Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Geek in a Suit or Will We Ever Accept That Blizzard is Business?

So they raised the fee for Blizzcon with a freaking 20 percent from 2009 to 2010. It has the same length – two days. It has the same sort of content as far as I can tell, although I suppose they’ll find a new artist to entertain. What about Mr T on stage? I also imagine the goodie bag will contain a shiny mount or cute pet, like it always does. But now the deal is suddenly 150 dollars instead of 125. And you can’t blame the general increasing costs for this. A percent or two, yeah, I guess so. Twenty? Never. It’s a simple matter of demand and supply. They’ll sell out on tickets anyway, so why not make sure you get a good profit from it?

I suppose this isn’t breaking news. Each month Blizzard presents us a new additional service – from cute (or annoying) pets, sparkling ponies and plush toys to Iphone apps and magazines. There’s something in store for everyone and they’re just doing their job, trying to make a living for themselves and their owners.

The question is: can they keep putting this much of effort into merchandising and monetizing without somehow staining their ethos and changing the story, the image about who they are? Will the fan base ever fully accept that they’re doing this for profit like any other business?

As one commenter wrote at WoW.com’s post about the AH app:

“Blizzard, be careful. You are pushing your players to rethink their commitment to you with each move farther down the nickel-and-dime path you take. We're going to start comparing you to an airline soon.”
Yeah… But aren’t they like an airline already, if you think about it rationally and not just emotionally?

Our relationship to the blues
Hands on heart: there’s something special about our relationship with the “blue guys”, as Tim Howgego pointed out in a recent post.
“A sense of relationship is possible because of the curiously personalised view most players have of Blizzard: People talk to “Blizz” or “Blue” (their corporate color) like they are talking to their dog, not a corporate monolith. Much like a pet dog, people feel able to hold personal conversations, without ever expecting a reply. Disturbing similar to the relationship some people have with gods.”
I’m actually not entirely sure of who’s who in this scenario. Are the fans the dog owner, fondly talking to someone who never talks back, projecting our wishes, imagining what’s up in their minds? Or are we in fact the dog, enthusiastically wagging our tail, giving our unconditional love, to the images we have of the blues?

We so want to believe that they are geeks, that they’re one of us, that they basically could play in our guild under cover.

I’ve been bashing on Blizzard quite a few times in the past, pointing fingers at their shortcomings in the PR area – particularly when it comes to making use of their own website and reaching out to the fan community.

But in this aspect I must say that they’ve succeeded. Even if we’re talking about a huge corporation with thousands and thousands of employees and branches all over the world, a company depending on the stock market and the quarterly reports, they still manage to distance themselves from the too polished surface thanks to an underlying strong corporate storytelling, where they’re gaining trust and sympathy thanks to their history.

They probably could do more out of it, sharing further behind-the-scene stories or making proper use of their named “stars” such as Ghostcrawler, giving him a blog of his own to run.
But even without it, they’re doing fine.

Picturing Blizzard
When I picture Blizzard, the first thing that comes to my mind isn’t a slick, business suit dressed guy pointing at the latest sales charts. I think about a slightly overweight Ghostcrawler in a silly, geeky t-shirt, throwing himself into an argument with a disgruntled warrior. I think about the ex-hardcore raiders from EverQuest who wanted to show that they could do something better. That’s quite some story! I know it’s probably a lie but I still can’t help seeing them as some crazy guys, working day and night, fuelled by energy drinks, not to get rich, but because they’re passionate.

They are our idols, our heroes and we want to keep them that way as long as possible. So when Blizzard makes decisions that seem to be based more on what revenue they can expect from it this quarter than on a vision of good game design, we don’t want to blame Ghostcrawler for this. We blame Bobby Kotick, the CEO of Activision Blizzard.

Fair or not, Bobby is a good scapegoat. He can be that well dressed guy who raises the entrance fee to Blizzcon to 150 bucks. Ghostcrawler is still on our side and if he was in charge he would let everyone in for free or a smile. Right?

Blizzard is sitting on a huge capital of trust. Sometimes I wonder if those in charge really fully realize how valuable it is.

If one of the top guys in Activision Blizzard happens to read this, I would reccomend you to give your coroporate nerds some apprecation. And make sure that they keep their slightly geeky image when they appear in public. It you're lucky we may not even notice that in fact they're wearing a suit.

