Tuesday, 13 July 2010

The vision thing

Larisa has posted an interesting quote from the Teamliquid forum. It's impossible to know how accurately this reflects the mood within Blizzard, but if it does, the consequences are disturbing.
Nachtjäger, Suramar, 59 Night Elf Death Knight post 35821 wrote:
"Got in touch with my ex-flatmate, whose sister works as a GM for Blizzard, to see what the internal buzz on this was. Apparently, at the moment the employees are largely as pissed as the players, and she stated that despite attempts to keep it hushed, it has become known that the big creative players within Blizzard are pretty much as unhappy about this as we are. Everybody has been told they are not free to comment on this situation outside of specially prepared statements.
It's still going ahead, however (and here's where in-house rumours and hearsay really start coming into play): from what they've picked up, the Blizzard leads have been told in no uncertain terms that the non-gameplay-related direction of the game is working to a different blueprint now. GC and company are free to play with shiny new talent trees all they like, for example, but for the first time the decisions regarding Battle.net implementation, Real ID, and plans for the general acquisition of new players for the business are no longer in Blizzard's own hands, and that's not going down too well."

If true, this is a bad sign for Blizzard as well as the player base. Once the suits start over-ruling the professional game designers, the quality of the product goes downhill pretty rapidly. It may lead to short term gains as you cash in on your existing player base to gain advertising revenue, but if people stop playing your games in the long term because they've been designed by marketing men rather than gamers, the company is doomed.

It's surprisingly easy to run large corporations into the ground in a fit of executive vanity; the collapse of GEC (once one of the largest companies in the UK) and the recent banking crisis are good examples. When large organisations go crazy at the top, there's little the people on the ground can do about it. They can (and should) warn about the consequences of these decisions, but they are often over-ruled by "visionary" executives who have "seen the future" in whatever the flavour of the month is. Right now, that flavour is Facebook; a few years ago it was Google. Remember all those "me too" search engines? No, neither does anybody else.

Ultimately, this kind of executive hubris will be punished by the markets. Shareholders will lose their dividends and then sack the board. The company may even go bust. But by then it will be too late; the games we love will be gone.

1 comment:

  1. So cock-up or conspiracy then? because, from this post, it's moving away from cock-up territory, is it not?