Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Why Mr Chilly doesn’t work as intended

On the paper it was a great idea. Blizzard wanted to reward the players for switching to a Battle.net account.

The thing is that there was a solid stick hanging over our heads, or maybe I should rather call it broad-axe. Switch before November 12 or you can’t play any more. Period. That’s what I would call negative enforcement!

Somehow they realized that they to put needed some sugar coating into this. They wanted to take away the focus from the blackmail situation. So they gave us a treat - something that should compensate us for the hassle of having to create a new account, no matter if WoW was the only Blizzard game you were playing.

They ended up offering us a carrot – a real one to munch on, not just something hanging out of our reach as the ones decorating the Northrend turtle ferries.

The measure could have been taken straight out of am instruction book about marketing and customer relations. It was absolutely the right thing to do. The only thing is that they picked the wrong reward. They gave us a pet. And I’m afraid that doesn’t work as intended. It clearly shows that Blizzard hasn’t understood the basics of the psychology of pet keeping.

Character customization
One huge incentive for keeping pets is that it’s one of the few tools you have to customize your character and turn it into an individual, not just another twin to the other 5 percent of the population that is running around with a similar race.

This doesn’t mean that the only pets that are interesting are the ones that barely anyone else has, such as the Azure Whelpling.

One of my favourite pets is the very plain, cheap and common rabbit which can be bought from a vendor in Don Morogh. There’s something in his innocent, fluffy appearance that speaks to me and fits into my character. Theoretically he’s available to anyone (at least on the Allience side) to buy, simple and cheap. But since not everyone cares that much about pets, not too many will bother to do it. In fact it happens quite rarely that you ever see a Snowshoe happily jumping around the legs of someone. Whenever I let him out for some exercise and fresh air, I can easily live in the imagination that he’s quite special, that he’s sharing his destiny with Larísa and not everyone else in the game.

Mr Chilly on the other hand will be the least exclusive pet we’ve ever seen. While the baby Blizzard bear (which I adore since it’s so beautiful), was sent to huge amounts of players just for logging on a certain day, this one is sent to literally everyone. And just to make sure that no one misses it, they’re spamming us. There’s one pet in the mailbox for each character and once you’ve learned it, it’s still there as a BoA for a reason I can’t figure out. If I ever create another character I know there will be another Mr Chilly in the mailbox for this lvl 1 as well. So what am I supposed to do with the ones that are not consumed?

Theoretically we can from now on expect to see an army of penguins marching around in Dalaran, which will make my mirror image+voodoo mask trinket combo look like a small crowd. In reality I don’t think we will, because who would want to show a pet which is as common as a nose on your character, with the difference that it looks exactly the same for everyone? I wouldn’t. Especially since I’ve already got another penguin with much more interesting eyes (until now, who came up with the idea to change them? :()

Need for more RNG
But if Mr Chilly is a “meh” to Larísa, what could Blizzard have done to make the carrot tastier? Well, I think it wouldn’t have hurt to put in some RNG to the event. Instead of handing it out to everyone – make it to a lottery with a few different pets dropping. Perhaps Mr Chilly would be the most common one, but there could have been a few other, more exclusive pets as well. Or just make him come in a bunch of varieties, with different colour combinations? They could either be random or vary depending on class and race of the owner.

Just make it more fun and attractive. Because considering the initial problems with the transfer (for instance we had a raid night spoiled because of this last week, since European players who had merged couldn’t log into the game), they certainly need some goodwill.

Mr Chilly doesn’t work as intended.

24 comments:

Spinks said...

I would have agreed with you if it wasn't for my experience with this yesterday.

My little sister just resubbed to WoW. She hasn't played in ages. I mentioned battle net and she was put off, she thought it sounded complicated and didn't want to do it.

I mentioned the penguin pet. Suddenly, she was excited. She ran off to sort out the battle net account.

She logged back on and complained that her penguin wasn't there yet. (I almost didn't dare breathe for the 2 mins that it took for the penguin to arrive in her mail.) When it did arrive, she was so very very excited. She doesn't care who else has a penguin.

