Blizzard Entertainment has become one of the biggest gaming companies over the past decade, bringing us classic games such as the original Diablo and the classic real-time strategy game Warcraft: Orcs and Humans. Over a decade later, Blizzard is a gaming giant, with one of the most popular MMO-RPGs, World of Warcraft, as well as arguably the greatest real-time strategy game, Starcraft 2: Wings of Liberty.
I have grown up playing these games. My first taste of Blizzard was watching my father play the original Diablo and Starcraft games. I eventually was able to taste most of everything that Blizzard released; Warcraft 2, Diablo 2, Warcraft 3 (Reign of Chaos and Frozen Throne) and of course their current games World of Warcraft and Wings of Liberty. However, recently I have been wondering to myself, what makes Blizzard so big? What makes their games so fun? Now I am just a humble fan, but there are a few things that I am positive have led to their success.
The first thing Blizzard does almost perfectly is tweaking difficulty to fit their audience well. This can be something simple, such as having an easy mode and a hard mode, such as Normal, Nightmare, and Hell mode of Diablo. They also do it in the form of “nerfs” to the content they have out, “nerfing” World of Warcraft encounters once they have been out for some time. This tweaking of difficulty not only assures that everyone currently playing the game is able to see all of the available content, but it allows new players to join and feel like they can still play the game with little understanding. It also reserves a harder difficulty for players who want more of a challenge from their games. Nobody wants to play a game that is too difficult or too easy, and Blizzard does a good job to try to make sure no one has to.
The next thing I believe is a big part of Blizzard’s, and in particular the Warcraft franchise’s, success is the storyline behind the game. When a game has a strong, intriguing storyline, players will play it more. When players play a game more they tell their friends about the game. When their friends hear about the game, more people play the game. When more people play the game, it is easier to make sequels to the games. When you make sequels to games, the storyline becomes even more epic. This cycle continues on and on as long as the company continues to make great games and great stories. Think of the Warcraft franchise. One can follow the history of Azeroth and its inhabitants from the First War all the way up into what is being presently played in World of Warcraft. This makes playing these games feel like a interactive movie (a very long movie) that the players are at the front end of. Even if the gameplay is not as great as some other games, many people will stay for a game if its storyline is enticing.
The final piece that makes Blizzard such a great game is Battle.net. Though now it is taken for granted, the ability to play games online with or against other people was not always available. Battle.net made it possible, starting with Warcraft 2, to play against other people. This gave people more motivation to get their friends playing, since you can play with each other. This feature grew and is what has made both World of Warcraft and Starcraft 2 some of the biggest online games ever. This feature has also helped spark competitive gaming, or eSports, since Starcraft 2 is arguably the most popular eSport at the moment.
There is probably plenty more contributing to Blizzard’s success, but these are the three main things, I believe. If you are not currently one of the millions of gamers playing these games; go out, by a Blizzard game, any game, and experience for yourself what great games they make.