World of Warcraft

Videogaming's online explosion

December 20, 2010: 5:00 AM ET

Online games such as Age of Conan and Farmville are hot. Now industry leader Activision Blizzard is jumping into the fray with a new Internet strategy.

When videogame publisher Activision announced its merger with Vivendi Games in late 2007, analysts predicted that Vivendi's Blizzard unit, maker of the hugely popular Internet-based fantasy game World of Warcraft, would help Activision migrate to the online world.

Three years later the combined company, Activision Blizzard, is close to rolling out an online platform to support Activision's franchises, which include Guitar Hero and Call of Duty. And what lessons did Activision learn from the whizzes at its Blizzard division? How to build an in-game universe such as Warcraft's Azeroth? Time-tested techniques for online storytelling? Try the fine art of data-center management. "This is a supercomplicated business," says Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick. "You have to start thinking about where to buy the most efficient power and how to configure servers. They do this every day at Blizzard." More

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