Blizzard Is, Like, Totally Old

By Alec Meer on February 9th, 2011 at 5:30 pm.

Give it up, they're never gonna make Lost Vikings 3

Snowstorm Entertainment, creators of games such as FightMaking, Planet of FightMaking, Devil and SunMaking, turns 20 this month. And yet no-one’s ever heard of ‘em. Oh well, good try chaps.

Ahahah. Heh. Ha. Quoth the kings of Blizzard, “In 1991, three guys fresh out of UCLA decided to start their own game company. Their goal: make cool games and have fun doing so.” Back in February 1991, Michael Morhaime, Allen Adham and Frank Pearce’s studio was known as Silicon & Synapse, becoming the familiar Blizzard in 1994. A page dedicated to their anniversary promises all manner of nostalgic goodies over the coming weeks, although there’s nothing up just yet. While we wait, I thought I’d write up a little timeline of Blizzard’s greatest moments…

1991 – RPM racing makes a bit of money.
1992 – The Lost Vikings makes some money.
1992 – Dvorak on Typing sounds like it probably didn’t make much money.
1994 – Warcraft: Orcs & Humans makes some money.
1995 – Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness makes a fair bit of money.
1997 – Diablo makes quite a lot of money.
1998 – StarCraft makes a lot of money.
2000 – Diablo II makes an awful lot of money.
2002 – Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos makes a pretty staggering amount of money.
2004 – World of Warcraft makes HOLY GOD ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD ALL OF IT OH MY GOD THEY’RE SO LUDICROUSLY RICH SOOOOOOOOOO RICH.
2007 – World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade makes blah blah lots and lots of money blah blah
2008 – World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King makes blah blah lots and lots of money blah blah
2010 – StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty makes probably not as much money but still an unbelievable amount.
2010 – World of Warcraft: Cataclysm makes even more money, somehow. How is it possible? No-one knows.
2011 – No-one else in the world has any money, because Blizzard has it all.
2012 – Blizzard buys God.

As a proper trip down memory lane, here’s Blizzard’s first ever game – RPM Racing.

That’s Arthas driving the blue truck, y’know.

It’s been a journey, gents – and best of all, you’ve always been a front and centre champion of the PC, and of genres that so many other companies have left behind in favour of tedious shooting galleries. It’s very hard to begrudge you your underpants made of solid diamonds given that. Here’s to the next 20 years. And Diablo III very soon, please.

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71 Comments »

  1. Unaco says:

    Reading that list, The Lost Vikings is the only Blizzard game I’ve ever played. And I didn’t even know it was by Blizzard. And, it isn’t even my favourite Viking based game (that honour goes to Heimdall).

    • noom says:

      Heimdall followed by the Lost Vikings is the correct order of business. Well done.

      Maybe once dinosaurs have become the new zombies, vikings will become the new dinosaurs. I hope so.

    • seb says:

      Wow, Heimdall. Core Design’s golden age. Now I must travel to Moby Games and stare at screenshots for a few tearful minutes.

    • Sic says:

      Wasn’t Hammer of the Gods pretty good, though?

    • simonh says:

      The only viking-based game I ever played was Vikingabyn (The Viking Village).
      It was an educational game from the early 90s. It was the swedish equivalent of The Oregon Trail I guess, all the schools had it.

    • destx says:

      I rather liked Rune. It was very silly though.

    • Soon says:

      Ahh. Lovely, lovely Heimdall.

    • Baf says:

      Honestly, I think The Lost Vikings has stood the test of time a lot better than Heimdall has.

      It has a lot to do with the user interface. Heimdall has a GUI from the dawn age, with not enough feedback by modern standards (no rollover highlights or cursor changes) and a menu of unintuitive verbs. If you want to transfer possessions between characters, do you click on the verb “Give”? No, you click “Distribute”. “Give” is only for giving things to NPCs. Why are these two separate actions? For that matter, why do the characters have separate inventories in the first place? The interface in Lost Vikings, by contrast, is simple, consistent, and optimized for a gamepad, just like Super Meat Boy. It’s the sort of interaction that twenty years of technological advancement has not improved on.

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      Rikard Peterson says:

      Yay Lost Vikings! A good game, and the only Blizzard game I too have played.