34 comments:

Kaelynn said...

I remember hearing last year that Blizzcon is a financial loss for them - but they consider it worth it for the marketing and fan building. For some reason this makes me feel slightly better about the price increase.

Blizzard's image is very interesting. We still see them the way they began - a small company of geeks trying to make an impact on the gaming world. Obviously they aren't small anymore, yet we still feel that their employees are "real" gamers like us, and that they understand us. Even Mike Morhaime comes off as more of a geek than a faceless man in a suit. There are very few companies that can pull this off. Apple is another example, although things are beginning to change for them. Many people still see Steve Jobs as a hipster/geek in a black turtle neck, when really he is an astute businessman.

Jim said...

I have always thought of Blizzard as a business. One that knows how to make a successful product. They will now suffer because of that in ways they did not ever expect.
A video game this successful is lucrative beyond the dreams of avarice. This will bring a bad element.. greed will ensue, changing the paradigm from making a good game to how they can squeeze more money for the corporate machine. Its just a matter of time.

But that does not mean that for awhile the game products will still be fun and interesting to play. I truly enjoy playing in a persistent virtual world and as a old guy it still fascinates me to do so. For some people now this is blase. I hope Blizzard maintains the "cool" they are always lauding.

But eventually I think they will become too money focused for the good of the consumers.

Klepsacovic said...

If Blizzard is smart, we never will. There are business transactions and social transactions. For the most part we don't think much about the cost of social transactions; they're done with the idea that everything evens out overall, so we're unlikely to really think "Is this worth X dollars?" But business, that we analyze. If Blizzard becomes perceived as a business, I think they'll lose a lot of subscribers who start really measuring their time spent, money spent, and returns on happiness.

Cap'n John said...

I've never been to BlizzCon even though I practically live right down the road from Blizzard. I almost went last year when TJ was trying to offload her tickets, then I discovered how much they were. She wasn't gouging, she just wanted her money back (which I thought was fair enough) but to drop $250 so my 9 y/old son and I could go to BlizzCon where we really wouldn't get anything of value didn't seem worth it.

I have been to the Games Workshop convention before. I think that was a little under $50 and I got to play their games all day, including taking part in a massive W40K battle with 50 other people (25 to a side, with everyone controlling a few squads each and playing on a long, narrow, horseshoe-shaped table). During the day I won a couple of Space Marine sprues and got to make & paint my own WH40K miniature. I also got a second miniature in my grab bag.

For $150 I'd expect to find a unique 'for BlizzCon goers only' action figure in my grab bag.

Bri said...

Yes, Blizzard is sitting on a great deal of nerd street-cred. But recently they've been spending that capital, and it's not as bottomless as their bankroll.

@Kaelynn: The comparison between Blizzard and Apple is a very astute one. Good call.

Hatch said...

They are very quickly squandering the emotional/trust capital that they accrued over the past decade-and-a-half. And that's what enabled them to make such a ludicrous amount of money. TRH was acceptable because it was just one horse, and only that profitable because of the trust and emotion blizzard had built with the rest of the game. The more they chip away at that, the less money they can make in the future.


I love Jim's phrase "lucrative beyond the dreams of avarice" because it really paints the picture of the kinds of corporate vultures that are descending on this golden-egg-laying-goose with dollar signs in their eyes. They will loot it until it is a hollow shell, and then PC gaming will be down to only one beloved company: Valve.

Anonymous said...

WARNING! WARNING!
INCOMING CRIT OF TEXT

The Blizz busines model has obviously been very successful and, quite frankly, I believe it will continue to be so. The reason: monthly subscription fees. As long as Blizz keeps the monthly subscription fees at their current level, they are set.

From a consumer's perspective, I would argue that it is one of the better, if not best, social spending values around? I mean, were talking $0.50 a day for unlimited play in an everchanging virtual world! Now, obviously, spending time with your spouse and kids is free, but that can be overrated, too, you know.

OUCH! Why'd you slap me Larisa, I was just kidding! But, I think you understand my point.

