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WoW Insider Interview: You Play or We Pay part 2

Mike Schramm

George, if you were a World of Warcraft player -- do you guys play World of Warcraft?

Both: Yes.

Well, I should ask your classes, first of all.

Tung: I stopped playing until the expansion came out because I've been playing since the beta. I have a Death Knight that's very low, like 59.

Golubovic: I have a level 71 Hunter -- again, I got caught up with things just as the expansion was coming out. I still like to play, but ironically, the times that I want to go play, there's been huge queues this month, so I haven't had much time to progress.

Well you've been working on the site, obviously.

Golubovic: Right. I also have a Death Knight and I also have a Rogue.

I mean the reason I ask is because if you guys were faced with a proposition like this, would you take it?

Tung: To be honest, this is why we started this idea. We've been playing Blizzard games since we were in middle school. Ever since Starcraft came out, and Diablo II and Diablo II's expansion. Blizzard has always come up with really addictive games and has a really big fanbase, especially with World of Warcraft, which is like the most popular game every played. But World of Warcraft is different, because we're paying a monthly fee to play. Unlike, which is free, so everyone just accepts it. But World of Warcraft, you're paying a monthly fee, so there's expectation in terms of service level that should be going on. We've been both playing World of Warcraft for a very long time, and I think a lot of people got really fed up with what we're seeing. You can see waiting queues in the hundreds and sometimes even thousands during peak hours at night. People want to play and they might end up waiting an hour in the waiting queue before they can get into the game. And that's exactly why we came up with this idea, is that Blizzard's not going to compensate us if we're waiting or if things go down. If they're estimating a system patch will take four hours, and it takes them eighteen hours to finish it, we're not getting compensated for that. That's the whole premise of the site, that if something unexpected happens or if you're not able to play, you're getting something back. So I think a lot of players will find this service useful.

Well Milos, as a player -- pretend that you're not a part of this. If this was offered to you as a player, would you pay money every month for a chance of getting money back for downtime?

Golubvoic: I wouldn't say that I wouldn't. Given the feeds that we have, I think they're pretty reasonable, compared to the amount that you're playing monthly for World of Warcraft. The thing that I want to get back to is that a lot of people say that the business model is set up to fail, meaning that there's no way that we can prosper, or that there's no way that we can actually benefit players based on the model that we have. Meaning that we would always have to take more money in than we give out. And this is kind of what we're doing, and why we haven't set up activations yet. We kind of want to get a feel for what people think and what their ideas are on the site, comments, feedback, stuff like that. One of our ideas, what we plan to do, what our ultimate goal is to do is to get obviously famous, popular, and to even use money from advertising, so we can fund a lot of the payouts that we will be giving out. So through advertising, third-party sponsorships, and the monthly fees, we can hopefully limit the amount that people may be losing, and give them a greater chance to actually be giving money back. If we can say that we're in the percentile of 80 to 90 percent of people getting money back rather than putting in, then we can say that we've been successful.

But the higher percentile of people getting money back, the less money you guys are making, right?

Golubovic: That's true.

The other question I saw in the comments was what Blizzard would think about this. Have you talked to Blizzard, do you have any idea of what Blizzard might say about what you're doing?

Golubovic: We haven't contacted them. We're expecting to hear from them shortly, though. [laughs]

Ha. In a good way or in a bad way?

Golubovic: We're hoping that it may be in a good way, but usually Blizzard doesn't like to have their flaws exposed and obviously this is going to be exposing one of their flaws. But at the same time we hope to be helping them and promoting their service, because a) you need to play in order to have an account, and b) we'd probably be keeping people out of their hair for compensation. I'm sure they're getting lots of emails daily for that. And you need to have multiple characters to get a good amount of compensation out of this site, so I mean the more you play, the more business they're getting and the more we're getting, and hopefully we can thrive off each other. We'd actually like to become close partners will Blizzard so that we can implement more features -- account security and stuff like that.

Tung: One of the reasons why we're deciding to hold off on contacting Blizzard is that I think they would just find us to be -- basically, we're a nobody right now. I don't think they would take us serious in any way -- what we want to do is we want to gather up a good fanbase so we can actually go to them and say, "look, we have a certain amount of people here that feel the same way we do," and hopefully when that time comes around, they'll actually maybe sit down with us or have a phone conversation like what we're doing here and think of how we could integrate or how we could help each other. We're in no way competition with Blizzard, we're not trying to peel customers away. All we're doing, in fact, is we're really just compensating players that play World of Warcraft. I don't think Blizzard will have a problem with us, but you know, we haven't talked to them yet.

All right. One of the reasons that I wanted to talk to you guys, obviously, was so you could answer a lot of the stuff that people said in the comments. Was there anything else you saw in there that you'd like to speak to directly?

Tung: Well, we would like to mention that we are working on the compensation and we would like to get that up as soon as possible. Our goal is to get it working by Monday -- if something unexpected happens then it won't be working, but that's our goal. And another thing is that I feel like a lot of people have a lot more questions than what we just discussed, so we're trying to implement a forum right onto our webpage so that people can post comments and responses and hopefully we can answer them better that way. So that there's less confusion, hopefully we can calm people down and they're not still thinking that we're some kind of scam site. So hopefully that's something we'll be implementing very soon.

Golubovic: I'd like to add that primarily -- it might sound false, but we're trying to benefit players of World of Warcraft, because we go through the same thing that every other player does nightly on populated realms through downtime. You get home, the only chance you got to play is you're going to be waiting in the queue. So primarily we aim to benefit people rather than be a business. So as long as we have the possibility to stay functional, then we're going to do that and we're going to try and find ways that we will be able to do that.

I think the biggest issue that people have is that you're saying, we want to compensate you, we want to help you out, but then you're charging the fee up front. I guess a lot of people don't understand what the fee is buying them. They're already paying the fee to Blizzard -- I guess that's the main issue.

Tung: Yeah, I mean that's the biggest obstacle. We're not hiding the fact that we are a for-profit company, but our ultimate goal, like Milos mentioned, is that we aim to draw advertisements, the more advertisements we draw, the more we can lower fees and actually increase payout. Of course when we're starting out, we don't have that draw, we don't have advertisers coming to us. But hopefully in the future, we can get a good fanbase, get a good amount of views, and people coming in and out, and we can draw more advertisers to the site.

All right. I think the idea is pretty wild, as I said. It's definitely a new idea that I've never heard of before. But good luck.

Tung: Thanks.

Click here to head back to part one. Wondering how to use downtime productively or want to check your realm's status on the iPhone or with Firefox? Even when you can't play Warcraft, WoW Insider has great content for you.

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