Eric@Elder Game posts a typically thoughtful look at customer relations in MMOs, and especially on how some teams are very forthcoming in admitting their faults and keeping players informed about what they are doing, where others maintain a (more professional?) silence.
It is very clear that with Warcraft, Blizzard has been moving more and more in the direction of sharing information and views with the players. The latest example of this is in an excellent interview that Rob Pardo gave to Warcry.
They ask what he thinks the biggest mistakes were with WoW, and he specifically names the arena.
If I was going to pick on a game design thing that I look back on and think was a mistake? We really never designed WoW to be a competitive e-sports game; it was something that we decided to start tackling because there was such a desire and demand to evolve it in that direction, to introduce competitive arenas. I’m not sure that that was the right thing to do with the game.
This is not something that I’d have expected to hear from anyone highly placed inside Blizzard even a year ago. But now, the mood has changed, and the style of customer relations has changed too. And it’s OK to admit what everyone already knows – balancing for PvE and PvP has been a huge hassle and will continue that way too.
Rob also discusses other recent changes in WoW, and the move to a more casual friendly game from the perspective of someone who himself used to be a hardcore raider in EQ.
We had all these suppositions, and as the years went on and we had more and more experience living with WoW as a live game, we realized that they weren’t just truths. They might affect a hardcore minority, but the people we saw weren’t really as hardcore as we thought they were. If we reduced raids from 40 to 25, we saw, it makes it more fun. You might have some hardcore players who get upset, but keeping people out of content isn’t right for the game overall. We mellowed sometimes, and realized we were wrong.