I think the first thing we have to accept is that the financial people at Activision Blizzard are not dummies, mkay? We all know that the golden egg is subscription fees. Barring a total uprising and mass quit, they can forecast a DAILY income stream of approximately $6M (12,000,000 players at $0.50 a day). And, it's paid in ADVANCE which means it's almost GUARANTEED! Very few video game companies, nay, companies generally, can say that.

As long as they don't mess with the golden egg (which they won't), the gravy is in the ancillaries - the My Little Ponies, Blizzcon fees, etc. And, as a for-profit corporation, they are going to keep raising those fees until it is economically demonstrable that it is no longer profitable to keep raising them. People keep buying the ancillaries and the shareholders will always love you.

With respect to image, again, Blizz has done a great job of keeping the corporate side from interfering with the tech side. And, as Kaelynn has pointed out, there are very few companies that can do this and I, for one, do not think that Blizz will change in their approach at all (if it ain't broke, why fix it?).

The only thing that will upset the applecart? A bad product. And, Blizz has a history of rolling out a good product (albeit with some warts), that we've all come to enjoy.

SpiritusRex

p.s. I have not been paid by Blizz for this endorsement, but will certainly not turn it down if it were to find its way to me ;P

Redbeard said...

Having worked in IT corporations before, there's a definite divide between the developers/regular staff and most of the normal business functions of a corporation. Sure, it's not always that way, but the people who develop and code the product are not the same people who market it. Nor are they in charge of customer relations (such as Blizzcon). Certain decisions are beyond them, and in the sterile air surrounding the cold logic of an MBA driven corporation, they make absolutely no sense to people on the ground.

Quick example: a couple of employers ago, we had a software product that was due to ship soon. However, all of us in QA said that the product is way too buggy, and needs another month to hammer things out. Management said "No, we have to meet our commitment to our major customers and release it otherwise we pay major penalties." They release it over our objections. Some months later, the release turns into a QA nightmare, we lose more sales than the penalties we'd have incurred, and management is shocked --shocked!-- that we could release something so buggy.

So while it's okay to love the development staff, just remember that most of these corporate decisions that leave us scratching our heads don't come from them. When it's time to worry is when external pressures dictate release dates and other technical decisions, because the development staff has lost control over the quality of their work.

Tomasz said...

If Apple was developing Cataclysm, we would now be living in a post-nuclear wasteland due to the alpha leak.

CryingConsumer said...

Tread lightly Blizzard. I'm feeling fragile in our relationship. Don't let Activision whore you out too much and cash in on your hard work. If you start feeling too lose I'll go somewhere else.

Gronthe said...

Echoing Redbeard's thoughts, there are always separations of duty and strategy in all business between top management and the core work group. I'm sure top management wants to make a good game, but they don't have the same passion as those actually making it. Their job is to make the company profitable in the short and long-term.

What happens in all businesses is that the strategy and will of top management always wins out, no matter what anyone in the corporate structure thinks. Top management sets the overall strategy and is empowerd to see it come to fruition.

I've never viewed Blizzard as a small group of guys that wanted to make a good game, but maybe that's because I'm so very late to the party. I see them as I see any business, and so far they act exactly as I would expect them to. If their strategy pays off, I guess Bobby Kotick will still have a job in a couple years. If not he'll join the lines of the unemployed.

Redbeard said...

@Gronthe:

If their strategy pays off, I guess Bobby Kotick will still have a job in a couple years. If not he'll join the lines of the unemployed.

It's all relative. Sure, he'll be out of a job, but the golden parachute he'll have will be more than enough to cope with the emotional setback of unemployment.

Fitz said...

Blizzard has been and always will be a business, whether or not they are part of Activision (which is obviously more transparent with the money grab that is guitar hero/rock band). But Blizzard is not unique, as I don't think of anybody other than the local gas station guy when I think of BP. OK maybe that's a bad example with the oil spill, but still.

As to Blizzcon tickets, I feel the same way about this as sports teams. Prices always go up, and it's Blizzard's right to try and capture more of the open market value for these things (which is nowhere near $150/ticker considering demand). It's not quite fair to them to sell so low that scalpers make a living and not them.

Gronthe said...

@ Redbeard: Golden laced with diamonds and private jets. Oh yes, his parachute will be grand indeed.

Carra said...

I love Blizzard but they're a business.

It's their job to ask as much as they can from us. If they can't fill their event they will lower their prices but I can't see that happen any time soon.

