The Gorilla Listens - by Julie Whitefeather
Jun 19, 2007 18:11:49

Just like E.F. Hutton, when one of the "Blues" speaks on the WoW forums, people listen - at least everyone who plays WoW does. One of the blues who goes by the name "Tigole" just dropped the following bombshell:
"After a lot of thought and deliberation, we've decided to remove the attunement requirements to enter Serpentshrine Cavern and Tempest Keep: The Eye. While many of our attunements in the Burning Crusade have been good progression checks, a few of the attunements have turned out to cause unnecessary stress on guilds either doing the content or attempting to do the content. With Black Temple and Battle for Mount Hyjal thriving, we want to encourage (rather than prevent) new guilds and raid groups to attempt Serpentshrine and TK. We are going to leave the current attunement quests in the game so that players can still engage in the challenge and the lore of those quests should they choose to. At a later point, we are considering adding a final reward step to those quests as well (that way those who have already completed them would not miss out on a *new* reward). We're listening to feedback from you guys constantly and your opinions are important to us. We want this game to be the best possible MMO experience for our players. Enjoy Serpentshrine and Tempest Keep."
My friends, the 800 pound gorilla, Blizzard, has bent an ear and listened to the community. It had reached the point where the catch phrase of the day from level 70 players is "I am bored" (heard just last night in one of my guilds when a lot of players logged out "en masse" so to speak). Forum posts that start out "Taking a break from the game" have become commonplace. Attunement quests started to divide guilds, as well as former "friends" between the haves and "have nots" - those who have a place in the regular groups that run end game instances and those who languished in the background, waiting to get attunement quests done, and never quite getting there. With the number of players allowed in Serpent Shrine, there is a door here to bring back the "good old days" of guild runs in Zul'Gurub (the twenty man instance in Stranglethorn Veil).

In other words - instead of a handful of players focused on exactly the right mix of character classes to finish an instance, there is a bit of leeway here. And with no attunement, the days when you can just grab another guildie and say "hey lets go have some fun" will have a chance to return.

But the larger issue here is that despite being the 800 pound gorilla in the room (at least as long as that particular room is located somewhere east of the Pacific Ocean and west of the Atlantic) they have shown that they have not assumed the role of the "massive corporate identity that does not listen." The community spoke, and at great length, in articles and editorials throughout the Blogsphere...

...and the 800 pound gorilla listened. Color me "tickled pink"

See you online

- Julie Whitefeather

Submitted by Brent on Jun 19, 2007 18:11:49 CST (comments: 13)


'What could calm the masses...' by bildo84
Submitted on 2007-06-19 18:29:07 CST
A new expansion announcement at Blizzcon and honing up again to mistakes they now see they've made. No company is perfect, even the mightily successful ones. Cheers to them for owning up and making a change.

'Too little too late?' by Scott
Submitted on 2007-06-19 19:31:01 CST
This is nice and great to hear they finally are taking note of their playerbase demands. Question is, was it a wave of cancellations noting attunements signialling a trend and significant customer churn, or did they truly champion this as a way to improve the game for the better?

I tend to think the former, and not the latter given their history or lack thereof.

As casual hardcore player I hate to admit it, but I actually miss the old 40 mans as much as I hated them. Compared to the mess of attunements and fracturing of guilds for BC raid teams, attunements, and generally a lack of purpose for many players.. Blizzards release of the expansion wasn't much more than putting a couple more fingers into a crack in the dam.

'Make up your mind' by scytale2
Submitted on 2007-06-19 20:00:52 CST
Once again, Julie I struggle to see the relevance of one of your articles...

Blizzard have clearly produced a game which millions of people of enjoyed, nay tens of millions. Did they work it out on the back of a cigarette packet? I suggest they used a vast amount of market research and forum trawling before they even got close to writing the first line of code. Have they listened to their players since Day 1 - you bet they have!

So why is it so groundbreaking that they might listen to their players following the launch of Burning Crusade?

You also neglect to suggest that it might actually have been planned this way, just so the hardcore gamers can have something very lengthy to do. Now they've all done it, there is no reason for the lengthy attunements, is there?

'WTF' by darrenl
Submitted on 2007-06-19 20:47:31 CST

Hell hath just frozen over.

'Re: scytale2' by ktin
Submitted on 2007-06-19 21:12:22 CST
totally since day one.
i think wow has developed very nicely. things are exceptionally smooth now for an mmo. little bugs are much less common.
sure there have been a lot of tough reputational grinds and crafted items, (among other things) in the original release, but i think it's much more obvious that the devs are moving into a much more lienient version of what they want their mmo to be. i think the vision has changed.

're: to little to late' by Julie
Submitted on 2007-06-19 22:10:13 CST
A very valid point Scott and I am glad you mentioned it. It may indeed be a case a reaction to a wave of cancelations rather than a proactive move. It would be nice to find out one way or the other. Perhaps it is a bit of both. There is certainly quite a range of reactions, not the least of which are reactions with more whine (wine) then Mogan David. Already I have started to read the "you CAN'T bypass Kharazan comments." To which I say - "oh no? Watch me." I think my favorite reaction so far has been "holy-o-crap Hell hat just frozen over."

'Thanks' by Scott
Submitted on 2007-06-20 03:28:31 CST
I keep meaning to hit this topic on my blog but being relevant to your post I'd like to add that I really think the route Blizzard has taken with BC has only served to further alienate its playerbase and put a much higher barrier to entry for the "end game" than was even there before with 40 mans.

I don't see the current attunement and raid system benefiting the bulk of players and with the rate you level and chew through quest content in BC players aren't left with many options short of PvP'ing in Arena's or BG's.