Jessabelle said...

I have been trying to figure out what the heck to do with all these Mr. Chillys in all my mailboxes. Granted, I am pleased with the fact that we got a pet even if we had changed to battlenet earlier, and I appreciate that at least there was SOMETHING.

I was one of those people who REFUSED to switch to battlenet. Even with the battle-bots, no matter how much I wanted one... I refused to switch. For some reason that is difficult for me to explain, it really grates on me to do it, and the battle-bot marketing ploy just made it worse in my mind.

In fact, the only reason I have a battle-net account now is because someone hacked my account, and changed it to a battlenet themselves - and it appears it cant be undone. At that point, after getting everything back into my own control, I decided that it was no point getting upset about it, and finally activated my year old authenticator.

I have no desire to play any of the other Blizzard MMOs, nor do I know anyone who does. I am looking forward to knowing when friends on other servers are online though.

Carra said...

Snowshoe rabbits go great with female gnomes. It's a fashion item like Paris Hilton and her dog. The snowshoe rabbit is the first pet I got and still my favorite one to accompany my gnome.

As for the other pets, exclusivity is indeed the key. Not many people walk around with a crimson whelpling. So having one makes you special. Even so, I still prefer walking around with the 10c rabbit.

I do wonder why people make such a fuzz about having to create a battle.net account? I'm sure I made one five years ago.

I have no desire to play any of the other Blizzard MMOs, nor do I know anyone who does. WoW players often stick with one game and don't play any other games. Not everyone is like that. I greatly enjoyed playing Diablo 2, starcraft + expansion, warcraft 3 + expansion & wow + expansions. And I'm looking forward to starcraft 2 & diablo 2. As for mmos, there's only one Blizzard mmo and that's WoW so I don't see the point. But just because you only play one game does not mean that other players don't.

tufva said...

I haven't actually tested this, but my suspicion is that if you create a new character (at least after the Nov 12 deadline) it will not get Mr Chilly - so the point if it not getting consumed is that you can send it on in future to new characters.

I think. Maybe.

Lance said...

Mr Chilly is just a perk for me. Granted, I got Grunty, but he is mean and lethal to other pets (I like to think so at least) and cooler than the worg puppy.

I was keen on switching to Battle.net, manly because of professional interest and eager to see how Blizzard will implement this social gaming network they came up with. The notion of a blizz-related community is quite interesting for us involved with the industry one way or the other and even more if we are fans of Blizz's games. I have lots of real-life friends I have meet in WoW who are also into Blizzard's games and this will be quite exciting for us...

But that's another story...

Spinks said...

"Not many people walk around with a crimson whelpling. So having one makes you special. "

I have a crimson whelpling!! I just wanted to share that. Err, but of course I don't care about pets at all or ... um ...

Larísa said...

@Spinks: well, with all respect for the joy of your little sister - she can't be the only target audience for the pet bribe from Blizzard. I think that if they wanted to convice more than some enthusiastic school girls they should have come up with something somewhat more exclusive or at least interesting.

@Jessabelle & Carra: well, I've never seen any huge issue about switching, even though there isn't anything in it for me since I don't know any other gamers than them I play WoW with. I was a bit afraid though that it would be some technical issues - and I was completely right. I changed and the next day I lost one raid night. Guess if I was annoyed!

@Tufva: actually I think it will turn up anyway. At least it works that way with the collectors edition pet, which I have. Every time I create a character, a mail with the pet is waiting for me. This has bugged me too for a while, I've just never come around to blog about it.

Ben said...

Exclusivity is probably a big deal when it comes to pets for me, closely followed by any other redeeming features like idle dancing. Lurky is perfect for me, and doesn't mean I have to farm for ages or spend massives amount of gold for it.

I'm not too sure whether random pets would've changed anything. After all the pets are already BoA, all it would take would be to continuously make new characters to collect them all and I doubt Blizzard wants that. That's not to say there couldn't have been other incentives however, such as a battle.net tabard or similar vanity things.

