The night before BlizzCon, a quartet of StarCraft fans holed themselves up at the Anaheim Marriott, huddled over their laptops. They didn’t talk to one other, only typed away.
They were chatting with readers of their fan sites – SCLegacy.com, StarCraft2forum.org and StarCraft.org. Many couldn’t make it to the show, a 2-day fan convention for Irvine game maker Blizzard Entertainment that ended Saturday. By the end of the live-blogging session, they were astounded by the number of readers who participated in the Q&A.
“250 readers,” whooped Ryan “LordofAscension” Tower, who runs SCLegacy.com, one of the oldest fan sites dedicated to the 1998 game from Irvine game developer Blizzard Entertainment.
“Really?” said Jonathan “Joneagle_X” Tietz, administrator of StarCraft2forum. “No way!”
Combined, the three sites get a few thousand visitors a month. They produce in-depth analyses, interviews and battle reports. In return, there’s some money from ads, “but not enough to live on,” said Tower, a 22-year-old tax accountant from Michigan.
But passion like that doesn’t go unnoticed. These are official Blizzard fan sites. They agreed to provide certain details to Blizzard certain things in exchange for some perks. One perk: A free airline ticket to BlizzCon, which Tower gave to Ben Barrett, a staff member in Scotland.
“I’m 18. This is probably my most important thing on my CD (resume),” said Barrett, who can’t believe he snagged a free ticket to BlizzCon. “If someone told me two years ago that I’d be in a hotel being interviewed like this and in the U.S., I wouldn’t have believed them.”
Blizzard has a “couple hundred” official fan sites out of the thousands that exist, said Paul Sams, the company’s chief operating officer. Official sites must publish weekly and must give Blizzard monthly reports on site traffic, key stories and any other pertinent details. They also agree not to violate the games’ terms of service and be supportive of the game and the company. Read the rest of this entry »