Patching fiasco

So, we are now in the happy happy place known as WoW 4.0.1, a land of new talent trees, glyph changes, earthquakes and the certain knowledge that a certain Dragon will be punching his way out to cause a fair bit of chaos across the whole of Azeroth.

On the major downside I spent last night patching and my system has decided tonight that it’s missing chunks from the middle of the final bit of the patch so I can’t play until those are grabbed.

I therefore have time to spend here bashing away trying to make sense of the latest round of daft bugs to hit the 12 million players which should and could have been avoided and what I think some of those bugs say about Blizzard and it’s attitude to us the playing and paying customer.

The usual suspects

Tooltips, odd graphics problems, some spells not quite firing as they should.  These I have a hard time understanding how they get through QA and testing, they’re simple to check, ok there are some issues around the nature of the interface making automating this sort of check difficult.  However this is something which should not be beyond the wit of a company with the resources of Blizzard to find a solution to.  Personally I would find these slipping through every single damm patch embarassing.

Warlock Pets

I can easily see how this one got through, on the PTR warlocks are expecting to have odd names for their pets, because they’re not the same characters.  So there is no way for the PTR players to spot it.  Similarly on the internal test systems the testers will be loading up test alts without any “history” behind them, random pet names are the order of business.  Nothing to see.  However where they really dropped the ball is in the handling of the issue.  On the US forums the message from the blues was very clear “this looks like a bug, we’re looking into it”.  WoW Insider is currently reporting that Bornakk has stated that it’ll be fixed in the next maintenance period.  The experience on the EU forums has been very different, starting with “working as intended”, “no we’re not going to fix”, “we’re going to fix for players who’ve not logged onto their warlock yet”.  I’m not sure if there is an official response yet which admits this is a bug and will be fixed.

As a customer facing response the EU handling was “poor” at the very best, it’s diabolical and sounds more like an internal rumour mill than a formal response from a central point which has some authority behind it.  The impression it gives to the players, is that Blizzard really couldn’t give a flying f*ck about the players and the attachment they have to their toons.  Remember even the most casual player with a level 80 has sat driving that toon for a period of time which is measured at the very least in days if not weeks, months or years.  The most hardcore of player from the launch will have daft amounts of time under their belt.  These people (and I admit to being at least part of the way there) have a serious attachment to their toons.  Ripping away what they consider a fundamental part of their game for no reason other than “we made a bug, lol, deal with it luser!” really doesn’t make for good customer relations or business.  Particularly when you’re hoping they will be shelling out anything from £25-£60 on the expansion in only a few weeks.

Is this seriously the best time to take away some of their emotional attachment to the game?

Durability

Ok, I understand what they’re trying to do here, they’re levelling the playing field, taking away some of the elitist shit the tanks can deal by claiming that they’re a special breed and always have higher repair bills.  However the way in which they’ve implemented it is terrible and again the communication sucks harder than an electrolux.

Item Durability Standardization

There has been some confusion over a change implemented with 4.0.1. In this patch, items that were not previously at 100/100 durability were all set to that maximum. In many cases this meant that if the item previously had, for example, a 60/60 durability it would now be at 60/100.

You did not actually lose durability in these cases, you gained it. In order to reach the new limit of 100/100 you will need to repair your gear but you should not have otherwise lost durability.

The Game Master department will be unable to provide repair cost or other compensation for this change.

Source (post 7)

So, this is simple enough the absolute value of your durability has not changed, if you had a durability of 59/60 before the patch you still have 59 now, however it’s now 59 of a larger durability pool.  So the relative position is a reduction in durability.  It also exposes some perception and other issues which I think Blizzard completely missed.  How many people here actually look at the Blizzard durability numbers on their gear, and how many of us look at the “how much is this costing me” or “$addon is reporting durability of xyz%”.  We, the players don’t actually look at the raw durability, we focus on “how much gold am I going to be handing over”, “I know that a wipe in ICC costs me 10%, I’ve got another 3 wipes before I really should repair”.

From the point of view of the player, aka the customer, what we’re seeing is “you’re hitting us with a repair bill when we’ve done nothing, gee thanks

Again the attitude of the blues leaves much to be desired, while the quoted blue above is entirely correct on a technical level.  It does nothing to address the legitimate concerns of the players or understand where they’re coming from.  It could also have been worked around very easily.  “We are increasing maximum durability on this item by 40, we shall increase the current durability by the same value”.  Done, no additional costs for any player, far far less complaints.  Alternatively reset all durability so that after the patch no one needs to repair.  Cost to Blizzard, nil, goodwill generated, truckloads.

A message to Blizzard

Something every company knows is that recurring subscriptions are a cash cow, keep the punters happy, be nice to them, be firm where needed but be clear, honest and respectful to them and they’ll keep handing over wads of the folding stuff.  Keep screwing them over and bullshitting, you’ll find players unsubbing and never coming back.  Not a good business model.

2 thoughts on “Patching fiasco”

  1. ah – this explains why I have had to repair so much stuff – I usually repair after each night’s adventures, so was wondering why I had apparently not done so.

    One thing to bear in mind is that your maximum repair bills are a lot higher – instead of facing a repair bill of 50G when your gear is below 30%, it might be 60-65G instead – someone will be able to test this so its more than a casual “well it felt like a huge amount compared to normal”.

    That’s either the normalisation of general repair costs across all armour types, or it is the increase in durability.

    A wipe night may well take up 300G in repairs alone. Roll on *durability* as a guild perk.

  2. Fucking durability. I can deal with the changes to the Paladin trees… I’ll work them out and be healing again asap. I can _almost_, but not quite, deal with the loss of my treeform (don’t ask me about the bastard new form – no wonder it’s only to be seen for 30 seconds at a time, it’s bloody awful). But the way they dealt with the changes to durability and, more to the point, the response when players complained about having to repair gear that hadn’t needed repairing when they logged off on Tuesday night before the patch is just poor customer service even by Blizzard’s usual poor standards.

    Now… Imagine you are a trader on the AH. Imagine that you have, over the last week before the patch, purchased several hundred items of armour for resale, as usual, and all were due to be listed on the AH yesterday having spent the time between purchase and said listing sitting in the mailbox of an alt. Now, imagine going to the AH to discover that >75% of these items are unable to be listed on the AH because “this item needs repairing before it can be sold”. The amount of gold (a non-trivial sum that, for a number of the items probably wiped out their profit margin) is not the only issue – there’s the constant running backwards and forwards from the mailbox/AH to the sodding repairer. I expect my Thursday AH activities to take almost twice as long as on any other day – it is an artifact of how I run my sales (armour and weapons only get listed Thurs-Sun so any purchases of them for resale rather than sharding stack up during the rest of the week) – I do not expect it to take pretty much all of my in-game time on the Thursday (day and evening) _and_ a good chunk of Friday as well. And that was just listing items in the mailbox – I didn’t even manage to scan the AH for purchases yesterday at all, where I would normally manage that at least twice a day.

    Bastards. Add to that the minimum deposit cost on all listings now and I will have to re-think my strategies on a number of fronts. Previously, because auction deposit has been based on the “sell to vendor” value of an item and enchanting mats canNOT be sold to any vendor, there was never a deposit cost associated with enchanting mats – this meant that listing some of the lower demand things that might only have a potential max BO value of 1s 20c was feasible because if it didn’t sell, you just relisted it at no additional cost to yourself. Not now. So, the market on some lower level items for sharding and resale of the mats is going to crash as people like me weed out those items from our purchasing lists.

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