Anticipating the quality of Starcraft 2
May the Blizzard fan-boy storm commence. Starcraft 2 is coming our way. We don't know when but the holiday season 2009 seems a good guess. It's almost 2 years after the first showing, characteristic of Blizzard, it's the right time of year and the game seems quite polished today. Letting Blizzard add the final twinkle in the year to come. South Korea and fans around the globe collectively shot their load as the first footage was revealed. Starcraft 2 looked great from the start and seems to hold true to the original. But is this really that odd? The game has been in production for what? 6 years? Anything less then a game of the year would be incompetent on Blizzards part.
So how do Blizzard ensure such quality in their products? Actually the secret isn't very secret. It's just not customary in the industry today. They take longer to make the games. That's it. They don't add more because they have time, oh no. They just take longer making the same features, and therefore make them a hell of a lot better.
Games aren't movies, we don't have a near perfect theoretical model for how to make them, neither in production nor result. And we certainly don't have expensive rental of equipment and locations. What we do have is expensive personnel costs. But this is quite strange, games cost a lot of money to buy. They don't cost a lot to make compared to movies. Why aren't more publishers making games the slow and steady Blizzard way? Because we're still not making any money of of merchandise. Which is odd since the merch that does exist is selling, and fast.
Basically, the industry has a lot to learn from Blizzard. And most of it isn't about creating games, it's about how to run a company and an interest. Games take time, therefore we must position them as long term developments and sales. Merchandising and expansions are a must. Just as longer development time with less features, we know it pays off. Just look at Blizzard.