World Of Warcraft Designer Gets Real About Complaint That Blizzard Doesn't Listen

World Of Warcraft Designer Gets Real About Complaint That Blizzard Doesn't Listen

World of Warcraft is not just massively multiplayer; it's massively multi-faceted. There are all sorts of different kinds of PVP and PVE, not to mention pet battles, alts, role-play and dungeons. These aspects cater to different people, but when Blizzard changes anything, it seems like everyone's upset. Responding to a forum thread about expensive vendor items (the controversy du jour), assistant game director Ion Hazzikostas delved into the topic of trying to please everyone and, more pointedly, the assertion that Blizzard doesn't listen to its players. First, he took aim at the illusion of consensus in a community as large and varied as WoW's.

"If I'd instead posted that we were going to reconsider and massively reduce the prices of the cosmetic items on this vendor, there would be other people feeling like their feedback was ignored," he wrote.

"It's exceptionally rare that everyone wants the same thing," he added. "And even then, there is a large silent majority that does not post on forums. If there were actual unanimity regarding a certain issue, we would change our design: For example, early on in Warlords, we changed Group Finder loot from Personal back to Need/Greed until we could iterate on Personal loot further, and the community overwhelmingly told us that was a dumb idea. The change was reverted within 2 days."

The most interesting bit, though, was his explanation of how various activities in WoW work. The fact is, nothing in WoW caters to the majority of players. No single portion of the game, aside from levelling up, is for everyone. "A minority of players raid," he said. "A minority of players participate in PvP. A tiny minority touch Mythic raiding. A tiny minority of players do rated PvP. A minority of players have several max-level alts. A minority of players do pet battles, roleplay, list things for sale on the auction house, do Challenge Mode dungeons, and the list goes on."

World Of Warcraft Designer Gets Real About Complaint That Blizzard Doesn't Listen

World of Warcraft is — at this point in its slow yet ceaseless expansion, which will ultimately consume the entire universe — a multiplicity of minorities. It's a bunch of groups with different, sometimes conflicting interests, a never-ending series of moving goal posts for Blizzard. Hazzikostas also pointed out that many people mostly communicate within groups that prefer similar elements of the game. There's that pesky old illusion of consensus again.

It puts Blizzard in a tough spot. They can either give everyone all the same stuff — cater to everyone and please no one — or they can give individual groups specialised treatment from time-to-time and piss off the majority of players until, inevitably, it's their turn. Despite blowback, Blizzard typically chooses the latter approach.

"If an awesome mount comes exclusively from PvP, the majority of players who don't participate in PvP yet desire the mount would prefer that it were otherwise," Hazzikostas explained. "If our goal were to please a majority, we would likely have to make a version of that mount also available through raiding, and one also available through outdoor questing and reputation, at the very least. But doing that would dilute the reward itself. Ultimately, the approach we take is usually to tailor different content and rewards that can feel special to different groups, rather than trying to come up with a lowest common denominator that isn't special to anyone."

So basically, Blizzard is constantly juggling chainsaws. They could stand there and throw the same ball against the same wall over and over, but they feel like it'd result in a game that's for everyone and no one at the same time. You can never please everyone. May as well at least make it interesting.

World of Warcraft's next expansion, Legion, is coming out on August 30. Seems like it's one of the most divisive yet (that does not include pandas). Do you think Blizzard's making the right calls here?


Comments

    It puts Blizzard in a tough spot. They can either give everyone all the same stuff — cater to everyone and please no one — or they can give individual groups specialised treatment from time-to-time and piss off the majority of players until, inevitably, it’s their turn. Despite blowback, Blizzard typically chooses the latter approach.

    Well. Not really. It's always about raiding. Raiding is the last and only word in endgame character power growth/progression. You want to keep getting more powerful gear? You have to raid. You have no alternatives. 'Raid or die' is their creed. Always has been. And far as I can tell, always will be.

    So, no. There is no turn-taking, here. Just raiding.

      This definitely used to be true but with the advent of organised pvp/arena since I would say Wrath of the Lich King (yes it existed in BC but the gear was but a shadow of what was available from raids), the other major end game goal for a great many people now awards top quality gear appropriate to the activity both spent achieving and for the purpose of performing better at, that which you invested the time in to acquire.
      Those that focus on crafting too have access to some respectable gear early on in expansions.
      While true that some items still remain in the hands of raiders, often these items themselves are designed to improve performance in raids and have little overall impact (difference yes, but hardly a noticeable impact) outside of a raid environment.

