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I think it’s important to celebrate when things turn out the way you wished, especially when you’ve been as critical of the premium Real ID party invite feature as I have – twice!
Blizzard has now announced (16th of August 2011) that this feature will not require some premium sub on a sub:
“For those who haven’t yet had a chance to try it out, the Real ID Party system allows players to invite Real ID friends of the same faction to a 5-player normal or Heroic dungeon, regardless of what realm their friends are on. This new feature makes it easier than ever for real-life friends to play together, and it’s available to all World of Warcraft players at no additional charge — all you need to do is have Real ID enabled.”
This is excellent news!
I frowned upon the original plan as put forward by Blizzard, that players would have to pay for this in one way or another, something I found to be very much against the spirit of an MMO even though I’m not likely to be using this feature myself.
I also struggled with how to engage the WoW blogging community about it. On one hand I felt stongly compelled to post on every single article on the subject, especially the ones I felt took no stance and would go along the lines of “well, if Blizzard charges I pay, simply because I like this feature”. When some put forward the opinion about the feature “being cheap and totally worth it”, I had to put myself in a straight jacket to not be overly critical of their view, bordering on trolling.
I understand why some people didn’t want to actively protest, most people just want to have a pleasant and positive playing experience without the hassle of being political about WoW. Not everyone wants to be a critical consumer, some people just want to play and I understand that even though it also annoys me.
So I had to decide how important this Real ID feature issue was to me and how far I was willing to go to get my opinions across. Staying cool when someone is WRONG-ON-THE-INTERNET is a matter of picking one’s battles, so I didn’t comment as much as I actually felt compelled to do for the sake of not obsessing about it. I can admit that I feel over the top trololol right now – How cheap do you think for free is then?.
The case also raised an issue I’ve had with the WoW community for as long as I remember. Reading the first bunch of comments on the MMO-Champion post about it reminded me of this.
“aww, what are the whiners gonna whine about now? “
I strongly believe the “whiner” and “QQ” tags are thrown about at a whim in dealing with WoW critically. I’m not saying people don’t complain about ridiculous things, such as not being overpowered anymore, but I hate how easily a lot of players brush off anything negative about the game if they don’t agree, by calling it “just QQ’ing”. Especially unsubscribe/goodbye-posts are infected with people telling the person leaving that no one cares about their opinion and that “the game is fine as it is, so STOP COMPLAINING”. I wonder if these same people who are so vocal on the forums would be less vocal if a change was brought on they hated to the point it made them reconsider even playing the game, for the sake of not QQ’ing – I think not and that’s a good thing!
Spinks posted an article at the time that I found to be carrying an utmost important message about how players as consumers deal with changes they are unhappy about. If players feel very loyal to the game and don’t see a feasible alternative, they are more likely to raise their voices about it instead of just silently unsubscribing and not “QQ”. Quoting from “Power to the players! The power of consumer voice, exit, and loyalty”:
“When we see a largescale player protest, all of these forms of confrontation come into play. And all of them are important. So it’s not true that companies only look to the bottom line and unsubscribing is the only action which ‘counts’. Attention grabbing antics like mass protests, huge threads, media coverage, and similar voiced excitement are at least as important to a consumer company as silent exits.”
I feel empowered as a player-consumer, I also feel taken serious by Blizzard and I trust the company more now.
My message is: QQ’ing matters, being critical matters, the opinions of other players matter even the one’s you don’t agree with. All of these opinions, from long forum threads, to blog posts, to large magazine websites, are amongst the reasons we avoided getting forced Real ID name exposure on the WoW forums and now also (at least for now) avoided this Real ID party feature becoming a purchasable premium.