This time next year the hype will be real, we will be about a month away from the release of the long awaited Warcraft movie, it has been moved to a June release, and is set to be a summer blockbuster.
What do I suspect from the marketing people not necessarily at Blizzard but those in Hollywood? Certainly some in game pet, possibly a mount, possibly a piece of paper offering a month of free game time, possibly more, or nothing at all.
I was thinking over the weekend about possible release dates for the next expansion, and I am tending to agree with Alternativechat’s consensus that it will have to be released prior to the film, if only to work out bugs and kinks, so I will change my thoughts to a late April, early May expansion release, and put my tinfoil hat away on that topic.
What has me concerned is how successful any marketing is at luring new players to the game. And let me share some thoughts on the matter.
First off, how many new people might we see.
lets be conservative and say initially 20 million people go to see Warcraft, and 20% of them are intrigued enough to take some offer given. So potentially 4 million people trying to get on to the game that they have no idea about. What will they initially see? Well depending on their internet connection speeds, a rather long download of the game client, which may turn some away right off. And the false reading on the launcher after 5 minutes of downloading that the game is playable but will continue to download in the back ground frustrates even me a Veteran player.
What I would suggest to those at Blizzard that might in my wildest dreams actually read this is to pass out DvD’s for the movie release. Spend a few dollars to potentially return you hundreds more. Include a video that runs alongside the download/install of the game client, explaining the initial choices new players will need to be making. A quick run down of Alliance and Horde factions, some tips on choosing not only a Race, a Class, but also where they will initially choose to play. A server like Area 52, or Tichondrius could be an overwhelming experience to a new player, so to would be a choice to start on a server that has a very low population, even with the connected servers.
Give them advice on trying out a few different choices before using the free 90 or 100, or what ever you may offer. This is no longer the game where Veteran players with 4 years under their belts would not hesitate to offer tips or advice to new players, this is a game where the majority have 6 or more years, are more focused on getting to the end game as fast as possible, and a vocal portion that will brush off people with comments like Google It Noob. I will always try to answer questions for help, when I can, but I am sure I might find even myself overwhelmed with a flood of new players.
What I might suggest, and this is just a wild idea, is a repeat of Wrath. Open 4 new servers strictly to new players, offer up the chance at the gate event, lock it away from transfers for 6 months. Give all of these new people a chance to find themselves, to find thier own identity, to figure it out. You will get a decent amount of veterans that will go just for the chance at the mount, just to relive an experience long forgotten. A chance to help shape a new generation of WoW players.
I would just say, please give some thought to what is coming, take a look at the initial experience from the eyes of someone that has never played WoW, or an MMO game at all. We all got our start at some point, and all learned, but over the years, even we have forgotten a great deal of what we faced those first months of playing. We roll alts and find ourselves set up in Capitals, with bags and gold within the first hour, now also fully equipped in out full sets of BoA gear, with our Stables of mounts, and level 25 pet collections. We have acquired a great deal to quickly advance beyond the initial experience, but these new players will have nothing.
Help inform them of the choices they need to make initially, and the payoff may be more multi year subscribers to the game we all love, no matter how much criticism we may offer at times, it is our game of choice, that we are passionate about. We will do what we can to help, but initially the first interaction with the game is through you.
There are many paths and ways for these people to reach the summit, but you need to set their feet on a path that will start them on their journey.