View Poll Results: Has Blizzard become too big?

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  • Yes

    44 27.33%
  • No

    73 45.34%
  • I don't care

    31 19.25%
  • Undecided

    13 8.07%
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  1. #1

    Has Blizzard Entertainment become too big for its own good?

    The recent shift with the Project Titan is just the latest indication that something is severely wrong with the way Blizzard works.

    To emphasize what I mean here are some numbers from the wikipedia.

    Employees: 4700 (as of 2012)

    Games released since 2005.
    -The Burning Crusade (XP 2007)
    -Wrath of the Lich King (XP 2008)
    -Starcraft 2: WoL (2010)
    -Cataclysm (XP 2010)
    -Diablo III (2012)
    -Mists of Pandaria (XP 2012)
    -Starcraft II: HotS (XP 2013)
    -Hearthstone (2013)

    Now taking a look at these releases it's obvious that most of them are expansion packs. That means they are built on a existing engine and an experienced team. Churning out regular expansion-packs should be a pretty seamless and routine process and fairly efficient after doing it for several years.

    That leaves Starcraft 2: WoL, Diablo III and arguably Hearthstone...which is quite a "simple" game as completely new developments in the past 8 years.

    Now even if the majority of those 4700 employees work in Customer Support and non-development processes there must still be a large number of essential development staff that seems to be wasting resources left and right.

    For a little perspective, here are the stats of Bioware, another big game-development studio that operates an MMO and was purchased by a publisher not too long ago (EA).

    Employees: 800 (in 2010)

    Games released since 2005
    Jade Empire (2005)
    Mass Effect (2007)
    Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood (2008)
    Mass Effect Galaxy (2008)
    Dragon Age: Origins (2009)
    Mass Effect 2 (2010)
    Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening (XP 2010)
    Dragon Age II (2011)
    Star Wars: The Old Republic (2011)
    Mass Effect 3 (2012)
    Star Wars: The Old Republic - Rise of the Hutt Cartel (2013)

    Now I picked Bioware not only because it was another large development studio, but also because it had a similar reputation for making quality games. And yet despite having less than 20% of the staff of Blizzard, they have managed to produce many more games than Blizzard.


    To drive this point home, development of Diablo III started in 2001 and wasn't released until 11 years later. Your typical AAA studio will churn out three quality titles in that time with a staff of 50-80 developers.


    My point being that the outstanding success of World of Warcraft has allowed Blizzard to grow into and unmanageable behemoth that is cringing under its own weight and size. They have become so inefficient as a company that they are unable to release games in a timely fashion.

    Their success as a company currently resides mostly in the impeccable reputation they established with their previous games. And even if the financial success of Diablo III is unquestionable, the damage it did to Blizzard's reputation is not.

    If Blizzard did not have WoW to pay all of its bills it would be a much leaner and much more productive company.

    PS: Another company that seems to suffer from the same luxury problem is Valve, although they are only a fraction the size of Blizzard.
    Last edited by Dee-Jay Delicious; 2013-05-31 at 12:18 PM.

  2. #2
    No. Blizzard isn't to big. Pretty sure WoW and D3 (dont know SC2 stats) sold more than any item on activisions list. But why are you pitting Act v Blizz? They get along and do buisness together.

    Also, activision is a publisher not a designer so its like apples to oranges. And how isn't blizzard productive? I really don't see your logic OP, activision doesnt make games theyre given to them so they can stamp em and put em on shelves. If you look at the actual develepors youll see a great game or 2 every year is above par.
    Last edited by Blue The Shaman; 2013-05-31 at 11:48 AM.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Blue The Shaman View Post
    No. Blizzard isn't to big. Pretty sure WoW and D3 (dont know SC2 stats) sold more than any item on activisions list. But why are you pitting Act v Blizz? They get along and do buisness together.

    Also, activision is a publisher not a designer so its like apples to oranges. And how isn't blizzard productive? I really don't see your logic OP, activision doesnt make games theyre given to them so they can stamp em and put em on shelves. If you look at the actual develepors youll see a great game or 2 every year is above par.
    Dude, I didn't even mention Activison so I have no idea what you're going on about. It's obvious they don't interfere with Blizzard management otherwise things wouldn't be as bad as they are.

    And yes, Diablo III sold 12 Mio. copies but how much of that was due to Blizzard's reputation rather than the actual quality of the product. Also, CoD frequently sells 25-30 Mio. copies so yeah.

    My point is that Blizzard is the most inefficient developer currently on the market and was only allowed to become that way thanks to the overwhelming financial success of WoW.

