WoW and Co.: When MMO developers play hide-and-seek with you ...


Not for the first time in my buffed career, I'm going out with flags flying and proclaiming: An online role-playing game is only as "healthy" as its community . Not for the first time I have to realize that this golden rule of the gaming business is not taken seriously by some MMO developers. And again, I have no choice but to wave my arms helplessly and somehow try to muster understanding for busy developers. But honestly: I'm a very patient person, you wouldn't believe it. At some point, however, even I run out of breath. So once again a text of mine is about community. But why this again? Let me explain!

Community is ALWAYS a topic

Recently, over the holidays, I have increasingly observed which MMO developers in which forums or in which other way reacted to the concerns of the player community. A few things struck me then into the first days of the new year. WoW developers prefer to communicate with players through the (eh, three or four) community managers (that still exist). Most of the time it's Kaivax, who holds up a flag lonely and alone, and most of the time it's not much more than the developer messenger. By the way, if you're mad at the WoW makers, please: Don't shoot the Messenger. Because Kaivax really is one of the few remaining community managers we have left. I'm making a wild argument here: WoW devs would probably (my very personal feeling, keep that in mind) prefer not to have to deal with the community at all anyway. Logi, it's super hard for a dev studio to satisfy ALL fans, it's practically an impossibility.

Also under my increased observation were the New World forums and there you can just admire the extreme opposite of blizzard's forum restraint. Community manager (Luxendra) AND developers (Chardis, Zin_Ramu and Kay) are in a constant dialogue with the players to get the still ongoing launch problems and bugs of New World under control. The dialogue has even gone so far that the new community manager Shadow_Fox (I think it's a woman, but that's just a gut feeling) has talked himself into such a rage in exchanges with New World fans that he's had to cool down for a few days. I guess whoever Shadow_Fox is is still relatively new to the community management business. Bygones. The important thing is that New World players at least get the feeling that their opinion carries some weight.

If these two extreme examples of community management aren't enough for you: Take a deep dive into Matt Firor, Rich Lambert, and Kai Schober's devcom talk on MMO community. The community of The Elder Scrolls Online is known as one of the most helpful and friendly MMO communities and it's really interesting, even for old hands in the industry, to learn how difficult and tedious, but also rewarding, community workis.

WoW developers: The strange case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Why do I consider this topic super important and explosive again right now? Because there are people who claim that the Community Council on WoW is just window dressing; a means to an end to pretend that they are really doing something for the community. And this general feeling is even very understandable - even if someone still stated in mid-December 2021 that the communication of the WoW developers had never been better (oh, yes it was, you poor child of spring ...). WoW developers don't seem to necessarily want to play hide and seek with you. Rather, they are split in their behavior across the various WoW teams. A bit like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

The silent and virtually non-appearing Dr. Jekyll are the developers of Modern WoW (buy now ), Live WoW, Shadowlands ... whatever you want to call it. And that's not even entirely true that the live devs would give the Community Council forum a wide berth. Lead Game Designer Muffinus is very interested in making sure your mounts work properly (well). And Desvin takes care of your PvP questions. Problem is, though: 80 to 90 percent of the topics discussed in the Community Council revolve around live WoW, so this post with its links to interesting discussions seems about as impressive as WoW community management in general. That it can be done better ...

Torn? Sylvanas is also familiar with that ...

WoW: Shattered Legacies - ingame cinematic shows Sylvanas' brokenness

... that's what Dr. Jekyll could learn from Mr. Hyde. Or to stay with WoW: the people of Live WoW could learn from the people of Classic WoW and Burning Crusade. After all, they're on the move, and they're having a dialogue with players. But as I said before, most of the Community Council topics are about Live WoW. And you can have a good or a bad opinion of the WoW player Prosident. But the fact is that he has raised some important issues in the forums. For example, that borrowed hero power is not a good concept and that grind is not content. Many normal players also see these arguments, criticize them, and get upset about them. But where is the reaction of the developers?

Dev player balance

Right, you can't just browse the forums all day and chat with the players. For that you would need community managers and ... wait ...

Anyway: developers should do their developer work. But they should not give the players the feeling that they are irrelevant. As if they were just some paying lemmings who swallow everything that is put in front of them without comment. Because that's definitely not what's happening in the WoW community. We've already had this topic: since July 2021, more than a handful of WoW fans have cancelled their subscriptions


I think the developers of TESO, those of Classic WoW (in parts), and also those of New World are demonstrating to some degree how to interact with players respectfully and at eye level. And they, like so many other MMO developers, prove that a healthy community makes for a healthy online role-playing game (whatever that definition might be). But the typical WoW community no longer exists, it has disintegrated into many small splinter groups with Classic, BCC, the Championship season and the Live version. To summarize and grasp these splinters now, the developers of WoW feel extremely difficult. That's a pity. Because the community and the game are currently suffering equally.

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