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.