Occasionally, the stars align, and you get a moment when everything makes sense. For me, that moment was about 3pm yesterday. That’s when Ion Hazzikostas posted this observation on the real value of expensive vendor items to the community as a whole. Normally I’d quote this (at least in part) but in this case I actually want you to go away and read the entire post for yourself. Oh, and when I mean read it? That’s what you have to do. I’m not after your need to make your own point to Ion, why you feel the last Expansion failed, or the one before that. This isn’t about you attacking him because you have your own issues with playing Warcraft that can’t be adequately reconciled at the present time. I need you to just digest the words, and try and understand the beautifully simple idea he presents. Warcraft is not just one thing to you, it is in turn something else to me, and a different thing to that person over there you didn’t even see, because they never say a word. It is all of these elements, and more.
Individual players, as fans of Thing A above all else, expect the game to cater simply to them, often at the expense of everybody else, but it can’t do that. The MMO remains a genuine community of often disparately matched groups which Blizzard does it best to appease in the best way it can.
The key to the brilliance of that observation is many fold: firstly, it does acknowledge that this world is so diverse that everyone can actually co-exist quite happily without Azeroth coming to a stuttering halt. Then there is the understanding that, to keep everybody satiated, there will be vastly differencing rates of uptake and engagement. When you consider all of this, that the company clearly grasp the limits and the requirements the UI needs to accommodate?
Except, for some people, it doesn’t matter. I watched as I spoke about this live yesterday the inevitable players who refused to read the observation, or decided to put their own spin on events. Then there were those who just ignored the point completely and seeing I’d been favourited by Mr H decided to pile in and hope they got noticed, and then I understood that it doesn’t matter how hard these guys try to make players happy. For some of them, it will never be enough. You don’t play this game, you instead choose to live it, and that is wrong on so many levels it defies belief.
Then followed a number of wonderful conversations with the people who get it. Amazingly people understand this outlook, and don’t want to make a soapbox of their online presence, or use it to generate publicity. It becomes worthwhile feedback and helpful as a development tool when you take away the anger and bile and focus solely on what is good and bad. That’s crucial here, because it isn’t just about a continuous stream of good publicity or mutual back-slapping. It has been proven in the last few months that not only does Activision Blizzard listen to criticism, but will act on major concerns very quickly, a fact that a stupid number of arrogant and vocal detractors just decide to utterly ignore, time and again.
If you’re one of these people who reads this post by a Blizzard Dev and then can only think of bad things to say about his observations, let me finally say this. It isn’t Blizzard’s fault that happens. However much you want to blame them? Sorry, but that’s not their problem. You need to take a cold, hard look at yourself before you do anything else and realise that maybe, the bigger problem here is not the MMO.
Mostly, this started the week on an incredibly positive note. I, for one, welcome our new Open Source overlords.
PS: They changed the Broadcast graphic. Our work here is done :D