Execs believe real-time strategy reinvention could be the key

Mobile, not VR is Blizzard’s next ‘big opportunity’

Blizzard believes that targeting mobile platforms, rather than virtual reality platforms, could be the best way to grow the company and its audience.

Speaking to VentureBeat, execs from the World of Warcraft firm identified smartphones and tablets as one of the most promising development sectors, providing they can bring something different to that space.

“I feel like there’s still a big opportunity in mobile beyond just casual games,” said president and co-founder Mike Morhaime. “I’m not sure we’ve figured out what that is yet.”

The firm has already enjoyed mobile success with Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, but SVP and co-founder Frank Pearce believes that Blizzard’s decades of experience in real-time strategy could be the answer – particularly given the popularity of mobile strategy titles.

“If you look at Overwatch, if you look at StarCraft, we have multiple franchises that would lend themselves to that concept,” he said.

“If we were going to continue to evaluate experiences in real-time strategy, I think we’d have to figure out what that means to the current player space. [StarCraft II expansion] Legacy of the Void is great. [But] I don’t think that people want to sit down and play 45 minute missions any more. I think that space might need some reinventing.”

However, Blizzard seems less impressed with the potential of virtual reality. While the execs acknowledge the concept is impressive, they are currently reluctant to invest significant resources into the space. 

“Everybody’s talking about VR and wearing funny helmets,” SVP Chris Metzen said. “Culturally, we’re interested, and we’re watching. How rad would it be to run around in World of Warcraft and see it 1-to-1? That does appear to be the next horizon. 

“But we’re kind of watching. It’s possible that other companies will take more tentative steps and plant their flags. I don’t think we’re quite ready to conquer all that yet.”

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