Is Blizzard worried about competition pulling away paying customers from its monster revenue machine, World of Warcraft? Not in the slightest-- or at least, that’s what it seems for the moment. There's no question that Blizzard's fantasy-based MMORPG is a mountain that currently can't be conquered. With the third expansion Cataclysm under its belt, the virtual realm only seems to be gaining momentum rather than slowing with age.
But as Blizzard co-founder and EVP of product development Frank Pearce points out, someone will eventually cannibalize WoW players. A developer/publisher will come along and steal players away with something new and original. For now, however, all seems calm. If anything, the only real threat that poses to throw a wrench into the WoW subscription gears will be Blizzard's own long-awaited action-RPG game Diablo 3 when it finally hits retail shelves.
Of course, that doesn't mean Blizzard's upcoming Titan MMO won't hurt subscriptions either. But Pearce said that, in the short term, Diablo 3 poses as a bigger threat because it's similar to WoW in terms of the RPG feel even though both titles offer completely different experiences.
"For us, I think it's really important that we recognize that somewhere, sometime it's likely that someone is going to cannibalize World of Warcraft players," Pearce told Gamasutra. "So it's better we cannibalize them ourselves than let someone else do that, because if we cannibalize them ourselves, they're still a Blizzard customer."
In the long term, however, Titan could very well mark the end of WoW. Why? Because the veteran WoW developers have been moved over to the project not only due to their AAA experience, but to prevent career "burn out." According to Pearce, WoW itself has been in development since around 1999 or 2000. That's a long time to be married with any one project, and any fatigue brought on by a growing disinterest shows up in their work. Better to move them over to the new project and let the "fresher" developers take the reigns of WoW.
"If we can keep people on the team that are really enthusiastic about playing the game, that energizes the other people around them that maybe aren't necessarily playing the game," Pearce said, indicating a huge level of excitement for the new MMOG.
Little is known about Titan at this point save for the fact that it will "compliment" Blizzard's current MMORPG. As for Diablo 3, the upcoming action-RPG game may actually launch by the end of the year... if we're lucky.