Interview with Ray Cobo, Senior Game Producer at Blizzard
We speak about Mists of Pandaria and how it’s about “hope” and not the “world ending”.
Blizzard made jaws drop when they announced Mists of Pandaria, the new expansion pack for World of Warcraft. And jaws weren’t dropped because it looked gorgeous, or it had mind-boggling items that players would itch to have. But it had Pandas – something your kids may want to cuddle with, not you taking it in a blood bath for loot and experience points.
We had the opportunity to chat with Ray Cobo, the senior game producer at Blizzard, where we tossed the topic of Pandaria, hoping to learn the what and why, and the changes it would bring to WoW and for its players.
I have to say that I’ve only been playing WoW for the past 6 months, and I’m using words like ‘loot’ in real life.
[Laughs] That’s so awesome.
What is about WoW that has kept the momentum going over these so many years despite so many other MMOs coming into the market?
It’s definitely a phenomenon – there’s nothing else like it. I think it’s the social aspect mostly – it allows you to meet with friends, join up with other gamers, and you want to just explore the world with these folks. We have so much content out there for the players to explore, that you just want to keep going further.
Recently WoW went free to play up to level 20 – what brought about that decision?
I think we wanted players to get a sense of what the world was about, previously we felt that they weren’t able to really get that, some of the content wasn’t available after the initial trial period, so we expanded it a little bit by making it free to play until level 20, in the hopes that it would help people evaluate the game better.
Do you ever think that WoW will be completely free to play with paid subscribers getting access to more dungeons or better loot?
I’m not too sure – it’s hard to say the way things have been going so far, but what we want to concentrate on it providing really good content for the player base, and really just going from there. Overall I think WoW still has a very strong core and momentum, so I don’t know if free to play is out of the question, but you never know.
Now you’ve announced the next expansion for World of Warcraft, Mists of Pandaria – is that your plan for WoW that you’ll continue to release expansions for it, or will there be a day where you finally leave the game to the community to continue playing and nurturing it while you start new projects?
I think we definitely want to keep releasing content for it, and that’s something we plan to do. WoW is a living, breathing game, so the moment you stop giving it content it’s not going to continue doing as well as it currently is. Things like Raids, Battlegrounds, PvP – none of that existed when we launched WoW, and we continually listen to the community and figure out what it is they want to do and how they want to play the game, and try to incorporate that into the game.
This is a question from one of our community members: Why is it taking the dwarfs in Stormwind more than a year to re-construct the damage that Deathwing left in the world? Is there a recession in the World of Warcraft?
[Laughs] That’s a good question! Dwarves like to drink a lot.
And you just had Brewfest…
Yup – so they take things slow, put a brick down, have a drink, put another brick down…