Quality Created Marketing: Blizzard’s “Unintentional” Boon From Flexible Release Dates

Blizzard’s policy of not releasing a game until it is polished and absolutely complete has worked out for both Blizzard, and for their game buying fans. With each games’ announcement, the online community explodes. Free marketing abound! With each delay of a Blizzard release, free marketing abound! When the game finally hits the hands of its wanting fans the level of anticipation has reached the same height of a Protoss Carrier.

Per Blizzard's Diablo 3 website (FAQ section).

For Blizzard, this practice of releasing games only when things are perfect has been awarded to them due to the money they’ve generated via World of Warcraft [WOW]. It also helps that each game they release, that has an extended development phase, is an award winning, financial success. With ample cash on hand, Blizzard can stretch out their development, alpha and beta phases. Many other gaming companies can not afford the luxury of having a negotiable release date, and in the case of Blizzard, the release date is not just negotiable but very flexible.

What was originally just the practice of giving its gamers/fans the most faultless iteration of its next game, Blizzard has created a marketing strategy original to the gaming industry. The constant delay and changing of release dates has now turned into a buzz machine for Blizzard. With some of the most appreciated and accepted games in the PC arena (Diablo, WarCraft, WOW and StarCraft) it’s understandable that Blizzard wants to get each release right. I do not think the delays in release are intentional but obviously Blizzard is aware of the storm it creates every time it even mentions another delay.

You can find the devil on Amazon.

When subscribers for WOW started to fall off slightly and Blizzard stock started to bleed (both happened in late 2011), I wrongfully predicted that Blizzard would, for the first time, hurry a release. I thought the pressures of share owners would finally put the squeeze on Blizzard and they would release a game before they wanted to. I am happy to be wrong. Perhaps Blizzard share holders have some faith and understanding of what makes Blizzard, just as polished as its games.

Once again, a Diablo 3 release date announcement is expected soon. Once again, the internet and gaming media are a buzz. Once again, Blizzard gets some free marketing. Once again, I am drooling at the opportunity to personally rip Diablo’s horns from his head.

Take Heed and Bare Witness to….Paul Eiding.

I recently downloaded EA’s online gaming social network and store known as Origin. It is meant to compete with Steam and with EA releasing Battlefield 3 soon (the reason I downloaded the new Origin app), it will do just that. I think it will be one of many competitors to Steam and I wanted to be an early adapter and familiar with the new platform when everyone else are just wetting their toes. It was the early adapter aspect that helped me pick my focus of this week’s post.

Paul Eiding is a household name in video game voice acting. His name/voice has been attached to an ongoing string of video game blockbusters (Diablo, StarCraft, Metal Gear Solid, Diablo II, God of War, Fallout 3, Dragon Age: Origins, StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty) and even ones not deemed blockbusters (Tenchu 2, Escape From Monkey Island, EverQuest II, Jade Empire, Advent Rising, Ratchet & Clank series, Ninja Gaiden II), still received critical and commercial success. His resume of voice acting dates back to when the industry could finally fit enough data on a disk to enable it. It was that fact that put him out front of the nerd herd of voice actors: his early adaption to a developing industry.

Paul started on the stage and still calls it his true home but his commercial success came from his voice. His career started to develop by doing cartoon voices for the likes of Gobots, The Jetsons and The Smurfs (see his career start up story, in his own words, here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Igcj9shVXfI). His jump from the obscure to mainstream can be narrowed down to his voice role of Perceptor in the 1980s version of Transformers.

He exploded on to the voice gaming stage by landing a gig with Blizzard in their tremendously successful role playing, top down, click fest versus demons game Diablo. Every time your warrior class in that game uttered, “I gotta pawn some of this stuff,” because your inventory is too full, it is Paul Eiding letting you know. When Pepin the Healer lets you know about a potion he wants you to give to the witch, Paul Eiding is uttering those words. Diablo was one of the first games to be packed with a full audio experience and when you look back at that game and wonder why it scared you so much it was because the sound and the voiced lore was new, fresh and downright pee your pants scary. The voice acting for Archbishop Lazarus and the lore you read throughout the dungeon….Paul Eiding. Two fine examples of his fear inducing voice can be listen to/viewed below.

Blizzard was a pretty good company to get in good with regarding a future in voice acting. Soon after his success in Diablo he showed his range by voicing Aldaris in StarCraft and its expansion StarCraft: Brood War. If the following doesn’t bring back memories and the frustration that comes from not having enough pylons, then you probably didn’t play StarCraft.

 If the picture to the left looks familiar then you too enjoyed sometime with Solid Snake of the Metal Gear Solid series and more importantly you enjoyed the voicing of Paul Eiding as Colonel Roy Campbell (pictured left). The Metal Gear Solid series success was due to the original PlayStation’s ability to use Compact Discs, new to gaming at the time, which enabled game data and rich sound. That rich sound enabled the US version of the game to hire Paul Eiding as the voice of Colonel Roy Campbell. It of course didn’t hurt that the game play of Metal Gear Solid was fun and great at creating tension.

In Blizzard’s follow up to Diablo, aptly named Diablo II, Paul voiced one of my most memorable cinematic scenes in a video game thus far (below). Funny enough, even Marius (the meager human within the scene) points out the voice of Mephisto. Who is voicing Mephisto you ask? You got it, Paul Eiding.

More recently Paul has lent his voice acting talents to Fallout 3 (voicing over 10 characters), Dragon Age: Origins (multiple characters), StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty (multiple credits) and Halo: Reach (Spartan Commander). His most recent video game credit to date, via www.imdb.com, is his reoccurring role as Zephyr in the recently announced Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One. I can only hope that another credit will be announced soon for the highly anticipated Diablo III.

Where many have had Hollywood success and then played their hand at voice acting, Paul invested early into a new and highly rewarding (commercially and personally) career of video game voice acting. Interesting enough Hollywood noticed and Paul has had voice acting roles in the animated movies Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, Up and Wall-E. I know Paul’s heart beats for the stage and more blockbuster movie roles will surely come calling from Hollywood. I just hope he keeps his toes in the video game water so all us nerds can continue to enjoy his talents.