So, I get a chance yesterday to do some WQ’s, and as I’m firing up the client, something interesting happens:
I’m not going to lie: this is a surprise. I am hardly on the ‘Influencers’ list out here in the blogging backwaters, managed to scrape prominence through via association in the past. Now I’m lucky to see 100 readers a day here. However, my love for the game remains undiminished. Except, if anyone from Blizzard Entertainment was actually reading my blog or following me on Twitter, they’d know I don’t want to be spoilt for what’s coming. In fact, I’ve made a massively big deal of stating just that in the last few weeks. I decided yesterday to use the Alpha as a marketing tool because in essence, that is what this is.
As I write this, the vote tells me YES, and I know why. I should give constructive feedback to improve the game for others. It’s my job to be a conscientious tester. I should be honoured and grateful to be picked when so many other people want to do this job and can’t. One shouldn’t abuse the clear honour that has been afforded… and just stop. There is no longer that kind of relationship with this game. This is no longer a job, or indeed a duty. In fact, it is time to admit a belief that has not been overtly stated for some time but now, truthfully, has to be vocalised if I’m going to remain true to what I really am.
This is the Emperor’s New Clothes moment for me. I’ve paid Blizzard since 2005 to play. I gave up the cash for the Annual Pass, bought countless pets and mounts and remain a loyal, dedicated subscriber with real cash and not in-game gold. Please don’t tell me that by refusing to test I’m somehow biting the hand that feeds me. What complete and utter bollocks that is. When I was disillusioned with the game, I never once thought about leaving, even after 15 years those problems were worked out on my own. Except, in this case, I’m not being listened to, and that is perfectly fine.
Sick to death of every aspect of this game being ‘sold’ there are very few options that remain. Sure, if I want to move my characters between realms I have no choice to give up cash, and happily do that without a word. However, there is no longer a desire to play a game once in testing and then play exactly the same thing again live if I feel that my feedback is not getting heard. Looking at the complete mess of what transpired with Hunters and Class Fantasy? It’s very clear that what matters to me in this experience and what is significant to the people making the game no longer even overlap, let alone mesh.
My non-materialistic, non-commercial desires are now at fundamental odds with how this game is currently marketed and produced.
I utterly respect and understand those people who buy everything offered by this company, get those who now sell non-commercially available content as a means to make money themselves. There is an implicit grasp of how the Alpha becomes part of the means by which this company maintains interest in Warcraft long term. None of this has any significance or effect on choices anymore. If I want to use the product, I just buy it when I choose to. However good anyone thinks they are, Activision Blizzard’s consumerism no longer has the ability to sway me.
What remains depressing is that this outlook isn’t grasped by more commercial retailers. When a company is encountered that insists on aggressive sales techniques, which I ask to stop e-mailing or calling me but ignores those polite requests… I will stop using that company and go elsewhere. Sadly, with Warcraft, I am forced into a relationship which has proven that however much polite objection is made at to being sold to, that is what will continue to happen regardless. In this case, therefore, I am the one who just stops listening.
This Alpha invite came from the fact I’m on someone’s mass-produced mailing list of people who Blizzard might gain some benefit from selling to. If someone from the Company happens to be reading this, please unflag me. I’m going to go and take myself off the list of people who want to Beta games as well, just for the record. There is a unique and wonderful joy from discovering new Expansions with friends that I truly miss, and may now have the opportunity to rediscover being part of two active Guilds for the first time in several years.
I’m really sorry, but find someone else to test your products and not me.
However, that’s not the real reason for my disquiet, and I think the people who know me well will understand where the deeper problems spring from. After years of saying what I see and feel, there is a distinct sense going forward that Blizzard’s notion of family does not include people like me in their numbers. I am no longer prepared to wear the T-shirt or buy the merchandise. I do not feel a part of the larger whole, and seek comfort with those who are happy to accept me for what I am, and not what the company would like me to become. There might be a mistake in the perception, but deep down remains is the knowledge that, like it or not, there’s never really been a place for me to begin with.
We are still some way from the place where that situation changes.
I’ll see you when the game is released.