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Once the reputation is ruined ... Blizzard and the trust (column)
I'm not a Blizzard fanboy from the beginning, even though I had a lot of fun with Rock & Roll Racing on the SNES. In fact, I remained loyal to Nintendo and (later) Sony consoles for most of the 90s. My only contact with Warcraft: Orcs & Humans, Diablo and Starcraft was with friends. That only changed when I could spare myself a PC for high school and not only caught up with the classics, but also played the "new shit" like Diablo 2 or Warcraft 3 with my buddies in the LAN.
Slowly it became clear to me that Blizzard must be an exceptional studio. So many milestones in gaming history in so few years, at the same time zero flops or even mediocre games ... the Californians earned a trust in this time, which I would not want to give any other publisher and developer, and which was strengthened with World of Warcraft and Starcraft 2. Pre-order games blind? Only with Blizzard stamp on the cover!10:35
Blizzard's downfall | How a company disassembles itself in a few years
It started with Diablo 3
But as life goes, a clean slate doesn't last a lifetime. Suddenly, the popular developers made decisions that contradicted their own rules such as "gameplay first" or where one had the feeling that they were not made in the interest of the players, but in the interest of their own wallets. The beginning was made by the auction house in Diablo 3, where you could also go shopping with real money, and Blizzard of course earned from every transaction. Due to the "enthusiasm" of the players, the feature ultimately had to be completely cancelled.
So, since it's not that easy to accommodate microtransactions in premium titles with a purchase price, the developers changed their focus: Instead of new AAA games with milestone quality, there was Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm and Overwatch. That's not exactly the stuff of fan dreams. It didn't help that Warlords of Draenor was a shot in the dark. It was followed by the disappointing re-releases of Starcraft and later Warcraft 3, the cheekily expensive Collector's Edition for Battle for Azeroth, the infamous Immortalgate at BlizzCon 2018, the Blitzchung PR disaster , and many more minor or major events and decisions that left me and many other fans scratching their heads.11:35
Diablo Immortal: How did the Blizzcon debacle happen? Contemplation in video
The year 2021
Blizzard benefited during this time from the strong foundation they had built over the years, and from positive signs like the fantastic WoW (buy now €14.99 ): Legion or the decision to bring WoW Classic after all. But how long can that last? Well, that's exactly the point we passed this year. First and foremost, thanks to the sexism scandal, which has brought to light a whole lot of disturbing and indictable behavior. Thanks to the reaction of Activision executives in the aftermath. And thanks to the fact that, for the first time since 2005, we have to endure two moderately enthusiastic WoW expansions in a row.
After Cataclysm came Mists of Pandaria, which has always been much better than some Pandaren haters have made it out to be, and after WoD we had Legion, the expansion with perhaps the best patch cycle. And now? Now we're actually still digesting Battle for Azeroth while suffering from the content drought in Shadowlands. When is patch 9.2 coming? Well, that's going to take some time. Patch 9.1.5 is still warm, but it mainly had balancing and comfort improvements in it.13:51
Activision Blizzard - The sexism scandal at a glance
No more trust in Blizzard
Through all these things, Blizzard has squandered a lot of trust over the last decade. Promises were not kept. The outward friendliness, openness, and tolerance seems to have been worth as much behind the scenes as a Twitter post from Trump. And when you say over and over again that you can do better, but then don't do it better, then any further apologies will accomplish exactly nothing.
The result? The trust is gone. So fundamentally, in fact, that Blizzard is hardly trusted to do anything good anymore. One example: The announcement that a player council will be founded for WoW, so that feedback can be discussed more directly with selected representatives of the community. Actually a potentially great thing. And the reaction of many players: "PR action! Other measures would be more important! Doesn't help anyway, because they will continue to ignore the good feedback! They'll just get some influencers anyway!"
Such a headwind for actually good announcements is only known by the "big bad guys" like Electronic Arts.
My hope now is that in the wake of the sexism scandal enough could be stirred up at Blizzard to find with fresh blood, creative ideas and a lot of effort back to the old strength. However, that could also take a decade. The quality of Patch 9.2, Diablo Immortal as well as Diablo 4 and the next announcements will show in which direction it will go.
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