WoW is currently IMO riding only off its momentum as it's become the MySpace of the MMO market, sorta the social MMO space thats mostly held together by guilds or friendships the more it ages.

At some point players see that barrier to entry where the time invested to progress further in the game simply isn't worth it, nor are the incremental rewards enough to overcome re-learning and grinding through the game all over again to get to the top.

Eventually its easier to click over to account management, cancel your subscription, and patiently await the release of the next promising MMO that guarantee's a fresh start with everyone, a new experience, and an improved end game that compliments and works with player guilds.

'Strategy' by scytale2
Submitted on 2007-06-20 04:46:35 CST
Just a quickie. We all know that the long-term WoW players were looking for something new and different and they got it with Burning Crusade, but not in spades and now they are looking elsewhere. I think I lasted a couple of months, but those months were quite fun.

The BC strategy does, however, keep the more casual player, who let's face it, are better value for money, as they stay longer and pay the same, for a lot longer, possibly 12 months longer on average, as they trawl on to 70.

Normally you would court your hard core players, but why do this, when they don't pay any more and use up more of your bandwidth? Ok, there might be reasons, but it is very debatable.

The problem that WoW and every other game out there, bar perhaps EVE who use real time in their progression very sensibly, is that they run out of things to offer their hardcore players. "Older" games have engines which might not support the latest gamer needs too, so they are better releasing a new game rather than updating the old - ?GW.

Anyway, I said it would be a quickie...

'Re: thanks' by Julie
Submitted on 2007-06-20 07:06:27 CST
Note to webmaster: the last response seems to have become lost some how.

In reference to scott's comment about players chewing though BC content quickly and not being left with any choices - the attunement process certainly did limit those choices and as the blues themselves have said, gaming should be about choices. PVP? Please, back in the day when you had to stay on top to earn a rank I hit blood guard. Now? The rewards aren't worth the effort. In the end attunement served more as a blockade and frustration (not to mention a way to artificially lengthen the shelf life of the expansion) than a benefit.

As far as 40 man instances go, the great thing about them was the leeway they offered a guild instead of focusing on "needed" classes. If 5 drunken dwarves wanted to come with on a given evening you could still have fun AND beat the bosses (more than once we did it with just 25 players)

Is WoW becoming the Myspace of MMOs? I couldn't say for sure. But I will say that could be a good thing. Of all the guilds I belonged to, the ones that were the most fun were the ones that offered the most social aspects of gaming. Arguements over loot went something like this: "No I don't want the epic, YOU take it"

Too little too late? Perhaps so. As for me, while I didn't cancel the account I simply set the whole thing aside and took the time to broaden my gaming horizons - and that can be a very good thing.

When all is said and done, as Bildo84 mentioned above, it is good to see a large company willing to admit mistakes, and ESPECIALLY when it is the 800 pound gorilla in the room - it humanizes the corporate face.

Thanks for the great discussion. Very enjoyable.

'hm.' by ktin
Submitted on 2007-06-20 08:50:36 CST
"social MMO space thats mostly held together by guilds or friendships the more it ages."
"No I don't want the epic, YOU take it"

wow is simple enough and complex enough. lighthearted enough and deep enough.
there isn't really anything ~I~ can complain about and ~i~ see that blizzard is doing a great job handling how large it's become.

as far as i'm concerned , one really has to do what ~they~ want to do with their IP , and proceed with caution when it comes to handing out free cookies. ..

when you have a thousand little eyes all on you from a thousand different directions. you sort of just gotta cover your ears and eyes and try to focus on just 'being a good person' .. or in this case ... 'a good company'.

if you could wear a different mask for each person who's looking at you, you'd be god.

come to think about it.. every players account, character, and interface are likely to share a shred of similarity ;)

'edit:' by ktin
Submitted on 2007-06-20 08:54:58 CST
come to think about it.. i doubt each subscribers account, character, and interface are likely to share a shred of similarity ;)

particularly when it comes to the way that ~they~ play , and the way that ~they feel playing it.


'WoW is for simpletons' by redavni
Submitted on 2007-06-20 18:27:19 CST
I have an entirely different take on this than everyone else apparently.

I resubbed to WoW recently after the latest content patch since I'd heard that they had actually put in a decent non-trivial progression path. I had quit because the game was too easy, and I came back because I heard it might be more of a challenge. Now they nerf the challenge? How much easier can they make WoW? Are they trying to pull in some of Toontown's customers?

Just as an example, I have a lvl 51 priest. It's my only char, I didn't reactivate, I didn't have any friends ingame when I started. Not only have I made lvl 51 in less than 2 months of 4-6 hours a day (I don't play every day), I have been able to make enough money just gathering professions to be currently wearing 4 Epic items from the AH, and everything else are blue's. I will easily have the gold to buy my epic mount at 60 in about a week.

WoW is too easy. That's why people are bored.

'Response to Redavni' by Kanthalos
Submitted on 2007-06-24 12:21:52 CST
Redavni, I hate to shut you down like this, but your comment means absolutely nothing in this setting. Everyone else is talking about end-game progression and raiding, and you are talking about your level 51 priest. Everyone knows that you can level very quickly in WoW, thats not up for debate. The debate is whether end-game content post-BC has alienated players and caused strain on guilds causing a lot of turmoil, so to say that as a level 51 you think its too easy is about as relevent as saying Saga of Ryzom is your favorite MMO. As for the actual argument, I definitely agree that it is good that Blizzard is finally listening to players, but I still won't be playing my level 70 rogue anytime soon (or ever possibly) because the stress it put on the guild I was in was too much and it made me far too frustrated. If I did play again, I would probably just make a new character altogether.


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