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Blizzard, Sierra: Allez Out Le Door, Rapidement
July 12th 2002, 00:17 CEST by m0nty

French media giant Vivendi Universal looks like it is about to implode, Enron-style, in the wake of financial irregularities involving billions of dollars. A gradual slide in the stock price on fears of soaring debt burdens, despite Vivendi's claims to the contrary, culminated in a halt of trading on the Paris stock exchange, after accusations of "opaque accounting" by French daily newspaper Le Monde. The fates of subsidiaries Blizzard Games, Sierra Entertainment and Vivendi Universal Games are up for grabs, according to gamesindustry.biz:

It seems likely, then, that Vivendi Universal will be split up in the near future, with pundits expecting that Universal Studios (and associated companies) will return to American owners by the end of the year, with subsidiaries such as Vivendi Environmennte and Canal Plus remaining in French hands. Where this would leave the various games companies attached to the group which is the second largest publisher of interactive entertainment, by their own estimation is entirely unknown.

Anyone got a spare pile of cash lying around and want to buy a gaming company going cheap?

One question would be how to value the various components of the company in hard dollar terms. Blizzard owns the intellectual property of the WarCraft, StarCraft and Diablo series, which by judging from the US$25 million deal Take Two did for the Max Payne rights, means a lot of value up front, especially with the WarCraft series expanding to the MMOG arena with World of WarCraft in the near future. Sierra's IP is mostly old now, with Half-Life their last really big hit, although admittedly it's still raking in the cash for them. Vivendi Universal Games is known as a publisher, bringing externally-developed games like AvP2 and DAoC to the world, so you might think its value would not be as marketable since it doesn't have many intellectual assets of its own.

How much would you expect to pay? Will any of the existing publishing or dev giants have the readies available to buy any of these delightful properties outright? Will this affect the release schedule of WoW? Have Blizzard and Sierra relied too much on established franchises, or do newer titles like The Hobbit, Empire Earth, Homeworld and Arcanum (all Sierra-sourced) represent a more innovative future?
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Home » Topic: Blizzard, Sierra: Allez Out Le Door, Rapidement

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#1 by bago
2002-07-12 00:19:17
manga_Rando@hotmail.com
Well, the french have a history...

iamelectro
#2 by Max
2002-07-12 00:20:32
http://massivebraincase.org/
France surrenders!

Hey, did you know you have stretch marks in the corners of your mouth? Odd...
#3 by Max
2002-07-12 00:21:29
http://massivebraincase.org/
That said, I can't imagine other giants with ready cash would let the IPs just slide... someone'll pick them up, should it come to that.

Hey, did you know you have stretch marks in the corners of your mouth? Odd...
#4 by Shadarr
2002-07-12 00:22:10
shadarr@yahoo.com http://digital-luddite.com
Sega is supposedly going on a shopping spree.  Quarter to Three says they're interested in buying Infogrames, so Blizzard would be pocket change.
#5 by _Fury_
2002-07-12 00:28:42
ajhill@wi.rr.com
Well, if they want to move into the PC arena, why not start with the strongest developer/brands in the business.

Research has been shown to cause cancer in laboratory rats.
#6 by Matt Perkins
2002-07-12 00:39:29
wizardque@yahoo.com http://whatwouldmattdo.com/
Heck, if I had the money, I'd buy Blizzard.  It's a sound investment...  unless computer games aren't able to played when Diablo III comes out, it's going to be a HUGE success, and that's not counting the Worlds of Warcraft or Starcraft II.

If that Matt Perkins XXX sees the light of day, it will be interesting to see what happens. - yotsuya
#7 by Your Friend
2002-07-12 00:46:22
I'd love to see what the valuation of Blizzard would be like if they were to be sold.  Very interesting.

I don't think the success of Worlds of Warcraft can be assumed.  They are getting into things pretty late in the game and overall I think the MMOG industry in general is going to have a meltdown.  Way too many games competing for $10-25 dollars per month per player with not enough players to go around.  I'd bet big on The Sims: Online being a huge success but that's the only in-development MMOG I'd put money on.  I wouldn't even bet on SWG though obviously the license doesn't hurt.
#8 by Ergo
2002-07-12 00:50:59
I wouldn't be surprised to see Microsoft going after Blizzard.

"Brian, there's a message in my Alpha Bits! It says 'OOOOOOO'!"
"Peter, those are Cheerios."
-The Family Guy
#9 by Charles
2002-07-12 01:03:18
www.bluh.org
Your Friend:
They are getting into things pretty late in the game and overall I think the MMOG industry in general is going to have a meltdown.  


I dunno.  I think if anyone can breath some life in to stale MMORPGs, it'd be Blizzard.  Success may not be guaranteed, but if I were to pick a GIP with a real chance of succeeding on a large scale, I'd put my money on WoW, right next to the Sims Online.

