Could World of Warcraft come to console? That has been asked many times throughout the near 20-year lifespan of the MMO, and it's rarely been met with a satisfying answer. I put the question to Holly Longdale at BlizzCon 2023, and the vice president and executive producer for World of Warcraft had this to say when I asked whether the concept is something Blizzard Entertainment finds interesting: "Of course! Yeah, we talk about it all the time."
When World of Warcraft launched on PC in 2004, the idea that it could function appropriately on the systems of the era seemed unfathomable. That's less true today, given how resolutely barriers around cross-platform play have been torn down, and the power of platforms like the Xbox Series X. Take all of that, combine it with Microsoft Gaming's recent acquisition of Blizzard Entertainment, and what was once a dream feels as if it could soon become a reality.
When asked whether it was technical logistics or complexities that would hold World of Warcraft back from coming to console, Longdale isn't so certain that this is the case. "Well, it depends on who you ask. I don't think it is, frankly. I think we're pretty well positioned, which is kind of why we talk about it."
As part of my conversation with Longdale, we touched on the challenges of balancing World of Warcraft expansions for legacy, lapsed, and new players – something which seems more precinct than ever, what with the Worldsoul Saga on the horizon and questions surrounding an Xbox release becoming louder.
"It's a complicated question. And to your earlier point, for a console audience, the approachability is likely going to be different."
"Right now, we're focused on the Worldsoul Saga. But if that comes up then we'll reexamine things but, man, we've got enough to deal with right now," laughs Longdale.
"We've got these three expansions and we are so excited about them. But, yeah, of course. It would be very insincere to say that we're not, like… of course we're talking about that," she chuckles again, before adding: "We are Microsoft now."
Longdale is keen to stress that the Warcraft teams have only had limited interactions with Xbox Game Studios in the weeks since the acquisition was finalized on October 13. When it comes to big questions surrounding World of Warcraft coming to Xbox Series X or even being introduced to Game Pass for PC, it's too early to give definitive answers. "We haven't actually had a conversation yet," she tells me.
It's still early days for Blizzard and Xbox then, but it's clear that Longdale is genuinely excited and enthusiastic about the possibilities in the future. "Wouldn't that be cool," she says, as we discuss the prospect of World of Warcraft opening itself to new audiences in the shadow of its 20th anniversary. It would be, and I can't wait to see what happens next.