Ask Massively: Isn't it ironic?

In fairness, this question has been addressed to my colleagues at WoW Insider more than it has directly to me, but if nobody else is going to take it, I will. That's how we roll here at Ask Massively.

Dear Massively,

What's with all of the server fiascos in Blizzard-Land? The so-called "greatest MMO of all time" has apparently become beset by baffling bugs. (I know how you love that alliteration.) How come this hasn't been covered in nauseating detail?

-Alex A.

If I had 10 gold for every time that question has popped up in my inbox during the last 24 hours, I would own Dalaran.

In fairness to my colleagues at WoW Insider. They've produced excellent coverage of the trials and tribulations recently underway at Blizzard. Granted that you haven't seen as much of that coverage over here at Massively, but many of our readers think we cover World of Warcraft too much as it is.

What I find far more interesting is the irony inherent in the fact that WoW, which is the de-facto platinum standard for MMO gaming, is having the same problems found in other games, but there is no talk of mass subscriber defections or how Blizzard is "betraying" the customer base. Most players that I've talked with have the attitude "What did you expect? The expansion is going live tomorrow!" To be sure, the goings-on at Blizzard have increased tensions among the player base, and many have apprehensions about the success of the launch tomorrow, but I don't think anyone believes that Blizzard won't get this fixed in short order.

What can we learn from this?

Having a reputation for putting out a quality software product will allow a company to have the breathing room to address issues like this before the whining and complaining from the player base becomes too loud. Part of the reason Funcom had such a hard time in dealing with complaints with Age of Conan is that people still remembered the problems that Funcom had when launching Anarchy Online. It gave Funcom a razor-thin margin of error with respect to AoC's launch, and to their credit, they've done reasonably well despite the fact that new games tend to have more issues than expansions do.

To any would-be challengers to Blizzard's (Frozen) throne, learn this lesson well. Spend a little more money and spend a little more time if it is necessary to make the highest quality game that you can make. There are lots of games out there now, and lots of choices for gamers. They don't have the time or patience to "hang on" while you fix bugs after launch. Until you can build the reputation with the marketplace of producing quality products, you won't get much of the benefit of the doubt with respect to your game's performance and stability.

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This article was originally published on Massively.