Friday, July 11, 2008

Does Blizzard listen?

Lots of talk out there regarding Blizzard and how they decide what changes to make in World of Warcraft.

Seems that there's lots of people out there who think that Blizzard is hugely reactionary to the forums. Classes complain about imbalance or OP'ness or whatever, and next thing you know, Blizzard makes changes that then cause the next round of flames and whining.


Is anybody silly enough to think that Blizzard doesn't have a pretty good idea what they're doing?

Do you really think that a few hundred posts from a bunch of whiners single-handedly influences the direction Blizz goes with their products?

Come on!!!!!

Do they listen? You're room temperature.

Do they know how to filter out raving lunatics from well thought out and communicated ideas? Getting warmer.

Do they carefully analyze the feedback they get from customers and see how the views match up with their own internal vision? You're starting to heat up.

Do they then go on to weigh ideas that come from customers against their own vision, PLUS trying to factor in how any changes will impact them financially? You're on fire, baby!!!

Blizzard does two basic things well. They make entertaining video games, and they run a business to make a profit. Maybe there's other stuff they do well along the way, but those are the foundation.

To make an entertaining video game, you need to take in ideas from diverse sources, which would definitely include the player base.

To run a business, you have to listen to your customers. Listen, yes. Implement exactly and literally what your customers ask for? Not quite. You balance your own ideas with your customers' ideas in the hopes of optimal profit.

BBB proposed the question of whether they rolled out the Blizzard Authenticator as a response to customer demands.

Was customer demand for better account security a part of their decision? I'm sure it was.

Was it the only factor? I'm sure it was not.

I think the Blizzard Authenticator represents what a company loves to have; a situation where your own corporate goals align nicely with what your customers want.

They had internal drive to find ways to thwart gold sellers. One of the ways gold sellers get their supply of gold is by hacking accounts of rich toons. Blizzard Authenticator will help shut off that source of gold for the sellers. Blizzard also wants to try to reduce account sharing, because, it cuts into their revenue if somebody avoids purchasing a subscription (or a second subscription) by sharing with somebody else. The Authenticator will make it harder to share accounts for most people.

In the end, a successful company like Blizzard operates by gathering as diverse data as possible, and then performing careful analysis on that data and coming up with solutions to problems. Any change to the system costs them a fortune to develop, implement, and commercialize. They do not make changes on a whim, or as a knee jerk reaction to some whiners.

Sometimes they get it right, sometimes they get it wrong. Over time, a pattern of successful games shows that Blizzard generally gets it right.

Or, who knows, maybe I've got them on a pedestal. Maybe they've got the world's best Magic 8 Ball and base all product design decisions on its all-knowing aura...

Should we nerf warlocks because dying a full minute after you happened to pass by a 'lock in a BG sux ballz...."Signs point to yes"

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