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One of the common complaints amongst Blizzard fans is that they don't listen; that feedback bounces off of them like a blow horn against a brick wall. Well, one designer of World of Warcraft decided to actually address this complaint.
Kotaku picked up a lengthy post made on the World of Warcraft forums by game director Ion Hazzikostas, who was responding to some issues regarding pricing of vendor items. Hazzikostas explained that every decision Blizzard makes is always weighed against a fractured web of diverse groups playing World of Warcraft who all want something a little different, writing...
[…] there are multiple viewpoints on nearly any topic, as you can see in this thread. If I'd instead posted that we were going to reconsider and massively reduce the prices of the cosmetic items on this vendor, there would be other people feeling like their feedback was ignored. It's exceptionally rare that everyone wants the same thing [...]
Hazzikostas makes some very salient points about the tricky balancing act of adding and removing content in an MMO that attracts a large a following as World of Warcraft. He explained that there are completely separate groups who play the MMO for vastly different reasons, some for PvP, some for raiding, some for collecting pets, others for adventuring and world questing, and a few more just to socialize.
Rewarding these groups or adding content for these groups varies to their tastes and interests. Adding an exclusive PvP reward might piss off the PvE players. Adding a specific raid reward might piss off the players who only engage in PvP. Adding clothing items to one race or class and not the others could also piss off gamers playing as the other race or class.
It's a fine balancing act when it comes to dealing with feedback on World of Warcraft content.
Hazzikostas explains that they try to listen to as many different groups within the World of Warcraft community, and despite how heated some of the topics can become, he still encouraged fans to provide the developers with feedback, writing...
I know it often can seem like we don't listen. We are - just to many, many different voices. And it may be that a given change, feature, or reward is simply aimed at a different portion of the playerbase. Or we could be wrong and we haven't realized it yet. So please, keep talking.
I think sometimes when people say that Blizzard “doesn't listen” they're talking about things like Nostalrius, which required hundreds of thousands of people to petition and get other developers involved before Blizzard acknowledged that maybe... just maybe close to a million people might like to play on a vanilla server of WoW.
Even still, regarding the actual in-game content, Hazzikostas does make good points about the fractured community within World of Warcraft, each of which like different things. It can't be easy trying to appeal to everyone – and obviously losing six million subscribers over the past six years proves that to be the case – but at least every once in a while the developers are willing to dive into the community threads and address some of those concerns personally.