Juliet said...

I love pets, but I don't actually care much about exclusivity. Mr. Chilly is cute, and that's all I need to be happy to display him. Though he does have two other factors that make him a sentimental favorite to me: I obtained Mr. Chilly and Pengu on the same day, and the two of them got me to a total of 25 pets, netting me an achievement.

I would definitely not have wanted to have a lottery with different pets. It would have annoyed me no end not to get whichever pet I liked best and to have no possible shot at ever getting that pet, since you can only merge your account once. (I'm still sulking that I'll never have a chance to get the Spirit of Competition since I hate PVP and couldn't motivate myself to do it during the last Olympics. Didn't think I'd mind so much about the pet in the long term.)

If you really must have some kind of exclusivity factor, though, consider this: like the Baby Blizzard Bear, one day Mr. Chilly will be a marker of how long you've been playing. The "everybody's got one" factor is just for now.

Juliet said...

Oh, P.S., also, I had been putting off merging my account until they offered Mr. Chilly. As soon as I saw the offer, I perked up and decided to do the merge sooner rather than later. Again, lack of exclusivity wasn't a negative factor at all.

There's probably no way to please everybody in this situation, unfortunately. But I think it's a bit too sweeping to pronounce Mr. Chilly an objective failure when he did work for some people. And "the basics of the psychology of pet keeping" clearly aren't the same for all pet collectors, because honestly, exclusivity and character customization just are not on my list of motivations at all.

Ixobelle said...

agreed. some of my favorite pets, that are available to everyone, but no one seems to have:

baby worg & spider hatchling - LBRS questlines, the worg is just cool, and the spider is perfect for the arachnid wing in Naxx. people keep AoEing, and it never dies

the undead cockroach sold in the UC - 50c, and the first pet I buy for a new Isobelle. They flutter around in one of the cooler 'pet walk' animations. I've NEVER seen anyone else using one.

Eidlhe said...

I saw folks get the bear even though they didn't log into WoW on the anniversary. I think we got gypped on the pet. It's just Pengu with new eyes. Blizz reusing something again. I would have liked a new pet...not a revamp of an existing pet.

Anonymous said...

I'd be more than happy to have a sinister squashling... even if every other player had one.

River said...

This is all I can think about when I look at my pet....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AjRACCuh3vc

Shamrockgirl said...

i think a random pet would have been a nice idea, or even one that is different based on what you play (then i would have gotten several new ones instead of the same one on every toon). I had already switched to battle.net for the battle bot since i am a collector of fine companions. (i even have the Azure Whelpling... in fact i have all the farmable whelplings). I did still find myself looking in anticipation to see if i had mail waiting for me when i logged in...

Sprink said...

There is only one pet that follows me around literally everywhere.

Sporebee, my tiny sporebat.

And I don't see too many people with him floating around. ^_^

Anonymous said...

Random pets would have just lead to frustration when you feel the game screwed you out of one you thought was cooler. This in turn would lead to complaints about how Blizzard not only forced everyone to switch to bnet account but then made it un-fun by using a reward system that makes some people luckier than others.

Professor Beej said...

I've always thought their pet giveaways were lame. Sure, I do my best to get them (I never did get the Spirit of Competition, though. Sad face.), but I never want to do anything out of my way. And had I not already migrated to a battle.net account, I likely would be very irritated that all I get for dealing with their headaches is a silly non-combat penguin.

I love the idea of doing an event or a lottery where players can get different pets. Maybe a 3 week event with a week long cooldown on attempts at one of five new pets. That way no one can get them all, and some people could get the rarest. I'm no designer.

But at least then those pets would be more used and cared about than Baby Blizzard Bear or Mr. Chilly.

Larísa said...

@Ben: I think that if they had been random, only a minority would bother to try to get them all (if that was possible at all). Not everyone will make an effort to get a vanity pet. But now they force them upon everyone. Tat’s a difference.

