Before the midnight craziness that was yesterday's hugely successful World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade
launch, SPOnG managed to catch up with WoW
game designer Jon LeCraft (hereafter JL) and Blizzard's VP of Business Development and International, Itzik Ben Bassat (hereafter IBB) for a quick chat about all things WoW
Q: You announced late last week that you now have over eight million subscribers to date, which works out as 0.1% of the world's total population! How does that make you feel?
I think it's great [laughs].
Itzik Ben Bassat
It's just amazing [grins].
Q: So those eight million-plus gamers - how do you reach that figure? Are these all paying subscribers?
Yep. Our definition is actually very strict. Actually, you can see a lot of definitions out there. Some people come out with some crazy numbers? Our definition of subscriber is very strict - it's simply someone who has paid us money in the last thirty days. So unless you have paid us via subscription or have bought a pay-per-play card in the last month, we don't count you in.
Q: Since launch in the US in November 2004 (followed by Korea in January 2005 and on February 11, 2005 in Europe) the rate of growth of players signing up has been pretty phenomenal. Last November you quoted 4.5 million subscribers, so you have almost doubled the number of players/subscribers in just over a year. Do you think you can keep up this that rate of growth?
If you asked me about it a year ago? [laughs, shakes head]?okay, this December has been our best month since the launch in both North America and Europe. We had more box sales in both regions than any other month, except for the first month when we launched the game. But if you had told me that in November last year - you know, that December 2006 is going to be your best month since launch - then I would have said, "Are you sure?" I think that we will keep on being surprised by our ability to penetrate the mass market and to provide entertainment to all gamers out there. So, hopefully, we can continue growing!
Q: In terms of World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade is the strategy to keep bringing regular major updates to the game every year or so?
You mean like an expansion? Well, we don't have a dedicated time period there but yeah, we're gonna keep bringing more. We're going to do it in the time that it takes - that's the Blizzard motto as you know. When it's done, we'll ship it. But another year or so, Hmmmm, that might be too short.
Q: So we won't be seeing The Burning Crusade 'MKII' in January 2008?
I think that our current timeline is January 08, but you know, we're pretty notorious for not making our timelines?but, we're going to do everything we can to try and release it in January 08. But I'm sure none of the regular Blizzard fans would be in any way surprised if we said 'hey guys, we need a couple more months.'