Warcraft Killed The Community Star

Rich Weil on why community seems to be the same ol’ okey doke after a decade:

Community relations is not a new phenomenon, it is merely young in the games industry. A kind of professional isolationism exists here that puts any kind of independent existence of OCR entities in peril. Quite honestly, for the reasons I’ve previously listed, there is almost no reason that all our functions could not be directly integrated into marketing, PR or any larger communications structure.

Sanya Weathers doesn’t want to agree, but does anyway:

Even the White House values the synthesis a good community specialist brings to the table. But in games, after a decade of hard work, a community weenie is someone you call when you realize your president should probably stop posting on message boards.

My take on it is pretty simple. World of Warcraft is showing that, once you reach a certain mass? Community management doesn’t particularly have a great effect on your game’s success.

Can you identify the name of the head of World of Warcraft’s community management team? No? I couldn’t either. The ones visible to the customer base – “Eyonix“, “Nethaera“, etc – are front-line CMs who are visible by dint of posting on WoW’s forums,  but do you know who heads the department? You know, the community manager for the most popular MMO on the planet, the man or woman who signs off on what’s communicated to WoW’s millions of players? Who talks down Mike Morhaine after he drinks a full quart of chocolate milk and decides to post on the Yahoo ATVI board at 3:42 AM?  It’d be a fairly visible post, I’d think. It is, after all, a very large community!

Well… I got nothing, either.

So I checked the credits. As best as I can tell, the head of World of Warcraft’s community team is Paul Della Bitta. Who also runs the WoW eSports initiative. I guess at Blizzard, community management doesn’t keep you busy all day.

And sorry, Rich, that’s why community is the same ol’ okey doke after a decade. Because everyone is looking at Blizzard for the template of how to print money. And Blizzard shows that once you get to the executive suite, community management isn’t really a full time job. Because, you all know, all you have to do is put up twelve billion forums and walk off, until your designers get bored and decide to play community manager. And it’s all good, because as long as the core game itself is fun, the community will just deal with it.

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49 Responses to Warcraft Killed The Community Star

  1. Sanya says:

    No, that’s pretty much the problem.

    Of course, as I said to a potential employer when he gave me Blizzard’s “example” as “proof” that he only needed very low key, invisible community:

    You only need that when you have so many players that the community builds itself (WowInsider, et al). And if you can put up Blizzard’s numbers, I’d even AGREE.

    But good community, with a pro at the wheel, will set a middle of the pack title apart from the rest. And the difference between being the #5 game and the #4 game might mean the difference between people keeping their jobs or not.

  2. Random Poster says:

    Since you pointed him out Lum do you think it would be better if Ghostcrawler didn’t post, or limited his posts to announcements or keep on like he is?

    Me personaly I like the feedback but I could do without the way people now always expect a response.

    Oh and I also like the fact that he apparently tries to enforce the forum rules with suspensions/bans in the threads he posts in.

    I don’t envy the job the actual CM’s have thats for sure.

  3. I think he’s the textbook example of a MMO designer being drawn into forum discussions where he (by simply being one person as opposed to a team) is drawn too thin and cannot respond adequately to the player base, yet by his continued visible forum presence creates the expectation that it will happen.

    I think limiting his posting to announcements and not being baited into back-and-forth arguments (especially ones highlighted where he almost posts ex cathedra) would be a wise use of his time.

    It really is a perfect example of how developers can be overwhelmed by forum participation. What worked in a limited beta environment, where the community size was small enough that there was the possibility of personal engagement, simply doesn’t scale upwards. It doesn’t reflect upon Ghostcrawler as a designer, or the players for expecting that sort of back-and-forth with Blizzard developers. It simply is an issue of scaling.

  4. Random Poster says:

    Kind of how I feel about it. Most of the info he puts out could be handled in announcements, though it is kind of cool to see his thought process on matters as well. I also think people are beginning ot think of him as THE Dev even though he has constantly stated he is not.