@Juliet: well, a good blogger will always try to pull things to its edge, exaggerating and simplifying a bit. If you’re so nuanced that you take in every possibility and exception in your argumentation, it will honestly be pretty boring to read. I can imagine that there are pet collectors who are glad at every new pet they get, no matter if everyone has them or not. Still – if you want to give a treat to ALL wow players, I think you need to make it more fun than the Mr Chilly-to-everyone-concept. I like pets and yet it left me completely cold. And I suspect I’m not the only one.

@Ixobelle: Oh, I love the worg! It barks! And yep, the spider can be confusing and therefore a bit fun (although people have been so annoyed at companion pets in raids lately that I don’t display them in combat anymore. I’ll probably blog about that some day), I’ve got that cockroach as well… Tbh I think it looks a bit plain, but yeah you’re definitely right that it isn’t seen very much.

@Eidlhe: Are you sure about everyone getting a bear? Hm… And yeah, it’s way too much alike Pengu.

@Anonymous: well, but that is mostly because of the achievement, isn’t it? Although I must admit that I would love that budo-sporting pandaren pet they’ve showed at mmo-champion. It’s so cool that I’d like it even if it was all over the place…

@River: I had no idea it was a cartoon they gave us! Wonder if they’ve sorted out the copyright thing.

@Shamrockgirl: Yeah… Of course I looked curiously in the mail too when it was announced that it would arrive. But I didn’t feel thrilled at all learning it. Rather disappointed…

@Sprink: hm… one day when I’m bored I’ll go grind nagas! Sporegger don’t fancy me enough to give me one 

@Anonymous: I think that frustration is rather childish. It reminds me of when my kids were very young and I gave them exactly the same stuff for Christmas. They looked like twins, even if it’s 2 years between them. Seriously, we’ve got to learn to live with differences. It makes life more diverse and interesting.

@Professor Beej:
I’ve got the Spirit of Competition and it’s so beautiful! (/flex) On the other hand the Olympic Game tabard they gave out at the same time was the ugliest ever seen. I deleted it instantly, never looking back.

Yeah, a reoccurring lottery isn’t a bad idea. And the sooner you would make your merge, the more times would you participate!
Now if only people can be mature enough to handle that the RNG sometimes won’t work according to their wishes…

Bri said...

Blizz said that they reserve the right to discontinue handing out the pet sometime in the future. Just keep one egg in the bank on your main or on your bank toon for each faction, delete all the rest.

What's my main Again? said...

I'm not a big pet person. I don't really care about getting the penguin pet. But I don't understand why you would be upset that everyone gets the same pet. You are going to use your cute rabbit out of the mountain of pets you have so why does it matter that everyone else has this pet?

I think if someone was trying to use a blizzard promotion pet to set themselves apart from everyone else... then thats a little strange.

The only pet I ever went out of my way for was the Teldrassil Sproutling for my druid. The same druid who happens to have the turn in items for both the spider and worg in the bank... and has never gone to turn them in for the pets.

In the long run all this pet and others like it (spirit of competition, blizzard bear, christmas/holiday pets) serve is nastalgia. One day in a few years you will have Mr. Chilly out for some reason and some new player in Stormwind will cry WHERE DID YOU GET THAT ITS SO CUTE!!!

Anea said...

I agree - Chilly really doesn't seem that special, especially since his cousin looks almost like a twin of him.

I've always particularly liked the rabbit from Dun Morogh as well - very cute and affable. I will admit that I was sad they took his spots in a patch, even though it made him match his name.

Anonymous said...

Really blizzard can't please everyone. So as long as the *Majority* are happy to get a Mr Chilly, then that is all that matters.

I like each new pet I get. But even the the penguin doesn't meet the coolness faction that I like to summon him, he was one more pet in my stable and I didn't have to do anything for him!

Chiren said...

Mr. Wiggles is the only pet for me. Its the best when you're in a weird or slimy place... and then you can go "Nooo Mr. Wiggles, don't eat that!"