Blizzard Missing The Mark On Diversity… Again

Two steps forward, three steps back.

That is how it feels sometimes when trying to read the tea leaves on Blizzard’s often schizophrenic and clearly myopic stance on end game diversity. In a recent official question and answer session Blizzard was once again asked about diversity (which should be a clue in and of itself) where upon the development team took to the art of “talking out of both sides of their proverbial mouth”.

The initial response indicated that Blizzard “hears loud and clear” the desire of the player base for more customization, only to then fire off a miniature and misdirected rant on the merits of the barber shop feature which apparently was not a “cheap feature to add in terms of development time” going on to ask (in about as sarcastic a manner as one can perceive via text) “Is WoW more fun for you now that you have a Barber Shop?”

The fact that the barber shop is one of the worst examples of end game diversity and yet was used as an example in the response shows just how off the mark the development team (or to be fair, perhaps just that specific developer) is when talking about end game diversity.

Now I could have just bitten my tongue and moved on if the obvious bias of the developer had just stopped there. Perhaps the developer was just confused in assuming the question was specific to the avatar features (hairstyles and skin tone) and not end game diversity (gear redundancy). However the demarcation point for my tolerance of ignorance was quickly crossed with the following misguided quote; “Dumping a bunch of dyes on the game might have a similar effect, where some players might have fun playing around with the system for a bit, but a lot of players might change their colors once or twice and then forget about the feature after that.”

Really? Colors? Dyes?

That might be the most uninformed and/or misguided answer to a legitimate question as I have ever read. To boil down character customization and end game diversity into hairstyles and a bucket of dyes is bad enough. However to compound, cloud and slant the argument by going completely off path and into the weeds was disingenuous at best and only serves to bolster the ever growing opinion that Blizzard really is out of touch with its player base.

The idea that Blizzard might be even considering the use of dyes over a simple yet elegant implementation of an appearance tab tells this writer that the development team/developer is either really out of touch with the customer or that they have been in the ivory tower counting money too long. I have yet to grasp where or why the mention of dyes even originated as that would not be the ideal or even proper solution to the problem in terms of resource cost, potential negative side effects and impact to the game.

On every level conceivable, an appearance tab or wardrobe system would be the desired solution.

The need of character customization stems from the simple and Blizzard acknowledged fact that at the end game, every character of a given class (and in some cases multiple classes) is driving for the exact same gear and hence the exact same look. For a game with so much content, meta games, varying styles in terms of art assets and emphasis on lore, it is amazing to me that appearance tab functionality is not in game already and absolutely stunning that Blizzard seems, at least to some level, resistant to all the powerful benefits the feature would bring with it.

As a final note, I find it ironic that the developer opined that one of the concerns would be that this diversity, in whatever form, might only be used a few times. Ah the crowning jewel in this bewildering response for the simple fact that something approaching 99% of the Blizzard player base would in all probability use an appearance tab. And while it may only be used a few times or as one acquires all the legacy gear available in game (gear that sits dormant and unused I might add) to display, the effects of such a feature would be active at all times, meaning its impact to end game diversity would be felt throughout the game world 100% of the time in the now diverse appearance of each and every player in game.

That is diametrically opposed to the apparent belief by the Blizzard development team that any diversity might not be used by the player base… astonishing.

Blizzard... really?

3 Responses to “Blizzard Missing The Mark On Diversity… Again”

  1. Totally true! I have never understood why they just don’t swipe the “appearance tab” toggle from Perfect World, Blizz hasn’t been shy about stealing other game features before, and we already HAVE a “hide helm/cape” feature, it really doesn’t sound like a big step.

    Lovin it ^_^

  2. Arslurker Says:

    Hey man i read your posts over on the ars forums and its too bad people just like to argue. It would not have mattered if you took the exact opposite site a couple of the guys over there (the ones crowing the most) tend to do exactly what they did. I actually agree with most of your points and think its a shame that when people come to the forums and right or wrong at least make intelligent posts only to see them get blasted.

    Anyway I downloaded your podcast and will give it a listen and remember its the internet.

  3. Fiachra Says:

    I could not agree with you more and have mirrored these thoughts for years. Blizzard is too far up their own collective ass.

    They’re more worried about incorporating systems, that may bruise their egos, than systems that may make the game more enjoyable.

    It’s sad, when free to play Korean clone games with shoestring budgets provide more options.

    A dye system is way more complicated to incorporate in an older game than a tab system.
    The notion that they’d consider that first, is telling of guys who’s only real feat, was taking over a game, made by significantly more creative and intelligent developers, who are now long gone.

    There is a reason why these guys post once on the forums, and never come back for a follow up, on any given subject. They know their logic is so flawed, that even children can argue them down.

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