Larísa said...

@Kaelynn: a loss? really? Hm. Well, either way it certainly is a huge marketing event and I don't think it would be strange to sponsor it a bit by the market budget. It certainly pays off.

The geek image certainly lives. Look at this quote from a recent interview with Chris Metzen (found at http://www.vg247.com/2010/04/28/interview-blizzards-chris-metzen-on-the-wow-movie-heart-of-the-swarm-more/):

"we’ve just walked in on him playing World of Warcraft in his office at Blizzard’s Irvine, CA headquarters. It turns out even the mind behind some of the most distinctive (and lucrative) worlds known in gaming – StarCraft, Warcraft and Diablo – is an achievement junkie, with Metzen trying to nail in-game exploration accolades “between meetings”."

Wow. Can't but love him, can you?

@Jim: It's that transition between a smaller business to a corporate machine I'm pondering over. When does it happen? And can you keep the soul in spite of the growth?

@Klepsacovic: I'm not entirely sure they'll lose that many subscribers. But I'm not certain. I mean: we who are active in the fan community care a lot. We're sort of obsessed. But average Joe, a 15 year boy who PvPs with his friends... does he care? He knows WoW is a cool game, but can he even name the company that produced it? On the other hand marketers DO care and should care about what their closest friends and fans think about them. At least if they can be identified as the "trendsetter" section of the market. Because their opinions will spread, eventually.

@Cap'n John: WoW! you live in the same place and won't go? Jesus. I would SO go if it was in Sweden or possibly even if it was in northern Europe. But as it is now - no way, as I've written about before. The ticket cost is the smallest one in the whole... YOu can imagine.

@Bri & Hatch: yeah. I too have a feeling that they're eating on that cred capital. It IS big from the beginning though. If it goes quickly or slow I really can't tell though. Maybe we who are fans are a little bit too much into gloom and doom. I don't know. And still... think about it. If we didn't still have this puppet-like love for them, if we didn't still WANT to believe, we wouldn't care that much.

Larísa said...

@SpiritusRex: No wall of text is too big for me. I love it! Honestly.

I too love the subscription fee model. There are a lot of MMO bloggers who think differently and would rather like to see a game where you pick your cherries and pay for the parts you want. But I just would hate that. I pay for my right not to have to take those decisions. It's more relaxing this way.
And yeah, definitely: the biggest credibility capital of all is making a great game. If they ever start to take shortcuts on that they're lost. Some grumpy old veterans think they've already lost it there. But being a bit later to the party and still sparkly-eyed, I disagree.

@Redbeard: Hehe. Yeah. I can imagine there may be some internal tensions between the foot soldiers/developers and the accountant-like pure business management decision takers. Definitely. On the other hand, looking from the other side, technicians shouldn't dismiss the professional competence of "corporate staff" either. Too many times have I been workning with "experts" who can't acccept and understand that the guy working with information/PR/marketing can be an expert as well, in his area, and that he deserves some respect. I think that a successful company today needs both sides to work - and above all -to cooperate with mutual respect for the different perspectives.

@Tomasz: hehe. I don't know much about Apple to be honest. But if you say so....

@Crying Consumer: We're so ridiculously fond of Blizzard that we put up with a lot. But I suppose that one day will come when our armor turns red...

@Gronthe: I'm late to the party as well, but I've always loved corporate storytelling and hero myths, so I've quickly catched up and decided that this is a bunch of good guys, because I like the story that way.
And I agree a lot with your discussion of the relation between top management and core work group.
But again: mutual respect is the key.

And indeed, Bobby has quite a nice deal as far as I could read from the linked article.

@Well, you could argue that it IS a marketing event above all and therefore expect a more humble pricing of the tickets.

Bristal said...

I may be just having a cynical moment (or week), but I'm not buying the whole "Blizzard's squandering the warm fuzzies we've got for them by making us buy things" argument. Or even that Blizzard has "nerd cred".

We GIVE them nerd cred. And we can and will take it away again for any reason. They really have little control over that. Almost as little as we have. The wave of popularity is made up of so many parts it's impossible to say which is the wave and which are the riders.

We may talk about the company as our big old doggie who is starting to nip a bit, but how many of us will truly shed a tear for the mangy flea-bitten COMPANY when we trickle away to the next awesome game?