    It does, as you said, create that expectation of being answered (thus all the @GC posts and whining when they don’t get a response) which I hate. Too many of the mature people on the WoW forums get drowned out by the “noise” which is why I rarely visit the actual forums other than to via a “Blue tracker” so I can get some context on what the Blizzard poster is replying to.

    I will say he’s handled the written abuse piled upon him better than most developers I’ve ever dealt with (and some CM’s to).

  5. insider says:

    Eyonix *is* the community manager.

    Paul handles PR stuff, but Eyonix is ultimately the guy who handles community for WoW.

  6. Rohan says:

    What’s interesting is that you separate “community management” from the “eSports initiative”. To me, it seems like they are very closely linked. Setting up tournaments, and publicizing them and getting people to discuss them seems like it’s something that makes a section of the community stronger.

    I think limiting community management to people posting on the forums might be a little shortsighted.

  7. Longasc says:

    Do you know the Community Manager(s) of ArenaNet’s “Guild Wars”? One wonders what they are actually doing.

  8. Bilsybub says:

    When she was CM, Gaile Gray was a very strong and active presence for Guild Wars. As far as I could tell, everyone absolutely loved her. For my part, she was very much a value-add to the game, continually engaging the community on a professional but personable level, apparently genuinely caring for them (which seems to mean a lot to communities, being care for. Imagine that), and making it clear that they were being listened to.

    In fact, leading up to launch, I recall her being one of the driving forces behind getting some kind of patch notes displayed for AN’s continuous, incremental game updates. I could be giving her too much credit, though 🙂

  9. Sanya wrote:
    But good community, with a pro at the wheel, will set a middle of the pack title apart from the rest.

    Where is the proof for that? As much as I respect the work community managers do, I think this may be one of those automatic assumptions people make, like customer serivce, that we just accept is “necessary for a game”.

    Unfortunately, there’s little proof of this beyond anecdotes. I’m wondering if community management is like customer service in that you need to provide a certain minimum, but beyond that you aren’t going to see significant return on investment.

  10. Josh says:

    My knowledge of the game industry is minimal. But the organization in healthcare I work at has dumped a multi-hundred-thousand dollar deal in favor of a competitor that had better front line and elevated customer support all around. Probably not typical, but I’m sure the vendor that lost the contract felt it.

  11. Rich Weil says:

    @Brian ‘Psychochild’ Green

    That’s why metrics are a vital part of any kind of expansion of the OCR discipline, if it going to occur at all.

    I don’t disagree with Scott’s point about the dead-end or brick wall that OCR in games currently faces, but I don’t think it’s a problem without a solution. But the solutions are pretty big shifts in the status quo, relative to the current situation.

    I’m sure I’ll get around to writing about it eventually, if only for my own edification. Us old HR wonks do tend to ramble on…. 🙂

  12. It’s still nice to have some folks who can make the official boards more homey and stuff like that. Plus, running cool little contests and events is always fun. It’s just icing on the cake at this point for Blizz.

  13. Sanya says:

    @Brian ‘Psychochild’ Green

    My own data from my own time on the lines showed measurably improved engagement after various projects my team did. You could fairly say that Camelot was a great game with a few major innovations, but not a world-changer. Engagement made a measurable difference on a scale the size of Camelot’s.

    But that’s part of what Rich was trying to say – without more metrics and more data proving the value of real community, as opposed to the giant time suck of forum wrangling, we’re going to get people assuming that CMs are just flapping their gums, and it would be better to put the limited budget money towards other things.

    A dedicated two way conduit between customers and developers seems an odd thing to demand data of, though. Does a quest dev have to justify his job based on how many people do and enjoy his quests? Hrm, wait, that might be a good idea! /ducks

  14. J. says:

    It could also be said that if a community management department is doing its job well enough, it’s not necessary for every single one of them to be a cult of personality.

