In an article over at Polygon about online bully and harassment, these two paragraphs leapt out enough to have Greg “Ghostcrawler” Steet jump on them. The two paragraphs:
"It’s important to listen to fans about what’s important to them, but
it’s equally important to listen to people who are not currently
gamers about why they aren’t playing. Hardcore gamers want a product
that is made specifically for them and is actively unfriendly to
anyone new. They will beg and bully to get this product and then
praise and wax nostalgic over any game that lives up to their
standards even if the company that made it went bankrupt. They don’t
care about keeping companies in business or artists employed. Their
only job as fans is to say what pleases them, and it would be foolish
to expect them to think beyond that. But to cater to those desires
without thinking about how to bring new audiences in and make them
comfortable will ultimately result in a stagnant and money-losing
“I could go on and on about this, but I’m just going to consider one
example: the word ‘noob.’ If you decide to take up almost any other
hobby in the world, you can find beginning classes teaching you how to
do it. If you want to knit, you can go to a yarn store and meet fellow
knitters who will help you get the basics. If you want to play
basketball, you can join a rec center or community league at a
beginner level. And generally, the people already involved in those
hobbies are thrilled to have someone with whom they can share their
passion. But if you want to get started as a gamer, you get told, ‘go
home noob,’ because people in this hobby hate newcomers so much they
turned the word itself into an insult. How are we supposed to thrive
as an industry if we are actively hostile to growing our audience?”
Ghostcrawler went on the record and responded:
The bit about hardcore players not always caring about the long term
interests of the game is spot on.
If you didn’t get it, allow me to paraphrase.
The article author, along with Ghostcrawler, assert that hardcore players want uber-hard games, and the exclusivity to kick amateurs to the curb, but have little concern for the long-term business plan that is a game company. They want stuff that is hard, keeps the casuals (the noobs) out, and they couldn’t care less if it meant the eventual downfall of the company in the process.
By saying this, Ghostcrawler is implying that the changes he’s made over the years has been to broaden the appeal of World of Warcraft, thereby introducing new elements like a flatter difficulty curve to appeal to far more people. Long-term, this is fiscally sound, as (in theory) bringing new players in keeps Blizzard afloat. Here are my responses:
I’d more or less agree with the sentiment of hardcores not caring about the long-term business plan. However, that’s a poor excuse to justify what he’s done to the game as a result.
You can broaden the appeal of the game by flattening the difficulty curve and still allow players a degree of exclusivity. I don’t need to detail it out because it’s already been detailed out in Wrath of the Lich King. It was their most successful expansion to date. Blizzard enjoyed the highest number of subscribers during that expansion. I argued, and will continue to argue, that they struck the right balance with Wrath, and while it may not have made too many hardcore raiders happy, it kept the line clearly defined and many, many raiding guilds enjoyed success in there.
I probably don’t speak for the masses. When I speak for the hardcore, I’m of the few that actually does consider Blizzard’s side, the long-term game plan, the business value that can turned around, and made viable over a long period of time. To me, investing in the casuals was never the right long-term move. GC and company should have known that going in. Yes, you’ll boost your numbers in the short term, but in the long term, they go away…because they are casuals.
Likewise, when I speak for the casuals, I think they often give me a lot of excuses like “We don’t have the time or patience to put up with all of the drama necessary with 25s!” And to that I say,
…well, I made it work. With a wife, two kids, and a career. How little effort do you actually care to put in?