Blog Archives

California Sues Activision Blizzard

I can barely bring myself to format anything here regarding this case. The only reason I’m posting anything is for my own bookkeeping. I have a World of Warcraft category on my little blog here and if nothing else gets posted regarding WoW, I’d just like something here that outlines why. Here’s a video from Bellular News regarding the case against Blizzard and its shitty workplace environment.

Here’s another video discussing the shitty human beings associated with aspects of the case. People I actually met and shook hands with at BlizzCon.

I fucking loathe this “yeah bro” mentality. Fucking Blizzard.

I hope Final Fantasy 14 is good.

WoW Subscription Drop

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As you might have heard from, well, all over Twitter and the various WoW news sites, Blizzard released some Q1 numbers and guess what? Yep, they dun lost about 3 million subscribers in three months. In three months, Blizzard managed to drop back to their Mists of Pandaria numbers pre-WoD. Yes, there’s always a drop in subscriptions during an expansion, but three million in three months? That’s pretty steep.

So why? Why did so many people pull the plug on WoW? I put the question out on Twitter and got much of the same responses:

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Now as someone who has just hit 100 on their eighth character (WTF is wrong with me), I feel much of this pain. I’m a casual player. A dirty casual, some take a great deal of pleasure in pointing out. Doing garrison missions on eight characters is just mind numbing. Log in, click a couple of buttons, gather gold and gear, and log out. Garrisons were interesting at the beginning, a fun little distraction. But it slowly evolved (or not so slowly, given the dropoff in three months) into a chore. Blizzard has used a retention mechanic to keep people logging in, and players have slowly resented it.

That feels like a theme with this expansion, really. Players resent a game function and Blizzard rubs salt in the wound. People are pissed at the lack of flying, Blizz tells them “Hey guess what, we’ve got another patch coming and still no flying. Nope, probably not in the next one either. Keep climbing trees and getting all the cute little treasures we’ve left for you.” People complain that garrisons are becoming a chore, so Blizzard gives them MOAR CHORES!

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Now you’ve got garrison missions in two zones! Fun!

Honestly, it feels like Blizz has really dropped the ball on this. Leveling was easy, which is something I am thankful for. But there’s a reason I didn’t stop at two max level characters. If you don’t raid, what else is there to do at level 100? Apex crystal missions to get gear you can also get from doing nothing (aka garrison missions)? Sure, maybe if I have four hours an evening, every evening, I might care about mulling about trying to build reps for some kind of reward. I don’t know. Personally, it feels like the part of the game that gives me the most reward (gear and gold) is something I don’t even need to do. I don’t need to play my class at all. I could do it on my bank alt.

Bellular covered this topic in one of his recent videos. This video, actually.

I’ve touched on my disappointment in a previous post. I just hope Blizzard comes up with some compelling content that can staunch the bleeding and keep people from leaving the game in droves. But things like this –

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– is not going to do it.

The Day The Message Died

What a difference a week makes.

November 7 – Blizzcon 2014: During Blizzcon’s opening ceremony, Blizzard President and co-founder Mike Morhaime gives an impassioned speech about the negativity and bitterness poisoning the gaming community. He didn’t mention GamerGate specifically, but he addressed the entire thought process. He asked everyone in the gaming community to take a stand against hatred and harassment, and redouble our efforts to be kind and respectful to one another. Remind the World what the gaming community is really all about.

Hear that cheering crowd? Everyone, attendees and Twitter folk alike, really got behind the message. Hugs all around.

They forgot the message less than a week later.

November 13, 2014 – Blizzard’s new World of Warcraft expansion, Warlords of Draenor, went live. Two things happened that Blizzard was not expecting:

1) They were the victim of a serious DDOS attack.

One guess as to where Blizzard HQ is located.

One guess as to where Blizzard HQ is located.

2) Ravenous players attack the new starting areas in numbers much larger than were expected.

For almost a day, the game was unplayable. Servers were down while Blizzard tried to deal with the DDOS attack. Then, to regain server stability, they lowered the player cap per server. This created queues that were thousands of players deep. Wait times in the neighbourhood of 8-10 hours were not unusual. People who had taken vacations from their jobs so that they could play, were left staring at a login screen.

The result?

Well, players lost their shit.

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People hated on Blizzard something fierce. “Unacceptable,” they said. “How does this happen after all this time?” Valid questions, and while there may have been technical answers the players decided to make up their own conspiracy theories. Blizzard became the Big Bad who, according to some, were deliberately keeping them from playing.

