April 12, 2024

Blizzard is open to more Warcraft films, but doesn’t want to be a filmmaker

Warcraft franchise director John Hight says he loves the 2016 film Warcraft. It would be foolish of him to tell me he doesn’t, considering his job. But in a world where it seems like every major gaming IP is dabbling in multimedia, Hight is noticeably different from his peers in one key way: he doesn’t want to be a filmmaker.

While speaking to IGN at the Game Developers’ Conference in March, we asked Hight about the potential for future Warcraft films. While he admitted that the idea would “certainly be interesting,” he added that he didn’t think Blizzard should explicitly get into the film business. “We make games and I think games will always be our core, and that’s why Warcraft will focus on that,” he said.

And more than just Blizzard, Hight himself doesn’t want to get caught up in the idea of ​​jumping into another industry. “I don’t want to fall into the trap of ‘now I’m going to be a filmmaker’. I think we should leave that to the people who really know what they are doing.”

Some of my colleagues are becoming enamored with the idea of ​​becoming a filmmaker.

“If we can find talent in other areas in media who have a shared love and passion for Warcraft, absolutely. But I think, unfortunately, I’ve seen some of my colleagues become enamored with the idea of ​​becoming a filmmaker and using the opportunity that they have in owning the intellectual property or controlling the intellectual property to get an entry into to make films. But there are so many professionals who have been doing this for so many years, [and] there could be dozens if not a hundred films that could do so much better. I wouldn’t want someone who only made movies trying to build a game like Warcraft, right? So I think finding those partnerships is the right approach.”

Hight feels the same way about other video games. I’ll mention companies like Riot, who have licensed League of Legends’ IP to multiple other indie studios to make more games – although it’s a practice the publisher has in particular phased out amid budget problems. Would Blizzard ever do the same? Again, Hight is interested, but understandably picky.

“Definitely open to people who really get it and have a cool idea about how we can express Warcraft and if we feel like it aesthetically, they can step up to the plate,” he said. “…I think if we find the right partner, find the right situation, I think especially if they have a skill in a game genre that we really don’t have, I think this would be the ideal partner for us to work with and we are open to that, but that is relatively new. I’m open to it because I want Warcraft to be on the market a little more than it currently is, and I also don’t want us to grow so fast that we can no longer serve the audience that we have. But I think there’s some upside in using other companies that share our love for it, have a really cool idea, share our belief in quality and have the ability to execute. But that’s probably a pretty small list, right?”

The warship within

So while you might think that Hight, as franchise director, would be overly concerned about expanding Warcraft into as many corners of the media as possible, he has instead set his sights closer to home. He’s clearly proud of the recent mobile release, Warcraft Rumble, which alongside Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft helps spread the property beyond just the MMORPG.

But its bread and butter is World of Warcraft, which is currently winding down its popular Dragonflight expansion in anticipation of its next big story swing: The World Soul Saga. Normally the lull in content between major expansions results in a dip in player count, but Dragonflight doesn’t see that valley. Hight discussed some of the reasons why in his GDC speech, but one key element is a more consistent cadence of new things to do between the main story beats. For example, World of Warcraft recently introduced a crazy pirate-themed battle royale mode called Plunderstorm. Originally intended as an internal PvP experiment, playtests at Blizzard revealed that Plunderstorm was fun, even when the prototype version was still “really crude and not very pretty.” So it was retooled and conceived as a limited-time event at the end of the expansion that would unite both retail and World of Warcraft: Classic players for a fun time that would have no significant impact on either.

When I spoke to Hight, Plunderstorm was only a few days old, and it was difficult for him to gauge its success. But he did say that Blizzard would consider keeping the mode if the response is enthusiastic enough.

“If they like it, that will determine what we do next: whether it evolves an existing system, whether it becomes part of one or both games or whether it continues as an event. We like the idea of ​​having events that are seasonal, in a way that happens just like the seasons in WoW itself… What we’re trying to build is a repertoire of fun things for the live team… to can draw the arrows from the quiver and use them when we need them. If we reach a point where we can see that the players want a new event or engagement, we can start a Plunderstorm or some other event. And we plan a lot of these types of events.”

Hight has a similar philosophy for World of Warcraft: Classic’s Season of Discovery, a version of the original World of Warcraft with crazy twists on classes, newly invented raids and new hidden secrets. Season of Discovery has proven to be quite popular, but avid players are already wondering if it has an expiration date. Blizzard has only shared plans for the mode by raising the level cap to 60 and an endgame raid. That’s why we ask Hight if the success of Season of Discovery makes it possible to go further than that.

He doesn’t fully confirm that Blizzard has more in store for Season of Discovery after level 60, but he does strongly imply that Blizzard is ready to respond to its popularity.

If we see that the players want a new event, we can start a looting rush.

“I think there will be things that will repeat and there will be things that will evolve,” he says. “I can’t tell you how that turned out because we’re still seeing how players react to it. What they tell us they like may be one that we develop and we do a new incarnation of it or perhaps one where we repeat the cycle. The nice thing about that is that the Classic team itself has some really committed players. They love supporting and playing their own game, so the ideas for both Hardcore mode and Season of Discovery came from that developer team. We let them go. We were like, ‘Give us your pitches. Tell us the things you would like to do that you think we would enjoy.’”

In every interview I do with World of Warcraft executives, I ask them whether the 20-year-old MMORPG can still serve as the beating heart of the franchise in the long run. Hight, like every other executive I spoke to before him, says yes. He hopes World of Warcraft will continue to evolve for “another twenty years.” But to do that, he adds, the country must adapt.

For example, he says players are more aware of their time than before. Blizzard has already implemented features like the Exile’s Reach tutorial zone, character boosting services, and other elements to make it easier for players to “get in, get in the fun, and find their friends” even if they only log in for a few minutes. . Which brings Hight back to the point he hammered home both during our interview and during his GDC speech: it all comes down to responding to the game’s community over and over again. Of course it’s nice to bring in new players, and he hopes to do that. But for Hight, it all comes down to maintaining the existing community and convincing lapsed players that there’s something interesting to return to.

“Return players are one of our largest segments,” he adds. “They might sit through a whole expansion, they might be gone for five years, but they’ll be happy to come back and check it out.”

Rebekah Valentine is a senior reporter for IGN. Do you have a story tip? Send it to rvalentine@ign.com.

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