  4. #4
    I think there are clear signs of mismanagement, but I'm not sure if that's because they're "too big".
    "There is a pervasive myth that making content hard will induce players to rise to the occasion. We find the opposite. " -- Ghostcrawler
    "Almost every time I have gotten to know a critic personally, they keep up with the criticism but lose the venom." -- Ghostcrawler

  5. #5
    To deliver quality over quantity you need to be bigger.

  6. #6
    I don't think they're too big for their own good, and I don't think Bioware have a reputation for quality games, certainly not at the level Blizzard was at.

    Both companies however went way downhill as soon as they started associating themselves with certain publishers, namely EA and Activision respectively. Whether that was the cause or not is up for debate but the timing is certainly quite a coincidence.

  7. #7
    Herald of the Titans RicardoZ's Avatar
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    I don't know the specifics because I don't work there, but it seems to me they are doing a pretty good job. The bigger the company gets, the more stuff it can produce, resulting in more options for us. That's never a bad thing.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Crowe View Post
    Dude, I didn't even mention Activison so I have no idea what you're going on about. It's obvious they don't interfere with Blizzard management otherwise things wouldn't be as bad as they are.

    And yes, Diablo III sold 12 Mio. copies but how much of that was due to Blizzard's reputation rather than the actual quality of the product. Also, CoD frequently sells 25-30 Mio. copies so yeah.

    My point is that Blizzard is the most inefficient developer currently on the market and was only allowed to become that way thanks to the overwhelming financial success of WoW.
    agreed. Blizzard USED to be a company which took its time to release good quality games but it appears that they are falling short. and they know they can't rely on WoW forever to keep themselves running. Blizzard used to be very active before they released WoW. take Warcraft 3 for example : it had a fresh story, 4 campaigns, some nice new stuff like heroes and item usage ... and after ONE year they released Warcraft 3 : TFT, which had 3 campaigns and a bonus Diablo-like campaign (Rexxar's story). Now look at starcraft, the story is VEERY similiar to Warcraft 3 (all races must band together and defeat a terrible evil!, Starcraft expansion had the same story arc but thankfully Warcraft 3 didn't just copy/paste SC's storyline.) and it only has 1 campaign... which focuses on ONE side. ok, that's kinda understanbale : other races will come with expansions.

    but WTF Blizz...3 years for an expansion!? really??? so now we have to wait till 2016 for SC:2 LoV??? they sure seem to take their sweet time to work on an expansion pack which unlike new games are additional content added to a game engine.

  9. #9
    Bioware is probably a lot closer to Blizzard's employment numbers since SWTOR came out in 2012 not 2010.

  10. #10
    I do think this is a real concern, especially as subscription numbers drop. It is a common occurrence that companies/project teams grow to meet max demand but then have trouble adjusting back down once max demand ends. The processes and bureaucracies that are efficient and help the company run effectively at peak often are cumbersome post peak. Often it is not just a reduction in head count (which may not be needed- but pushed for by management) but tasks assigned and focus of work. If head count is reduced there is always the question if the right people are released - are people kept because they are the "yes men" or buddies of the decision makers, are they kept because they have been here forever, or are they kept because they are high potential? So often the right people are let go and the wrong ones released.

    The fact is none of us work there and can say for sure, but as subscriptions shrink (and ultimately revenue) this is a viable question.

  11. #11
    Mechagnome reemi's Avatar
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    IMO, Blizzard is at least 10 times better than Bioware. (Just my opinion).

    Bioware released many games but all their games are the same, SWTOR = Mass Effect MMO with StarWars franchise.

    Creating an expansion is not easier that creating Mass Effect 2 or 3. Actually it's even easier because you don't need to keep working on the games forever like mmo.

    Games like D3 and WoW required a lot of support members. Blizzard is really active too.

  12. #12
    The fact is Blizzard stated that their development teams are very small compare to other companies in the industry and this is not the first time a big games got reworked during the development process. SC1 was reworked entirely AFTER they showed it at some game festival. Titan wasn't even showed so it's not as bad. WC3 also was reworked after its RPGRTSwhatever version too. WoW is the reason that keep Blizzard from moving on. In the past when they made a game and it was a succces then they moved on to other projects but when they launched WoW and it's the biggest success. They have to keep supporting it so it keeps their attention away from anything. I remember back when SC fans complained that Blizzard was sold out and didn't give a shit about SC anymore because WoW was making a ton of money. Also there are other sections of Blizzard all over the world such as Blizzard Korea which have noting to do with development.
    Last edited by Wildmoon; 2013-05-31 at 12:32 PM.