The poor Community Managers took the full brunt of the player’s wrath. They apologized, and assured everyone that Blizz was doing everything it could to get things running smoothly. They released hourly updates all weekend so that everyone knew exactly what was going on and what steps were being taken. Friday, servers came down for patches and updates, and equipment was upgraded.

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Saturday, adjustments were being made on servers to allow more people to log in. But players were reaching their breaking point. Things got uuuuuugly.

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There were those during this “crisis” with fully functional brains who realized this was a video game. They often reached out, offering a reality check and asking those less patient to take a bloody chill pill.

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Some folks didn’t get the message and tried to make a point.

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If they hadn’t started turning on each other yet, they started doing it now in droves. The angry and entitled vs the patient and devoted. Those who tried to hang onto Morhaime’s message of kindness, and those who wanted to burn it all down and piss on the ashes.

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By Sunday, things had calmed down. Queues were short or non-existent. People were tweeting about garrisons, leveling, or just how pretty the game looked. Fewer and fewer complaints as more people managed to log in.

Today, people are discussing tips on making gold, leveling, or running instances. It’s pretty much business as usual. But for some, the damage has been done. I’m sure there are still plenty of angry players out there who feel Blizzard let this happen intentionally. I’ve read forum posts where they accuse Blizzard of being “cheap”, not wanting to do the hardware upgrades and just let the angry players unsubscribe so they didn’t have to spend the money. This release has left many with a sour taste in their mouth, and they will never fully forgive Blizzard for it.

Blame Blizzard? Sure. They knew what their sales were. They had to know how hard their system was going to get hit. They could not predict the DDOS attack, but they freely admitted that they underestimated the number of people who were going to log in at once. They’d never seen numbers at a launch like they did on Thursday. Blessing and a curse to be so popular.

Mike Morhaime’s message to the gaming community though… I don’t think he changed any minds. Good people are going to be good people, and haters gonna hate. Blizzard may have been at fault for much of it, and nobody is arguing that (including Blizzard.) But the players were in full control of how they handled the situation. A great deal chose to handle it poorly, and that vocal minority who overreacted and raged to anyone who would listen, suffocated the voices calling out for patience.

The World of Warcraft gaming community had the opportunity to show the World something this weekend. They did. But instead of sending out a positive message, I think all the World saw this weekend was a bunch of gamer nerds who lost their shit because they had to wait to play their video game.

Blizzcon 2014 – Looking For Group

To help celebrate their ten year anniversary at Blizzcon 2014, Blizzard released a documentary entitled “Looking For Group“. The video discussed the history of World of Warcraft, the developers who created the world, and the players who interact with it as well as with each other.

If Blizzard Made Me An NPC

Because fantasy games need more Canadian content.

Because fantasy games need more Canadian content.

PVP is no joke. Most people know this, given the amount of folks who actively avoid getting involved with it if at all possible. I dabble in the digital violence now and then, but I prefer to watch those skilled at it while they do their thing. Two such individuals are PVP icons Bajheera and Swifty. As recognition for their contribution to the World of Warcraft community, Blizzard will be giving them their own NPCs in Warlords of Draenor – Jackson Bajheera and John Swifty.

It made me consider the question – if Blizzard turned my character into an NPC for Warlords of Draenor, what kind of NPC would they make him – not what I would make him. The NPC would reflect the character’s in-game activity. Auction House vendor? Pet Battle Trainer?

I had a couple of thoughts. Maybe he could be a quest hub NPC, but that role is already taken.

If you smell what we're cooking.

If you smell what we’re cooking.

There’s not really one thing I do in-game. I can’t pigeonhole my playstyle. I quest and PVP, I run dungeons and scenarios. I play the Auction House and pet battles. I do everything but raid, and that’s due to a mix of inexperience and having a computer that probably would drop a big poo as soon as the boss was pulled.

So my NPC would probably be a rare spawn mob. He’d walk alone, but he could show up anywhere. Silver dragon elite, and his drop table would be extensive and random. You’d loot “Rokk’s Box” and there could be anything in it – from gold (reflecting the AH and gold farming aspect) to dungeon/pvp gear (that would reflect the iLevel of the applicable unlocked dungeon given the level/zone he’s found in). He could also drop a rare battle pet which would be a miniature version of himself called Smackdown.

It’d definitely be a hoot to go one-on-one with the Main Monk in WoD. I think a therapist could clarify if that would make me suicidal or just “a little off.”

What kind of NPC do you think your character would be?