But only if there's a demand for it..

Posted by Daeity On Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Lately, it seems like there's been a lot of contradiction from Blizzard..

When talking about their release date on February 23, Jay Wilson assured all of their customers that "You’ll know as soon as I know for sure the exact date."

We think you're going to love Diablo III when it's released, and speaking of release plans, you can seriously expect a launch-date announcement from us in the near future. See, I didn’t say “soon,” so I’m not taunting you. ;) You’ll know as soon as I know for sure the exact date.
Only a few weeks later (March 13), he changed it to "well.. I actually know the release date for sure, but I'm not going to tell you now" instead.. oh, by the way.. "I’m not taunting you. ;)"
You'll know as soon as I'm allowed to say. And no, I'm not allowed to say when that is.
It's been made pretty clear over the past couple months that the new Release Date has been known since at least January.

I really don't have any problems with these contradictions though.. I'm just so used to Bashiok that I expect it. It's the anti-transparency, business treachery and concealment of intent that bothers me.

For example, for a very long time Blizzard has been adamant that there will never be a Real Money Auction House available for Hardcore players. They have explained a lot of really good reasons for this decision, such as the unfairness of losing items you paid for with cash being the biggest.
Can Hardcore-mode characters use the currency-based auction house?

No. Hardcore characters will only have the option to buy and sell items together with other Hardcore characters via a separate "Hardcore-only" gold-based auction house; they will not be able to use the currency-based auction house. Hardcore mode is designed as an optional experience for players who enjoy the sense of constant peril that comes with the possibility of permanent death for a character. All of a Hardcore character’s items are forever lost upon that character’s death, so to avoid the risk of a player spending real money on items that could then be permanently lost when the character dies, we decided to prohibit the use of the currency-based auction house in Hardcore mode.
It's also funny to note that by NOT having the HC mode RMAH, it was a little contradictory in itself. They said that the reason for the RMAH was to prevent shady 3rd party sites, so why wouldn't they have made it available in HC mode in the first place? Well, for very good reasons that protect the consumer of course.

This all changed though after the removal of the Listing Fee. Suddenly, their convictions regarding the "difficult decision" made about their non-RMAH HC mode seems to be waning.

Now, a Hardcore RMAH is entirely possible.
If there is a demand for it we'll consider it.
Like I said, though, this kind of contradiction doesn't bother me. What does bother me is that he's saying that the players will make the decision whether it gets implemented or not. This worries me, because they've said this before.

Whenever Blizzard says, "players wanted it", "we didn't want it" or "there's a demand for it", it's actually Blizzard that really wants it. This just makes it a really great way to deflect blame away from themselves and control the positive perception of the company. They're being completely truthful too.. all you need is one or two players out of millions to ask for a feature, and they can honestly and confidently claim that "players wanted it."

It reminds me of commercials where they state that "Doctors Recommend X Toothpaste", when all they needed were two "newly financed" Doctors to simply say, "Yep. Sure." And they didn't even have to be medical Doctors in the first place.

Do you know what else players demanded that Blizzard had nothing to do with?

The Real Money Auction House. Blizzard didn't want that, it's because the players demanded it! im totlly srsly guys.

Oh, and REAL ID. That's right.. players wanted that great feature originally. Players also (for real this time) demanded it's removal, which Blizzard discretely replaced with REAL ID 2.0 when things cooled off.

World of Warcraft Paid Faction Changes too. And being able to create both factions on a single PVP Server. Yep.

The Mists of Pandaria Pokemon Pet Battle System. Diablo 3 Online Only requirement. Mandatory Battle Tags. Also, Diablo 3 Trade Chat.. players really did ask for this, but they gave them an aborted abomination instead so that they could say, "Well, we did give it to them lol."

Even Character Naming Restrictions, then more restrictions, then suddenly the removal of naming restrictions (that benefited Blizzard) were all demanded by the customer apparently.

Sure, some players thought these were great ideas and really did ask for them.. but do you really think that these were what most players wanted? The average player liked the idea of character naming restrictions, a broken chat system, and real name identification? Did everyone forget the uproar when the Cash Auction House was first announced? The RMAH didn't sound like a customer request at all.

"We only did it because players asked for it."

These kind of statements worry me because it means that Blizzard is seriously considering this and it has very little to do with player demand. When Blizzard says "If there's a demand for it", it means that their prepping customers like what they did with the "Item Squish" announcement. And, with the major changes to the items and RMAH due to the removal of the Listing Fee (gambling concerns), I think Blizzard has been seriously considering this in Hardcore mode to further increase revenue. It will be even more profitable in HC mode due to the risk involved in collecting items as well as losing all of your items in death (and thus requiring the purchase of all brand new items.)

Whether it's worth it to Blizzard or not, though, will depend on metrics. What percentage of players prefer Hardcore over Normal mode for example? If it's just a small percentage, it's probably not worth it. But, if there are a large percentage of Hardcore players, then yes; financial gains trump customer woes (which can eventually be soothed anyways.)

tl;dr; fully anticipate Blizzard (and other large gaming companies) to fully exploit the "only if players want it" statement for features that they actually want.