Thursday, April 26, 2007

Blizzard getting nervous

I had an e-mail from Blizzard, and several readers who got the same letter also pointed it out to me: Blizzard is offering a free Burning Crusade trial, suspiciously close to the LotRO release date. Apparently they noticed they got competition, even if they are still the 800-pound gorilla. Well, good for us customers, I say.

On the other hand this is a typical example of the development department not talking with the marketing department. The marketing department does the best they can do, offering a free trial. But with the number of people that have WoW without having bought BC being low, the impact of this campaign will be low. What Blizzard *should* have done is to examine the reasons why people leave WoW, and then ask the developers to change the game in a way that keeps people playing. Hint: Adding the Black Temple to the game isn't going to help here. Not sure about the other content additions in patch 2.1, they might be good, they might be the next incarnation of the Silithus grind and the horribly failed tier 0.5 armor upgrade quests.

Interestingly LotRO is about to outflank WoW on the casual side. Two years ago WoW was consider the easy-mode MMORPG. Now people hit the level 70 wall, and only a small percentage of players can break through this wall and into the raid content. So nowadays many players consider the end-game of WoW as "too hard", and are looking for a more casual-friendly alternative. And Lord of the Rings Online is offering just that. LotRO is generally a bit easier than WoW, you need to kill less foozles per quest to get the reward, there is less grind. If you really spend 1 hour killing the same kind of mobs, you are already rewarded with an advanced foozle slayer title and trait. I don't know what will happen when people hit the LotRO end-game, but right now LotRO is the casual alternative to hardcore WoW.

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