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      Jackablade says:

      Was Heimdall the one with the “throwing axes at bar wench who is pinned to a wall by her braids” mini game? I can’t remember anything else that happened in said game, but that section probably should put it pretty high on the rather short list of best Viking related games.

  2. Alaric says:

    Hurray for Blizzard!

  3. SquareWheel says:

    Why the heck would expansions for World of Warcraft be considered a new game?

    Anyway, haven’t really played a Blizzard game since Warcraft II, I sure had a lot of fun with it though.

    • bleeters says:

      You might better understand the differences between expansions if you’d actually played them. All three have been, on the whole, dramatic improvements over the previous ones in just about every area.

    • Sam says:

      Where does it say they’re considered new games?

  4. akaleus says:

    Was literally about to fall out of my chair with laughter on this post. Thank you RPS and thank you Alec. BTW… I loved me some RPM racing in tha day. :)

  5. Jimbo says:

    Dinosaurs eat Blizzard… Valve inherits the earth.

  6. Sweedums says:

    having done a recent playthrough of titan quest and the expansion in coop with a friend, I have a new found excitement for the click on things to make them go splat genre, so I may actually get Diablo 3 when it comes out… but my heart will always be with starcraft. long live Blizzard.

  7. Rhin says:

    Dvorak on Typing !?!?!? Where do I get one of those? Maybe even three of them?

    Also, Blizzard wanted to do a shooting gallery (SC:Ghost) but they canned it after they realized it was tedious. It’s nice when a studio is rich enough where they can afford to throw away projects they don’t like. It’s also nice when a studio has standards.

  8. PJMendes says:

    1994: Motherfucking BLACKTHORNE!!!

    • Rhin says:

      + 9000 just for the ability to shotgun things in the face without ever turning around.

    • Wolfox says:

      I was about to type that. How can anyone forget Blackthorne?

    • Xocrates says:

      I was about to point out they GLARINGLY left out BlackThorne. I don’t care if it made money or not, it deserved to be on the list just for the “shotgunning people without turning around”

    • DarioSamo says:

      How dare you forget Blackthorne. I played it like 2 years ago, and I still loved it despite its age.

    • Daniel Klein says:

      Blackthorne gives no fucks. He will shoot you in the face, but he won’t look you in the face.

      Loved that game.

    • BroodKiller says:

      Blackthorne, goddamit! :)

    • Gonefornow says:

      Yep, BlackThorne is epically awesome.
      And it was the first game they made under their current name.
      That is worth a mention, no?

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      Scandalon says:

      Thanks for jolting my brain. I knew there was a game I wanted to mention, and I knew it was the first time I saw “Blizzard”, I just couldn’t remember the name. IIRC, It was on the first PCGamer coverdisk (floppy!) I ever had.

    • Spacewalk says:

      It was a true crime to leave Blackthorne out in the cold like this.

    • Renzatic says:

      BLLLAAACCCCKKKTTTTHHHHOOORRRNNNEE!

      Glad someone mentioned it. Blizzard’s take on Prince of Persia, but with shoguns, orcs, and…I dunno…attitude or something. Wonderful game.

  9. HeavyStorm says:

    I don’t know RPM Racing, but I do know Rock ‘n Roll Racing, which was a great game. And it seems that you forgot about Blackthorne, that I think did a bit of money too, since it has versions even for SEGA CD (wow… that’s old).

    I worth mentioning, because I think it’s super relevant, that back in (1999? Not sure), blizz announced Adventures Of Warcraft, which got cancelled. And that’s was the exact time when I decided that Blizzard was the best game maker in the whole wide world (www), because only one as such would cancel a project that was sure to sell enough to break even.

    • Sarlix says:

      The man is right, Rock n Roll racing did exist, I played it. In fact I’m surprised it wasn’t on the list. It was a classic of the time.

      “And red takes the lead!”

      or something like that.

    • Optimaximal says:

      RnR Racing was the spiritual sequel to RPM.

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    skalpadda says:

    It’s a bit worrying that RPS can’t seem to write a single article about Blizzard without mentioning giant heaps of money. Nice of Alec to acknowledge that they do have other merits than just that though.