Putting that kind of emotional trust in a company who's primary goal is to be profitable, and who's business direction is constantly changing with each stock report only ends up making you....er....cynical.

Redbeard said...

@Larisa:

On the other hand, looking from the other side, technicians shouldn't dismiss the professional competence of "corporate staff" either. Too many times have I been workning with "experts" who can't acccept and understand that the guy working with information/PR/marketing can be an expert as well, in his area, and that he deserves some respect.

Absolutely. Respect is key. I've found that corporate arrogance is the most damaging thing of all, whether it the developer who "couldn't possibly write bad code or design a bad product", the HR person who schedules layoffs on Take Your Daughter to Work Day (yes, that really happened at a previous employer), the IT person who knows more about what you need than you do, or the senior management person who manages the company to exclusively maximize personal profit.

Culture clash is a big deal too, especially when two well defined corporations become one. Having gone through my share of acquisitions/outsourcings, I can say it isn't a pretty sight when even simple requests get bogged down with the "that's not the way we do it" arguments.

Ixobelle said...

In the end, blizzard still makes THE BEST GAMES, period. They release them when they're ready, or can halfway done projects when they feel like the fun got lost somewhere along the way.

I'm a gamer, and I go where the games are.

Jordan said...

Did you just call my God slightly overweight!? :O

Larísa said...

@Ixobelle: well... I can't really make a call on that since I don't play any other games. But I agree that having a good product is essential. Still - we ARE also affected by the image we have of the company, our relation to the trademark, what associations we have to it. As it often has been said - your brand is built in the head of the consumers. I think that if you started to really hate how Blizzard behaved publicly that would affect how great you would think their games where. There's a lot of psychology in this.

@Jordan: /cover

Kurnak said...

I'm sorry if this shock you, but 150$ for an entry ticket it's just an armed robbery in my opinion. People should suit down and think if what you get back in the BlizzCon is worth 150 bucks. Really is it?
Some weeks ago I attended the Barcelona ComicCon (the biggest in Spain) after several years not going. The ticket fee was 6€. And even the price has doubled since I was a big comics fan and went every year, the place was offering pretty much the same as 10 years ago. Even there were less represented shops (mainly only editors showed up, which it isn't a bad thing per se). Still the fee is quite low so you don't feel bad if you really don't get all the juice from it: some live concerts, expositions, artists signing their creations, discounts... Now if I have to compare it with what BlizzCon offers at that price I can't but feel what I said at the begining: I'm being robbed. News about Cata, Diablo, SCII? I can read about them for free in tons of websites. Exclusive mounts/pets? I don't care much about them. I purchased the Pandarean monk and Lil'K.T. when they came out and I rarely show them up. Previews of incoming games? Same as before, they will appear in websites sooner or later. So it's really worth paying such sum? Not for me, no matter how much I love WoW, Diablo or other Blizz games. Attending expositions/roundtables with developers? Same as before, I couldn't care less. Whatever I could say to them I can say it using other channels, and seeing how Blizz is treating customers' opinions lately... it's probably losing time.
Let's add another comparison. In 2005 I attended the Wacken Open Air in Germany (one of the biggest if not the biggest heavy metal festival in Europe). The ticket was 95 or 99€ for 3 days, plus all the associated costs: plane ticket from Barcelona to Hamburg (can't remember exact price, surely between 150 and 200€), renting a car for 3 days (I think it was around 200 or 250€) and food and drink during these days. I had 3 days of concerts from 11am to 2am that I greatly enjoyed. Was it worth all that extra money (aside the entry ticket) for 3 days of concerts under the rain (it rained all the days and quite a lot)? Hell yes! Why? Because I got to see lot of bands, some of them rarely stop by my city on their tours, all perfectly organised. Because I also got to meet some people that were part of a heavy metal radio community (in which I also participated), great people from 17 different countries and finally associate a face to a nickname.
Back to BlizzCon: add also the extra charges to the entry: food (for 150$ you should get a free meal), travel tickets, an hotel room if you're not lucky enough to live near... it's a huge amount of money.
Some weeks ago I read some opinions in newspapers about the chinese universal exposition going on (does still go on?) this year. They compared what offered these expositions 50 or 100 years ago with what they offer right now: in the old times it was the place to see the last cool inventions (television, washing machine, microweave, etc) that really would impact the world. Nowadays we don't get to see that. It's just a collection of governments trying to say how cool their countries are so they can attract as much tourists as possible. Now we have better communication channels so the last minute inventions that will rock the world are breoadcasted in seconds and reach millions of people. No need to wait X years and travel to a far place to know about anything.
The fan factor is what pushes the balance in Blizz's favour, but relying just on this is very dangerous. Once people starts finding what they get back in turn is not worth that sum of money, the event will have its days numbered. And yes, these events are a neat loss for companies (mine stopped attending computer faeries and expositions since the revenue derived from there wasn't compesating the cost of being present).

