He drew a parallel to another Blizzard behemoth, World of Warcraft. "No one thought WoW would be so big; we were hoping for 500,000 subscribers, tops!" he says. Instead, the game came out and defied the expectations of journalists, analysts, gamers and developers alike, currently sitting pretty atop 11 million subscriptions worldwide. But that wasn't what the team originally set out to do, says Browder - they just tried to make the best game they possibly could, and the fans took it from there. "You can't set out to sell 10 million copies; if that's your goal, it'll paralyze you. Your goal has to be to deliver a quality experience; you have to do the best you can and see what the fans think. They're the ones who make the game big, not you."
That's the philosophy Browder and his team have had throughout the game's long development process, and as the game nears its release, they're sticking to it. "Ultimately what made StarCraft great - what will make StarCraft II hopefully great - is that, yeah, we work really hard at making a game, and the community works really hard at loving it." It's a collaborative process, says Browder, "and honestly, [StarCraft's] success wasn't even half on our end."
"The community invented e-sports. The community invented Battle.net's success - yeah, we made the service, but they were the ones who used it in vast numbers. The community showed us just what was possible with modding in StarCraft and Warcraft III. We didn't invent [the popular Defense of the Ancients] - that was all them!" Browder says.
Surpassing one of the most beloved games of all time - and getting the diehard community to let its baby go - is a task of Herculean proportions, and nobody knows that better than Blizzard. Still, as the company once noted on its official StarCraft II FAQ, it's been in this position before. Warcraft II was an influential and beloved classic; Blizzard made Warcraft III and WoW. Diablo practically defined the dungeon-crawler, and Blizzard surpassed it with Diablo II. The developers have bested themselves before - why not now?
So far, reactions to the StarCraft II beta have been almost universally positive from press and fans alike, but the real test will come when the game finally sees the light of day and finds itself on the hard drives of eager gamers worldwide. Then and only then will Browder and his team know if they've succeeded in their very own Mission Impossible.
As a StarCraft player might say, Dustin, "GL, HF" - good luck, have fun.
John Funk tried to construct additional Pylons, but he plays Zerg. It didn't end well.