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February 11, 2005

World of Warcraft - Dealing with Success

The New York Times had an interesting piece on Blizzard and their game World of Warcraft the other day. The game has blown away all sales projectections. As a result, Blizzard is having to scramble to do a level of expansion they'd plan to do over a year all at once.

It was in the evening, right before the game was formally released on Nov. 23. Blizzard had arranged for producers and designers to sign copies of the game at midnight at a hangar-size Fry's Electronics outlet in Fountain Valley, not far from Blizzard's base in Irvine, 40 miles south of Los Angeles. The company had set up a similar signing for an earlier strategy game, Warcraft III, and about 700 people showed up. Planning optimistically, the company had about 2,500 copies of World of Warcraft on hand.

"So I planned to roll over there around 11 p.m., and as I tried to get off the freeway I look over and I see this gigantic, dark, surging mass around Fry's, and I'm like, 'What in the world is that?' " said Paul Sams, 34, Blizzard's senior vice president for business operations. It turned out that the pulsing was more than 5,000 people.

"The cars were backed up on the off-ramp," he said. "I parked like a mile away, and when I get there the line is looped around the building, and then looped around the parking lot. It was like a football tailgate, with the R.V.'s and barbecues in the lot and everything."

By the end of that first day, about 240,000 copies of the game had sold across North America, Australia and New Zealand, the product's initial markets. The game has now sold almost 700,000 copies in those markets, and at peak hours about 250,000 people from those areas are playing the game simultaneously. [New York Times - Technology]

Posted by snooze at February 11, 2005 08:06 AM

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