What kind of WoW customer are you?

Two of our guildies the other day were venting their outrage at Blizzard's choice of people who get alpha access. They found it unfair that streamers, bloggers, podcasters and even people who had been banned previously for exploits in game had access to early previews of the game.

I am unsure WHY they were so upset. But it doesn't appear like they are the only ones.

The forums are filled with people who are upset that they have been playing WoW for so long and don't get an invite to see the early stages of the expansion being developed. Comments like:
Many of us stuck around during the 14 month content drought of SoO, as well as the crapfest that has been WoD. We have supported Blizzard , while they have done next to nothing for us. Entitled? Your dang right we are.
Entitlement is a funny thing. You're not entitled to anything just because you're a paying customer. In fact, anyone who actually HAS customers/clients/patients knows that the ones who do the most whinging are the ones you are least likely to want to help. It's the ones who like you and think you are great that you try your best to keep happy. So those people who whinge constantly about the game and lack of content, how Blizzard sucks, how Blizzard is driving away players - does Blizzard really want to keep them as players?

Let's look at the reasoning behind why some have alpha access.

Why do streamers get it? As someone said, they're playing the game, and people are watching. If you have 1000 people watching someone else play the alpha, that one alpha invite got 1000 people looking at it. Give it to one regular person (like most of us) who just plays with nobody except themselves watching then one invite gets one person looking. Advertising, promotion, and these streamers actually LIKE playing WoW. And probably would say nice things about it rather than trash it.

Alpha, as many people had said, is a "friends and family" testing zone. Say you make a new dish at a restaurant, and you're not sure about it. You get your good friends to come and try it out, not your customers. Imagine if your customers came to try your new dish and it was terrible. Those customers would harp on about how standards had gone down or even stop coming to the restaurant. Better to have loyal family and friends who would still come to your restaurant despite one bad dish give this new dish a try.

There are also random lucky people who get alpha access who have opted in for it. They are way down the list obviously. Many people want to be one of those, but there are how many million people playing -

If you think of WoW players like customers, you can apply some of the "customer types" to them, to understand the logic behind how Blizzard caters to different types of players and why.
  1. The Loyalist
  2. The Resentful Addict
  3. The Disillusioned
  4. The Browser
  5. The Bargain Hunter

The Loyalist is the player who still loves the game, and plays for their enjoyment and likes to talk about it. Most bloggers fall into this category, as well as streamers. Sure, they get cheezed off now and then but they still find things in the game to do that they enjoy. Blizzard likes to communicate with these players and find out what they like and tailor the expansion to suit people like them.  Now this may surprise many people but a lot of the people that fall into this category are the casual players aka "Filthy Casuals." They love to explore the world, chase achievements and mounts. They wonder the the lore and the story. Of course there are hard core raiders in there too - those who will keep playing and raiding/PvPing and when they're done bring in another alt to do the same thing again. So you wonder why Blizzard caters to "Filthy Casuals" so much? It's because they are the Loyal customers who are more likely to spend money on the game buying mounts, pets, game time, Collector's editions. Not flying in Draenor giving you the poops? Well, it's the Loyalists who probably got that through as they are the ones who are here for the long run, still playing right until that patch 9 months later when flying in Draenor became live. Loyalists are more likely to engage with the Devs on Twitter and in forums, and that's why they get listened to. Blizzard has done a fair bit to make these people happy - there is heaps more solo play content, mounts and pets and achievements to do, and lots of 5 minute WoW stuff to keep you going (eg archaeology, professions, dailies which save progress like in Tanaan), and lots of catchup things to keep you current if you fall a bit behind on the gear wagon (Timeless Isle, Tanaan). Loyalists may or may not put out real money for Quality of life things like bag space because they spend so much time playing the game, but the time sink they put in makes up for the loss of revenue.

