Blizzard Confirms One “Frontline Release” for ’09

Blizzard Confirms One "Frontline Release" for '09

World of Warcraft developer Blizzard is one of those studios whose release dates defy the calendar. A game is "done when it’s done."

But being part of a publicly-traded company like Activision Blizzard, the studio has to give investors some kind of idea of when they’ll be releasing a major game. Blizzard COO Paul Sams said during a Wednesday earnings call, "Blizzard intends on delivering one frontline release per year. I think you can see in our numbers that that is contemplated."

However, he added, "As it relates to what title we’re releasing this year, we’re not prepared to say."

Games currently announced by Blizzard are Starcraft II and Diablo III. Sams also confirmed an unannounced massively multiplayer online game that is currently in development.

It’s looking likely that Blizzard is targeting a 2009 release for Starcraft II. Sams said that a Starcraft II beta test is coming "in the months ahead."

"The beta will be played on a basic version of our new Battle.net architecture, which will give us the opportunity to test the game and the service in a live environment. Over time, we’ll be adding features to deliver a second-generation Battle.net experience."

Launched in 1998 for PC, the original Starcraft has sold over 11 million copies worldwide, Sams said.

"We’re releasing Starcraft II as soon as possible, but as with all previous Blizzard games, we won’t ship it until it’s ready," he reiterated.

The hotly-anticipated Diablo III, announced after Starcraft II, is also deep into development, so anything is still possible as far as release dates are concerned.

Sams also said he wants the quality of Blizzard’s customer service "to match the quality of our games," adding that the company is launching a major initiative to further improve service to gamers.