Thursday, October 04, 2007

Blizzard's Secret Weapon

I don't really understand game companies. They say a lot about copying Blizzard, but then they never do. There has been one constant about Blizzard games ever since the first Warcraft: Odds are the game will run on your machine.

And this is crucial. If your machine can't run the game, why would you buy it? Blizzard constantly sets the system requirements low. They make their games available for Macs. They deliberately stylize their art so that it still looks good on low end machines.

Warcraft, Diablo, Starcraft. Time and time again, Blizzard pulls the same trick, and no one else seems to learn.

And yet other companies do not seem to realize this at all. If you can't run the game, you won't buy the game. I play on a laptop, with a built-in video card. No nVidia, no ATi. And yet WoW runs, looks halfway decent, and thus I give Blizzard my money. I'm not going to go spend a couple thousand dollars just to play your game.

It's not the only reason Blizzard is successful, but I think it's a major one.


  1. I also play on a laptop, which despite being 2 years old now, is still "up to date" as I purchased a top-of-the line DELL Latitude D810 back then, fully loaded on plenty, fast memory, disk and card.

    However, even back then, there were quite a few games on the market that would need a 128 or 256 MB card just so they could be played, which would render them unusable on this laptop!

    The only recent move I don't like in Blizzard is them favoring one particular brand of graphics adapter over the others (just see their in-game video options and you'll see what I'm writing about!)

    So, unless they do a "microsoft move" and shoot themselves on the foot on their next game, say, by only supporting said graphics card maker, things will continue to look good.

    They could streamline the patches a bit: I remember on Starcraft days that even if I didn't have the game installed it would only take 5 minutes and that was to install SC+BW+Patches. Granted, the install didn't copy everything from the CDs, but since I was running them on a Virtual Drive...

  2. This very reason is why Blizzard is my favorite gaming company. I own every "major" Blizzard title from Warcraft / Starcraft / Diablo on. Can not remember which came first, although I would put my money on Diablo...

    I bought my laptop (a $1000 macbook) over 3 years ago and it is still going strong. I have no need for an upgrade. I had a mid range "homeade" PC before that, which I kept running nice. Final Fantasy Online was the last game to run on the system as I just got tired of the upkeep. Good Will now enjoys my desktop :P

    I now use Blizzard as my litmus... when I can no longer run a Blizzard game on my laptop it is time to buy a new one.

  3. Coming from Intel, I can tell you why other gaming companies do what they do - they believe Intel's press. We have a study that shows that 50% of serious gamers will purchase a new system just to play a new, hot game.

    But I'm with you, I love the fact that Blizz makes it possible for me to play. Especially because my home PC run on (gasp, dare I say it) an older AMD processor.

  4. I'm with Hermit...ever since Warcraft 1 I've been an avid Blizzard fan, and their policy of allowing their games to be playable at the expense of eye-candy really appeals to me. I did just recently buy a fairly new PC, but that was for my enjoyment of a few other games which would not have run on the old one. (Games like FEAR and NWN2 for instance.)

  5. Blizzard is truly one of my favorite development studios because of their choices to help those of us who aren't quite mainstream. By that I mean Mac users, normally just getting a game to be ported takes at least a year or more of waiting with people with Windows get it right off the bat. But for every release Blizzard has ever done the CD always works with both Macs and PCs, and for this they deserve a ton of gratitude.

    I think the major reason companies force such high expectations into most games is because they know a lot of people are willing to pay the money to buy the newest and most expensive computer parts. Just last week a fellow guildie of mine told us about how he was spending $1500 to install a new cooling system into his computer. When I asked him why he replied "because I want to run the graphics on high". I've never understood this kind of thing, I guess its the same as men bragging about their cars. Honestly, I get great gameplay on my $1400 iMac, so why go out and spend another few thousand to get a few more fps in a raid? Its like my car, it might be an old 1989 Volvo, but it gets me from point A to point B just fine, who cares what it looks like.

    Sadly, a lot of people don't agree with that and the gaming companies take advantage of it.

  6. This is a very observant observation :) I also agree but think they should scale the graphics more than they do currently so that those people with top end machines should gain a lot more benefit. The graphics are individual but not very advanced tbh.

    samownall Wow mage

  7. I have also been a fan of Blizzard for this reason. I use a mac due to personal preferences, and I will always be a loyal fan of any company that not only publishes games on mac, but does it in such a way that I don't need to find a specialty store just to find the mac version.

    I was playing WoW on my powerbook until a year ago when the constant overheating issues caused my video card to basically melt. Ouch. Good reason to buy a new computer I guess :P