Why does humanity insist on fixating on Bad?
There’s a lot of stuff floating around in the general Blogosphere on the science of how bad news affects the individual. When it comes to Warcraft, social media undoubtedly has a lot of responsibility to shoulder in spreading malaise. However, that’s nothing compared to science. Yup, I’m blaming people in white coats with biros in their pockets for the poll above, and the reason why Warlords is being considered the current low point isn’t just because of the obvious. By that, of course, I mean the subscriber numbers that everybody used to report and which have subsequently been removed from Activision Blizzard’s financial reporting.
I suspect that decision was deliberate, not simply because of the obsession players had begun to attach on the notion of number of people playing becoming a direct indicator of the success (or otherwise) of an expansion. These numbers now are only known by the company, and how that data is used is entirely up to them. What we have now is a general, incredibly large number that includes anyone playing a Blizzard-produced game. It might be considered by some as hiding the truth, but in reality what we have now been presented is a united front. When you talk about Blizzard’s success? No longer is Warcraft the primary indicator.
Then all there is to gauge success is the opinion of those outside the company. You remember all that stuff about time being a flat circle?
In shock news, back in 2013 Cataclysm was the worst Expansion at time of release. If I go back further and try and locate a poll I’m going to bet tastes would have changed again, or else nobody bothered to ask the question, because nobody was upset enough to complain. What this tells us is manyfold: some people are never happy, an equal number get bored really easily, but crucially you never see those content needing to make a fuss. Ironically, those smart people who are happy are less likely to tell people either. They’re probably playing quietly and don’t even realise there’s a fuss, if you believe certain studies. Complaint therefore could be considered as largely moot, were it not apparent that yes, certain stuff did go rather radically wrong in Draenor.
Blizzard’s answer to this, it appears, is to open the doors and invite a huge number of new people to the table.
The numbers that will matter will be attached to the Legion press releases in the weeks pre and post Expansion launch. Blizzard will know how many people take up their offers, because there are a finite number of ‘digital’ copies on offer, based (presumably) on numbers that were calculated based on the current capacities of their server architecture worldwide. This is all a very well thought-out and intentionally plotted campaign, when all is said and done. Those in the US complaining about the staggered release of the Movie probably assume that there’s no method to this madness, but the business of using Social media to drive embargos and audience interest is less likely to become the exception as time goes on, especially with movies that appeal to a deliberate ‘niche’ market. You’ll sell your story in the best way possible, and as the marketing for the Movie initially demonstrated, traditional methods will not work if your potential core audience can see right through your plan.
A lot has changed since 2013, let alone 2004, when there was no global social media to drive opinion. In the original poll, only just over three thousand people voted, which ironically many political parties would consider a decent sample size. However, in the current world, that number’s simply not relevant or accurate. It doesn’t matter about the last bad expansion, just the next (potentially) good one and if you ask how many of those players who voted Warlords down bought a Legion pre-order for a ‘free’ L100 boost? I’m betting there were quite a few. However much you decide to hate on Warcraft, for whatever reason, the fact remains that it is still a massively popular and engrossing MMO and people just keep coming back, time after time.
Yes, we know. It’s okay. You are amongst friends here and the joke’s almost as familiar as the class you play or your favourite Instance. The problem for many however is that it has become simpler to just attack the MMO as a soft and easy target when there’s nothing better to do. It’s exactly the same mentality as exists with your favourite sports ball team running through a bad patch, or that must watch TV show effectively losing its plot. The consistently top teams never need the bad news bears, and the television faithful simply make up their own plots when things get rough. Video game lovers, it seems, are a particularly vitriolic and depressing bunch. They also seem to possess a quite deep seated hatred of anything that doesn’t seem to agree or align with they particular point of view. The result is anger and rage of a type I don’t think is seen anywhere else except in the realms of celebrity stalkers and sports hooligans. Mostly, these people need to get outside more, extend their interests and generally lighten up, but we all know that.
I know you didn’t like Warlords, and in the end when Blizzard stop adding Expansions it would be likely to be voted the worst of the bunch regardless. However, please stop telling me this is a new low, because it really isn’t, it’s just what always happens at this point in proceedings.
Do yourself a favour and go play Overwatch as distraction.