Why Blizzard Could Soon Return to Game Consoles.

There's an interesting article that recently appeared in the Los Angeles Times' Brand X which discusses the potential of Blizzard returning to game consoles in the not too distant future as opposed to just having their games on computers. Blizzard's COO Paul Sams talks about how console systems encourage people to play games together as opposed to the more solitary nature of computers and and why it's worth doing even if he doesn't like the idea of paying a fee to hardware manufacturers. Of course, there's mention of Diablo 3 being shopped around as we've already mentioned in the past as well. Definitely a solid read. Check it out:

"In the computer gaming world, Blizzard Entertainment is a juggernaut. The division of Activision Blizzard is responsible for some of the world's bestselling PC games, including World of Warcraft and StarCraft. But the company hasn't released a game for home consoles in more than a decade.

That could change any day.

Blizzard has nothing against controllers, joysticks or living rooms, said Paul Sams, Blizzard's chief operating officer, at last month's annual BlizzCon event in Anaheim. Financial details are what's holding up the company's long-overdue return to the console market.

To release an Xbox, Playstation or Wii game, game producers are required to pay a licensing fee to system manufacturers. It's a big reason why Microsoft and Sony can sell their hardware at a loss.

The simple economics goes: The manufacturers profit on game sales, even if they lose money on the hardware needed to play the games. They might lose money on each console, but the longer term prospect of selling more and more games should make back that loss (and then some).

"The value is the game," Sams agrees. But he doesn't like the business model. "I don't like the idea of paying a console manufacturer a fee. That concept pisses me off."

But the community aspect of consoles is compelling Blizzard to go beyond the all-too-familiar flicker of the bedroom computer monitor. "Because the living room is a place where more people can be around, there's a lot of reasons why it's appealing," Sams said.

In order to get there, however, Blizzard appears to be holding out for a console maker to cut a deal. "They do it all the time," Sams said. True, manufacturers will ...

... sometimes give bags of money in exchange for exclusive rights to high-profile game franchises.

Where might Blizzard go? As it prepares to launch its revamped online gaming network, called Battle.net, the company doesn't have much need for Microsoft's Xbox Live infrastructure or Nintendo's WiFi Connection.

Blizzard has a cozy history with Nintendo, having made games for the Super Nintendo and StarCraft 64 for the successor to the SNES. The Wii's remote control would be well-suited to the developer's flagship real-time strategy games.

Blizzard is shopping around Diablo III to consoles. "We are in ongoing talks with Microsoft and Sony," Sams said. "I think they desire to see us on their platforms."

A near-finished game called StarCraft: Ghost was the closest Blizzard has come to releasing a console game in years. Due to the loss of a key person on the outsourced development team, "it wasn't turning out the way we wanted," Sams said. So, Blizzard scrapped the project. That crucial developer, Ray Gresko, now leads work on Diablo III.

"I think that a lot of other companies would not have hesitated in publishing it," Sams said about the game based on its sci-fi franchise. "We weren't willing to put out a game that was not at the level of Blizzard polish quality that customers have come to expect."

As the battle between Microsoft and Sony becomes more aggressive, with both companies recently slashing the prices of their systems in advance of the holiday season, it may not be long before one plops the right deal down on Blizzard's table. -Mark Milian"
Personally, I wouldn't mind seeing Diablo 3 on all of the consoles. I'm sure it would look great on both the Xbox and PS3, and a Wii version could be entertaining to hack apart enemies by waving the Wiimote around. Actually, given the number of enemies one has to kill in Diablo, I imagine your arms would feel like jelly after playing the game on the Wii for any extended periods of time. ;)


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