Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime on Competition from Other MMOs: “We Welcome It”

In the midst of all the E3 coverage from last week (for which Lore Hound has a lot more to come), it seems that one interview with Blizzard co-founder and CEO  Mike Morhaime went largely unnoticed. But indeed, Fox Business News sat down for an interview with the legendary Morhaime, and a few interesting tidbits came out as a result.

Some may ask — what make’s Morhaime’s thoughts any more important than anyone else’s? And I would answer – because unlike most others, Morhaime actually has the potential to take those thoughts and work them into the games that you and I play.

Topics covered included:

  • How it feels to finally be mostly finished with Starcraft 2 — “thrilled”
  • Why Starcraft 2 will be followed up with 2 expansions — to “tell a better story and deliver a more epic experience by focusing each installment on a particular race”
  • On working with the Starcraft fan base — “It’s always sort of dangerous… because you don’t know what they are going to say.”
  • On whether Activision applied pressure to break up Starcraft to increase revenues — “Activision doesn’t tell us to break up a game or to release a game on a particular day.”
  • On Morhaime’s thoughts on interactive games such as XBox’s newly announced Kinect system — “It doesn’t work in every type of game. It does open up the door to new innovative ideas that we haven’t thought of yet.”

And, to me, what was the most interesting response:

Fox interview with Mike Morhaime

Q – “World of Warcraft” has the largest market share of the massively-multiplayer genre, but there are two major franchises under development: “Star Wars” and “Final Fantasy XIV.” When you see these new franchises, are you concerned?

Morhaime – [MMOs] are a very complicated genre to compete in, there’s so many variables that go into making a game feel polished. You polish certain parts of the game but then run into aspects of the game that leave players stuck or not knowing what to do. It’s a very challenging genre to compete in and that’s why you haven’t seen that many MMOs. There’s the back-end infrastructure which is very expensive and very risky.

We’ve never been afraid of competition, we welcome it; it might be good for the MMO industry to have more than one successful MMO that’s attracting players.

Also, regarding Star Wars, this isn’t the first Star Wars MMO we’ve had to compete with. “Star War: Galaxies” came out about a year and three months before “World of Warcraft.”

Another challenge for “Star Wars” is that they are working with a licensed property, which makes it more difficult. We have flexibility with our own canon that Star Wars does not.

Morhaime raised a couple of interesting points in this answer. People have said it plenty of times, but it means something else entirely when the CEO of Blizzard says it — competition is a good thing. Even Blizzard, who Fox says by some estimates holds a massive 70-percent market share in the US market for MMOs, can see this. It keeps Blizzard constantly on their toes, at least to some extent, to keep its content up-to-par with the other, newer games out on the market. And that’s good for all of us.

Also, the obviousness of Star Wars lore versus World of Warcraft lore is immense, but at the same time I haven’t seen it discussed that much.

WoW certainly has a ton of background story explored through manga and novels and quests, but at any given moment Blizzard could change any of it, or simply add more backstory, or change the timelines. They can always find some convoluted reason in lore to make something happen differently. Star Wars — not so much. There’s simply too much in that world that is completely untouchable. Not that that’s a bad thing — but it does limit the scope of what BioWare can do, at least to a certain extent. They have to make it work within the boundaries they already have, whereas Blizzard could expand or contract its boundaries at any moment — afterall, they created the story to begin with.

Anyhow, that’s that. Not a huge, groundbreaking interview. But still interesting and containing some finer points. Check out the whole interview to read Morhaime’s detailed answers on the other topics. And let us know what piqued your interest.


  1. When you have the gusto to back your claims up, there’s no reason to deny or belittle the compettioton.


  2. While the Star Wars franchise has an established amount of history and canon, the new MMO is taking place in a time of nebulous “official” story. It’s not as limited as Mr. Morhaime makes it out to be, and BioWare is well within their rights to bend and tweak things as they see fit for the purpose of their game. (And this wouldn’t be the first time that the SW canon has taken a hit for the sake of the independent story telling)

  3. @Kyndrainigar

    I partially agree with you. However, since Old Republic is in the past in a chronological order of the Star Wars lore, that mans Old Republic has to fall along the lines of a certain future to fulfill. Though specific events may be blurred, it can’t end in a AND EVERYONE DIED sense.

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