  15. Jeff says:

    I can’t name Blizzard’s community manager off the top of my head, but they have been responding a lot lately. Ghostcrawler has been making a lot of posts, so had Bornak, Zarhym, Dresorull, Nethaera. Heck I made a little post asking about Gnomeregan news that I never expected a blue to answer, yet it was answered within minutes.

    I agree with Lum though, it may not be the best use of time, or a relfection of him as a person. I try to remember at all times these “blues” are people too, just like us.

    Well probably not JUST like me. I’m sure every second or third thought of theirs while they are at work isn’t “I could be in Warsong Gulch right now”. :p

  16. Jeff says:

    I’m just surprised, with all the dev response begging in WoW and other forums, that someone hasn’t come up with the idea for a 1-900 number to have the dev of the day answer your questions for 5.99 a minute.

  17. Ingmar says:

    As an end-user, I think GC’s posts are the best thing to ever happen to the WoW forum. As a player I want/need more of that from *all* of the games I play. And I don’t want dumbed down Camelot Herald style grab bag type stuff, where everything goes through the condescension 2.0 filter before being presented to the customer.

    I want the real, honest, unfiltered designer reasoning and such and for the most part that is what GC gives us, and that is why I value it even when I disagree with him (which is reasonably often.)

  18. J. says:

    I’d argue that if all game designers were that articulate, concerned and valued the input and understanding of their customers, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation.

  19. Mailius says:

    I agree with Ingmar. It’s very helpful to get the kind of response that GC provides, which I haven’t really seen in any other MMO. The scary part is that GC apparently does most of the forum posting on his own time– which is an amazing service to the community. It’s kind of sad that the “official” forum managers aren’t as helpful (in any game that I’ve seen) as a single designer posting on their own time.

    Edit: I Agree with J.

  20. Jeff says:

    J. :
    I’d argue that if all game designers were that articulate, concerned and valued the input and understanding of their customers, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation.

    Yeah, I agree with that.

  21. Jeff says:

    Ingmar :
    As an end-user, I think GC’s posts are the best thing to ever happen to the WoW forum. As a player I want/need more of that from *all* of the games I play. And I don’t want dumbed down Camelot Herald style grab bag type stuff, where everything goes through the condescension 2.0 filter before being presented to the customer.
    I want the real, honest, unfiltered designer reasoning and such and for the most part that is what GC gives us, and that is why I value it even when I disagree with him (which is reasonably often.)

    I agree with the bits about GC.

    I have to disagree about the Camelot Herald though. I don’t think you’re being entirely fair to Sanya. She did a good thing, yes she does have a sense of humor, one that you may not appreciate, but I always thought she was funny.

  22. Will L says:

    I’ll bite.

    Rich points out the real reason that OCR has no identity is because “what community managers do is defined by those who are not in or acquainted with the area, and who have no appreciably consistent model to emulate.”

    But how is this different than anyone else in the past ten years?

    Each aspect of the MMO industry has experienced the very same identity crisis over the past ten years yet managed to evolve and continue to adapt dramatically: design, engineering, operations, quality assurance, customer service… and each has indeed found their place in the environment as well as scheduled out how they will interact on a product over the life cycle.

    It’s old adage, isn’t it? If you can’t define and measure it, you can’t manage it?

    So why has community management failed to make that same leap yet continue to make the same arguments about being important?

    “A dedicated two way conduit between customers and developers” already exists in several capacities. Every component of an MMO service has evolved to develop and provide the very metrics, measurements, and reporting right back into the hands of the developer on a day-to-day basis.

    If community management cannot find its own way and institute those metrics for itself, especially when much of what it seeks to define is already done so in other places, then the question does have to be asked whether or not it’s relevant to the business.

  23. J. says:

    Furthermore, the demand by players to have an “in” with designers is an unending thirst that will never be fully quenched. I’m not saying such things wouldn’t be valid things for community managers to provide, but trying to feed an unquenchable thirst sure doesn’t sound like something that can be easily quantified.