...is the new SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP.
#10 by Charles
2002-07-12 01:05:21
www.bluh.org
I mean, what you have to realize is that Blizzard's games tend to be popular because of the pure simplicity.  Diablo was huge because it was so accessible.  Diablo 2 just built off that success.  I think if WoW leans towards the Diablo style of gameplay, it could be huge.  Arguably, the main problem with MMORPGs right now is accessibility.

...is the new SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP.
#11 by Your Friend
2002-07-12 01:05:47
Nova:  I wouldn't bet against WoW, I just wouldn't bet significant money in favor of them succeeding.  As I said I think The Sims: Online is going to be a virtual money printing machine.  As far as other things in the pipe WoW has a great shot, as does SWG (mostly due to the swank license), but I wouldn't bet the farm on them.  The MMOG shakeout is going to get nasty in a year or so.
#12 by Charles
2002-07-12 01:07:17
www.bluh.org
Of course, on the other hand, Blizzard hasn't exactly built a good rep as having reliable online play.  Which is a huge hurdle.

...is the new SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP.
#13 by Hugin
2002-07-12 01:09:07
lmccain@nber.org
Nova, don't forget the Star Wars Galaxies.  When I consider that my mother expressed some interest in trying it out when I mentioned it to her, I think it's going to be huge.

(She wants, quote, "To be a big wookiee and thump anyone who gives me lip, and fly a hot rod spaceship around like Harrison Ford had." Keep in mind, my mom is an ex-cop, so she may be a bit atypical, but still.)
#14 by Charles
2002-07-12 01:09:08
www.bluh.org
Yeah, personally, I can't wait to see the whole MMO shit fold in on itself.  Cause then it can be recreated fresh, in a few years.  

Still, I think WoW has more potential than SWG.

...is the new SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP.
#15 by Matthew Gallant
2002-07-12 01:10:26
http://www.truemeaningoflife.com
Blizzard would make a good X-Box dev. They make games for TV resolution anyway.

Current market value of the Max Payne IP according to a comparison of the market capitalization of Take Two pre- and post- sale: approx. -$306,000,000.
#16 by Charles
2002-07-12 01:10:43
www.bluh.org
Hugin, I have no doubt that it will have huge sales, but I question it's ability to hold those players.  Sure, sounds like a great idea, getting a lot of press.  And it's star wars!  But if my mother were to express interest in it, I doubt she'd last two hours trying to actually *play* it.

...is the new SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP.
#17 by Shadarr
2002-07-12 01:13:24
shadarr@yahoo.com http://digital-luddite.com
I don't think World of Warcraft has to worry about all the other PIGs out there, I think all the other PIGs have the extra hurdle of proving they're better than WoW.  Name recognition counts for a lot in marketting.  The real question, as Nova alluded, is can Blizzard make the transition from standard single/multi-player games to maintaining a persistent online world.  The two are very different animals, and while the word Warcraft may get them massive first-day sales, if the game sucks or the servers are down all the time, the subscription revenue (the real money) will dry up.
#18 by Shadarr
2002-07-12 01:15:29
shadarr@yahoo.com http://digital-luddite.com
That would be Nova alluding in post #12, not spelling it out for deaf people in post #16.
#19 by Your Friend
2002-07-12 01:20:28
I'd have to agree with Nova in questioning SWG's ability to hold onto players.  Sure it might seem cool to play an MMORPG in the Star Wars universe...and then you do...and realize you're not Luke Skywalker/Han Solo/Lando "Colt .45" Calrissian, you're just some random schmuck.  Having such a great license seems good in theory but I personally believe that it is seriously offset by having to follow an existing holy cannon that limits what the game can and can't be.
#20 by webrunner
2002-07-12 01:21:03
webrunner@adventurers-comic.com http://www.adventurers-comic.com
With all the news here, people don't seem to acknowledge the fact that this isn't the first time.

Remember Cendant?

You know, some people say things about ambiguity.
#21 by Caryn
2002-07-12 01:26:01
carynlaw@pacbell.net http://www.hellchick.net
Nova Z (and Your Friend):

But if my mother were to express interest in it, I doubt she'd last two hours trying to actually *play* it.


On what do you base that assessment? Specifically? What details of the (unreleased and unplayed) game makes you say this?

Yes, that sounds trollish of me, I know, but I'm curious to know why you say that so confidently. I haven't followed SWG development a whole lot, but do you know enough about the game yet to say that?

