How AoC's failure can help WAR

The Greenskin recently did a post on how Age of Conan could affect Warhammer Online in a negative way. While I agree with his points, I was thinking of turning the tables around a bit, and discuss how AoC can affect WAR in a positive way. It's all about learning from mistakes.

Mythic won't rush the release. AoC showed clearly what most players take for granted but developers don't really seem to grasp: a rushed release means a unfinished product, and if it's something customers don't like it's not getting their money's value.
Age of Conan was horribly unpolished on release. I can say that from my own personal experience in the closed beta, early access and launch of the game. If you can't deliver the things you write on the box you are not giving customers what you promise, it's that simple. If you had written "and this we will be patched in the near future" you would tell the truth, however bad it might sound. It's better to promise a whole list of future stuff and deliver them on schedule rather than say you have a bunch of features that you don't actually have. And really, who reads the features on the box anyway these days? If you want to find out what a game is all about you check on the internet.

Customer Support will be good. If you anticipate hundreds of thousands of customers, you have to have the appropriate numbers of people to support that many when they have trouble. The only thing worse than using a product that doesn't work properly is not getting help to fix it when you pay for that kind of support!

You want to know that even if it takes a few hours you will eventually come in contact with a Game Master that can solve your problem. You do not want to wait 24 hours in queue (and see the line in front of you) to get in contact with a GM that maybe can solve your problem. You want to know that if you can't wait all the time for your turn, at least your problem will be fixed, even if your not there. You do not want to log in the following day and find a message that told you that when it became your turn, you weren't there so you have to do it again.

Rather start with too many Game Masters in the beginning so that they have to fight over jobs than too few so that the petitions start to pile up from day one.

Community Managers will actually communicate. People don't have to write twenty pages long threads on forums to get attention of CMs, they will pop in around page two and happily take part of the discussion. Your CMs can't work that much? Hire more.

If all you want is responsible people who can read the minds of the community and what they want, you can get a hundreds of volunteers easily. It's when you want responsible people who can give people the insider answers they want that you have problems. But if players know that a hundred people are browsing the forums reading what they write and forwarding the info to higher places, even if they don't make their presence actually known, they might not be craving so much for the response of the CMs. And by knowing that the volunteers are just forwarding stuff, not actually having a say in anything, they can be a bit more forgiving when they behave unprofessional. Maybe. Ok, not very likely.

The CM's job could consist more of taking part in discussions and compiling the important bits forwarded by the volunteers into a thread posted once per week.

Not having official forums. When I first heard that WAR wouldn't have any official forums I was a bit sceptical. I mean, we have always had official forums for games, it's where the developers talk to us. However, I have seen that Mythic has taken it's own promise of staying active on all big WAR forums seriously, so I'm not sceptical any more. In fact, there are many advantages with this. Not only does it give power to the fan sites, it removes the whole issue of censoring.

AoC's forums are infamous just for this. Threads that direct the negative aspects of the game mysteriously disappear and regular complainers of the game get banned from the forums. What exactly is the worst publicity? Having someone complain about the game, or silencing people who complain about the game? The answer should be obvious, but still we hear about people getting banned on the forums for criticizing the game.
With no moderation power on the various forums, developers cannot really be accused of censoring.

It's all about learning from mistakes. And mistakes from another company are free. Hmm... freebies.

1 comment:

  1. Awesome counter-article! :) I hope I didn't come across as doom-and-gloomy in the previous post. I just thought it might be an interesting angle to approach the WAR vs. AoC thing. :)