Studio of the Year: Blizzard Entertainment
by Dana Massey
It's not nearly as much fun to go with the obvious choice, but in 2007, Blizzard expanded World of Warcraft, announced a second expansion, revealed StarCraft 2 and merged with Activision. It was another banner year for one of the world's most respected development studios and made this call a no-brainer.
On January 16th, after more than two years of development, World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade was released. It sold over 2.7 million copies in 24 hours and has been credited as the inspiration for even more ludicrous growth of WoW's already absurd active player numbers.
Today, Blizzard claims over 9.5 million players worldwide and has transformed World of Warcraft from a simple monster success into a pop culture phenomenon. Last year's South Park episode "Make Love, Not Warcraft" snagged an Emmy in 2007 and there is even a Toyota pickup truck commercial that features the game. On top of that, Blizzard launched a new f pop-culture savvy marketing campaign that features celebrity-characters like Mr. T, William Shatner and Verne "Mini Me" Troyer and - in France - Jean-Claude Van Damme. The game is also featured in a Chinese Coke commercial and is currently being adapted for the big screen by Legendary Pictures.
In 2007, Blizzard announced "Wrath of the Lich King", the game's second expansion pack. In true Blizzard fashion, no release date was given, but the upgrade will feature an increased level cap, a new continent, a new Hero class and much more.
One of the world's most successful game studios, Blizzard was also a key cog in an $18 billion dollar merger of game publisher Activision and Vivendi's video game studios. The new company will be called Activision-Blizzard, which is a true sign of just how far this game developer has risen.
Finally, at BlizzCon 2007 - an event larger than some trade shows - the company announced StarCraft 2. The sequel to their legendary RTS will be available in 2009 and is easily one of the most anticipated games on any platform headed to market.
- 2006: Cryptic Studios
On the next page you'll find out the Best Expansion of 2007.