|Graphics budget BLOWN. Again ^^|
There's been a bit of fuss over the Qiraji Guardling in the last week. If you don't 'do' Battle Pets it's probably time to switch off now, but for everyone else... the word 'fiasco' springs to mind. What it has proven is that the modus operandi of Blizzard in response to customer 'complaints' is perhaps not as intractable on certain items as it once was. It also shows that, even after eight years, there are lessons to be learnt for Blizzard Devs on how you compile and present your content.
Before we start our analysis, let's recap what happened on June 21st, at least from where this Collector was standing. Arriving in Silithus several hours before the pet was due to 'spawn' I was met by half a dozen people, across my CRZ. Notice this was well BEFORE the pet was even due to appear. If I didn't know it already, this wasn't going to be a done deal. Like most other people I'd assumed the following:
What Blizzard and I had failed to grasp, and what only became clear in the days that followed, was the number of people who wanted this pet the moment it spawned. What made the Guardling so special? For most, it was the simple fact it was the last pet that completed their World Safari achievement, and by default awarded them the title Zookeeper. After months of hunting down every other pet on the planet, this was the one that eluded just about everybody. I find it amazing that no-one looking at the numbers at Blizzard HQ anticipated this and didn't a) increase the area in which the pets spawned and b) did that before the 21st. Instead everyone arrived to find a tiny area and an even smaller number of pets, plus a great deal of grief and anger. I'm not even going to talk about the PvP servers... ^^
a) I was the only person who cared about capturing a pet the day it spawned.
b) No-one else would be bothered about doing so and I'd have an unimpeded run at the pet.
c) I was clearly delusional. (No that was just me.)
Again, Blizzard became a victim of their own mini-game's popularity, and failed to anticipate the consequences. Threads immediately sprang up on the forums accusing Blizzard of short-sightedness. The standard response was given, to reiterate that spawn rates were the way they were for a reason, and people would just have to be patient but yesterday, in a move that made this player respond with WTF BLIZZ Guardling Spawn Rate FTL :( that decision was reversed. The spawn rate was deliberately increased, as a response to what was, to all intent and purpose, public pressure. Of course, there will be those who will maintain that wasn't the case, that Blizzard had just made a mistake and chose to rectify it. When CM's were making comments like this prior to the about face however I'd have to say I disagree. No other spawn rates have been changed either, including the Snowy Owl which is the Guardling's 'compatriot', spawning only in the winter months.
This is, at least from where I stand, a worrying development. However, in the larger scheme of things, it isn't actually that much of a surprise.
Battle Pets have become one of the most popular components of the Expansion, perhaps the most popular if my Twitter feed is any indicator. Blizzard have invested so much into this feature one could argue that to not react to the issue of the spawn could potentially damage player confidence and have the potential to drive people away from the game altogether. When considered in those terms, the decision to about face becomes a lot more logical. The problem however is that spawn rates of anything and everything have been points of debate since Vanilla: rare mounts, hunter pets... you name it, if it's had a contentious timer there's been little or no chance of that being altered. People have needed patience, persistence and an unbreakable sense of humour to get the items they've wanted to complete achievements. Changing that precedent could have some far-reaching consequences.
What is more significant is the fact no-one in Blizzard saw this one coming. When people started publicly hassling CM's in May for a spawn date, alarm bells should have rung. The signs would have been there, in the data, even at that point:
- The number of people who only needed only one pet in their Safari achievement. When there's a ton of those in my Guild, I know that number's going to be sizeable.
- Linking this last pet to an Achievement that awarded not simply a the points, but a title, one which would have sizable 'bragging rights' to anyone who gained it as early as possible.
- Making a big thing of reminding people the pet was about to spawn. (I'm as much to blame about this as everyone else who did, Blizzard perhaps not so much, but releasing the Blossoming Ancient the week before that had the feature of changing skins with seasons was probably too much of a clue for those previously unaware.)
- Failing to anticipate demand in what has been one of the most popular areas of the Expansion.
This one wasn't up to the normal high standard, guys. The next one will need work.