When Mike Morhaime announced last year that he was stepping down from his position as the head honcho over at Blizzard, fans of this incredibly passionate community were beyond shocked. When he took to the Blizzard stage one last time during BlizzCon, it was a sad moment knowing that would be the last following a whopping 28 years with the company. During this week’s Gamelab Conference in Barcelona, Spain, Morhaime opened up a bit about the process at Blizzard and why it seems like we’re always hearing about cancellations.
According to Morhaime, Blizzards sees a 50/50 cut on all projects, meaning half of all creative endeavors never leave the editing floor. “I’ve gone back every few years and checked the math on that, and it’s pretty consistent,” Morhaime said today. “It’s like half the titles we work on never make it.” According to the former boss, there were many contributing factors to this but the common factor was that Blizzard was very careful when it came to preserving their brand and their known quality.
“There’s a saying that ‘perfect is the enemy of great’, because if you strive for perfection you’ll never ship. But I do think that there’s so much competition out there,” he added.
One reflective aspect that Eurogamer noted about this is that they’ve always favored quality over a launch date. The example provided was the original Diablo which was delayed from launching on “the most important retail weekend” during the holiday season in favor of ensuring a quality launch. Morhaime added, “The lesson we took from that is that it’s way more important that the game is great – it’s way less important that you hit the date.”
With Activision taking over and their philosophy very much opposing that core value, it’s understandable then why the Blizzard – Activision relationship is reportedly so strained. This also explains why despite knowing Diablo 4 is coming, we still don’t have an official reveal. “We tried really hard not to announce any games that weren’t ready to be announced,” he added. Which, in the age where games are announced years and years in advance, we’re happy to see that philosophy.
Overwatch, however, created a massive turning point for the company, proving to be a multi-billion dollar franchise in the first 11 months. Then game the troubles seen in Diablo 3 with content complaints and the auction house, and then the Diablo controversy last year with the reveal of the mobile game and absent news about the long-rumored Diablo TV show and fourth entry into the franchise.
As a person that has been with Blizzard, as a fan, my entire life – including vanilla wow and playing the beta for the very first Diablo – it is hard to see so many favorites moving on and seeing the publisher relationship taking over a bit. It will be intriguing to see where BlizzCon this year lies, there will definitely be a lot of critical eyes on it following last year.