Diablo 3

Hi Blizzard – Let’s Have a Discussion

diablo10 - Hi Blizzard - Let's Have a Discussion

I've spent some time since Blizzcon reading all the feedback from the event and thinking about what has happened and what it means. I think I've been able to articulate some of the frustrations that have surfaced recently. While this is a largely critical post since I'm hoping to provoke some thoughts and push for some improvements, I'm trying to keep things controlled and reasonable. Here is some of what I think is driving the frustration, particularly in the Diablo community, but extending out to the entire Blizzard fanbase.

It used to be that Blizzard games were something to look forward to. They built such a devoted following of fans – the traditional Blizzard almost felt like it wasn't really a company. Many gamers felt like Blizzard was composed from the top to bottom of people like themselves – actual video games enthusiasts who were hard at work making the very games that they would want to play. This care and understanding of the nature of video games coupled with the fact that Blizzard never accepted anything but the absolute best meant that a strong sense of trust grew over the years between company and consumer. Blizzard was delighted to be the industry standard in the genres where they participated, and the gamer was delighted at the substantial entertainment value gained from each product Blizzard released, time and time again.

Something has obviously happened, because that feeling is now gone. It is an unfortunate state of affairs today with Blizzard Entertainment. The customer's perception has gone from that of a relationship between fellow gamers to that of a corporate entity doing everything they can to extract dollars from game consumers. It used to feel like the money was secondary. That the awesome product was the main focus. There was a drive to go above and beyond and rethink what was possible within the scope of a video game. That passion directed the company, and the community recognized and subsequently rewarded this amount of effort and sacrifice. But now, in the words, and in the actions… in the interviews and in the blog posts, there is an emptiness that is hard to describe. We hear the phrases, but nothing of value is really communicated.

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The relationship that took years of hard work to build is being torn down in days. The community has been very clear about what it wants… and what it doesn't want. And so far, it seems that the voices go unheeded as Blizzard continues down the path is has now chosen – not for the customers and fans, but for the shareholders. It isn't even so much the announcements that have been made – it's the compounding of disappointing news plus a total silence and non-reaction from Blizzard that makes the present environment particularly painful. Trust is earned, not bestowed, and it’s impossible to earn trust with words alone. The community wants to see actions, and rightly so, and it’s concerning that Blizzard has failed to provide that in over a month since Blizzcon.

I hope this is not a sign of things to come, but I fear that what we have seen is only the beginning. I feel like the future of Blizzard is slipping away into mediocrity even now, but I would love to be proved wrong. Let’s see what the future holds.

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