    My suggestion would be that Blizzard community managers are doing other things that players don’t know about and can’t measure, but the money managers do know about and can value. It wasn’t always that way, though, certainly not at WoW’s launch.

  24. Matt Mihaly says:

    As a note, I’m about to put up a job listing for community manager at Sparkplay. matt -at- sparkplaymedia.com if you’re interested and experienced, even w/o seeing the job description yet. On-location at Sparkplay Manor in San Francisco’s fun North Beach neighborhood.

  25. GreyPawn says:

    I respectfully disagree with the assertion that community management at Blizzard’s level doesn’t matter. In fact, it is undoubtedly an epic matter. It is most assuredly Blizzard’s first line of defense against the potentially catastrophic. But when a company such as Blizzard sets its community focus strictly to maintenance and infrastructure, there is no energy left to exhaust on direct engagement – what we usually quantify as a production of community growth, and the most visible part of community management. With Blizzard’s position as far as numbers go, it would take a team of approximately 48 community managers to provide the same level of engagement that say, EVE Online has with its community team.

    Instead, Blizzard seems to go with a “community as needed” approach, with community management by exception rather than direct, frequent engagement. There is also a philosophy I’ve noticed of staying as far under the radar as possible. When you are the behemoth on the playground, it makes survival sense not to throw your weight around or show off too much. The quiet giant inspires respect for its restraint – the one going on rampage downtown inspires fear. This doesn’t mean the Blizz CM’s sit around twiddling their thumbs.

    I would imagine it takes the patience of a saint to sift through the cavernous depths of player opinion a WoW CM must in order to arrive at some semblance of consensus to send yonder to the dev teams. In an environment where your vocal MINORITY numbers in the scant millions, fetching any comprehensive community desire must be a herculean task. But again, I would doubt that much of their time is event expended culling truth from the din. I’d wager most of it is spent in maintenance mode, keeping smaller factions of a community operating magnitudes larger than any other from cannibalizing themselves. Or monitoring for true unspoken horrors that plague even non-game social spaces, like terrorism, pedophilia, virus trading and worse.

    They aren’t stars, but all the CMs that work on WoW that I’ve had the pleasure to meet could certainly be considered heroes.

  26. hitnrun says:

    I think the problem is that WoW is simply too big and serves many (disproportionately vocal) customers who are too dumb and belligerent* for a community manager to have much use.

    After all, there’s no real “community” at that critical mass, is there? Just waves and waves of incoherence, putdowns, and bile crashing upon the forums every second. Nothing that can be applied to the wonderful model Tweety set down during the last Age.

    But Lum is right, not because there’s anything wrong with what WoW is doing, but because (like so many other aspects of WoW) other MMO builders are using Blizzard as a template. This sounds promising but is not a good or healthy thing to do, much the same way that you or I imitating the lifestyle of Charles Barkley would not be a way for us to get as rich as he is.

    *Whether this is a natural result of mainstream outgrowth, WoW’s peculiar BNet-spliced roots, or both, I consider it moot in this case. And I realize saying it breaks the golden rule, but not being in the business myself I feel free to break it 🙂

  27. Rich Weil says:

    @Will L

    Will, I challenge the idea that other disciplines are/were as undefined in the game industry. QA, Customer Support, PR, Marketing all have significant cachet from OUTSIDE the industry. OCR evolved in the game industry in a bubble, as it was evolving in different directions from different roots outside the games industry.

    What I don’t challenge is the idea that OCR in games has to define itself and prove its relevance as a distinct professional discipline.

  28. Solok says:

    I think GC has been the best addition to the community management effort since they game went live. I realize he may not officially be part of CM, but he is effectively. The way he has engaged the community is better than anything else I’ve heard of out there (I’d love to hear of what others do better – not saying others do better, just saying I don’t know about it).

