Why Blizzard can't please everyone playing World of Warcraft

"I know it often can seem like we don't listen."

In discussing a World of Warcraft: Legion spider mount that costs a whopping 2m gold, assistant game director Ion Hazzikostas gave a glimpse behind the curtain at what it takes to keep millions of players happy.

His long post came after he was called out for saying "the 2m price-tag for the mount is not likely to change", despite opposition to it in the thread. Accusations of Blizzard 'not listening' followed.

"I'm sorry it feels that way," he begun, explaining that there were always multiple viewpoints and vocal minorities not necessarily representative of the whole.

But then he said, and this really interested me: "Almost every facet of WoW is an activity that caters to a minority of the playerbase. That may sound odd at first blush, but it's true.

spider
This is the spider mount - lovely!

"A minority of players raid. A minority of players participate in PvP. A tiny minority touch Mythic raiding. A tiny minority of players do rated PvP. A minority of players have several max-level alts. A minority of players do pet battles, roleplay, list things for sale on the auction house, do Challenge Mode dungeons, and the list goes on.

"Virtually the only activity that a clear majority of players participate in," he added, "is questing and level-up dungeons, but even then there's a sizeable group that views those activities as a nuisance that they have to get through in order to reach their preferred endgame.

"And yet, taken together, that collection of minority groups literally is the World of Warcraft."

Therefore, he said, people tend to judge new features based on the minority they gravitate towards. And if the feature isn't designed for your minority, "it's easy and in fact natural to have the sense that 'everyone' dislikes it", he said.

The same goes for minority-targeted rewards - such as being able to afford a spider mount that costs 2m gold, I suppose. If everyone wanted a particular PvP mount, for example, then it would have to be offered via all minority pursuits in the game: raiding, questing, reputation, etc. "But doing that would dilute the reward itself," he said.

"Ultimately, the approach we take is usually to tailor different content and rewards that can feel special to different groups, rather than trying to come up with a lowest common denominator that isn't special to anyone.

"If we decided to focus on a specific playstyle and elevate that portion of audience above the rest, then we could certainly visibly and consistently address clear feedback from that group, but WoW would become a far smaller game in the process."

In closing, he said: "I know it often can seem like we don't listen. We are - just to many, many different voices."

World of Warcraft: Legion will be released 30th August.

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About the author

Robert Purchese

Robert Purchese

Senior Staff Writer

Bertie is senior staff writer and Eurogamer's Poland-and-dragons correspondent. He's part of the furniture here, a friendly chair, and reports on all kinds of things, the stranger the better.

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