Magic roundabout

[At the time of writing, Warhammer Alliance site went down so I included alternate links to Massively articles on the same topics that summarise the WHA threads.]

I’m sure if you’re here reading this that you also read other Warhammer Online blogs. So, You’ll have noticed the little controversy and hoo-ha over an opinion piece at Warhammer Alliance about Mythic’s marketing (Massively). The article accuses the marketing department of using obfuscation and little tricks to keep attention where it wants it, and I don’t use the word ‘accuse’ lightly. The piece was obviously written to be inflammatory, but stemmed from the author’s concerns about information and its control.

It doesn’t take long for things like that to get around. War Noob posted a thoughtful response on his blog, disagreeing with the original author (Browncoat @ WHA). And Syp over at Waaagh posted a response also, agreeing in part with Browncoat about information flow, commenting on the responses the post had garnered so far. Syp also took at look at responses to criticism and how some people, rather than picking and choosing which bits they agreed with, or not, of Browncoat’s article simply moved into siege mentality, attacking anyone that criticised Mythic or the game at all.

Now Mark Jacobs has added his response (Massively) to the mix by posting on the Warhammer Alliance boards and expressing his disappointment in the whole affair, while telling some home truths about Mythic, including the fact that information flow starts and ends at his desk.

Where do I stand? Well, I already posted my partial opinion over at War Noob. I’m no fan of the original article. Perhaps it’s because I used to work in Marketing :-).

There’s always a danger about releasing information while the beta is still in progress, and not all fans of the game have the common sense to realise things will still change, classes are still being balanced, the game is still being polished. And because of that, the NDA needs to stay in place a while longer, however frustrated we are by that. While marketing departments will have some influence on the release of information, it’s often to explain what the consequences of revealing certain bits of information might be. But honestly, with Mythic in particular, I can’t see the marketing people sitting Paul Barnett down and telling him not to say something he wants to say. Likewise Mark Jacobs or most of the big names we see touting us the information around the place.

Yes, there may be some discussions about it, and some agreements about what can be shared and what can’t. But these guys are professionals, many of whom will have witnessed what’s happened to other games that went too far with pre-order information (Vanguard) and they want Warhammer Online to launch as smoothly as possible and seem to realise that not pissing off the community with over-expectations is a big part of that.

I’m fairly used to the NDA now, and a little terrified yet excited about the information outpouring that’ll come when it’s lifted. Sometimes I wish I had some more information on something, but in the meantime I’m still getting my head around some of the info around there.

ps. anyone still humming the Magic Roundabout theme tune by the end of this article gets a round of applause

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8 Responses

  1. Yeah, I agree.

    It’s sensible for people to be a bit cynical about what marketing have to say. We’ve been sold too many political messages like “Smoking doesn’t cause cancer,” “Cars are good for the environment,” etc etc to not be cynical.

    But as Mark says, “In life, the simplest answer is usually true and in our case, the simplest answer is that much more is coming and nobody is messing with us.” He’s right, that actually is the simplest answer.

    And yeah, I don’t buy that anyone is giving Paul Barnett instructions to stay on message 🙂

    I also think it’s a bit lame that the WHA guys aren’t standing behind their opinion piece? Why say it if you don’t believe it. Colour me cynical now, I enjoy a good argument as much as the next guy but I don’t like being played.

  2. I always had a hard time believing that Browncoat was really serious about what he was saying. I mean, what a ridiculous argument. Why would they release information about stuff when a) it’s not necessarily locked into the game and b)they can keep fans strung along for months.

    I can’ t believe Mark took the time to stoop to this guy’s level.

  3. I think Mr. Jacobs did a good job of further demystifying the policy of information release, even though an explanation shouldn’t really have been necessary. The game is still in closed beta after all, and aside from it being folly to reveal information about aspects of the game that are still in flux, a well ran marketing strategy will benefit us all if it results in more people playing the game.

    Browncoat did raise some sensible concerns regarding lack of information in some key areas, such as regarding the Black Guard and Knight of the Blazing Sun, but considering that these classes apparently share mechanics with classes we do know about, is there really anything to be too worried about at this stage? Also, to expect EA Mythic to have nailed down server rulesets at this stage is unrealistic.

    I can’t help but feel that the driving force behind Browncoat’s post, and this whole issue, is one of extended delayed gratification. Some people have been anticipating this game for such a long time now that the frustration in having to wait even just a couple more months is becoming unbearable. They have absorbed and synthesised every scrap of available information about the game, and they are simply dissatisfied with the rate that new information is flowing.

  4. Wow! After reading Mark Jacobs’ response, I am going to vote for him for president in November! Who’s with me? Change politics forever Mr. Jacobs cuts the bull with a laser!

  5. It would be interesting to look at this from two perspectives:

    1) Hardcore WHA audience – probably don’t feel they get enough information because they are insanely hardcore, devouring every last bit the second it becomes available. It is pretty much impossible to satiate this crowd unless you release every last detail because they spend so much time poring over the details.

    2) The casual MMO player audience – are probably more than satisfied with the amount of information that has been released. This crowd will make up the majority of the player-base at launch, so why would you give out too much too soon? How will your sustain their interest, as well as the game media, if you, pardon the language, blow your wad, all at once?

  6. I’m coming from very much a casual viewpoint and as Snafzg (darn, that name is not easy to type!) pointed out, there’s actually possibly more information than I want/need out there. I want to be dazzled and surprised. I don’t really want to know what ‘spec’ I’m going to play of what race or class too much in advance. I don’t really want to be studying what I want to be a fun game.
    So what on earth am I doing commenting on a WAR blog? Arrrghhh.. 🙂

  7. Do i get my sugarcubes now?

  8. Sugarcubes and applauses all round, Mr Benn will be delivering them.

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