The Resentful addict (that I refer to as The Smoker with Cancer) is the player that plays the game, is addicted to the game, yet can't seem to stop playing it, but will whinge constantly about it. You know the ones - they go on and on about how stupid the game is, how Blizzard should be doing more, yet they are still playing. If you hate it so much, FOR THRALL'S SAKE STOP PLAYING, is what you feel like yelling at them. They whinge that the game was good and now it's gone downhill (like how they first loved smoking and now they can't stop smoking because they are now addicted) and are the kind who would blame Blizzard for their addiction to the game and inability to stop playing. These are the ones who would sue Blizzard if they could for "money invested in wasting my time" yet will keep on playing anyway. It is these types that whinge about not getting into a beta or an alpha. Why would Blizzard listen to these people? You can't make them happy no matter what you do, so they end up not listening to them, which makes these Resentful addicts even more angry. How do you think Blizzard deals with these people? Well, their complaints are usually dealt with in a non-commital way, but Blizzard probably doesn't do anything to address their complaints UNLESS it's something that they Loyalist agree upon. How does Blizzard keep these players happy in game? Well, there isn't anything they can do really, to make them happy, so Blizz just hopes that the stuff they put in for the Loyalists is enough to keep the Smokers happy. In terms of monetary gain, these players are less likely to buy things with real money because they think the money thing is a "rort" or "blatant money grab" but Blizz will just have to settle for their subscription money.

The Disillusioned are those players that used to be Loyalists, but for whatever reason have felt the game has lost it's lustre. They did enjoy the game once, and then stopped playing because they were bored, upset about some changes or the social atmosphere. These players often come back for a quick look at the start of new content to see if anything has changed or gotten better, hoping that it will be good and then disappear again after a short period in game. These are the players that need something new or interesting to hold their interest before they fade off again. So what should Blizzard do with these people? Ideally they would want to keep their interest so these Disillusioned could be Loyalists again, but more likely they would become Browsers. However, it is unlikely that with a Disillusioned that they will get back into the love of the game that they used to have (think trying to have sex with an ex-partner - it's awkward, and you try for a bit and it's good coz you remember the good times, but then after a while you remember why you broke up in the first place), but if Blizzard wants to make some monetary value out of these players then Quality of Life improvements are probably a go - things like paying real money for bank space, flying, cool looking mounts or transmogs. Things that are shiny for a short while before they get bored of them.

The Browser is the person that may have picked up a free 10 days, or been given a gift of WoW, or are just trying out the game for the first time. These players are casual, have a fleeting interest in the game, trying a bit of levelling and questing to get to max level then stop playing and find something else that catches their interest. Like the Disillusioned, to make money out of them you have to do it early - perhaps paying for a boost to max level so they can experience the end game content, or some other item that will ease their gameplay - like an heirloom weapon. These players are binge spenders so they are more likely to spend in the early days of playing.

The Bargain Hunter is the player that is looking for the maximum amount of enjoyment for the minimal amount of cash outlay - and I mean real cash outlay. If there is something free in the game they will get it. If there is free time to be had, they will be playing it. Someone once said that a lot of asians play GW2 because it's free to play and WoW isn't, so that's where all the tight-arse asians go. These people probably would play the game if it was free. So what should Blizz do about these players? Well, they should make the game free to play. Buying game time with gold and tokens is a step in that direction though, and that may bring some of the bargain hunters back. Don't forget that someone has to spend real money to get a time token to sell on the AH (which may happen with the Browsers because they want some money fast to get some play time out of it before they get bored again). These players wouldn't generate much money for Blizzard except in that indirect way by playing the game and putting stuff on the AH that people who do like spending their real life money use tokens to get game gold so they can buy stuff off the AH.

Why am I talking about money so much?

Because WoW is a business, and for the game to be great, it HAS to make money. You have to pay all the people who put time and effort into developing our game, right? I want our game to continue, so I constantly think about how WoW could make money in a way that isn't by charging us $200 per expansion or something. They're already doing away with subs, which saves other players $18 per month or whatever US$15 translates to A$. In this time where subs are dropping (though a few million players are still a lot of players compared to many games, especially when it's retained this long), it still is doing OK, but it would be nice if it could do a little bit better.