"I can't drink POSSIBLE beers! I need ACTUAL beers! Damn you quantum physics!"
#22 by Hugin
2002-07-12 01:28:44
lmccain@nber.org
Considering that my mother's gaming has been limited to solitaire, minsweeper, and a few games of Soul Blade just because everyone else in the living room was playing it at the time, I think the idea that she'd go to a store and seek out any PC game and fire it up for a few hours is a really tantilising prospect for a game company.
#23 by Darkseid-D
2002-07-12 01:28:55
rogerboal@hotmail.com
World of warcraft will probably tank, outside of Korea anyway, especially if its based on the DULLness that is WC3, for some reason WC3 strikes me as a game that SHOULD have been an XBOX release, it just plays in a way that screams `gamepad ` at you...


I could see MS picking up Blizzard, I could also see them being extremely savvy and picking up Sierra, to get their claws on Valve (to a degree), we already know about XBox - Condition Zero/Counter Strike, but with the upcoming XboxOnline, put TF2 in there and CS2 and make them Xbox exclusive for say 6months...

or maybe I`m just being cynical (again)

Ds

Never argue with an idiot, theyll drag you down onto their level, then beat you with experience.
#24 by Charles
2002-07-12 01:28:59
www.bluh.org
Cause my mom hasn't been able to grasp a game since the Atari 2600, that's why =)

...is the new SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP.
#25 by Hugin
2002-07-12 01:29:46
lmccain@nber.org
There's a "your momma" joke in there somewhere, surely.
#26 by Caryn
2002-07-12 01:29:53
carynlaw@pacbell.net http://www.hellchick.net
Okay Nova, I misunderstood you then -- thought you were making a statement about the assumed quality of the game long before release but you were talking more about your mom's experience with video games in general. I get it. :)

"I can't drink POSSIBLE beers! I need ACTUAL beers! Damn you quantum physics!"
#27 by Charles
2002-07-12 01:33:03
www.bluh.org
Yeah.  My point was that though people might express interest in SWG, who normally wouldn't really care one way or another about games, that doesn't mean they'll actually end up playing it.

All I know is if SWG is even remotely like current MMORPGs, it's too complex for most people.

...is the new SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP.
#28 by Charles
2002-07-12 01:33:54
www.bluh.org
Allow me to specify, however, that I've been steadfastly ignoring SWG, and most other GIPs just cause I refuse to board any more hypewagons.  Ever.

...is the new SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP.
#29 by Your Friend
2002-07-12 01:34:50
I'm in no way saying that I think SWG will be a subpar game.  The real issue is that its just an MMORPG in the SW universe.  Your Average Momma may think it sounds cool because she knows Star Wars but that's only because she's never interacted with the typical fuckwad you find on an MMORPG and doesn't realize that these games are centered primarily around OCD and having lots and lots of free time.
#30 by LPMiller
2002-07-12 01:36:07
lpmiller@gotapex.com http://www.gotapex.com
But none of the current MMORPGs are even remotely complex.  They are scads easier to play then even your standard FPS.

I believe I can fly......urk.
#31 by Charles
2002-07-12 01:37:38
www.bluh.org
Heh!  I wasn't even factoring in your average fuckwad in MMORPGs.

...is the new SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP.
#32 by Your Friend
2002-07-12 01:37:57
One concrete thing that didn't inspire confidence in me wrt/SWG being "huge" is that in the Salon piece (about The Sims, SWG, etc),I linked to in another thread, when talking about how they were going to go for the mainstream gamer (and particularly women) they mentioned that they have "stylized text".

I have nothing against stylized text, but if that's one of the major features they've got to offer that they think will make the game appeal to the mainstream........
#33 by Hugin
2002-07-12 01:38:49
lmccain@nber.org
Well, mom is retired, so she's got the free time.  You know, I woder if anyone can make a game simple and friendly enough that retirees will sit around and play them all day? If you could capture a fraction of the Slots trip to Atlantic City/dedicated soap opera, daytime talk show watching type crow, with a small amount of disposeable income, lots of free time, a deep desire to socialize, etc....

Old people. Hm....
#34 by Charles
2002-07-12 01:39:10
www.bluh.org
Well, they have hairdressing as a skill, so the game appeals to women.

...

Is it just me, or does that seem really pathetic and weak?

...is the new SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP.
#35 by Your Friend
2002-07-12 01:39:52
The Sims: Online.  Stroll down to the Oldpeopleville zone.

The Sims: Online is probably going to have to be FDA regulated.
#36 by Shadarr
2002-07-12 01:40:24
shadarr@yahoo.com http://digital-luddite.com
Bingo.  Until someone comes up with a PIG that isn't solely centered around levelling/collecting items, they will continue to be a niche market regardless of the subject matter.  Whether you're camping to get the green lightsaber or the +12 sword, it's still spawn camping.
#37 by Charles
2002-07-12 01:41:14
www.bluh.org
Hugin, half the crew from the original Diablo that I used to play with online was 40+.  There were at least 4 or 5 people officially classifed as senior citizens that played.