    I’m not sure how one can look at Blizzard and say they haven’t prioritized CM with the addition of a lead developer so integrated (both on the forms and at Blizzcon and via video interviews) and the Blizzcon events. If anything I’d say Blizzard has managed the community great by giving them the tools to create their own self managed communities (like add-on communities, armory type communities (thott and wowhead)).

  29. Gx1080 says:

    Community Management NEEDS to be a professional discipline, but a community management department in a large scale MMO needs to do just certain things: Read the forums, filter the forums bullshit and see if theres really a problem in the game and make a report to the devs.

    You dont answer to each person individually, frankly because its just not possible, you read, ask for feedback, give a report to the devs and ban people who break the rules.

    The reason because needs to be a professional discipline is for being able to do that, all that without going crazy or become a small dictator or going in a emo rage and quit **cough*Tseric*cough**.

    It shouldnt be a process of trial and error, shouldnt be a process of “weeding out the weak”, it should be a process of adequate training and selection of the right people since the begining.

  30. Mist says:

    Ghostcrawler has done an incredible job posting in the class forums since WOTLK. But he’s not a community rep, he’s a dev, and often tells people what they don’t want to hear.

  31. sinij says:

    I think community manager is #1 contributor to customer retention. If you are big enough and don’t really care about customer retention (hint: nobody but WoW is) then you should be out there talking with your customers.

    Worst thing you can do is make customers feel ignored, they simply quit. Few posts a day, even if “we are looking into it” can do miracles.

  32. SF says:

    The main reason why Ghostcrawler is so effective is not because he’s doing a great job as a wannabe CM.
    As a developer, especially “head developer”, you have all the knowledge about the game design.
    As a CM, you’re hanging on a thread (no pun intended) to get information all over again to actually have weapons in your hand and being able to deal with your community.

    The larger a community, the harder it may be.
    Community Management for me is simple, just as sinij said:
    Give them feedback, as small as it may be. It does work, as long as you’re not losing your head.

  33. EpicSquirt says:

    If players spend more time on the official forums than in game then you know that your game isn’t as involving as it should be (and probably that a lot of people are posting from work).

    If the developers want to have players involved in the development of the game (pre or post release or both), why not offer feature request (could involve some discussion/voting system) and bug trackers? That’s transparent and would show the true quality of the software and service. It’s not uncommon to involve the customer and buyer of software in this way in the development process.

    I guess it’s easier

    – to lock a thread here or there,
    – to make some PR announcements with upcoming changes,
    – to have a thread with justified criticism vanish on the 2348573485th page of the forum system,
    – to have a CM say “I’ve forwarded it (to /dev/null)”

    instead of having a system where everybody can see that the bug described by John Doe 6 months ago and reproduced by 24% of your player base still isn’t fixed.

    The feedback and communication between CM and the community produces mostly information garbage.

  34. I want to say that WoW’s community management sucks, but I’m unsure exactly how I would manage a community of so many players. I certainly wouldn’t have as many forums as they do, and the community heads would be more visible. Beyond that, my only experience is with a community of hundreds of thousands, not millions.

  35. Iconic says:

    GC actually does a fantastic job balancing the CM and dev thing, IMO, but I have the feeling the guy sleeps about four hours a day or something. Maybe the highly collaborative nature of Blizzard makes it easier for lead dev to interact with the community, or maybe it really is the “I never sleep” thing.

    Either way it probably isn’t going to translate well to any other company or perhaps any other dev. Trying to replicate the way GC conducts business might be like trying to replicate the way Michael Jordan played basketball. That works pretty well for Kobe Bryant, but not for any one else.

  36. Longasc says:

    Ghostcrawler is probably a better Community Manager, read chattermouth, than developer. He developed Death Knights and likes updating classes regularly. Reminds me of the former Guild Wars balancer, balancing all the time, but it only got worse. class balance (back to WoW) got lost more than ever before, difficulty got adjusted to hyper-casual, and I got so bored that I quit the game. Great job. Kalgan probably approved of all this. Sigh.

