Inside the World of Blizzard

BusinessWeek is providing us with an overview of Blizzard Entertainment, including their game development history, their merger with Activision, and their one-of-a-kind dedication to making sure every game they churn out is worth paying for.

And the company has boldly canned numerous products, even nearly finished games it deemed “not fun enough.” An adventure spinoff based on the Warcraft franchise was ditched in 1998 despite widespread press coverage and high consumer anticipation. Blizzard executives make a habit of listing the many games that never made it out the door, including a long-delayed StarCraft-themed game for consoles that was first announced in 2002 but put on hold indefinitely in 2006 as the company grappled with the difficulties of the different platform. New games, meanwhile, are announced with ship dates of “when it’s done.”

These days, Blizzard presides over an ever-expanding universe composed of not only blockbuster games but also action figures, novels, manga, board games, pen-and-paper role-playing games, apparel, and conferences. In South Korea, where competitive video gaming is a televised sport, Blizzard’s decade-old game StarCraft inspires such fervent loyalty that tournaments still draw some 700,000 spectators a year, nurturing a niche industry worth $40 million annually. Legendary Pictures, the studio behind blockbuster comic book adaptations like Batman Begins and 300, is currently working on a big-budget, live-action film based on WoW slated for 2009.

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