Was Jay Wilson's Apology Sincere? I Don't Think So
You may have read through the 101 articles out there questioning if Jay Wilson's apology was legit or a PR spin-job. You may have also read through the 1001 comments in those 101 articles questioning if Jay Wilson's apology was legit or a PR spin-job. Now the thing that got to me was that it started off as an apology but the more I read through it, the more it felt like a PR spin-job to save face.
When I originally covered Wilson's long-winded apology I think many of us were just glad that it was an issue that was water under the bridge. The goat had been lifted. The parachute had been expanded. The pimp's money had been paid. But then there was that unsettling little angry thing in the pit of my stomach beating away at my common sense as if there was something I was missing...something unsettling.
It wasn't until I started reading other articles and comments across the interwebs, especially the articles on Forbes, which go into a bit more detail about the sincerity of the apology and why gamers, fanboys and even journalists alike started to feel as if Jay Wilson's apology felt like a manufactured PR response.
Coming away from the Forbes' articles left me feeling as if the original article I wrote was done prematurely, that perhaps I wasn't blessed with the anti-PR damage control buff or that I wasn't properly wearing my level 63 Diablo III Cynicism Glasses, or more important as if I hadn't drank a nice refreshing cup of Diablo III Haterade™, the official sponsor of Diablo III hate and the number one drink for Blizzard ax-grinding trolls.
The thing is, Wilson's original post on the Diablo III forum board starts off all right. He apologizes for being caught making unprofessional comments about a former Blizzard employee and the man who helped shape a legacy and foundation for those 10 million sales that Diablo III accrued. But then, things take a nasty turn...and by nasty I mean a PR hyperbole fest riddled with self-promotion and forward-looking chest-puffing. In fact, the apology felt like a plea for gamers to return to (or stay in) Diablo III for patch 1.0.4.
For those of you who don't know, more than 65% of the game's player-base has abandoned Diablo III. DFC Intelligence and Xfire CEOs brushed off the numbers that Diablo isn't an MMO so the drop-off rate isn't important, as stated in an interview with Forbes. However, Blizzard doesn't seem to share that sentiment as the company has been practically begging for gamers to come back, even admitting that end-game was lacking and it's something they're seriously focused on maintaining...despite Diablo III not being an MMO.
Jay Wilson actually touches on this end-game debacle and attempts to assuage fans by addressing it in his apology. At first I ignored this and chalked it up to him doing his job of marketing patch 1.0.4, but the more I thought about it, why on Earth would Wilson need to market a new feature in a public apology? It felt like someone in Blizzard's PR department thought Wilson could kill two birds with one stone by both apologizing to Brevik and promoting a more end-game friendly Diablo III.
For instance, this part of the apology here reads like it comes right out of the “Sent” folder from an EA-certified PR e-mail address. Check it out...
Playing Diablo III needs to be a rewarding experience. The new legendaries are a big step in the right direction, as are tweaks to item drop rates. But I'm not convinced that we've gone far enough. If you don't have that great feeling of a good drop being right around the corner -- and the burst of excitement when it finally arrives -- then we haven't done our jobs right. Out of our concern to make sure that Diablo III would have longevity, we were overly cautious about how we handled item drops and affixes. If 1.0.4 hasn’t fixed that, you can be sure we'll continue to address it.
It's as if he's saying “Come back and play. We promise it'll get better...look we're already doing a good thing here. Come, enjoy...drink from the pool of the RMAH, you'll love it!”
Speaking of the RMAH...it's an issue that they admit to but don't know how to fix. With Wilson stating in the apology that...
The Auction House can short circuit the natural pace of item drops, making the game feel less rewarding for some players. This is a problem we recognize. At this point we're not sure of the exact way to fix it, but we’re discussing it constantly, and we believe it's a problem we can overcome.
You know why there's no way to fix it? Because you'd have to remove it. But Bobby Kotick would never allow for the RMAH to go the way of the dodo...it would be like spacing out the annual releases of Call of Duty in order to further improve the quality of the series. If either of those things happened it would be like selling each of Bobby's testicles to regain a small piece of his soul and Bobby don't want no soul.
Circling back to Jay Wilson...I think that the apology Blizzard approved would have been better suited as an apology that Wilson was sincere about. The first two paragraphs were quite good and it would have ameliorated some of the flaming heat from the fanboy jockstraps had it only contained three paragraphs: the first two and then the very last one. A simple, authentic apology would have been fine, followed by a separate and more elaborate blog post of how Wilson and the team feels about Diablo III and the Diablo franchise, as well as what plans they have to fix the game.
I think a lot of fans, gamers and journalists alike found the bundling of content promotion and Facebook apologies a little too much for the claim of sincerity. But what do you think? Do you think that the apology was sincere that Jay Wilson meant what he wrote or that he even wrote it all? Or do you think that it was all just damage control and an attempt to push positive spread of patch 1.0.4?
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