Who’s going to BLIZZCON?
Not many people apparently. At least, that’s what Blizzard must have assumed.
I’m pretty sure that by now, most people are familiar with the legendary FAIL that has become the Blizzcon ticket ordering system. In an apparent lack of foresight, the servers hosting the Blizzard online store were crushed under the might of thousands of rabid fans. The store was taken down and subsequently reopened about 3 or 4 times yesterday, each time prompting a flood of angry posts to the official website forums.
I was one of the lucky ones.
After about 10 hours of frustration and clicking refresh, I was finally able to purchase my tickets. I’m hoping everything went through correctly (seeing as I received an email confirmation of my tickets and my credit card has been charged), but I can’t help but feel a little uneasy, given the fiasco this has become.
I first checked the site at around 8am PST Monday morning, only to find that the Blizzcon site, the Blizzard store, and even Blizzard’s main site were all down. I then left for work, thinking I probably missed my opportunity to purchase tickets.
I spent the majority of the day refreshing all the sites and checking the official forums for updates. I’ve found that if you imagine the player’s avatar reading their forum posts, it’s the WOW forums are actually pretty hilarious.
Finally, at around 6PM PST, through some sort of voodoo magic, I was finally able to get through the process and purchase my tickets. It seems pretty sporadic, with the majority of people still receiving the infamous Murloc error or getting invalid style sheet pages, etc.
I think Blizzard really dropped the ball on this one. I can’t fathom how a company who makes as much revenue as Blizzard, from the online market no less, couldn’t have anticipated this kind of response. Let’s work people into a FRENZY and then fail to provide a way for them to purchase our product. Will it hurt them in the long run? Not at all. But it opened my eyes a little as to what kind of company we are dealing with.
Look, personally, I don’t have any gripes with Blizzard. I was pissed off and frustrated yesterday, sure, but they haven’t “wronged” me. I’m not out for vengeance or anything like that. But in some ways, especially trying to get help via their official forums, Blizzard, through their company representatives, really comes across as an asshole. As someone pointed out yesterday, it’s like the drug dealer who treats you like shit, because he knows you can’t get enough.
I really felt bad. I wanted to go to Blizzcon, but at the end of the day, if I didn’t get tickets, it’s not a huge deal. But there are people who don’t live in Southern California, who booked flights and hotel rooms already, who are in a state of panic right now because they haven’t gotten their tickets yet. I feel bad for the people who have spent hundreds of dollars on costumes and crap that still don’t have a ticket.
Blizzcon isn’t about generating revenue for Blizzard. At least not the event itself. They are probably losing money on the whole deal. For Blizzard, Blizzcon is about the community, generating interest and customer loyalty and all that shit. So it’s kind of ironic that fans can’t even purchase tickets without getting pissed off.
Blizzard is in the same league as Walmart and McDonald’s at this point—the individual customer is meaningless to them. So Blizzard loses out on your 400 dollars for Blizzcon tickets. Big deal. There are 10 million other customers who they know are willing to pay.
But even Walmart and McDonald’s at least PRETEND the individual customer matters. If you have a complaint, they all least treat you seriously. What happens when you have a gripe with Blizzard? Its either some dev who tells you your opinion is wrong or some customer service rep who tells you he doesn’t know but will find out and get back to you.
I guess the real problem is that if I hate McDonald’s I can just go across the street to Burger King (of preferably In-n-Out). If I hate Walmart, I can shop at Target. But what can you do if something pisses you off about WoW, other that deal with it?
Personally, I would love to work for Blizzard. Development wise, they make great games. And they are committed to making great games. As far as game developers, they have a great philosophy about only putting out the best product, and that’s the kind of company I want to work for. But at the same time, it’s kind of scary to think that this company generates over a billion dollars a year, has no competition, and no accountability.
I’m just glad I got my ticket.