In Defense of Blizzard

I have not posted about this before pretty much because… well, because I don’t care very much, and whatever Blizzard is working on is not on my radar. But Blizzard’s recently announced plans to monetize Battle.net, add ‘Paid Character Customization’ (whatever that means – I tend to think of it as similar to Vanguard’s free feature that lets you redesign your avatar,) to WoW, and to release StarCraft 2 in three separate installents is drawing a lot of fire and bile.

Yeah, it’s money-grabbing. That said, just because WoW is making Blizzard tons of money doesn’t mean that any other given project doesn’t need to be able to stand on its own feet in terms of profitability according to whatever standard Blizzard wants to set for it. Furthermore, there’s good reason to trust that any Blizzard product will be of at least good quality, and if, say, Starcraft II, Chapter 1 (or whatever) turns out to be half-baked on release, I will be very surprised. In other words, if Blizzard is breaking up SC2 into three different products, I expect them to be good and complete enough to warrant that. As to the Paid Character Customization thing, they already charge for server transfers, and this may not be substantively different from that. As long as they don’t actually take any functionality away from what paid subscribers already have, I don’t see much of a problem. I would like this kind of service to be free, of course, but Blizzard is under no obligation to make it so. Nobody should be surprised at the introduction of additional microtransaction-type features to WoW.

I’m somebody who doesn’t plan to buy SC2 or Diablo 3, and who plans to never play WoW again. But it’s easy to criticize success. There’s nothing wrong with wanting more success. Blizzard is not a model of Hitlerian Evil just for wanting to grow their market share. Remember that WoW may doiminate the MMO space, but Blizzard is merely one player (albeit, with Activision, a significant one) in the much larger video game market.

If Blizzard decides to make you pay real cash for WoW respecs or something like that, I’d see it as something worthy of condemnation, because then they’re taking value away from the product for which their customers are already paying. If they plan to make the features of Battle.net, a service that is currently 100% free (and which has aided the growth of StarCraft worldwide immensely,) only available to paying players for existing games rather than just the new ones… that will be worth complaining about. That may be happening, but I’m not sure I’m ready to read that into the announcement without more details, and I am willing to operate under the assumption that the decision-makers at Blizzard are not actually stupid until I learn otherwise.

7 responses to “In Defense of Blizzard

  1. I pay one price for Xbox live, and ALL games I buy can access their servers and do multiplayer in that one fee.
    I also get freebies once in a while, and can download free demos.
    If Battle.net, which will have what…two games? costs a fee, count me out.
    The evil of money is when you have it …you just want more, and never share that wealth.
    Blizzard just drives this home even moreso.
    Until they support some starving country or give huge wads of cash to countries suffering from AIDS, I have decided to not support any more Blizzard products.

  2. Actizzard is a public corporation with just one property bringing in the majority of the cash. WoW’s income will inevitably decline over time. They have a duty to stockholders to come up with a strategy to keep earnings high while they try to duplicate WoW’s runaway success — which they may never be able to do again.

    It’s their legal responsibility to keep their P/E ratio high. They could get sued by shareholders unless they act like a corporation and monetize all their assets.

    Games companies are in the business to make money, and maybe monetizing b.net will finally drive all the b.net kiddies off to Xbox Live where they will be safely away from real gamers.

  3. I’ve never been overly shy concerning my total dislike for World of Warcraft. I also did not enjoy Diablo, Starcraft or any of their other titles with the sole exception of Warcraft 2. I might be critical of certain elements of their game play…

    However…

    I have never understood the gamer attitude of, “Oh my god! They want to charge us for that? Money-grubbing evil bastards!”

    Gaming companies are just that… companies. They are there to make money. That is their reason for being, but gamers seem to take it so personally that the game companies want to make a living.

    You don’t see Burger King adding a new sandwich to their menu and then fast food junkies all over the planet start getting all up in arms because Burger King charges for them, but yet gamers do this.

    It is kind of sad actually.

    If nothing else, Bliz had to have employed a ton of people due to the success of Warcraft. Now that Warcraft has probably begun to reach that point where it will start to decline slowly over time, Bliz has a right to look for ways to keep making money and, hopefully, not have to fire a bunch of people now that their flagship might not need quite as much staff.

  4. Honestly this isn’t a big deal. I think the fees will get you like an eye patch or some stupid pet. Who cares. Way over this game. I agree with this post. I am Hudson and I endorse this post.