Garrison Crush Saga

We all knew this was coming, of course — no one spends $5.9 billion to buy up a company like King and then not squeeze everything they can out of it as soon as possible. Blizz has been telling us now for a couple of years that they think the future of gaming is in mobile apps, so no one should be surprised when they move to not only develop separate mobile app games but also incorporate mobile play into every game franchise they own.

The latest news about the imminent launch — for iOS and Android — of a WoW Companion App, designed to let you fiddle with your class hall missions and check out current world quests, will be welcomed by some and decried by others. (As of this morning, I was unable to find it yet in the App Store, so my guess is we are a couple of days out from it still.)

In my last post, I wrote that the whole class hall piece in Legion seemed contrived and sort of out of place to me, and I have truly never understood why Blizz would want to shove more garrison-like activity down our throats after the really bad reception the whole mechanic got in WoD.

All is now clear. I think that from the start Blizz planned Legion garrison class hall missions expressly for the King treatment. It explains a lot about why they retained much of the garrison structure and mini-game aspect — the code was already there to use for mobile app development and testing, no need to start from scratch. It also explains why the integration of class halls into the Legion story seems relatively clumsy and more like an afterthought. It was not an afterthought, it was planned ever since the acquisition of King, As an actual mini-game with main game tie-ins. It is the logical evolution of the early and relatively tenuous tie-ins Blizz did with Hearthstone. The Hearthstone connections had no real influence on anyone’s game, but the class hall mission ones do.

I should, at this point, tell you that I am by no means a technophobe. Quite the opposite. I have several mobile devices, and I love using them. (As a matter of fact, I usually write this blog on a tablet.) I have, and use, multiple accounts on a variety of social apps (though I acknowledge the concept that social app users are not truly customers but rather the product). I am someone who dearly loves the newest, shiniest gizmos, someone who enjoys being connected to the world and being able to interact with it at will.

But I have to say I am a tad bit uneasy with what I see as the Facebookification of WoW. From the ability to integrate the game with one’s Twitter account, to the actual Facebook tie-in and use of live streaming from that app, to now this new mobile app — it all gives me a kind of itchy feeling between my shoulder blades. I don’t know exactly why, either. My best guess is that these changes seem to make the game less of a respite from daily life and more an actual part of it. It is incrementally blurring the line between escape/relaxation time and the demands of being an adult.

There is no doubt, from Blizzard’s point of view, that this is a very good thing. Their previous attempts to integrate social apps into the game had mixed results (people really do seem to be kind of averse to using their FB account to log in to the game, for example), but I am betting this new app will be a net win for Blizz. For one thing, it will very significantly increase the all-important franchise performance metric of “Monthly Active Users” — that is, the number of hours active subscribers spend logged in to the game. Think of all the time you spend just quickly checking the various alerts and tracking apps on your phone. Now you can do a quick check of your class hall missions, too, and maybe see what new world quests are available for your evening play time. Those minutes, multiplied by at least tens of thousands of players, become huge for the Activision Blizzard Quarterly Reports.

It will not stop with class hall missions, either. Depending on how well this app is received — and I am betting it will go over very well — expect to see it expand into other areas. Right now I think the most likely candidate for expansion is work orders for cooking and any other professions that use them, and I am sure there are other areas I am just not thinking of. But when we start to learn more about Patch 7.1, keep your eyes open for mechanics that will be the next thing to be incorporated into the WoW mobile app.

I don’t know if I will make use of the new app or not. I am sure plenty of people will love it, plenty will think of it as a way to maximize their actual game time, and that is perfectly legitimate. In a way, it’s almost too enticing not to use, but then so was Facebook when it started, and people did not notice that the creature beckoning them into the gingerbread-and-candy house was actually a wicked witch who would eat them ….

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.

6 Responses to Garrison Crush Saga

  1. Now that we have the precedent of the pet battle toy (battle anywhere, I think) I’d see a pet battle app feature. I’d rather not play on my phone tho, even pet battles.

  2. Grumsta says:

    The first thing that surprises me about this is that it didn’t happen sooner. Perhaps Blizz realised that if they put WoD Garrison missions on a phone no-one would ever log in on their PC again other than to PvP or raid?

    The second thing is: why not build this into the existing Armory app? I use that app for 99% of my AH activity. I also use it to check and sign up for guild activities like raid nights. It’s not perfect, but it’s there and in dire need of some attention.

    I’m not sold on Garrisons 3.0 – they have the worst elements of both the Garrison and the Shipyard for me (aside from sinking ships, thank goodness). I’m at the stage in the Hall quest where I need to do five missions at the table. No. Just no. Five daily missions for me, yes. No problem with that. Five visits to a boring mechanic like this? Blurgh. (And I hear there’s more of these quest chains to come….?)

