CNN Money has named Mike Morhaime, the CEO of Blizzard Entertainment, as the 46th most important person in a list of 50 personalities that represent Business 2.0. We'll leave out our annoyances with the list as a whole (c'mon, naming "consumer as creator" as #1? Cop out!) so instead we'll use Mike's naming as an opportunity to analyze the importance of Blizzard's crowning achievement, World of Warcraft, to the World of Business.
The totality of CNN's tribute to Mike is dedicated to the wild popularity of WoW. The article claims that WoW is more than "just another video game", citing the uniqueness of the game's popularity (6.5 million users and climbing), profitability (WoW brought in $700 million last year) and peripherals (a thriving out-of-game market for virtual goods worth around $200 million) as factors that make Mike a uniquely influential business leader.
Big business' attraction to World of Warcraft's is no doubt due to the game's domination of MMO marketshare -- when you own 50% of a subscription based market you're bound to draw the attention of the suits -- so we wouldn't be surprised if WoW isn't the company's last MMO, despite earlier denials by a Blizzard staffer. Still, we feel sorry for Mike. On one side he's got the money crazy suits asking for more, MORE MMOs, and on the other he's got millions of StarCraft, Diablo and WarCraft fans screaming for sequels to their beloved franchise. He deserves an award just for being able to maintain that smug smile!