Blizzard's PR problems are deeply rooted.

by Adam Rochford 5. February 2013 17:37

Diablo III has had a lot of stumbles.  The game isn't really bad, in fact it does a lot right.  I have about 700 hours in game.  The combat is fun, but the itemization is a bit off.  The auction house creates an environment that causes rare loot be far more rare than would normally exist.  However these aren't deeply rooted problems that can't be fixed.  Combat is the thing you do most, and combat is sheer fun.  The actual problem at Blizzard is a PR problem.

Blizzard has long used it's ambiguity to create a shroud of secrecy that creates the whispering rumors in nerd forums that creates a good launch environment.  This has helped make Diablo III one of the biggest PC launches of all time.  Even though the launch was rocky, the sales had already gone through and the auction house was buzzing with an unknown godly amount of money.  Diablo III is a monetary success for Blizzard, however it's longevity has been in danger for some time because the veil of secrecy Blizzard is known for has been taken to a level that is unhealthy for the Diablo community.

The 1.07 patch is a much anticipated patch.  Then Diablo announces a downtime and thousands of people sit around speculating.  Is it the patch?  Should I plan a big game day?  Nobody knows, because Blizzard tries so hard to create this veil of secrecy that breeds anticipation.  However as the game is already out and people know what the game is like.  The veil of secrecy around a somewhat major but publicly tested patch is completely ridiculous and over the top.  The only thing Blizzard accomplishes is alienating it's audience by simply not announcing what the downtime is for.

I was hoping for a better PR stance and a more open environment from Blizzard after Jay Wilson leaving.  I know if this was my game and my baby, PR would run differently.  Somebody needs to tell there community relations department (There actually is one!) at Blizzard that keeping people in the dark about things that should simply be public information is not creating the type of veil of secrecy that they are looking for.  They are simply being inconsiderate to it's userbase that needs flat simple information about the basic status of the game.  Some of us do have lives and plans outside of the world of Diablo.  You can have secrecy that breeds anticipation without cutting off the entire line of communication to your audience.  I have only one piece of advice for whomever becomes the new game director, fire somebody in community relations and make an example out of them because alienating your audience is a completely unacceptable business practice and you are losing users and money because of it.

I've been gaming a while and I have never seen such a large horde of angry fans over a video game, except for maybe the short lived War Z fiasco.  Jay Wilson will for better or worse be the butt of every game manager joke from here until the next big game PR disaster.  Much of it is undeserved really, but a lot it is simply anger over the perceived lack of respect for your audience.  In short Blizzard, get your PR shit together.



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