It’s been a long, long time since Blizzard was a console game company. Its surviving megalithic franchises like Diablo and StarCraft made it to the PlayStation and Nintendo 64 respectively way back in the late ‘90s, but even those ports were developed by outside partners like Electronic Arts and Mass Media Inc. You’ve got to go back even further into the company’s awkward beginnings to find true Blizzard flavor on consoles. Weird adventure platformers like Blackthorne and crappy fighters like Justice League Task Force were Blizzard’s devoted efforts on Nintendo platforms way back when.
With the growing need to push your product on as many platforms as possible, from PC to mobile to home console, will Blizzard change its tune and go back to its roots in the console business?
Not any time soon based on a interview with Kotaku’s Jason Schreier. He spoke with StarCraft II lead designer Dustin Browder at E3 2012 about the company’s console plans. Browder said that at least his game won’t come to consoles any time soon, despite interest from the platform holders themselves. “Every now and then we do have people show us things or we will see demos to kinda dip our toe in the water and say, ‘Is this real yet?’ But we’ve never been able to convince ourselves,” said Bowlder.
He points to the PlayStation Move as a prime example. “The demo that I saw was really fun because the guy who came in and showed it to us was a big StarCraft fan, and he put a significant amount of effort into trying to make it work,” said Bowlder, “And when I tried it, I wanted to kill myself. I found it very difficult to make it work.”
The mouse-and-keyboard nature of Blizzard’s games, including both StarCraft II and Diablo III, make them difficult propositions on other platforms, even those with non-traditional interfaces like Nintendo’s Wii U. “If I can control a cursor on the television screen with my hand on the touchscreen, that might be able to work. Because of the hotkey scenario [though], it’s not like players actually play StarCraft with the mouse only—they play with the mouse and keyboard.”
Blizzard confirmed in January that Josh Mosqueira is “exploring” development of a console version of Diablo III. Even before that though, Blizzard had Diablo III controllable with an Xbox 360 controller. “One of the reasons why we’re exploring the idea of a console version of Diablo III is because we feel that the controls and the style of the game lend itself to a console,” said director Jay Wilson in September, “With some of our early experiments in putting a direct control scheme into the game via a 360-like analogue controller, I’ve been ‘Oh this feels even better, with direct control…’”