        'Some' items? It's pretty much fact that if you enjoy growing your character's power and progression (which pretty much everyone does - it's the entire reason we even HAVE levelling instead of everyone having no levels and simply adventuring through the levelling content for the narrative alone), once you get the best gear from solo/group, there are entire tiers of continued growth which are exclusive to raiding and raiding alone.

        Last edited 11/05/16 6:57 pm

          I'm sorry nexi but Transientmind is correct. The reason this game is dying is lack of "good" content. Content to most people is ways of "having fun" whilst also gaining "progress". For some people the concept and time investment of raiding is not fun. Therefore, no way to progress. There is currently literally nothing worthwhile to do in WoD other than raid or play garriso....farmville. I unsubbed 3 months after WoDs launch and have been laughing at it ever since.

          6.1 was apparently a "content" patch. Rofl.

    And this is precisely the reason the "WoW is so bad now, god!" comments/rants should be taken with a grain of salt... Because for every one of those, there is quite likely several other players still enjoying it on a daily basis and simply not saying a word.

    For the sake of clarity, I am actually not one of those people still enjoying it. I play WoW when the mood strikes me, which has been exceedingly rare in the last year or so. But I'm not about to go around crying about how it's horrible, dumbed down, etc. Partly because it's a waste of time, but mostly because I don't entirely agree with any such sentiment.

    I'll be back for Legion though, during which I shall simply play until I get bored then move on once more.

      I'll be back for Legion though, during which I shall simply play until I get bored then move on once more.
      Heh. I'll be right there with you.

    The only things i genuinely dislike about wow are the talents that replaced skill trees and the shitty achievement system. If they'd implement a lorebook like WAR's instead of their crappy version, and brought back the old skill trees, i'd renew my sub in a heartbeat.

      I'll never get the love for the old skill trees, they gave people the illusion of choice and nothing more. Not that it's much different now but at least the talents make people choose between some equally useful things on occasion, resulting in people actually having different talent setups instead of the exact same.

      It was almost a requirement back then to be a specific build for each class/spec in order to do your job effectively (in either pvp or pve), so it was pretty much a moot point barring maybe 2-3 free points you might have had to use wherever.

      Last edited 11/05/16 7:41 pm

        Talents is what killed my love of the game. I loved my skill tree setup and really tailored to my form of solo play. Talents didn't let me do that as well, severely nerfing my abilities and rotations, which made feeling like a solo play badass to, well I need to be in a group to do anything now.
        also the just giving you abilities instead of learning them.

      When they revamped the hunter stats and skills that killed it for me.

    So eventually, we'll get legacy servers like people have been wanting for 10 years right?

    Always interesting for me reading these articles and the comments below. I played WoW on and off for 4 years, stopped near the end of WoTLK, then came back and played 1-2 months of Cataclysm (enough to max level a couple characters and raid with both of them). Since then I haven't touched the game so the last time I played was 5 to 5.5 years ago.

    The game has changed a lot since then, so much more content and the mechanics are so different that it's basically an entirely different game with the basics resembling what I once played.

    It's almost enough to get me to jump back in for a bit but then I remember the cost for each expansion and having to pay a monthly fee...and that I get like 10hrs of gaming time per week now. Makes it unfeasible to play and unreasonable to pay that much.

    My point is though that those who have kept up with the updates should take a step back every now and then and look at how far WoW has come. Do you really think it's possible to keep everyone happy all at the same time when WoW is the huge beast that it is?

    It's still a great game and I wish my life was as simple as it was 5-10 years ago so I could play it again.

    Didn't they just show off a vendor call the mad merchant or something where every single one of his items costs 100,000 gold? I'd love to know which group they were catering for with that?

    My biggest fear with WoW Tokens being bought was that they would use that to justify jacking up in game gold costs so that people who subbed would eventually have to start spending more money just to keep up with rising in game inflation (either by devs or from the auction house).

    'I PAY MY $15/month SO I DESERB EVERYTIHNG!!111!'

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