  13. #13
    Stood in the Fire Schaapa's Avatar
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    Since 1997 their focus has solely been on their three big franchises. That's 16 years without a new IP, but since convincing everyone that time = quality products(*cough Diablo III*lol) everyone is OK with it. A new IP was needed a long time ago, instead they milk their three current ones for what they can.
    Surrounded by idiots

  14. #14
    Pit Lord Doktor Faustus's Avatar
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    Probably, yes.

    The larger they are the less likely they are to take risks in publishing innovative games.

    Catch 22 I guess, as the less likely they are to publish fresh games the less people will buy them and the less money they will make.

    Saying that, some people will prop up a franchise (looking at you CoD and sadly what BF is becoming).

    Releasing a new mount of the Blizzard Store is a great way for them to make lots of instant cash (one mount - maybe a month to create selling for half the cost of a PC game, with practically no overheads) but eventually even the most ardent zealot will become cynical.

  15. #15
    Mechagnome reemi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Crowe View Post
    And yes, Diablo III sold 12 Mio. copies but how much of that was due to Blizzard's reputation rather than the actual quality of the product. Also, CoD frequently sells 25-30 Mio. copies so yeah.
    25-30 Millions if you count PS3 and XBOX360 I guess?

    12M for PC only is a lot.

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by ripponesan View Post
    To deliver quality over quantity you need to be bigger.
    Yeah but the quality has received no significant improvement (IMO) and the quantity of players decline consistently. Diablo 3 was a disappointment to many (dare I say most?) and WoW is clearly getting old. However they could for once make PvP balanced... JK! They don't actually care very much about balance...

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by Underbottom View Post
    Bioware is probably a lot closer to Blizzard's employment numbers since SWTOR came out in 2012 not 2010.
    A very good point.

    Nice job on manipulating the numbers to suit your mis-guided point, OP. Perhaps provide employee numbers from the same year, and not when one company has an absolutely massive MMO live and the other company was still developing theirs.

    The vast majority of those employees will almost certainly be customer service, or server maintenance. They won't have anything to do with the development team, so your entire point falls apart.

    Besides, I'm fine with Blizzard taking a while to release games. I know for a fact that when I buy a Blizzard game, I'm going to play it for months. Perhaps years. Every single game they've released has been of very high quality (yes, I'm including D3; their reputation has only been 'damaged' with people blinded by nostalgia). Conversely, using your own example, I'm highly unlikely to play Sonic Chronicles or Jade Empire. The rest, sure, but there's some that I won't bother with.

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by reemi View Post
    25-30 Millions if you count PS3 and XBOX360 I guess?

    12M for PC only is a lot.
    Did they really sell that many consol version? Sounds weird.

    ---------- Post added 2013-05-31 at 12:37 PM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by RicardoZ View Post
    I don't know the specifics because I don't work there, but it seems to me they are doing a pretty good job. The bigger the company gets, the more stuff it can produce, resulting in more options for us. That's never a bad thing.
    Currently it has been but then again they haven't released that many games and I'm sure some people really liked SC and D3.

    ---------- Post added 2013-05-31 at 12:39 PM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by Schaapa View Post
    Since 1997 their focus has solely been on their three big franchises. That's 16 years without a new IP, but since convincing everyone that time = quality products(*cough Diablo III*lol) everyone is OK with it. A new IP was needed a long time ago, instead they milk their three current ones for what they can.
    Exactly! Man I hope Titan dominates the world. I hope it revolutionizes the gaming world. Inb4 my high expectations leading to nothing but disappointment, but I have to believe in something.
    Last edited by Senathor; 2013-05-31 at 12:39 PM.

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by Senathor View Post
    Did they really sell that many consol version? Sounds weird.

    ---------- Post added 2013-05-31 at 12:37 PM ----------



    Currently it has been but then again they haven't released that many games and I'm sure some people really liked SC and D3.

    Don't know how many CoD sold on PC but D3 actually sold a lot more because D3 is the fastest PC game of all time right now.

  20. #20
    I think they've grown quite large, and are feeling a pang of regret over it. With Hearthstone, they emphatically stated that the dev team for it was "small" and they wanted to have almost an indie-game feel to it. It seemed like they wanted to reassure themselves they could make a great game that wasn't blockbuster-sized, with blockbuster intentions.

    With Titan, I think they realized the same -- something was growing too big for its britches and they needed to press the reset button, slim down the team, and rebuild. Perhaps they were coming at Titan's development with a current-day WoW-like approach... and they forgot that WoW was initially developed with a smaller team. The team then grew larger (and quite large) out of necessity.

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