Do it again - with less attitude this time
Nov 14, 2007 16:22:23

There is an old adage in theater that says "be nice to the people you meet on the way up - you will meet the same people on the way back down." This adage applies to more than just Broadway - it applies to business as well. In business, once you reach the top of your game there is a tendance to develop an attitude about it. I see it all the time. Whether your climbed over the dead bodies you left in your wake, or you were a nice person that happened to finish first this time, there is a tendency to develop an attitude about it all. The character Reb Tevye says it best in the play "Fiddler on the Roof"...
"The most important men in town would come to fawn on me! They would ask me to advise them, like a Solomon the Wise...And it won't make one bit of difference if I answer right or wrong. When you're rich, they think you really know!" - from Fiddler on the Roof

Whether the attitude was there right out of the gate, or it somehow developed along the way, Blizzard seems to share a bit of this same attitude these days. Now, don't get me wrong. Only a fool would think that a guy like Rob Pardo (vice president of game design for Blizzard) doesn't know what he is talking about. In fact, if you have read my article "He's the Man" you know what sort of a Rob Pardo fan-girl I am. Still, even while I can see the truth in his speach at the last Austin Game Developer's conference where he bid us learn lessons from Blizzard's success with World of Warcraft (wow) there is a small voice inside me that thinks "what hutzpa!" Part of me sees a guy at the top telling everyone else how to do it the right way...as if there is no other.

But there are other ways to do things and that is the point. Even if Blizzard, collectively speaking, didn't take a look at the industry as a whole, even if they just took a more introspective look at their own MMO, they would see signs of growing disatisfaction. In an interview entitled "Rob Pardo: on the art of 'craft" (gamedaily.com) he tells us that their subscriber base does not consist of the same people that bought it when it launched. Just a sentence earlier in the same interview he says "I don't think that we need to go through a lot of effort to pull in this new group of players; it's more of that 'long tail' of players."

Even if this is true, the obvious question should be, "why are players leaving in the first place?"

A large part of the answer is that endgame is broken.

The way Blizzard has designed the game mechanics of WoW is starting to leave a bad taste in the mouth of some players. Tidbits of news thrown to the players about a promised new expansion will only string them along so long. Throwing another ten levels at players doesn't extend the shelf life of a game very long these days either - players seem to excell at getting through those levels faster than game developers thought they would.

This is the start of a series of articles that will explore why some of these game mechanics are broken - or when they are not broken, why the reaction of the players to those game mechanics isn't quite what game developers thought they would be. In the end it will also take a look at what is being done, should be done, or can be done to fix the game where it is broken. And in the series will take a look at what some developers are doing to solve the problem - things that should make the 800 pound Blizzard Gorilla a bit nervous.

See you online,

- Julie Whitefeather

Submitted by Brent on Nov 14, 2007 16:22:23 CST (comments: 2)


Comments:


'Amen' by Osiris
Submitted on 2007-11-15 12:44:37 CST
I couldn't agree more with your conclusions. Now that Blizzard is on the top, they don't think they need to listen to their fan base. A lot of people think World of Warcraft is the end all and be all of MMOs because they have 8 or 9 million subscribers. Thats great right now, but we are seeing the chinks in their armor, and that chink is arrogance. WoW offered alot of gameplay that was different then it predecessors like EQ, and thats what made it appealing. Now people are beginning to wait for the next game that will revolutionize the MMO industry away from the World of Warcraft model.
Unless blizzard realizes that they need to innovate their game, WoW will go the way of its former top-dog predessecor Everquest. They graphics, which technically were simple but have great art direction, are getting long in the tooth.
Its cliche but true, absolute power corrupts absolutely, and I think we are seeing that happening with Blizzard. When a revolutionary becomes the standard, people start looking for another revolutionary.



'rant' by Token
Submitted on 2007-11-16 03:35:13 CST
Yeah I don't know why Blizzard have such a hard time listening. Raiders have been telling them thats theres too much trash since AQ40, but they are still increasing it. BWL had two bosses at the door with no trash and after you get to the midpoint it was just the final 4 bosses with no interruption. Now every single boss has a 45 minute clear in front of it, morale is low and thats why I probably won't raid again.



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