    – back to GW: Gaile Gray was also a very likeable person, mama style. She totally failed in communicating anything from the playerbase to the devs, as she managed to be more than casual in terms of Guild Wars knowledge. She often did not get whats going on at all. Ghostcrawler is much much better in this regard. His problem is more that he is talking and talking and then doing this or that odd thing. But to be honest, I admit to be unjust to blame him alone for the lame raid gameplay nowadays …

    The old Tigole works on the super secret next generation MMO, while the fresh new Ghostcrawler plays the clown for the forum community…^^

  37. geldonyetich says:

    If World of Warcraft’s ongoing success has taught me anything, it’s only that the quality of its parts that make it up have very little to do with popularity. Therein lay the primary reason my doomcast was misconceived.

    History has shown a long trail of geniuses ignored in their time, of gossip mags selling containing only hints of pointless details about people whose names are known, and of socially sanctioned genocide. All these signs point the same way: popularity is worth jack shit, it’s little more than a social disease that more rational creatures than we would do without.

    But I’m not bitter.

    Queue inevitable retort that what is must be the right of the thing.

  38. sinij says:

    Longasc :
    Ghostcrawler is probably a better Community Manager, read chattermouth, than developer.

    Agreed, he does excellent job communicating, he does lousy job balancing. He does excellent job pushing The Vision (i.e. bring the player, not the class; gear homogenization; resil will fix it) and lousy job doing sanity checks on his ideas.

  39. […] management is a much more nebulous position in online gaming than many other development roles. Lum (honorary community manager) and Sanya discuss the article and agree with most of what Rich says, […]

  40. JuJutsu says:

    Jeff :I’m just surprised, with all the dev response begging in WoW and other forums, that someone hasn’t come up with the idea for a 1-900 number to have the dev of the day answer your questions for 5.99 a minute.

    Since I’d probably get a 70 year old pensioner in Florida telling me that X is ‘working as intended’ I won’t pay more than 2.99 a minute.

  41. Triforcer says:

    We are overlooking the obvious solution for Blizzard. Mike Morhaime should cruise random forums, alternating giving legalistically phrased good news with picking fights with various trolls. Also, he should have a lieutenant who does the same.

  42. Mist says:

    I can never understand the balance complaints with regards to WoW. Blizzard, whether it be under Kalgan or Ghostcrawler, has done an excellent job balancing all the specs for all the classes to within margins not seen before in any game. It is balanced to where the problems in balancing do not show themselves statistically until the very extreme high end of PvE or PvP, despite each class having 3 now very deep talent trees, plus glyphs, plus gear customization and professions.

    People have outrageous expectations of balance in WoW. I’d go so far to say that WoW is so balanced that the classes are no longer very interesting. I’d much rather have a game where the classes were not completely balanced, but each class got it’s chance to shine in specific situations. Balance is overrated.

  43. Will L says:

    @Rich Weil

    I’d argue that Community Management didn’t evolve as its own entity, but rather it has its roots in all of the areas you describe. At various times it has attempted to poach from the other fields (all of which were simultaneously evolving) to establish itself.

    Which on an organizational level is problematic… if all of the Community Management functions can be defined as something that already exists in another area, can it truly evolve on its own, especially if the desired results and metrics are often achieved and usually already are provided elsewhere?

    It’s not to say there isn’t a need for the functions, or that an overall thinking about behind-the-scenes structure isn’t needed, but it’s a zero sum game organizationally. The inherent limitations of the current iteration of CM positions and possibility for better solutions (i.e. EpicSquirt’s idea for a feedback/bug tracking mechanism) might preclude it from the very evolution you’re talking about.

    (Yes I understand this part of the discourse is nerdy HR talk that only Rich and I like and is behind-the-scenes stuff that probably isn’t interesting to others. 😀 )

  44. Anonymous says:

    Blizzard’s GC is a developer? I always assumed that he was in CS, given that his posts often demonstrate a staggering lack of knowledge about game mechanics, player approaches to various classes and so on. In CS (Blizzard or otherwise) that tends to be par for the course. But a dev? Explains a lot.