...is the new SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP.
#38 by Hugin
2002-07-12 01:41:43
lmccain@nber.org
Your friend, when I IM chat with non-gaming friends and relatives, mostly female, the amount of futzing around they do to find interesting, colorful, and pretty fonts is amazing.  The ability to have various stylish texts in SWG will definitely appeal to "mainstream" folks.  It's not a game seller, no, but it'll be one of the many little details that will help people stick around.
#39 by Charles
2002-07-12 01:42:39
www.bluh.org
I just hope they have an override for that font stuff.  I mean, everyone having a different font and text size and color, would drive me up the fucking wall!

Errr, if I played it, that is.

...is the new SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP.
#40 by Your Friend
2002-07-12 01:46:27
Hugin, I'm not discounting it altogether, its just that when asked how they hoped to appeal to women, the text (and the hairdresser remark Nova mentioned) were pretty much their answers.  If those were little details, I'd say that's cool, but if those are the best they can do when asked how their game will break out of the MMORPG ghetto I don't think that looks too great for them.


In any case, if they want to keep sane people around hopefully they disallow you to disable the stylized text incoming from other people.  First thing I do with any IM client is switch off any stylized text options because I'm not interested in trying to read the yellow on white that some of these futzers think looks cool.
#41 by Charles
2002-07-12 01:48:57
www.bluh.org
You know, the only thing that ever appealed to me in MMORPG games was exploration and discovery.  I wish there were more of that.  However, that's mostly a physical limitation of the time it would take to create the game.

...is the new SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP.
#42 by Terata
2002-07-12 02:30:11
But none of the current MMORPGs are even remotely complex.  They are scads easier to play then even your standard FPS.


They might not require hand-eye coordination, but when it comes to picking up the game and playing it, current MMRPGs are a mess.  Spend some time watching a casual player try to figure out DAoC or UO, FPS games are nothing in comparison to inventory management, distributing skill points and making a character, various /commands and chat channels, talking to NPCs, and any number of other quirks.  On top of that, they ask you to do this stuff without even telling you about it beforehand beforehand.
#43 by jafd
2002-07-12 02:42:38
Fully half of the gameplay offered by current GIPs lies in figuring out how to play them.

Uh oh, it's Magic.
#44 by Hugin
2002-07-12 02:48:43
lmccain@nber.org
I couldn't make heads or tails of Everquests the first hour I played it.  By the time I kind of knew what I was doing, I hated it deeply.  But simple, it wasn't.
#45 by LPMiller
2002-07-12 03:04:29
lpmiller@gotapex.com http://www.gotapex.com
possibly I've played too many to fairly judge. Or, I am an interface genius. But they seem pretty easy to me, and I have a lot of 'non' gamer friends I know that grabbed on and never looked back.

Possibly, motivation is the key.

I believe I can fly......urk.
#46 by m0nty
2002-07-12 03:15:32
http://tinfinger.blogspot.com
One of the points I perhaps didn't make enough of in the #0 post was the fact that Sierra has been trying hard to develop new franchises and IP (e.g. City Building Series, Homeworld, Empire Earth), whereas Blizzard seems content to restrict 100% of its endeavours to its Craft variants plus Diablo. This may be a size thing, or it may be a structural thing - admittedly, Sierra does partner with many third-party dev houses for some of its titles, like Impressions Games. I would be interested to see which one would be valued higher - the one with two or three huge franchises and absolutely nothing else, or the one with one huge asset (Half-Life) and a host of other smaller titles with greater potential to create the next big IP asset?
#47 by Darkseid-D
2002-07-12 03:15:33
rogerboal@hotmail.com
Entertaining Spiderman Anim gif



my ribs now hurt again.



Ds

Never argue with an idiot, theyll drag you down onto their level, then beat you with experience.
#48 by Charles
2002-07-12 03:51:59
www.bluh.org
I believe I first realized how bad interface tended to be in MMORPGs, when I first played Dark Age of Camelot.

You had to TYPE /quit to leave the game.  Ummm...  buttons?  GUI?  Naaah!

...is the new SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP.
#49 by AnalFissure
2002-07-12 03:57:09
Darkseid:

http://www.b3ta.com/spidermanwillmakeyougay/
#50 by Greg
2002-07-12 03:58:32
m0nty:

I would be interested to see which one would be valued higher - the one with two or three huge franchises and absolutely nothing else, or the one with one huge asset (Half-Life) and a host of other smaller titles with greater potential to create the next big IP asset?

I think it all depends on what Sierra actually owns. We know that Blizzard owns all its franchises, but does Sierra? Or are the developers of the franchises it publishes locked in (through contracts) to the Sierra brand? If Sierra doesn't own much, and has very little developer lock-in, Blizzard would easily be the higher valued of the two.

You should do, what should be done, by you.

-Ancient Japanese Proverb
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