Blizzard's Greg Street recently told Eurogamer that the company was currently looking into the potential for MMO gaming on Apple's iOS.
A similar statement was made earlier this year about bringing Diablo 3 to the current crop of consoles. Eventually Blizzard began hiring console developers for the upcoming hack-n-slash title slated for a Q4 2011 release. That said, does that mean Blizzard plans to do the same with iOS?
"Everyone I know here has an iPhone or an iPad so we're huge fans of the hardware," he said. "If we could make the right game changes to make that work, it's something we'd be interested in. It's not something you're going to see in the next week or two, but it's the kind of thing we're always looking at."
As with recent talk about porting the MMORPG to the consoles, the biggest issue in the PC-to-console transition would be in the controls. It's bad enough that the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 aren't well-equipped to receive mouse and keyboard input (although the PS3 is capable), the iPad 2 doesn't even come close to a PC-like environment.
"That's a really big topic," he admitted. "The one [issue] that comes to mind is that WOW is designed for use of a mouse and a keyboard and we haven't yet seen a console solution that lets us replicate it easily. I suspect that we would also want to own a lot more of the back-end than most console companies would be willing to let us have. Right now we're being pretty successful just supporting the PC and Macintosh. We'd love to do it if it ever made sense - I'm sure we would."
Bringing World of Warcraft to the iPad could mean using an optimized, scaled-down version with lower-resolution graphics in order to fit within the limited mobile hardware environment. This may also mean that the MMORPG would require its own servers to keep the gameplay experience even. Then again, David Perry has already proven that World of Warcraft can be streamed inside an Internet browser using his Gaikai service. The issue with controls still resides, but at least the game's visual quality and performance isn't compromised.
As for an iPad specific World of Warcraft client, currently the only natural means of input would be through a Bluetooth keyboard. So far Bluetooth mice aren't available for the tablet.