HolidayBuyer's Guide

Where's Blizzard?

NEW YORK--With nearly everybody who is anybody in the world of virtual worlds on hand at the State of Play conference here this weekend, the thing no one could figure out was where was Blizzard Entertainment?

NCSoft, makers of popular titles like "City of Heroes" and the upcoming "City of Villains" was there. So was "EverQuest's" Sony Online Entertainment, "Eve Online's" CCP Game Design and Makena, publishers of "There." And the whole conference, to which hundreds had come from across the country and around the world to talk about the social, economic, legal and political aspects of online games, seemed a lot like a love-in for Linden Lab's "Second Life."

But Blizzard, which makes "World of Warcraft," by far the most successful American massively multiplayer online game ever, was nowhere to be seen, and everyone was buzzing about it.

One theory is that the company's user fest, BlizzCon, which is expected to attract as many as 4,000 people later this month, might have kept its executives from attending. And that's certainly possible.

Still, the thinking goes, Blizzard should have been on hand, especially since people were talking about "World of Warcraft" just about everywhere at the conference: in the halls, on panels, at the night-time booze-fests, etc.

In the end, it didn't matter. The conference was a big success, with a series of well-attended panels and a ton of networking. But it would have been nice, the thinking went, if Blizzard, which is the 800-pound gorilla in the online games space right now, had taken the time to show up.

Update: Blizzard said Tuesday that it couldn't send anyone to State of Play because it is crazy busy preparing for BlizzCon, which will be held in a couple of weeks.