I like how iTunes does it, and makes things really cheap and people are happy to pay for it. Like $1 songs. I bet most people wouldn't be fussed paying $1 for flying or something. Imagine if everyone did it. Or you could put in 20 hours of work into it. Think about that, what would you choose?

(I hear the naysayers saying they would just not fly at all, out of principle).

What I'm trying to highlight here is to have a think about why you think Blizzard does or does not listen to you. How to be someone that does make a difference when you say things. In general:

  • Be an active member of the community. If you're out there promoting WoW, enjoying WoW, and find things in WoW that aren't working but feeding it back in a positive way, then you are more likely to be noticed. Twitter, podcasting, blogging, streaming, Youtube - these are ways to get noticed.
  • It's not what you say but HOW you say it. Using the flying in Draenor as an example, if you said "It's stupid that Blizz wouldn't give us flying in Draenor, worst idea ever. If there was ever a reason to unsub it's because of THIS." Or you could say "I understand that Blizz wanted us to see all the content by not letting us fly. But I'm on my 3rd alt, and I've seen the content now - is there a way we could make it so those of us who have experienced the game extensively can fly, perhaps by making it attached to Loremaster?"
  • Rather than complaining loudly, how about complaining and offering a solution.
  • Don't swear at people. If a customer is swearing at you, are you more likely to run to them and do their every bidding or do what they ask but try to avoid them as much as possible? And besides, swearing and being belligerent is a form of bullying. Nobody likes that.
And if you don't believe me, look at me, Neri and Cymre. We even get to pics with game developers for being active bloggers and tweeters (and Cymre gets an ingame NPC).


  1. The reason people are kicking up a stink right now about Alpha access granted only to streamers as oppose to the rest of the community has a lot to do with the front page material post they released on World of Warcraft's website.


    Its true blizzard need advertising, and a way to keep the hype rolling towards future products for when they release, however dangling things like Alpha access and how to get started in front of a lot of their player base who likely will never gain access anyway, is going to cause people to speak out against them.

    Its not even about loyalty at this point, there are different types of players in this game who you may have or have not listed who spoke out against this particular article because its upset them.

    1. If they didn't make that post, would people not wonder why Blizz kept it hush hush? I thinK I just look at it in a different way - Blizz is telling people they are in an alpha testing phase so that people know that Legion is moving forward or at least progress is being made. Remember the servers being overloaded when WoD launched? Say on a testing server it only has a capacity for 100 and anymore than that will crash it or affect the testing, so you could give it to 100 people who are long term players and only those 100 get to see it, or you could give it to 100 people who are streamers so that their followers can see it too! I think it's nice that there is no NCD so everyone can access it - otherwise it would be closed and nobody could talk about it at all.

  2. Is there any stats/breakdown as to whom got access?
    Navi has brought up some very good points WRT the whole business plan.

    Personally I have never wanted to play an alpha or beta and I don't worry about so called class changes, game changes prior to an expansion.
    I have seen players go absolutely nuts over x issue. In my mind Blizz will or may try something new but they wont in all honesty be doing something to kill off their IP unless they want too. I let the theory crafters do their thing and then when the actually game game becomes live adjust as need be. But till then I personally wont be going "ohh they have killed my class" time to unsub.
    I recall numerous times where warriors were going to be useless, unusable throughout my time playing this game during an alpha/beta stage and yet I still main on the same toon playing the same role playing in some pretty high ranking guilds come live release.

    I really think there are those with some real POV that do need being addressed but I also feel most simply see red instantly and go off half cocked.


    1. I understand people are upset, but I listen to their point of view and hope that they listen to mine as well.

  3. I'm not surprised I didn't get alpha access but I can still hope for early beta access.

    P.S That was a fun night!


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I hope these comments work! Not sure why people can't comment lately, it makes me sad :(