Thursday, February 26, 2015

Communication Breakdown?

It's been quite a patch week. I wasn't really going to write about the patch because I hate just repeating things I agree with from other community members. But I've been wondering about the state of the WoW dev team's communication ability for quite a while. After this week I am really concerned. I can confidently say in my 9 years of playing this game I've never seen worse communication between the developers and the players than I have this week. And it didn't even start this week.

For a while I have thought Blizzard's timing for patch 6.1 was a misstep. Why on earth did they feel the need to drop it so close to the opening of Blackrock Foundry? The timing has created all kinds of confusion for players. Is BRF a new tier or not? Where are my BRF follower missions? Do we need the new +125 food to stand a chance in Blackrock? I've seen all these questions and tons more over and over again since the date for 6.1 was announced. I really believe a ton of confusion could have been alleviated if they had waited to release 6.1 until all the LFR wings of BRF were open. The division between the raid tier and that patch would have been obvious. And why the rush for a "features patch" (that's a new one to me)? Did we really have to get 1-click work orders (should have been in at launch) and a selfie camera (who cares) asap?

To make a bad situation worse Blizzard communicated patch details horribly. I don't know why they used such a convoluted system for spawning the new crafting vendors in the first place, but it became clear by Wednesday that the players did not get it, including myself. I'm rarely the smartest guy in the room, but I do my homework. I didn't fully understand the "system" until today, and that required a great explanation from Blizzardwatch. Not Blizzard. It goes on and on. Players didn't understand the changes to follower missions and equipment levels. Or professions. Or the Twitter-Real ID issue. Now, why someone would be comfortable with completely open Twitter but not Real ID is baffling to me, but that's a different topic. So much confusion! Like no other week I've ever seen, including the launch of five expansions. Thank god I play a hunter. I can't imagine how hard it might have been for support classes to get good information on their class changes. Something has deteriorated in Blizzard's ability to communicate with its customers. I'm not going to pretend to know what it is. Ghostcrawler was awesome, and we don't have him anymore. Maybe it's the scatter shot approach (see what I did there hunters?) to where info goes. What I mean is sometimes it's a blog, sometimes it's a blue forum post, occasionally it's twitter (and about 500 different accounts to track), rarely it's redditt or twitch or a podcast interview.You get the idea. I don't know what it is, but after the last three days I'm convinced of the existence of a big communication problem. There was a clear pattern of players feeling like things they were promised were not delivered. Even if that is perception and not reality, it's an incredibly dangerous situation for a company relying on happy subscribers to sustain their cash cow of an MMO. Especially at a time when a big chunk of them already feel screwed about the lack of flying in Warlords. I don't think anything sums up the communication problems related to 6.1 better than this twitter thread. Somebody down in Irvine needs to take charge of the message and how it is disseminated. And probably soon if they want to keep subscription numbers up.

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