Blizzard Needs to Communicate More? Crithto Leaves Blizzard

I wasn’t too surprised when I saw on Twitter Crithto, a Community Manager at Blizzard, announced he is leaving for a “new opportunity”…his last day being Oct. 8th. While hoping to attend BlizzCon if he is there, it will not be as an employee. While this is a “good” time for an employee to leave (slow time in between expansions) it will be interesting to see if they replace him. I say this because Blizzard has been quiet lately, considering BlizzCon is right around the corner. For example, let’s talk about a new employee…Stephan Frost.

He was a force to be reckoned with at WildStar. WildStar used to voice videos that explained characters, game dynamics, etc. They were very popular and drew a lot of people (like myself) to WildStar. He’s only been at Blizzard since July and I am curious what he’s going to bring to the table for the expansion. If he is as passionate about working for Blizzard as he was WildStar, that is a good thing for Blizzard. I mean, his whole thing at WildStar was #hardcore and WoW is not hardcore. He surprised people by leaving WildStar back in Sept. 2014, leaving to work for Amazon. That did not last long. Now he’s at Blizzard and you don’t hear very much about him, which is disappointing. Maybe I’m missing it but I was hoping to see him in live streams…publicly bringing the energy he had in WildStar to Blizzard. Unfortunately, Blizzard might be a “gotta pay the bills” job instead of “OMG, I’m at BLIZZARD!!” passion job. Blizzcon is coming up and he tweeted he’s not on a panel, he’ll be working in the background. Sigh…

Speaking of lack of communication, this was brought up on the EU forums: Why can’t Blizzard employees talk more often. A Blue responded:

It’s worth keeping in mind that the forum is just one part of our responsibilities as CMs. This article (click on Community Manager / Editor) gives a good insight into our day to day.

In the interests of transparency I’d also like to briefly run through some of the other things we do, besides the forums. This will hopefully give you an idea of our rather varied workload:

Creating/Localising/Publishing of content (Blogs, social media, etc.)

Reviewing and forwarding feedback (from forums, social media, e-mails, fan sites, etc.)

Interaction with players (through digital platforms as well as in person at events – Hellfest for example)

Contests and Giveaways

Planning and execution of events (Launch events, GamesCom, Road to BlizzCon, etc.)

Supporting fan sites, bloggers, streamers, YouTubers, competition and event organisers (Fireside Gatherings, BarCrafts, etc.), pro gamers, cosplayers and other artists – basically all the people who are active in the community.

As you can see, it’s a very varied list of tasks but all of the tasks directly relate to the community as a whole. There’s never really a shortage of work that needs doing.

Although we are reading the forums every day to stay informed about trends, suggestions and feedback, please also keep in mind that the forums are primarily intended as a way for everyone to discuss the game amongst themselves.

Now that being said, I do intend to interact with you as frequently as I can. If you have any questions after reading this, please don’t hesitate to ask. 🙂

Noting there are multiple community managers and these are full time positions, right?…what do they do all day that they CAN’T interact more than they have?

Speaking of not communicating more, a “don’t get your panties in a bunch because it’s not that serious but actually true” interaction happened on Twitter.

How many game designers have been fired via online petition? Asking for a friend. (holinka)

Hmm maybe you know @OccupyGStreet? (holinka)

#AndThatsHowRumourStarts

Ha ha, no I just mean he had many of these silly petitions in his time. Just pointing out we’ve seen this before. (holinka)

The more likely outcome is your boss says “Keep doing what you’re doing, but stop talking to players because it’s controversial.” (OccupyGStreet)

Yep, ties into that “why game devs don’t communicate with players” article you linked previously. (Celestalon)

I don’t think this particular group cares about communication. They are unhappy and want corrective action. (holinka)

They are operating under the false belief that I am standing in the way of them getting what they want. (holinka)

Can’t punish communication to all players due to a horrible few.

Our team’s strategy is to communicate through @WarcraftDevs & not our personal accounts. That’s fine. (holinka)

Unfortunately, I agree with this. Let me be clear…I am not one of those people. I would prefer more communication because I am a mature adult in control of my emotions and I don’t whine like a little bitch when I don’t get my way. I will walk away if I am unhappy and unable to find a solution unlike many who whine, complain yet stay (the problem isn’t the game anymore, it’s the person without the balls to leave…just saying). While I want corrective action just like many others do, communication is key in building trust and building a stable foundation with the community. Hopefully, BlizzCon will be the event where they can talk more about the expansion and open up the floodgates for communication.

A final note, More wise words from Ghostcrawler responding to this comment:

Except the “alternative” is always substantially less rewarding, so it will never be cared about. You can’t just offer easy vs hard with the same rewards. Nobody will opt into hard “just because”.

How can you be so sure? I always choose the hardest difficulty without knowing if I’ll get better rewards

The comment was specifically about group PvE content. If you offer 5 difficulty levels, all with the same rewards, and don’t provide easy ways for other players to see others’ accomplishments, then my experience is most players will see no point in suffering through the harder difficulties. Some will, but my expectation is that group will be small. In general, if players do more challenging content, they expect rewards appropriate for their accomplishment. Those rewards could be power based rewards, or they could just be recognition from other players.

This doesn’t mean players don’t like difficult content. I like difficult content. But generally in multiplayer games, players want some recognition or outright rewards that they did it the hard way. I think the mindset is just different in single player games. I play Dark Souls because I gain satisfaction over beating it. It’s harder to lean on personal satisfaction in a multiplayer game where players spend a lot of brain space comparing their accomplishments to others. In multiplayer games, the social element is typically pretty massive or it wouldn’t be a multiplayer game. Recognition, in my experience, is an important part of that social element.

What do you think? Would you go through a hard dungeon just for the satisfaction of doing it or do you want a reward or recognition that you’ve done it? For me, it’ like the saying “Pics or it didn’t happen” while there are some things I will do for “fun” (like soloing dungeons) and not expect recognition, if I don’t feel the journey to do it is rewarding (like that Draenor Pathfinder Achievement) no amount of recognition or reward will squelch the dissatisfaction of me doing it. Let me know how you feel in the comments.