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Blizzard "probably very arrogant" - Jagex

"Perhaps even over-self-assured."

Jagex chief Mark Gerhard believes success has brought arrogance to Blizzard. He told Eurogamer that the World of Warcraft and StarCraft II maker now appears to be giving "two fingers up" to a democratised community.

"They've become very successful and, as a result, probably very arrogant - perhaps even over-self-assured," Gerhard said.

Publishing players' real names as part of the controversial Real ID Battle.net feature would have been "shameful", he added.

"People want and need online games as an escape. You don't want more real-life, because for most people that's quite dull. Making everyone in your community real all of a sudden, exposing them... 18 year-old Billy and 19 year-old Susie and whatever else... It certainly wouldn't resonate with our community.

"The strength of online games when done well," Gerhard offered," is that you democratise the whole service, the whole game. And Blizzard seems to be giving two fingers up to that. This is their implementation."

Jagex has, since 2001, run free-to-play browser-based MMO RuneScape. That game now holds a Guinness World Record for the most registered users, over 140 million, and claims to have around 10 million active players. Gerhard believes RuneScape is second only to World of Warcraft.

Jagex has also started work on a new MMO called Stellar Dawn, runs casual gaming portal FunOrb and has begun publishing third-party free-to-play MMOs ("helping to market" is a phrase Gerhard perfers). Believe it or not, Jagex is the UK's biggest publisher and developer, employing around 250 staff. Gerhard said his company was "certainly" on Blizzard's map.

"I know we are," said Gerhard with a wink. "I know they have a huge amount of respect for what Jagex does.

"They certainly looked to Jagex in the early days. There's no doubt that they set a higher bar and played very, very aggressively and commercially about their product [World of Warcraft]. That's cool; it's not our modus operandi.

"Equally, I respect them hugely. It's very good to have a serious competitor," he added. "You've always got to be careful when you're number one because the only way is down. It's a great place for Jagex to be, at number two if you will, because we've always got someone to sharpen our eye on."

"We're someone they should be worried about in the future."

Not wanting to give Gerhard carte blanche to ride roughshod over Blizzard, we accused Jagex of being arrogant themselves.

"Jagex isn't about RuneScape and just RuneScape," Gerhard replied.

"We're a multi-product company. I can assure you that there's no arrogance anywhere within Jagex's fabric. I suppose with success comes a certain confidence. Very often it's in the early days of any studio where you doubt yourself a lot: it's fun for me but will it resonate, will other people want this?

"We've had years and years and years of trying things, and some work and some don't. Our precision when we make a decision on content, gameplay, mechanics, aesthetics, is more assured. But I certainly don't think there's any arrogance.

"While I certainly have a great deal of confidence and great expectations for what RuneScape will do in the future, at the same time we're innovating by making massive investments in products and things like that."

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Robert Purchese avatar

Robert Purchese

Associate Editor

Bertie is a synonym for Eurogamer. Writes, podcasts, looks after the Supporter Programme. Talks a lot.

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