17-year-old World of Warcraft announces a ‘community council’ for diverse player feedback

    
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Oh look,

Player councils in MMORPGs are a pretty old concept, prominent in games like EVE Online, Lord of the Rings Online, and Star Wars Galaxies. Add another game to the pile, as tonight Blizzard has announced a “community council” for World of Warcraft, 17 years after the MMO’s launch.

“This program will add another venue for communication between players and WoW developers,” the studio says. “Our goal is to gather more detailed feedback on all aspects of World of Warcraft from players around the world with a wide range of backgrounds and interests.”

Like most such MMO councils, this one will welcome specific players in to discuss the game’s state both in public and in private and with the developers. But the community won’t be voting on its representatives as in EVE Online’s Council of Stellar Management; it looks as if Blizzard will be hand-picking your reps from community submissions.

“One of the key goals with this program is to encourage discussion with players from a wide variety of different playstyles. To help ensure this, part of the application process will involve sharing your areas of interest and expertise. Whether it’s cutting-edge raiding, playing alts, completing achievements, accessibility, or collecting transmog, we want to know your perspective and ensure you’re heard. Therefore, after one year in the program, we plan to unflag Council members and open the application again. All WoW players will be free to apply at that point.”

If this specific plan sounds familiar, it’s because it’s almost identical to the tribunal system originally pitched for WildStar as long ago as 2013.

Activision-Blizzard’s Q3 revenue report will release tomorrow afternoon. The company, of course, is currently embroiled in multiple lawsuits and scandals and has come under heavy fire for the direction of World of Warcraft in the past few years. Blizzard itself has lost at least 12,000,000 monthly active players from its titles since the beginning of 2018 (it’s more than that; we just won’t know how many until tomorrow). In other words, it’s not such a bad idea to start listening to the players. Unfortunately, the team is unlikely to hear from the millions who already left before their feedback was heard.

Source: Official site. Cheers, Rick!
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Daniel Miller

17 year young paid sub mmo…. ffxi is your older brother young lad.

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Does not check email

Oh this sounds so interesting. A year from now I wonder if it will go anywhere

Ozzie
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Ozzie

I would go so far as to say that no game in the history of gaming has ever received more player feedback than WoW. Blizz has millions of words to draw from over a ginormous amount of time from a legendarily dedicated player base. I can’t even imagine the collective thousands of hours of brainpower that’s already went into dissecting every single aspect of this game. The amount of research and player feedback out there could equal a library.

To implement this now instead of long time ago is a real shame. Not necessarily the dubious council idea but just player feedback in general. They had an opportunity to use player feedback more than any other game studio in existence, when in the end they squandered it and ended up here. But showing they’re almost sorta willing to listen is a tiny step in the right direction. Technically, they did recently fix some really annoying Shadowlands stuff, proving they can at least act on player feedback when things are dire.

Even if it’s all a publicity stunt, maybe they’ll fake it til they make it…a bit more than usual.

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ante b

Pathetic.

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Dug From The Earth

I have this sinking feeling this 100 people will end up being a group of twitch streamers and youtube content creators, which is not a good thing.

They hardly represent the majority.

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Sarah Cushaway

Yep.

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Tamanous

I too am very scared that if this takes off, it will only end up being a group with VERY limited “diversity” and is just a bunch of preaching people with similar interests. We’ll have to see, and if I am wrong, then I’m glad. I suspect though, that my interests won’t have an influence for some reason.

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Ben Stone

If they want the feedback from people who have left they could probably try actually reading the backlog of forum posts.

Honestly, it wouldn’t even be too hard to get some machine learning and language processing involved to generate themes and focus areas. The key part being that they would have to actually care to look.

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Schlag Sweetleaf

Whether it’s cutting-edge raiding, playing alts, completing achievements, accessibility, or collecting transmog, we want to know your perspective and ensure you’re heard...

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Utakata

Earbuds would of worked better…

…or right, that means they would actually have to hear! >.<

Lighthope
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Lighthope

I thought that what the forums were for.

Silly me.

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Utakata

…the irony here is this has likely been suggested on The Forums many times before. It just shows how well they’ve “listened” there.

