Blizzard is as successful as ice cream. Loved by critics and gamers while rolling in money. But how do they do it? Here are some reasons.

…btw as a filthy console player I’ve only recently gotten into Hearthstone and Overwatch so I won’t be mentioning examples from WOW, Diablo, or that MOBA. Feel free to add your wisdom in the comments below you old genius you…

Colors

When Gearbox fanboy Tory showed me a preview of Battleborn and Overwatch way back I was struck by how these upcoming console game looked and felt so…..PC. What made me think that? Firstly it was the bright colors.  Console gaming is in a much better place than the grey and serious days of 360/PS3 shooters, but PC’s biggest titles are bright, colorful, and have no problem joking around. MOBAs and mobile games have paved a technicolor road with money and that road was now running straight through console land.

Blizzard games rock the rainbow and make your mind dance with the clown in the bright sunshine. But it’s not just colors…

 

Visual Feedback

People like fireworks and Blizzard incorporates our vision lust into everything they make. They make games of substance, but they never skimp on style. It’s a feast for the eyes and they’ll stuff you fatter than Kevin Spacey force fed the glutton in Seven. While waiting for my opponent in Hearthstone, a simple tap on the scenery caused a beautiful fountain to erupt and finish with the most perfect fade. It was a damn satisfying five seconds and I could feel neurons in my brain begging for more of the eye candy machine.

The waiting rooms in Overwatch deserve an article of their own.

 

Variety of play

My favorite part of Overwatch is the sheer variety of play styles. Snipe, Shield, annoy, heal, wall-ride, teleport, fly, and never get bored as another way to play is only a death away. It’s easy to get burnt out on a regular shooter, but Overwatch is so much more and will only be getting deeper as new characters are released.

Hearthstone may have less Classes to choose from but it’s deck building keeps players tinkering away almost as much as they play the actual game.

Progression and rewards

This is the biggy and Blizzard are masters.

Overwatch keeps that bar moving after every game win or lose. It rewards for you playing with a friend, for playing two in a row, but not quitting, for winning, for just about anything that will nudge you towards the next game. Ready for bed? well you’re only one game away from that next loot crate. Now that you’ve scored a purple you might as well fire up one more game and use that sweet loot. It just keeps going and going.

Hearthstone uses progression for the all mighty packs as well as ranking. Daily quests that promise better rewards mean a better use of our time right? We plow through the matches to earn the currency we need to finally (never) complete our perfect deck. And each game brings us new insight into our deck’s construction. If only we had more mid-game minions we would have crushed that bastard Priest. And every time we tinker we have to try it out in the field, only to tinker some more. Just as you might be getting bored, you’ve accrued enough gold for a pack and that next hit of dopamine is right around the corner.

It sounds negative, and in a way it is. Blizzard (and others) preys on the same psychology that slot machines do. In the end it means we’re having fun, but being slightly manipulated at the same time. Hearthstone is not Candy Crush by a longshot, but the similarities are these. It’s just up to Blizzard to use those techniques in a less evil way, and for the most part they do.

 

 

Is there another game developer so universally loved and successful? Blizzard has stuck with a relatively small number of franchises and delivered top-notch gaming experiences for decades and they deserve to be celebrated and profitable. They continue to perfect their formula like a high-level tournament deck and I wish them all the mana – or whatever the hell they make their games from – in the world.

 

Do you like Blizzard?