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Morhaime: WoW can still grow

New content and cost-barriers to competitors will allow the MMO's subscribership to increase

Michael Morhaime, president and CEO of Blizzard Entertainment, has said there is still scope for its MMO World of Warcraft to grow beyond 10.9 million players.

Morhaime said he believed the constant development of new content, especially in the form of major expansion packs, represents a draw to consumers, while the cost-barriers to compete with Blizzard makes significant competition unlikely.

"I would also like to address other reasons why we believe World of Warcraft will continue to grow, despite increased competition," he said during an Activision Blizzard investor phone call.

"There are significant barriers to entry for this genre. It costs hundreds of millions of dollars to not only develop a game as robust as World of Warcraft, but also to create the infrastructure needed in order to support the operation of the game."

"We have a team of over 100 developers who are continually expanding the game. Any massively multiplayer online game that launches today is not just competing with the... content that we launched with back in 2004; they are also competing with a product and a service that has been continuously enhanced, expanded, and refined for almost four years now, as well as our years of experience in running the game," he added.

Commenting on Funcom's Age of Conan MMO, Morhaime assured those listening that it would not represent a barrier to World of Warcraft's growth.

"Age of Conan released with some initial success a couple of months ago, and we did see some of our players leave to try the game. However, we have already seen about 40 per cent of those players return to World of Warcraft and we expect even more to come back when Wrath of the Lich King launches later this year," he explained.

During the call, Morhaime also confirmed Blizzard's ongoing development of another MMO.

"Blizzard has begun staffing on another unannounced massively multiplayer online project but for competitive reasons, we are not able to share any additional information on that project at this time."

Wrath of the Lich King is slated for release at some time between October and December, according to the call, which sets it against Mythic's EA-published MMO effort Warhammer: Age of Reckoning.

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