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DICE 2012: Blizzard's Pearce on World Of Warcraft's launch hangover

Talking alongside Insomniac's Ted Price and Epic's Mike Capps during the DICE executive summit in Las Vegas, Blizzard co-foun
Talking alongside Insomniac's Ted Price and Epic's Mike Capps during the DICE executive summit in Las Vegas, Blizzard co-founder Frank Pearce discussed the amazing launch of World Of Warcraft and the growing pains the company has dealt with ever since. In a wide-ranging panel, Pearce noted that the Blizzard team now includes an eye-opening 4,700 employees, across 11 cities. Although the majority of these are customer support-related, there are 750 workers directly in product development for the suite of Blizzard titles, which includes WoW, as well as StarCraft II and the upcoming Diablo III. As a team of 'just' 500 people when they launched World Of Warcraft 7 years ago, Pearce noted: "I don't think we had any idea what we were getting ourselves into." Answering a question from Epic's Capps, he lamented "how grossly we underestimated the demand" for the MMO when it shipped. In fact, demand was so high that Pearce explained: "We had to stop shipping boxes to stores," and from then on, tried to be "more aggressive in our estimates" going forward. Now they have more direct contact with the online community, Blizzard can gauge things a lot better and plan for the surges they get when they release expansions or other new features. Later in the conversation, Epic's Capps tackled addiction in games, noting that he'd put a whole 6 months of real-life time into just one of his own World Of Warcraft characters. Quipping, "I'm not going to say how do you sleep at night?," he directed a question to Pearce about how dedicated players can be. Pearce replied simply: "We think about it all of the time... if there's something that you're really passionate about, whether it's video games, a book, a TV series [or something else]... we have to consume it in moderation." However, the Blizzard co-founder noted the team gets a lot of correspondence from people who can't experience the world the way they would want to because of physical limitations, but can have "a completely free experience" through the game. Nonetheless, he agreed, there are "people who are overindulging," but his remarks implied that he does believe that this phenomenon isn't common to just World Of Warcraft, or indeed video games as a whole - it's a media-wide and lifestyle problem across a whole range of pastimes.

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