Blizz, read this post (no, not mine, this other one)

I just read a blog that I usually don’t follow, but it popped up on The Grumpy Elf blog roll, so I followed the link and it really rocked me back on my heels. The blog is Still Searching by Samantha. Please take a look at it. In a nutshell, she describes the reasons for her decision to unsub, and to my mind it perfectly encapsulates the game play changes that have led us to where we are today.

This should be required reading at Blizz.

A couple of things struck me about the post. First, it was not a whine or tirade, it was simply an explanation of why for her the game is just no longer fun. She is not alone in this opinion, in fact I am betting that she is representative of a large part of the player base. But Blizz will not care, in fact will not even notice, that she unsubbed.

Interestingly, I had a related chat with a guildie last night on the same topic. We were discussing Patch 6.2, and that about the only reason we were looking forward to it is in the hope that it might entice some more players back to active play, our guild halls being very empty these days. Then, out of the blue, this guildie whom I have never heard disparage the game, who is a mainstay of our raid team and an excellent healer, said “I am sick and tired of Blizz catering to the whims of the top raiding guilds at the expense of regular players, just because those guilds bring in huge $$$ for Blizz with endorsements and paid events.” The guildie went on to say they expect a rash of unsubs over the next few months, but we agreed that such an occurrence would not faze Blizz, because who cares about a few thousand unsubs when you have 10 million customers.

A second thing that struck me about the post was how well it summarized the things many of us have been writing about now for months: Blizz is forcing one play style on everyone.

If you enjoy playing alts, sorry, that play style is not encouraged.

If you like crafting and professions, too bad, the current game does not support your play style.

If you are habitually unlucky, sucks to be you because every part of the game is now RNG-dependent, even something as trivial as getting that stupid selfie camera.

Dislike the farming on steroids that we call garrisons, hahaha we are going to cram it down your throats and you WILL do it if you ever hope to see any new content.

If you prefer not to raid, well what can we say other than maybe you should switch to Second Life because you are not the kind of player we respect or even listen to.

The third thing that occurred to me was that after the first couple of days that WoD went live, I have never read a WoW blog summarizing how terrific this expansion is and how the game is now more engaging than it ever was. Yes, I know it is always easier to bitch about something than to celebrate it. But you would think, if any significant part of the player base is really loving the current state of the game and is truly excited by it, that SOMEONE would rise to its defense in the face of all the negative things being written about it.

Last, a short (sort of) anecdote. Some of you may remember that I served a few years in the Army. I served with some of the finest people this country has to offer, but there was one officer who stood far above the rest. He was a role model who was liked and respected by officers and enlisted alike. If you listed all the desirable traits of an Army officer, he had them all, and none of the self-serving ambition that is far too prevalent. He was what we called a ” real stand-up guy” which is pretty much the highest compliment you could get back then.

Anyway, I digress. This officer had about 15 years in, a great future, and suddenly surprised everyone by putting his resignation papers in. I was his executive officer and along with everyone else was dumbfounded, so over a couple of beers I asked him why — was there a Bad Thing about to be discovered about him? Had he secretly screwed up so bad that his boss told him to resign? Was he gay and wanted to freely pursue that lifestyle? What?

He laughed, and then he said this:

“Think of it as a long hike, and you know you have to go straight north for a long ways over what looks like flat terrain. You see a clearly marked path going north, but as you follow it you notice every once in awhile it veers a tiny bit. You still know where north is, though, so you don’t worry about a couple of small deviations, because you can always correct for them later. Finally you come to a hilltop and look back to get your bearings, and you see that you are straight east of your starting point instead of north of it, and now you have come too far to go back and start over. I’ve started to notice some small turns in the path I chose in the Army, turns I have no choice but to follow, but turns that will inevitably lead me east instead of north. I don’t want to get to the end of a career and see that there is no longer any way to get to where I wanted to go.”

Blizz, please pause and take a look at the small design decisions you’ve made over the years, and ask yourself if they are leading you to where you want this game to be, or are they taking you in a direction you never intended to go?

And read Samantha’s blog.

About Fiannor
I have a day job but escape by playing WoW. I love playing a hunter, and my Lake Wobegonian goal is to become "above average" at it.

2 Responses to Blizz, read this post (no, not mine, this other one)

  1. Samantha says:

    Wow, just wow. I’m blown away by your response. Seriously, thank you. Wow, I don’t really know what to say but I felt I had to return a comment. I write for myself and I’ve had very few comments over the years, so it’s quite unexpected.

    I hadn’t actually ever thought about blizz getting endorsements or paid events because of top raiding teams. I suppose if they have alternative revenue streams, plus just being the juggernaut that they are, that explains a lot.

    I could speculate about their business model, and some of the gameplay decisions. My cynical side wonders if they are connected. Adding more options = more expense and less profit after all. However, I generally try and be reasonable about these things. There’s no way to know as blizz doesn’t release that kind of information.

    Besides blizz is a business at the end of the day. The primary goal isn’t to have happy customers, it’s to make as much money as possible. They can only respond to what people are willing to pay for. If blizz’s revenue took a big hit, then they’d change direction. Until then they don’t have any incentive to do so.

    Plus just because I don’t like their direction, doesn’t mean that it’s not well liked by others. I’ve always hated LFR but a lot of people love it. Blizz can’t please everybody and they are obviously doing something right, even if it’s not right for me.

    Anyway thanks for your kind words and for reading my post. Made my day to see this trackback pop up in my comments moderation.

  2. Fiannor says:

    No thanks are necessary. I hope even if you no longer write about WoW, that you keep writing. I admired the calm, unemotional way you dissected your reasons for unsubbing, and it helped me frame some of the issues I have been grappling with.