Many of us have at one point in our lives been part of a vocal minority in one form or another. You may have found yourself put out by something that affected you strongly enough to speak up but the majority of your peers were unaffected. While this is a fairly common occurrence, no where is it more prevalent than the internet. Given the nature of internet communication and the ease at which information can be spread, you have an avenue for the extremely vocal to be heard be it by the company or group they are lobbying with or by peers who may be interested in the cause. The problem with being a vocal minority is that you are just that – a minority. When within your group of peers your voice feels strong, vindicated, and one of common sense however outside of that group you don’t hold nearly the same amount of water.
Often times, in the circles that we run, the vocal minorities are fans (players) of some level of dedication who would prefer a movie/series/game/etc to be a certain way that would appeal to them. I can’t fault anyone for that honestly as we like what we like and we would prefer to see those thing we love treated a certain way. It was recently when reading an article on Operation Rainfall that I had an idea to discuss this topic. For those who are unaware, Project Rainfall is a grass roots fan campaign that is pushing for Nintendo of America to localize three role playing games for the Wii console: Xenoblade: Chronicles; The Last Story; and Pandora’s Tower. All three of these games received praise and good to high marks in their Famitsu reviews (given its loyalty take that with a grain of salt) and were highly anticipated by American Wii owners looking for new compelling RPG experiences on their systems.
Despite the high marks and feverish outcry of American fans from Operation Rainfall these games are not slated for release in North America. Nintendo is currently localizing them for Europe where it does plan to sell them. Nintendo is a corporation and their goal has always been to make money while at the same time keeping its fanbase happy. They clearly have in their mind an idea of what types of games sell better in different regions and I’m certain it is backed up by financial data. With that in mind and Rainfall’s message out there Nintendo posted a response on their Facebook page:
“Thank you for your enthusiasm. We promised an update, so here it is. We never say “never,” but we can confirm that there are no plans to bring these three games to the Americas at this time. Thanks so much for your passion, and for being such great fans!”
While it is not enough to completely discourage the Operation Rainfall folk as they clearly say “never say never” it still speaks volumes. Companies have a responsibility to their fanbase however they also have a responsibility to their bottom line that cannot be avoided (Don’t get me wrong though, I am a huge fan of monolith’s work (Xenogears, Xenosaga) and would love to see this game come to north America). At the end of the day the vocal group speaks with its wallet. If all of the demands and outcry don’t translate to a respectable sales figure at the end of the day, It is a loss for Nintendo regardless of how happy that small group might be.
Similar to the Nintendo situation, many larger companies are shying away from, or at the very least being extremely wary of, ComicCon and other major conventions of similar ilk as far debuting movies or games. Comic book, anime, and video game fans (possibly “geeks” or “nerds” to you) are EXTREMELY vocal on the internet as well as live at these conventions. So much so that it actually creates a hugely misleading opinion of an upcoming project. There is now a long list of studios that have left ComicCon thinking “Wow…man those guys LOVED our movie we are going to do amazing” only to have the movie bomb horrendously in the box office. These geeks (and I use that word to denote those extremely vocal, fervent, and possibly less social aclimiatized as myself) can often be overexcited and overbearing in their messages in defense or against that which they care about. This adds up and makes their vocal minority seem much, much louder than it really is. At the end of the day you vote with your wallet and if you make up a small portion of the “voting” community then your value is going to be representative of that. Some comic book fans may dislike that their opinion of a comic book movie is of the same value as Joe Shmoe but that’s how it is.
So what does this mean?
A raider’s feelings on the game and its direction is worth the same as a casual (not derogative way) non-raider or altaholic. I know this is not a popular statement to make but fairness is something we have to strive for. It goes beyond just that statement though…whenever we talk about wow we need to understand that all the following statements are true:
A raider is worth the same as a casual 5-man dungeon player
A casual 5-man dungeon player is worth the same as a hardcore PvP player
A raider is worth the same as a hardcore PvP player.
A hardcore raider (ensidia, vodka, method etc.) may appear to be worth more for playtesting purposes but at the end of the day are worth the same as everyone else.
A players worth, at the most fundamental level, is their monthly subscription fee. We show our dedication and fan-dom with our wallets. I’m sure in reality there are much more complicated business models and projections at Blizzard based on the shelf life of each type of player and the likelihood of each type to purchase additional store content but we can’t necessarily dwell on that for the moment. As a WoW player it is very easy to be in a vocal minority and not even know it simply due to the sheer number of players who partake in the game.
I remember when they announced the removal of Tree of Life as an always-on shapeshift and the addition of the cooldown ability. Their logic was quite sound when it was first announced: blizzard wanted to balance druids with other healers in a form that can cast all of the spells in their arsenal, as other healers can. This allowed Tree of Life to be a temporary gain above and beyond our standard form/balance. I’ll admit I strongly disliked the change and was quite vocal about it. I liked being in tree form, didn’t care about seeing my armor, and thought they could just allow all spells to be cast in tree form and give us another cooldown to use. All the druids I knew felt this way and most druid forums I visited echoed this sentiment. What I didn’t do though was look outside of my sphere of the game to see the other million+ druids out there and find out what they thought. Once I branched out and started reading and talking to players I learned that my take on things really wasn’t the pulse of the community. Tons and tons of druids really disliked tree form with a passion and the thought of running around in caster form was much more appealing to them.