  11. The Hammer says:

    Christ on a bendy bus, I’m only one year older than Blizzard.

    Here’s hoping that Diablo III is as awesome as it looks and that Titan does something spectacular!

    Meanwhile, of Blizzard’s games I have played: Lost Vikings (1 or 2 I can’t remember – maybe even both), Diablo 2, Starcraft 1, Starcraft 2, Warcraft 3, and, of course, World of Warcraft.

    Which is a lot of gaming done outside of the FPS spectrum!

  12. Jumwa says:

    Anniversary surprises? Like how they used to give us a free pet each year for WoW’s anniversary until they realized people would pay real money for them and promptly stopped, replacing it with a simple in-game form letter instead?

  13. Alec Meer says:

    Troublingly, people appear to be treating that list as though it is serious and definitive. The clues are there.

    • Saiko Kila says:

      Problem with this list is: if no-one except one entity has all money, then all money loses all value. Then how could they buy God (or any god, even smaller one, like Hermes, god of merchants)? Only barter remains, i.e. something in exchange for something else. And what would Blizzard offer in exchange? Lifetime WOW account? Er, wait…

  14. ScubaV says:

    I know it’s cool to hate Blizzard now since they’re just another ‘The Man’, but they’ve made and still make some really fun games. And that’s what I love most about this hobby.

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    Gap Gen says:

    I thought The Lost Vikings was published in 1192, not Vivaldi on Keyboards.

  16. Quintin Smith says:

    Haha. The bit at 0:46 when the truck explodes.

  17. RadioactiveMan says:

    I love Blizzard. They create great games with fantastic backstories, and they have high production values. They adhere to the “its not done till its done” mantra, but still produce high quality games on a regular basis. Too bad their stock is attached to Activision…

    Personal favorite memories from Blizzard games I’ve played:
    -Metzen’s awesome artwork in the Warcraft manuals. Looking at those now you can see the seeds of WoW being formulated.
    -The Amerigo cutscene in Starcraft. Possibly the best cinematic in a game, ever.

  18. Asskicker says:

    Cool, I’m the same age as Blizzard!

  19. Vague-rant says:

    Hmmm. I’m very curious as to how I remember playing RPM racing from that video, despite being born in the same year as its release.

  20. westyfield says:

    When did Blizzard sell out to The Man?

    • DeathHamsterDude says:

      Last Thursday . . .

      They didn’t quite sell out really. I don’t begrudge them their money at all. They have high standards and are pretty good at the whole not-releasing-giant-buggy-messes-of-code-instead-of-an-actual-game thing.
      However, I personally feel that they haven’t progressed very much as developers. Their games just don’t get me as excited as Valves’ anymore. They tend to make the same three games over and over again with updated graphics and with little change in actual gameplay. I spent most of my youth playing Blizzard games right up until Diablo 2, and I thoroughly enjoyed sinking hundreds of hours into each of them. I tried SCII and it was basically a fancier-looking version of SC without a good single-player campaign and with less well balanced multi-player. I tried WOW too, but MMOs, especially of the click-wait five seconds-clicky style, just don’t hold my attention. I have been looking forward to Diablo 3 though, but whether a loot-em up dungeon crawler will be as good in 2011-2012 as in 2000 I just don’t know. I’m withholding judgement until I see how it turns out.

    • Brumisator says:

      They didn’t sell out the man, they BOUGHT the man!

    • Gonefornow says:

      They ARE the man now dog!

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    LegendaryTeeth says:

    Forget RPM racing, Rock N’ Roll Racing was the greatest game Blizzard ever made.

  22. Gassalasca says:

    R’n'R Racing taught me to appreciate hard rock classics. It took me five years before, at fifteen, I finally managed to track down all the songs (Radar Love gave me the most trouble).

  23. geldonyetich says:

    I wonder how much of the original Blizzard staff responsible for their biggest hits is actually still there at this point? Seems that a lot of games were advertising they had ex-Blizzard talent making them.

    Sometimes, it seems to me like World of Warcraft did to Blizzard what Ultima Online did to Origin. Since its release they eventually released Starcraft 2, but it took them what, 6-7 years to put out something not WoW related? At this rate, we’ll see Diablo 3 in 2014.

