Blizzzard (Im)mortal

I was away for two weeks. Long flights, late nights, time zones, work, play. Good times. As always when I step away from the blog I miss writing. Because of the kind of trip I had I don’t have a ton to write about – but I did follow a lot of the Blizzcon announcements, the subsequent grumblings, and all. So with a two weeks away post you get a bullet point paragraph post!

  • Blizzcon

Not surprisingly, underwhelming.  Almost seems like “what’s the point” of having a convention if you have nothing great to share. A simple “We aren’t having a convention. We are going to continue to monetize existing games, and even revive an old one to monetize further! Also, we will put a game already on it’s last legs into mobile format and find new ways to monetize it!). No one is surprised.

Well, Blizzard fans are. And here is where I say “reality check” time.

Blizzard is a digital company. You should not expect them to treat you like a friend, or a loyal customer. They have spent years not treating loyal customers like most other companies have to treat loyal customers. North America is not the main focus market anymore. There is far more growth other places in the world – countries that have billions of people who game more on mobile. You should not be surprised (or disappointed). Digital companies are the worst at treating loyal fans, because fans are happy with information over incentives. Ask anyone who has a loyalty card from their favourite restaurant what the bonus is – you spend  money there, and you get rewarded. The more you spend the more rewards you get.

Digital companies only take.

This is NOT sour grapes on my part. Although I have long argued that gaming companies would do well to treat loyal customers as loyal customers they continue to value the person who plays one title for ONE month as the equivalent of a customer who has played 4 blizzard titles, some for a decade (or more) as the new guy on the street. They can afford the churn and burn in the global marketplace. I am not disappointed because this is exactly what I expect Blizzard to do – make the most amount of money for the least amount of effort.

They are making mobile Diablo because they need to monetize Diablo. And a mobile game is far easier, cheaper, and faster to build than a full blown game. They have probably run the numbers and have sorted that a mobile Diablo would make more money than a full PC version of Diablo anyway. They have or they wouldn’t be doing it.

  • Alpha Breach

I was invited to a second Alpha, of the technical variety, called Breach. I am looking forward to it. Right now testing seems to be focused as every time I have tried to log in the servers have been down. There are no secrets here, you can stream the Alpha, so I can talk about it all I want. Co-op, 4 player, RPG, classes. Heck, might be fun. We will see. I will share more when I can.

  • Secret Alpha

The other, Alpha that can’t be named, unless you are clever like Bhagpuss, has been a fun experience. I am worried it is one of the “more fun without other people” experiences, as it is a PVP game and right now I have time and space to explore and sort things out. I can see a future of roaming gankers and no room to breathe. Yes, I know, MMORPG MEANS OTHER PEOPLE. Except when it doesn’t. Like every PVE MMORPG right now. Still, advancing and learning is fun. There is some mystery. There is a lot of work left to do. Looking forward to when we can talk about it. On a side note, am I the only one that thinks that Survival PVP games only really work on terrain that is randomly generated? (Else people just find and fight over the “best” spots…)

  • Diablo III for reals

Somewhat ironically I have been playing a bit of D3 because I never did level a class on my PC version. And with the lack of  a WoW sub right now was looking for games to mess around in that I already have. Which has largely been taken up by the Secret Alpha and the Alpha I can’t access yet. Still, It is fun which had me itching for a not 5 year old RPG….

  • Path of Exile

Free to play, I have been trying it. It’s not so bad. I know there is a ridiculous amount of complexity to it that I am quickly picking up on the learning curve. Not sure where to stick or how long it will, but it is a time passer and fun to play back to back with D3.

  • MTGA

Daily play, get my packs, build my decks. It’s the best card game out there. Funny on what is old is new again – when I first started I was playing a Golgari Explore deck which was ok, but not really competitive with the control decks and aggro red decks of the time. I had to build my deck to be unwieldy to ensure I had win conditions vs the decks I was seeing a lot of. Fast forward to Ravnica, and I am back to using that deck and not facing the same problems I had before as people are playing base Ravnica decks for the most part. Perhaps it is true that I just got actual experience during those hundreds of hours of play “testing”. It’s an easy and quick play to get through every day. Fun when your deck gets the right cards in the right order and things go swimmingly. I still hate the quick quitters though and enjoy playing it out to the end.