    The stuff I read about CH missions said that they definitely weren’t the same as Garrison missions, they’d get you out into the world. Not so far they haven’t. I thought I was going to be doing stuff with my followers, not just be able to have one as Bodyguard. If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck then crack open the Hoisin sauce I say.

    Perhaps having the CH stuff on the phone will allow the boring bits to be done in a quiet few moments during the day (e.g. the commute for many peeps), leaving time at the PC for the interesting stuff? It could end up being a win/win.

    I will give a thumbs-up to the new Bodyguard feature though – now your companion gets XP out in the world. Fantastic. I took the Frost Mage out with me yesterday and they were genuinely helpful. They’re levelling up at the same pace I am which I think is pretty neat. I can take them out on my adventures, whip them into shape, then put them back in the Facebook world as a thank you for their efforts.

    This may be a Mage Hall thing but I’m also not a fan of the CH stuff being spread around the place either. I can recruit two types of cannon fodder, and they’re both in different areas of the CH. There’s another NPC who can do research and they’re somewhere else again. I hit 105 last night and I think that means I can get them to research something, but I forgot to visit them to check. There’s another one upstairs but I don’t think they come into it until 110. At least they don’t wander aimlessly around the place and visit each other like the NPCs did in WoD Garrisons originally. Hopefully in the app all this will be in one place and it’ll be easier to manage.

    For all my whinging about the new Garrison I’m loving the xpac so far. I applaud the work that has gone into Azsuna, Val’sharah and the main campaign. I’m almost at 106, hopefully I can get to 110 before the end of the week and start on World Quests.

    • Grumsta says:

      First impressions of the app are good: it is indeed a win/win and all the stuff that was spread out in my CH is in one easy-to-navigate place now. I can sort out my Garrison stuff before I get back to play the proper game.

      The bit that now concerns me: they wouldn’t have gone to all this trouble if this app wasn’t going to be integral to the whole of this xpac, and by reasonable extension all xpacs to come. I expect all meaningful progress to be gated behind the Garrison mechanic.

      I had hoped that Blizz had gotten these asinine mini-games out of their system in WoD, here is the proof that once again they’ve doubled down on them. The app makes them bearable, but it also means they’re here to stay.

      I can only assume this is a tick box on someone’s KPI. I fail to see what it has to do with WoW, or Legion. It could be replaced with something far more interesting and meaningful in the game.

      Oh well, the other 99% of Legion is fantastic.

      • Fiannor says:

        Yes, I have also tried the app and it seems quite useful. It seems that the lesson Blizz learned from the reaction to WoD garrisons was that many players were replacing their normal game play activities with garrison duties. The way they “fixed” this was to make it easy to carry out the duties during odd moments throughout the day, thus permitting players to get back to “normal” game play during their regular play time. It’s brilliant, actually. It makes players more receptive to the whole idea of garrisons, plus it increases the all-important Monthly Active Users metric.

        I share your concerns, however, regarding mini games that seem destined to become a constant and ever-expanding feature of the game. I did not mind them when they were in fact peripheral amusements, because I was free to ignore them if I chose. Pet battles is an example. But when the mini games become, as you put it, integral to progress in the rest of the game, then I get that crawly feeling between my shoulder blades.

        Blizz spent almost $6 billion to buy King, and mini games is what they do. I initially thought the implications for WoW were minimal, that what the acquisition mainly meant was that Activision Blizzard was going to start marketing standalone mobile game apps, such as Hearthstone. Clearly I was very wrong.

        In addition to helping to increase game play time per player, the WoW mini game app has a lot of monetization potential. A tie-in to the Blizz store may be far off, but it is a possibility. But there are other options. Right now the app is free, but Blizz could certainly market it as a handy convenience for players and charge a nominal fee for it. Or they could add a very small targeted advertising space to it. (And then maybe charge a small fee for the ad-free version.) Certainly a $6 billion company such as King has a lot of ideas for how to make money from it.

  3. gnomecore says:

    I am eager to try the app. As missions last starting with approx 4 hours, it’s a perfect thing to do on a lunch break. Once I have all ‘garrison’ missions running for my 12 toons, I will spend like 5 minutes to reschedule them.
    It’s a nice tie-in to the game, yes. And yet it’s not demanding at all.

  4. demonnick says:

    I have tried the app as well and I agree that it is actually quite nice. As you all have pointed out it makes the “garrison” routine tasks much quicker and convenient. I do fear that they will try to monetize this app however, considering they will need to pay off that 6 billion dollar purchase price somehow. I can not stress enough that no amount of convenience will ever make me give blizzard money up and above my monthly subscription. I’m already salty from the lack of content we received during WOD, and this to me is completely unacceptable considering how much they are making from subscriptions.

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