    • Xocrates says:

      While it’s known that Starcraft 2 was delayed for about a year while they polished WoW, they still have different teams for every franchise. They didn’t take 7 years to make SC2 because WoW had priority, they took 7 years to make SC2 because they could.

      Besides, Blizzard was well known for taking forever to release their games that by the time WoW came around they had already decided not to announce release dates in advance since they knew they wouldn’t meet them. Heck, it took as long between announcing WoW and actually releasing it as it did for SC2, and even Warcraft 3.
      And while they didn’t release any non-wow game until Sc2, they did cancel Starcraft: Ghost.

      Blizzard’s release schedule has always been slow, WoW didn’t change that.

  24. 69stabcat says:

    2001 — Starcraft: Ghost cons a couple of dudes into buying a GameCube.

  25. Sunjammer says:

    Thinking about Blackthorne gives me such ridiculous pangs of nostalgia. It reminds me of how keyboards used to feel, the turbo button on 486es, PC speaker audio, how awesome the first time you heard Wolf3D through a Soundblaster card was. The best gaming moments and memories of my life happened through DOS. Console gamers are lucky in that they get to remember this and that console and the games that came out of it. For us it’s been a steady flow of rising title quality and accessibility. FFS i remember making a boot disk to play Leisure Suit Larry, and i remember it fondly.

    We need some kind of label, i feel, for a certain era of PC games. Because holy hell were the mid to late 90s glorious

  26. rocketman71 says:

    Blizzard a champion of PC?. Please, that must have been before 2009. After that, no LAN, obligatory B.Net, the RealId scheme (will come back), the mod and map censoring, the Korean BS, banning accounts for cheating in single player (which yeah, it’s stupid, but nowhere near enough cause to ban anyone, even if it’s only a month)…

    Yep, Blizzard was a champion of PC. Not anymore, not since Kotick.

  27. Navagon says:

    How about a “Staring Eyebrows” tag?

  28. Miker says:

    Anybody who has seen StarCraft II’s multiplayer interface knows that Blizzard doesn’t mess around when they make games. The Battle.net integration in SC2 probably contains more hours of work and polish than entire games.

  29. coldvvvave says:

    Blackthorne is the only Blizzard game I ever liked.

  30. Pijama says:

    People are taking this list WAY too seriously.

  31. adonf says:

    What are the differences between Diablo 1 and 2?

    I never played the second one because the first one was repetitive and boring and I thought that number 2 would be more of the same, but it seems that it’s an important game for a lot of people, more than Diablo 1.

    • Xocrates says:

      Let’s see, I think the main differences would be the 5-7 classes with 30 unique skills each (as opposed to 3 with a fairly useless unique skill each + spells that only the wizard will use), the ability to run, the way bigger world which includes outdoor (and thus more open) maps.

      While it’s unlikely that you’ll enjoy Diablo 2 if you don’t like the genre in particular (which I assume you don’t since you don’t like Diablo) the game is much bigger with a lot more variety.

      Of course, you don’t have to take my word for it, there is a demo afterall.

    • adonf says:

      I sense some sort of sarcasm but thanks for the explanation.

    • Xocrates says:

      Actually, my reply was unusually sarcasm free. Even the demo recommendation was because I knew I wouldn’t be able to name all the significant changes.

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    The Sombrero Kid says:

    Blizzard are remarkably underwhelming for a company that makes so much money, they would probably appear in my top 100 developers of all time, but definitely not in the top 10.

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    Thermal Ions says:

    Having played The Lost Vikings upon it’s original release, and having just revisited WoW after a couple of year hiatus it was a trip down memory lane to find Eric, Baleog & Olaf as controllable “pets” for a number of quests.

    • The Hammer says:

      Oh my god, -really-?

      Gosh. I’ve never wanted an Alliance character more. Alas!

  34. bonjovi says:

    anyone else think the lost Vikings would make an awesome ios/android game?

  35. Igor Hardy says:

    Thank you for that timeline – very educative and helpful, and all that money makes me think I’ll actually replicate it for my own video games career.

  36. luckystriker says:

    Well, happy anniversary Blizz. I’ve been playing your games for 20 years, and here’s to another 20 years of glorious gaming.