After many years of resistance to the idea of player feedback, Blizzard has finally relented and announced the formation of a player-led Community Council for World of Warcraft.
Blizzard is facing a crisis of confidence from its World of Warcraft player base following years of disappointing expansions and updates that failed to meet the expectations of its players, whom Blizzard blithely ignored in favor of its own internal expertise.
As players depart to greener pastures like Final Fantasy XIV and New World, the alarm bells are finally ringing at Blizzard’s Irvine offices.
This week, the company announced that it is taking applications for a new World of Warcraft Community Council to offer a select group of players a direct line of communication with the game’s creators.
Described as a tool to help developers receive input from the player base, including hardcore raiders, PvP players, achievement hunters, and roleplayers, the Community Council will be set up with exclusive forums and offer live chats between council members and developers.
“Player feedback impacts all aspects of the game, and with such a wide range of opinions, playstyles, and interests out there, gathering and understanding feedback is more important than ever,” Blizzard announced. “To help further our efforts in this area, we’re introducing the WoW Community Council. This program will add another venue for communication between players and WoW developers. Our goal is to gather more detailed feedback on all aspects of World of Warcraft from players around the world with a wide range of backgrounds and interests.”
The company is taking applications through a web form, soliciting prospective applicants to list how they engage with World of Warcraft and for how many hours they play. The purpose of the questionnaire is to bring in a broad range of voices to offer feedback. Blizzard requires that applicants prove their credibility by offering examples of prior contributions.
Once accepted, applicants will have a direct line to the system for about a year, until they are dropped and the council is reshuffled to bring in new voices.
Blizzard is hardly the first major company to offer a direct line of communication to its player base, Eve Online has long invited player participation to its Council of Stellar Management to have a say on the development of the space MMO. Players participating in the council are invited to a yearly Summit in Iceland where they can confer with the developers in person.
Unlike EVE Online, Blizzard has no such plans for World of Warcraft, and members of the council will not get a heads up on what its plans are before anyone else. Instead, the system is being set up as a means to gauge community feedback and nothing more.
The effort may be too little too late, as Blizzard is facing severe backlash from its player base over the quality of its updates to World of Warcraft, elsewhere, Blizzard is facing numerous controversies over ongoing harassment lawsuits and censorship of “problematic” older content in its games, including World of Warcraft.