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Dug From The Earth

Im not in support of Blizz here, but they did make mention of how trying to parse thousands of peoples views isnt realistic… hence, the limit to 100 members.

IE: the forums = thousands of peoples views.

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Jeremy Barnes

What a desperate, transparent attempt to deflect blame. These councils almost always turn into an easy way to get players to bitch at these players instead of the developers especially with Blizzard doing the picking, it means the interest of these “player representatives” will be appeasing Blizzard, not getting Blizzard to address actual player feedback.

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Slaasher

While I am not currently a huge fan of Blizzard I have to ask about this one:
Deflect blame?
Onto who?
How does having a community council deflect blame onto someone?
Did you mean something else and ‘deflect blame’ was just what happened to appear in the response?

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Jeremy Barnes

People will now have discussions about “Such and such community rep sucks” which will reduce the amount of ire directed directly at Blizzard. It’s happened with every single ‘community council’, ‘class reps ‘ or any other similar idea.

It puts a layer between Blizzard and their playerbase.

Also, I understand your struggle with understanding the concept, so I’ll help by stating that it is not 100%. Nothing is. Yes, people will still criticize and blame Blizzard directly as well.

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Slaasher

I see your point but I don’t think that it is the intention of Blizzard to set up a scapegoat here. Any dissent between the player base and the “council” will be purely driven by the players. Not Blizzard. Again, I don’t see that as Blizzard’s intention.
Anyone at a boardroom meeting at Blizzard that thinks pitting players against one another is a strong strategic move is clearly huffing the wrong paint can.
Course maybe we’re back at square one and that IS exactly the problem. lol
Let me go on the record as saying, I do not think a council is the correct course of action though. Far too little, far too late and the track record for these things in past games speaks volumes.

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Bruno Brito

I have three points of view on this.

The first one is “this is a an attempt to shift responsability to players”. I don’t completely agree with that, because players in general are already responsible for giving feedback. This is more of a formalization of that. I still don’t like these kinds of player councils because they tend to get too self-important, no matter how much pull with the devs they actually have.

The second one is that this is honestly useless. This actually singles out the council players as a diverse group and opens them up for harassment by the cesspit that is the WoW community. When i commented about WoW last time, i asked the following question: How much does token diversity actually achieves, if the core of your game itself is feeding upon a toxic enviroment? WoW is the game were if you don’t roll your correct covenant, you get kicked from raids. Is making the game a diverse place where everyone suffers through becoming a raider because the game design team is blind a good compromise? Is this council responsible for delivering only diversity feedback?

The third one overlaps a bit with the second: Reality of the matter is that the team that designs WoW is arranged from a pool of players: Raiders. Always has been. Indalamar got hired for showing people how to perforn with Warrior. While his video wasn’t a raid video, it was proof that Blizzard wanted people who understood the game on a number-crunching basis. Ion is a former TBC raider.

This pool of players is extremely well-defined and not at all versatile. Most raiders are men. Most of them are young, most of them are well-off enough to be able to play for extended ammounts of time. Raiding as a whole is a really exclusive activity and a lot of the players in the diversity council wouldn’t really be into it, but it is the main draw for the game direction. So, we have a debacle there.

This all feeds in my question: Is only rearranging the chairs enough? The fact that the game still treats casuals like second class citizens will still weight upon this council and i can see drama brewing from the game groups. How will PvPers react to this?

And again: Is this enough? Is inviting all kinds of people to suffer through awful, stressing and idiotic game design a good idea? I hope this new employee mentality doesn’t end up just with new names and fruit art. I hope it actively affects the direction of the game for true safespaces, not just generalized assholery.

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Rob Hagaman

This is exactly what happened with the CSM in EVE. It primarily represents the largest null sec alliances in New Eden, who hold 7 of 10 positions on the council. There are whole groups, from incursions to low sec, who aren’t represented. The CSM does, however, work better than I think this council will work. The devs, despite what many players may say, put a lot of weight in the CSM. A lot of this is because of the sandbox nature of the game. A lot of it is the smaller, tighter knit community of the game. With the style of game, and the sheer ineptitude of Bliz so far, I just don’t see this going anywhere.