  45. Random Poster says:

    All that last comment was missing was a picture of a level one Alt.

  46. Cliff says:

    I see a lot of positive responses to Ghoscawler’s posts here, but I can give at least one example of a player that would have probably been better served without GC’s interactions: my cousin. He really can’t stand the guy; to the point that he won’t read his posts directly anymore. He says it has to do with the guys approach and general attitude, but the more I think on it, the more I suspect it actually has to do with the fact that the guy IS a developer.

    In some strange way, I think there is a level of impartiality with a CM. Maybe it is more appropriate to say they do not have a partiality to the mechanics, but rather to the players. It isn’t just their people skills, but the very fact that they are not the one personally responsible for nerfing the crap out of your class and then telling you exactly why they did it and why they will probably do it again. A CM is concerned with you as an individual, and as a community. They want you to be happy and enjoy the game; and they will do their best to make your stay as comfortable as possible, even when telling you things you probably aren’t going to like. A developer is not concerned so much with the individual happiness of any given player, or even with the mood of a community, but more with the overall designer vision of the game world. Does it work? Where is it broken? They deal with the system and the mechanics, and deal with the people only in so much as they relate to that system and those mechanics. They’re not cold people, by nature, but their goal is not really about people and community. I have a feeling talking to God might be just as infuriating on some level, because there is no one else to blame if you disagree with His decisions. They are what they are, and they need to be that way because I see the bigger picture and that is what is needed. (Yeah, I guess I just implied that the CM is the “Son” in the MMO trinity, but I don’t care to carry the analogy far enough to figure out who the Holy Spirit is. It is a silly enough analogy already.)

    In my cousin’s case, he would probably have not taken it personally if it had come through a CM channel. That is just a musing, and I could be way off beat. For what it’s worth, the guy has made me rather angry with some of his posts too, so yeah…

  47. Rizena says:

    World of Warcraft hasn’t killed the community manager position. It’s the decision of other MMO companies to have one or not. If other companies want to create a niche in the MMO market, they need something that sets them apart, and a community manager that can communicate effectively to the subscriber/customer is a valuable asset.

    Blizzard is like the Wal-Mart SuperStore of MMOs. They distribute a product for the masses at a cheap price. However, it doesn’t stop other grocery stores from capturing their portion of the market share. Publix, a grocery store chain who prides themselves on customer service, does fine competing with Wal-Mart because they’re catering to a different market share of customers.

    Community managers will be needed for the “Publix” MMO type game, where they cater to a market share of customers that want more interaction with the company/developer or customer service. I think that type of interaction counts for something, and has value. As long there is an MMO company that agrees, the community manager position will still exist.

  48. Xanthippe says:

    I think Blizzard would look better if GC just stopped posting.

    “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”

    My favorite company for CS was City of Heroes. It was very light on the snark.

  49. Wolfshead says:

    Blizzard has never really cared about cultivating a good forum community — which is entirely different then the real WoW community that actually plays the game. It’s probably because they are the top dog in the MMO world right. At some point, when WoW is no longer the big enchilada then suddenly they’ll get religion and care.

    I think another theory is that Blizzard doesn’t really understand community although they pay the notion of community lip service at their various Blizzcons. The official WoW forums seem like just an extension of the cacophony of the Bnet forums.

    As a WoW subscriber I find little to no benefit by reading the official forums due to the low signal to noise ratio where the idiot trolls drown out the good posters. The forums seem only exist to be a mosh pit where players can blow off steam and indulge in anonymous bad behavior.

    Blizzard could easily clean up their forums which would have the effect of creating an added value to their MMO but they don’t seem to care. They’d rather focus on important things like erecting that bronze orc statue out in the courtyard of their shiny new HQ in Irvine.

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