You run a game for around five years, you can't expect it to be cheap. You've got to run servers, pay customer service reps, pay for marketing, etc etc. World of Warcraft's been running for four years now, so how much has the upkeep cost Blizzard? $200 million. Or, at least that's what Blizzard disclosed during yesterday's analyst conference call. That's it. Staff payroll, hardware support, customer service (which, interestingly, they say is their largest department), the lot. Well, mostly - we think they're just talking the upkeep costs, not the original development costs. Sure, in isolation $200 million is a lot of clams, but when you put $200 million in the "expenditures" column then put $300 gazillion in the "revenue" column, you're not just laughing all the way to the bank, you're cackling.
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