Blizzard Favoritism

Posted by Daeity On Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Earlier this month, I saw an interesting read on a player / GM interaction. These kinds of posts come up all the time, but they're always fun to read (e.g. "GM threatened me", "the GM was rude", "the GM wasn't helpful", etc.)

This particular one was about a GM threat and it went something like this:

Player: Can I talk to a supervisor?
GM #1: No. If you ask again, I'll suspend your account.
Player: A GM threatened me!
GM #2: He acted appropriately within our policies. Let's end the one-sided conjecture here. *thread closed*

Even AT&T doesn't do this. Typically, when you contact customer service departments for help, but you're not getting any assistance, consumers will ask for a supervisor. Blizzard's customer service is different though, they're not under any obligation to escalate your request or transfer to a supervisor. They'll also never speak bad about another GM. Even if they personally don't agree with their decisions, they'll still have to say "they followed our policies" in a public forum.

And a lot of their decisions will be personally motivated, just like any typical customer service provider. Or really any job when you think about it. If they like you, you'll get more leeway. If they don't like you or you asked the wrong questions, be prepared for the absolute minimum service or worse.

This situation of favoritism reminded me of a personal World of Warcraft related anecdote.

If you weren't already aware, there are multiple guilds out there that are (or were) populated by Blizzard employees. There are guilds of CMs, GMs, Management, Developers and Artists, etc. They often find their own cliques, and identities in the general populace are kept secret for obvious reasons.

An old friend of mine used to go to school with a couple of the developers, and he's been in the Dev Guild for a very long time. For the most part, he was very secretive about the Guild and he treated it like an elite society. However, when TBC was in it's prime he told me, with a wink and a smile, that his friends set him up with a "Level 71". He's not the kind of person to make a joke either and he was quite serious. He was very active in raids and very well geared already through his own work, so it didn't sound like he was just given amazing gear. From what was implied, on the surface the character looked like any other Level 70, but it had hidden modifiers that would be invisible to players inspecting his character. For example, his crit chance would show 34%, but it would actually be 49% during the hit calculations. He didn't go into any specifics, but I think that there were just subtle changes made to the character giving it a slightly better advantage that wouldn't be noticed too often (to most people, it would just be really good luck on combat rolls.) Conveniently enough, he also only partied with other Blizzard developers and their friends, didn't PVP, and didn't interact with "the lower class" WoW denizens. :)

I honestly believed what he told me.. he wasn't the type of person to make this sort of thing up. Plus, I always suspected that this sort of thing always happened and it was nice to see it confirmed. If I owned a MMORPG myself, I mean I would definitely do it. :)

I haven't spoken to him in a few years, but I continued to follow the guild and it's activities since then. These days though, they're very quiet.

Favoritism like this happens in every business, but instances of special treatment very rarely make it public. Mostly because it's just between two trusting individuals. When more individuals are party to special treatment, though, the more likely the information is leaked or witnessed (like the Martin Fury scandal). Blizzard, for example, has a lot of information about them in the wild web concerning favoritism and it's actually an issue that have addressed in the past.

Back in 2005, Blizzard transferred an entire guild from one realm to another. This was long before even Character Transfers were made publicly available too. :)

Blizzard has always had to justify why their paid services cost so much, but it's funny how all of that just gets thrown right out the window when friends or family members are involved. :)

Here's a link to the old 2005 scandal. You can also use to see some of the old postings. Basically, an entire guild (all players) was transferred with no restrictions (they kept all gold, loot, etc no matter how large).

Blizzard said that it was a mistake, and that they'd never do it again.

Then, in August 2007 Blizzard gave freebie PVE to PVP realm transfers to more friends. (Once again, long before PVE to PVP was implemented.)

And these are just the cases that we know about. :)

If you have any personal stories, or ones you've heard about, I'd love to hear about them.