All right, so Blizzard and Netease are no longer working together for publishing the former studio’s games in China. That’s significant, but it should be easy for Blizzard to hop to another partner, right? No, my sweet summer child. Scott Hartsman, well-known for RIFT but also having publishing experience including EverQuest, EverQuest 2, and ArcheAge, started a whole Twitter thread on how long the process is. And if you think it’s a quick process, he cited six months to a year as a pretty normal figure to estimate… after you find a partner, which can be a year of work on its own.
Before that clock can even start, you’ve got to find the right partner. This can take a year or more on its own. This is the getting-to-know-you phase when everyone’s on their best behavior.
Then there’s hopefully a QA group that’s going to be testing this new build, which means that a partner’s QA group now needs to be an expert at your game as well. Quality QA folks who know how your game is supposed to work, and what “feels” right or wrong are amazing and their value is never to be underestimated. Ensuring that a partner halfway around the world has sufficient numbers of them is very hard.
As Hartsman explains, even once you find a partner you’re happy to work with, the simple reality of a massive service game is that so much is built custom that both sides will have to be working together for an extended period to localize the game and make sure it works together; localizing is far more than simply handing off a game and saying, “Make this work in your language.” It’s a long thread that’s a valuable insight in just how much work goes into adapting these games… as well as how much work Blizzard will be facing.
When news like this happens, someone invariably asks "What's so hard about changing publishers?"
For the fun of it, I just started writing. 🧵 1/ https://t.co/JUzlCHUeze
— Scott Hartsman (@hartsman) November 17, 2022