World of Warcraft

Blizzard’s community relations have not improved.

wow4 - Blizzard's community relations have not improved.

Currently, on the front page of this subreddit, there is a heartfelt letter to Blizzard critiquing their game design and business practices.

Over 26,000 people gave that post an upvote, showing they agree with it. It has over 2000 comments worth of discussion below it. It has received over $300 worth of Reddit accolades. Knowing that active users of Reddit make up a small minority and most readers are lurkers who don't interact at all, there are literally thousands upon thousands of fans who have read that post and sympathized with it.

Blizzard has said nothing in response and I expect them not to, despite telling us that they're looking at how to communicate better. For all we know, Blizzard staff hasn't even read it.

Why is it so difficult for Blizzard to talk to their users? To maintain any sort of dialogue beyond irregular Q&A sessions, confusing or frustrating blue posts, and holier-than-thou Twitter responses?

Like many others, I stopped playing BfA after a couple months. This left me with quite a lot of time to play other games, so I filled that time by resubscribing to another game that was part of my youth – Old School RuneScape.

Participating in the OSRS community has really highlighted just how bad Blizzard's communication is. Reading the subreddit, it's not rare at all to see a post tagged with "J-Mod Reply", indicating that a member of the game's staff has commented. Not only that, these replies often come from actual developers, not PR-focused community reps. They comment on jokes, fan art, and memes, too, not just complaints and questions.

We have very regular Q&As, far more frequent than the occasional Ion & Lore stream. The Q&As typically have 4 developers, sometimes more, seldom less. These Q&As typically answer more questions than Blizzard's, and the questions are typically far more relevant to the concerns of the playerbase than the questions Blizzard selects.

In one of the most recent Q&As, there was a question from a player who wanted to know about clearing up the backlog of suggestions that had been given to the developers, a subject that gets brought up here and there. The lead dev, Mod Ash, responded to this and explained how their backlog works. During this response, he stated to the viewers that, chances are, if you're watching the stream, you're a player who is quite invested in the game and probably have some good ideas about what direction the game should take.

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This response was legitimately startling to me because I'd become accustomed to the way Ion and Lore handle their Q&As. They would never be so transparent and frank with their questions on stream, preferring instead to lawyer-speak their way around the problem.

The craziest part of it all is that the OSRS team is so much smaller than Blizzard and they manage to maintain community relations while putting out 3 major content updates a year and weekly updates outside of that which vary from bugfixes and balance changes to quality-of-life improvements to minor content additions.

The result of all these differences are that the community loves the OSRS team and even at their worst, they are still regarded more fondly than Blizzard is.

Awhile back, OSRS pushed out a broken update that caused every enemy killed to drop the maximum amount of money a player can carry. Naturally, the servers had to be rolled back. Players were understandably upset, but a couple of days later after some upset posts and stupid memes, everything was back to normal. Had Blizzard pushed an update that broken, Reddit, YouTube, and Twitter would be lit up with anger and frustration for ages.

Recently, a member of the OSRS team had to leave Jagex for personal reasons. The community was heartbroken and responded with memes about moving Jagex closer to his home, fan art, heartfelt goodbyes, and pleading for him to stay in touch with the community. If Ion announced he was leaving today, the community would be celebrating.

OSRS is a game built with the players' enjoyment and fulfillment at the very top of the list of priorities, and playing it and involving myself with the community has shown me that WoW may have been that way at one point, but certainly isn't today.

Talk to your fans, Blizzard. The teams for games like OSRS and Path of Exile have shown that only good things can come from open and honest communication as long as you have your fans' interests at heart. Failing to communicate does not hide your disregard for your fans, it highlights it.

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