If I didn’t make the effort to look, I would have continued to think “man blizzard really has no idea what druids really want and this is a completely ludicrous and stupid change”. I would have been wrong.
Whenever there is a change to the game that offers a quality of life improvement for what raiders, often in a cruel way, call casual players or item rewards there is an outcry. Raiders, who often think themselves possibly more hardcore than they are, feel that blizzard is dumbing down the game, catering to casuals, ruining everything, stealing from babies, and chopping down the rainforest. While yes they do give the more casually inclined players access to some very nice items through dailies, valor points, and Bind on Equip they still continue to make some very challenging raid content to keep people busy. Their responsibility is to cater to everyone at the same time. For every one raider that speaks up, or whines uncontrollably on the mmo-champion forums, there are probably two, three, maybe even four other players who are happy with whatever change has been implemented. We as a raiding play base need to realize the sheer scope of WoW as a whole and what percentage of it the non-raiding or casual raiding communities make up. People speak with their wallets and just because we are a very vocal community and generally only hear the shouts of those that echo our sentiments, we are not the majority.
Before you find the need to flame me please understand that I’m not advocating the dumbing down of WoW. I am one of those players who would like to see things still stay a bit harder for everyone to keep the thrill and challenge intact for all players. I just came to the realization that I can’t actually fault blzzard for everything they do that I don’t agree with. Without having access to the massive amount of data and feedback they have I’ll never really know just what the pulse of the community as a whole really is.
Two different schools of thought
The inspiration for this article came from a PUG that I was in last night on my alt healer. I am not going to mention names in order to put anyone down as it is the experience that I cared to remember not the players involved.
In trade chat an individual was advertising a PuG he was putting together for Nefarian as his lockout was cleared 5/6 in Blackwing Descent. The PuG was to be for people who have completed the kill already and are familiar enough with the fight to make it relatively easy. Wipes surely could happen but if anything it was implied that people would know what to do regardless. Once in the dungeon I became aware that the advertisement I had gotten in trade chat was completely different than what was actually going on. Two members of the raid had NO gear enchanted except for their weapons. Half the raid didn’t know the actual mechanics of the fight and required explanations. When questioned about the players missing enchantments the raid leader simply responded that “I’ve never found DPS to be a problem, just execution”. While I do understand his logic, un-enchanted blues rub me the wrong way.
Well we wiped a few times fairly quickly on basic mechanics. Someone who didn’t understand the encounter mass rezzed us on the lower level with Onyxia forcing us to wipe a second time. After some more wipes we get to phase two and people didn’t know to interrupt the adds. At this point a few of the better geared players in the group decide to hop out of the raid. They were polite enough saying they were sorry but this wasn’t exactly the experience that they signed on for and didn’t have time to learn the encounter with the newer folks. I got what they were saying and while I didn’t drop group at that moment I was certainly leaning in that direction.
This was where it went off the rails. All of a sudden the “entitled raider” talk started coming from the pick up players complaining that the standards for PuG’ing shouldn’t go up as content becomes nerfed. I cringed a bit as the guy with no enchanted gear piped up (with some expletives mind you) on this topic. I understand people don’t want a repeat of Wrath Heroics where you got kicked if you weren’t very well geared in order to keep the speed of the run up to par. That being said it is Nefarian…he’s still a challenging boss if you don’t understand the mechanics (or are wearing lots of blue gear). I had a fairly civil conversation on the topic with one of the players who remained, and eventually cooled off a bit. He thought our wipes were progressive and promising and couldn’t understand why these raiders (whiny, elitist, entitled etc.) would jump ship after only a few wipes.
I explained to him there was clearly two separate interpretations of how this PuG was going to go down. Seeing it advertised as 5/6 BWD going to kill Nefarian with achievement linking required, gave the players with very well geared alts (or mains who are running Firelands and can pug BWD) the impression that people would be going in and popping off a nerfed Nefarian. The other PuG players clearly saw this as a chance to learn the fight, or get carried seeing as they are poorly geared and equipped. These two interpretations are so far from each other that there is no way they could ever come together in any worthwhile way. The amount of time required to teach these more casual players Nefarian was simply not part of the other players schedules.
While I don’t think either side handled themselves in a entirely positive way I could see each other’s point of view. It really hit home though and the expression “finding out how the other half live” was applicable. These casual players wore their heart on their sleeve and weren’t shy about saying how they feel about elitist raiders. How many more players out there are like these people I need to ask myself. What percentage of the community do they make up? Am I, as a raider, actually in the minority? It was something to think about and as such I was compelled to write this today.
How do you feel about being in a vocal minority?