Tip For Addressing Fans/Customers: Cut the Bull

It's time for the Midsummer Fire Festival! Lord Ahune's been tuned up for level 80 drops, you get Frost Emblems (!!) from killing him, and you can queue for him specifically and not get burned out making the trek out to Zangarmash every day.

So why's everyone all fired up? Seems a vanity pet that Ahune used to drop, the Scorched Stone, is no longer available. There is however, a new pet - the Frigid Frostling.

Personally? I couldn't care less. I got Lil' Game Hunter last week so I'M DONE WITH VANITY PETS FOREVER!! It does suck for people who had a burning desire for the Scorched Stone, but I'd say the addition of a hot new pet balances things overall. Yeah, it sucks that there was no warning, unlike the removal of, say, the Amani War Bears. But it's an annual event - what are they supposed to do, warn people a year in advance?

That being said...I didn't care less about these changes, until I read the official Customer Service response. Blue poster Aredek wrote:
I'm afraid that the Scorchling does not appear to be available this year, folks. I cannot say for certain whether or not it will be made available in the future; however, we encourage you to share your thoughts on the Suggestions forum if you would like to see the Scorched Stone be obtainable in some other way.

Hold on here. HOLD ON. You're "afraid" that it's not available? It "doesn't appear" to be there? What the hell.

I don't know if it's just me, but whenever someone responsible for creating something acts surprised or shocked about something in their own product, I get incensed. I find it patronizing and insulting. It's like Aredek is saying "Man guys, this really sucks! I did everything I could for you, for US, but they - THE MAN - wouldn't let it happen! I'm just as unhappy as you are! I'm on your side!"

CUT THE BULL. It's not a surprise. You are not on our side. Not really. You might be nice, you may be honestly sorry for us, but at the end of the day...you're Blizzard. Even if you had nothing to do with its exclusion (which is likely), you represent the company as a whole, for better or for worse.

Don't insult us and play these little games, and pretend that golly shucks, how'd that happen? I'm so shocked and offended! Just come out and give us facts. We're big boys and girls, we can take the heat. We like you Blizzard, and we respect you because you often tell us the truth, even if it's not what we want to hear.

Take for instance Aredek's CS response to the bugged Dalaran Children's Week quests. Same sort of situation.
We are presently aware of an issue which is preventing players from completing the quests Little Orphan Roo Of The Oracles and Little Orphan Kekek Of The Wolvar if they completed either quest last year. While we do not have any specific details to provide in regards to when this issue will be resolved, we will keep you updated with the latest information as it becomes available.

(then later)

Update: We are aware of the issue that is currently affecting the Children’s Week quest line in Dalaran which does not allow players who have completed the quest line last year to take part in it again this year. We do not currently have a fix planned to address this issue at this point in time.

To clarify, this issue won't be able to be resolved for Children's Week this year. If you completed the quest previously you won't be able to complete it again for the other pet this year.

No disguising it under false sympathy, no wishy-washy uncertainty, just the facts. And this one did affect me, as I still needed more vanity pets at the time. My reaction? I was disappointed. I wanted Roo. (Even though Kekek is way cooler.) And it was annoying that they didn't have a fix planned to make up for their mistake.

So I smoldered with generic rage for a few minutes, then shrugged and forgot about it. I had wanted an update about the quest, and I got it. Granted, I wasn't entirely satisfied (pretty amateur reason, honestly) but I also didn't get some fictional story about Blizzard saying it was beyond their control and they'd just LOVE to give us the pet, but alas, could not.

I can just imagine their next CS response. "You guys aren't going to believe this, but we TOTALLY had the Scorched Stone ready to go. It was going to be 100% drop rate! And come with 100 Frost Emblems! We were so excited! But then EVIL MAGIC PIXIES appeared in our computers and removed the pet! D: Like, WTF amirite? We looked and looked but they were gone. We're SO SORRY but it's out of our hands! DAMN PIXIES!"

I'm probably overreacting. But this annoying PR "technique" really lights a fire under me. If I need to know something, just tell me Yes or No. Maybe add in a Why, in a situation like this. Hell, even LIE to us and say something was wrong with the coding when upgrading Ahune. Just don't insult my intelligence by pretending that you're just as surprised as me.

4 Responses Subscribe to comments

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    I agree completely! Blizzard is really terrible at communicating with us about things. When something breaks or changes, they make vague statements and promise updates, but they never actually tell us what's going on. I'd much rather hear, "we decided we wanted to change the pet this year," than the doublespeak in that quote!

    I suppose what's probably happening is that the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing. Maybe the person writing that post really doesn't know! But as you said, they're the representative, so I feel like they should find out before they post! Also, I'd really like it if when they say they're going to post an update, they actually would. The realm status forum is full of unfulfilled empty promises.

    I'm feeling particularly sympathetic with your post right now, because I just spent two weeks trying to get Blizzard to make a simple change on my second account, with no luck. It didn't work through the web site, so I tried to call Support. The support line said they had "high call volume" and hung up on me, telling me to call back later or send e-mail. I sent e-mail, and got back a form letter telling me to call the support line. I called the support line twice a day for a week, and couldn't get through at all! Finally, their representative e-mailed back to say he'd call me; I sent him my phone number, but he never called. Then I got a customer satisfaction survey, which I filled out with great DISsatisfaction, but I don't have very high hopes that anybody there actually cares.

    In the end, I just cancelled the account. I mean, honestly, if they're going to make it that difficult for us to give them money, why should we bother at all?


    June 22, 2010 at 4:05 PM

  2. gravatar

    I find that tone really "cute" too. You're the game designer. You have CONTROL over whether something is there or not-there. This "I'm afraid" and "doesn't appear to be" should be reserved for analyzing events that are NOT in your control. Like "I'm AFRAID that snowstorms have shut down our server farm and they don't APPEAR to be letting up soon."

    June 22, 2010 at 4:15 PM

  3. gravatar

    I'm so glad you guys agreed! I re-read this before posting and was worried I was the only one who got irritated by that sort of language, and if I was just way overreacting. :)

    June 22, 2010 at 4:26 PM

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    Ironic, because i thought this post was going to be about the way they handle "announcements" of extended downtime. If the post *you're currently making* is already 10 minutes past the time you said you'd provide it, then perhaps it isn't the wisest choice to promise you'll post again BY the turn of the hour? At least say AT the turn of the hour, since you don't plan to meet that either. Seriously, evaluate how long you think it will take, and communicate an expected time so that we can all go do something else with our evening rather than hanging out and waiting. Have you never heard of "under promise, over deliver"???? Patch days (that extend 8 hours into nights) generate a lot of ill will that could easily halved by basic PR 101.

    June 23, 2010 at 6:44 AM