Big roundup, glad to be back – did you miss me?

13 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Quite accurate. The problem here for me is that both players and the lower level developers have not gotten that memo. If you have time check out the Afrasiabi interview during this blizzcon. He responses are clearly game focused. Now compare that to J Allen Brack or even Ion.

    Reality check indeed.

    1. @Asmiroth, in what way do you mean? Like Afrasiabi is more passionate and answers directly, giving you a much stronger sense that he plays the game himself, or?

      I guess it depends which kind of “profile” you have been hired to fit in the company too? It appears as if the higher you are, the more “distance” it seems to create.

      This is not my area of expertise, even less so in English, but I liked J Allen Brack this Blizzcon, for example (Don’t bring out your torch, please!)

      1. That’s exactly it. There’s a frankness and honesty in his communication method. Kaplan has that. Street too. Metzen had great ability in this. Even Morhaime’s awkward geekiness was endearing.

        Brack presents himself as a good manager. He does not present himself as a good leader by motivating the people around him.

        Those conflicting approaches to show a passionate working team and a more distant management team. Not as unified as they once were.

        Stretching further, looking at Lore today vs. when he was running Tankspot podcast (which closed in 2014).

        1. Yeah, I get what you mean. I try to remind myself what makes people a great leader, and what they are hired to do. I had to have surgery not long ago, and really didnt have a good connection with the surgeon – but the nurses and doctors were fantastic. I had to remind myself, that a surgeon took that job because (trying to resist saying he likes to cut in people!) but because he wants to excel in that area of the job – and not so much the patient contact. So I came to the conclusion, that it was more important to me, that the nurse (who had to take care of me afterwards) were nice and sweet. If that makes sense.

          There was a video if Ion standing on at a presentation not long ago, and despite him being a lawyer, I could sense he was nervous about it. I try to look behind what I see upfront, and look at it from a positive angle, we can’t all be good at everything. But I do relate to what you describe; it can feel disconnected and not something that brings that “unify” feeling anymore, sadly. Times change.

          Oh, I’ve not seen Lore from that long ago (I rarely watch those Q & A, I just read a recap.) I will!

  2. I DID miss you!

    Question; You say “They have spent years not treating loyal customers like most other companies have to treat loyal customers.”. I have only ever played WoW, really. So I have no experience otherwise with other gaming companies. Could you give me some examples of this? 🙂

    1. I have spent thousands on Blizzard products and not once have I received a discount. Almost ALL retail revolves around engaging your most loyal customers. At my favourite sandwich shop, sometimes I get a free sandwich just because I go there so much.

      Those are the kinds of examples I am talking about. Blizzard is comfortable because they don’t have any real competitors, whereas there are thousands of restaurants. SO those restaurants really try to make you feel special, unique, and important to their business because YOU ARE.

      To blizzard you are just another MU (or whatever they are counting it as these days) not even a person. Heck, I had two accounts going at the same time for years. Most companies give you tangible and monetary benefits for that.

      1. Aha, right, in that way. I guess that makes sense.

        But you are right, it would be fantastic to see gaming companies have a similar attitude. It sounds as if it’s the area as a whole, that lacks this, and not just Blizzard, or? I guess it becomes impersonal quite fast, the bigger you get. I do cherish Blizzcon and those fan events myself, but I can relate to why people feel disconnected lately.

  3. So how are finding the…secret alpha?

    The forums have been pretty…active in regards to the roaming/gank topic. I haven’t found it personally to be that much of an issue. I can probably count the times it’s occurred on one hand. That being said, I’ve become…bored of the current content/implementation and hoping they expand things sometime soon.

    1. I have only seen one other person. I made all my own clothes, upgraded weapons, etc. Playing on the more quiet server. Same thing, not sure what to really do at this point.

      1. What kind of probls? Ive just been using the invite link to get to the page the the top left icon/image to get to the forums

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