Dwism said...

This might be a rant on a slightly different tangent. But for me, Game companies (and especially companies like Blizzard) where always like book authors to me. If I am to enjoy their product and spend time and energy (and money) on this, I want to do it because of two things: It is good, and it is a love-child.

If John Ajvide Lindqvist (Google him), where to say "you can now buy extra features on my upcoming book, like a special cover, and easy to read lettering in the book itself, for just 24.99 extra." Id rather eat his next book, then read it.

Same with game companies. The biggest reason why I am *not* going to pick up SC2, and why i'll prob not give diablo 3 a glance, is the way they are handling this IP.
What these extra "pay for added service" things, say to me is: we are all about the benjamins baby!', and I do not want to play a game from someone who just made it to make money.
I do not mind being gullible enough to believe that bioware still make games for games sake, even if they are very much just where blizzard is, with one of the big boys backing them (and expecting cash returns). But at least they make an effort to convince us than there is still heart in their games. It has been a very long time since i've seen that heart in a blizzard product.

Dwism said...

also:
Dammit, I keep forgetting those questionmarks in my headers!

??? :D

Anonymous said...

Kurnak, I would maintain it's not armed robbery but, in fact, consumerism.

Armed robbery would be Blizz requiring you to pay the $150 to attend Blizzcon (whether or not you actually attended) or face closure of your account. While you've eloquently remarked on why you think that the price for attendance at Blizzcon is too high relative to comparable expositions, the fact remains that there is no requirement that you attend. Some people may feel that $150 is too LOW for attendance and would be willing to pay even more. Personally, I'm not in that group of people as I think that it is more satisfying to me that the $150I would spend will get me 10 months of playtime, but, hey, to each their own. Sooner or later, Blizz will reach a Blizzcon fee that people are unwilling to pay; however, until that time, I would expect to see the fee to continue to go higher.

SpiritusRex

Kurnak said...

@SpiritusRex: well, it's just a popular say in my country when something is too expensive for the benefits you get. Of course we're not forced to go.
Blizzard puts that high price not because the value of the event but because they can. Yet it will finance part of the cost of putting up such a show, but still the major part will be funded on the revenue they get on their monthly basis. Entry ticket prices are no longer used to cover the event's expenses, no matter what's the show, they're higher than the company can get by just selling tickets. They're usually used to discriminate who they will let in. If you really want to be there, just pay the sum.
I want to ask people who has already been there, like Dwism, if separating the fan factor from it, the experience was worth the price.

Tesh said...

Blizzard is flirting with the edge that Ed Catmull warned about; you don't want to make withdrawals against goodwill built up in your company.

For me, the goodwill was broken with the subscription model itself. Anything beyond that is just further down the cliff as far as I'm concerned. It will be different for different people... but I suspect that the Blizzcon ticket price isn't going to significantly impact the goodwill bank. There just aren't enough fans who actually go to really put a dent in the financials if they opt out due to the price boost.

Carlyle said...

Well, it's all relative. They raised prices on Blizzcon? Eh, don't really care, wasn't going to go to it anyways. Oh, if I preorder SC2, they'll give me a beta key and I can play a very polished game two months early? Uh, wow. Yeah, you've won my heart.

In the end, all I care about is the quality of their games. Everything else they do (forum management, conventions, iPhone apps, etc) really has little impact on my thoughts about them. Do they continue to put out quality games? Then I'm going to continue to support them.

Dwism said...

