Big things are happening at Activision Blizzard, and we’re not just talking about the $68.7 billion Microsoft acquisition that’s in process. The video game giant is set to breathe new life into the World of Warcraft franchise in the coming months with refreshed content and a mobile version of the long-running, massively multiplayer online role-playing fantasy game.
According to Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick, “multiple mobile, free-to-play Warcraft experiences” have been in the works for the past year. This is excellent news for gamers, because the last version of the World of Warcraft franchise, Burning Crusade Classic, was released in June 2021. In addition, Kotick’s company has already announced plans to release Overwatch and Diablo Immortal for iOS and Android.
While the company is keeping quiet about the details of the latest World of Warcraft developments, gaming industry experts speculate that the new iteration could use augmented reality (AR), much like Niantic’s Pokemon Go. However, we do know that according to Activision’s recent quarterly earnings report, there was an entire section devoted to Blizzard titles, which confirmed that there is “substantial new content” in development for the World of Warcraft franchises. That includes “new experiences” with World of Warcraft and Hearthstone, the card collection game.
World of Warcraft: A Look Back
Since its debut nearly 30 years ago, Warcraft has been incredibly successful in the massively multiplayer online role-playing genre. Activision’s slogan is “putting players first,” which has helped them attract gamers to Warcraft since the very beginning. Today it has an estimated 1.2 million daily players. And it all began with Blizzard’s Orcs & Humans game, which debuted for MS-DOS in November 1994.
“I think there are no franchise principles that you could apply consistently, but probably at its core is making sure that when you look at the time and investment that players make in games like World of Warcraft, you’re talking about many hours a week of commitment,” Kotick says. “Our first responsibility is to players who are investing that many hours a week in this experience and making sure that we are responsive to the investment that they’re making in time and in dollars.”
Activision’s CEO on Feedback and Facing the Future
The company welcomes gamer feedback to better shape the franchise. “You’re not going to always get your players telling you what they want you to make. However, they definitely will tell you what they don’t want,” Kotick says. “I think one of the things that we have tried to do as best as we can — and it’s allowed us to have a very sustainable business for a long time — is really make sure to listen to our players. And the beauty of a medium like gaming is that because people invest so much in the game, they are very willing to express their enthusiasm, their frustration.”
Making a move to mobile will expose new players to the World of Warcraft experience. “I don’t have the skills that our heads of studios and heads of franchises have. However, I think the collective view was that this was the right time for us to change the model and expand the audience of people that could play the game,” says Kotick.