 million is fun to type, I would buy them for 800 million if I had 800 million, let me check... Nope.

 
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