There are numerous reasons why Blizzard has managed to become the industry giant that it is today (and they don’t all have to do with bug squashing). Talent, vision, experience; you name it, Blizzard’s got it. However, when Blizzard lead content designer Kevin Martens recently spoke with Gamasutra, he admitted the real reason behind the World of Warcraft developer's success as a leading developer.
"Here's the secret to Blizzard games, and this is a secret that won't help any of our competitors: endless iteration. We'll take something, we'll put it in the game. Maybe we'll like it when we put it in, maybe we won't. We'll leave it in there for a while, we'll let it percolate. We'll play it and play it and play it, and then we'll come back. We might throw it all out, or we'll throw half of that out and redo it."
As Martens explains, this precisely the reason why Blizzard has such long development cycles, as anyone who has been waiting for StarCraft II and/or Diablo III can attest. Of course, what would you rather have: a bunch of mediocre games or one or two excellent games? If there’s a valid reason for a developer to take 10 years to develop a new title, and it means the game will be one I’ll be playing for years down the road, then by all means.
Does Blizzard’s philosophy of "endless iteration" come across to you when you play its games? Can waiting for a game for too long end up being a bad thing, or is a good a good game no matter when it comes out?