@Kurnak:
It was a great trip. The event itself... Not so much. I was glad my job payed for my entry feed, otherwise I would not have been a very happy visitor.
The panel discussions where great to be at, but you could tell that they only had em to haev them, not to listen to input from the gamers themselves.
Trying out SC2 and wrath (I was at the paris worldwide invitational), was neat, but it didn't hold me for more than 15 minutes (the Death Knights weren't finished :))

What I mostly got out of it, was a great trip to paris and all the beta invites that came later. (It seems to me that once you got that first invite [the invitational had a special beta invite key for wrath], I was set for every single beta since then.)
It was a great trip (especially when they announced D3), but unless there is a big reveal, 150$ is a silly silly price.

What they should do imo, is have half the tickets raffled off, and the other half given to contributers. Not just commenters on their site, but the people who bake WoW cakes, those that take wacky pictures, those that got tatoos of the horde on their legs. ect, so that Blizzcon would be filled with people who where huge fans, and people who felt damned lucky to get in. If they did that, and had the webcam feed free, that would make for incredible publicity, way more than MR T who pitties the fools and has stupid stupid stupid grenades that everyone just hates.

Larísa said...

@Kurnak: I'm not sure about robbery, but yeah, it seems a tad high to me, even though it definitely isn't the entrance fee that keeps me away from it, but rather the location and the lenght of the journey.
Still... they will surely sell out the tickets in a minute like last year. Inspite of the competition from the TV broadcasts... People ARE prepared to pay for this.

@Dwism: <3 John Ajvide Lindqvist. "Låt den rätte komma in" = best vampyre novel ever. Especially read by the author himself. I'm a huge fan. No need to google! And I agree completely about that you want to see the company have their heart in the products. I liked the idea of comparing the devs/artists to authors. I suppose they're mostly marketed/presented that way as it is now. But it's essential for the image of Blizzard that they keep it this way and put their emphasis there, not letting the business side of it become too apparenta and dominating.

I also liked your ideas about encouraging contributors in the community to participate in the conventions. Even though I'm afraid I don't think we'll see it happen.

@Tesh: no, I don't think either that Blizzcon is THE big refund from their Goodwill Account. But yeah, like you say, I think they're using it up, little by little right now, without putting that much new into it. It won't last forever unless you tend to it very carefully.

@Carlyle: Of course a good product is number one. If you don't have that you don't stand a chance on the market. However I DO think that your goodwill, your image, the values you connect to the brand, has an impact on how you value the product, either you're conscious of it or not. There is a reason why companies put money into marketing and not just make products, supposing they will sell themselves...

Dwism said...

@lar, well I knew that you knew him, I figured, that you might have readers who are not as deeply into swedish fantasy, as you are ;)

could you develop a bit on why you do not think "this would happen"?

Larísa said...

@Dwism: Oh, I'm just thinking about my previous bashing on Blizzard's disinterest in the fan sites/blogs etc and the discussion we had about this. They're keeping us at an armlenghts distance and I don't see any sign that they intend to change this. A lot of commenters also had good reasons for this, such as that they dislike when others want to make money on their intellectual property and that some fans have taken too many steps in that direction, which has put them off. I think Tim Howgego wrote quite thoroughly about this.

So they have a sort of love-hate relationship to their fans where they don't want to get to involved with us. The arrangements of the conventions is a symptom of this.
Maybe. God, I'm honestly speculating about things I really don't now. But it's fun to do that from time to time!

Jasper said...

Losing geek-kudo's over some paid services wont affect the subscriber amount one bit (The Sims series proves this).

People that get upset over this, are - in my opinion - the oldtimers that complain leveling got too easy ('I had to WALK to Thunder Buff'), that everyone walks around in purple, that there are no elaborate quest chains for raid attunements anymore. Resistance sets, say what?

The key word here is Change.

People generally don't like changes. Especially not to an environment they are very familiar with. Everything used to be obtainable by the right investment of time, now your creditcard will do the job.

However, people fail to realise that the change they dislike is the same reason they have been playing the game for several years.

Blizzards business model if you ask me? "Carrot on a stick": keep creating new wannahaves hidden in dungeons so people will pay a few more months in order to obtain it. And when you finally reach the point where you have the stuff you want, guess what?! New cool things just arrived!
That trinket you get in thousand needles says it all for me.