World of Warcraft – The MMO that has it all…unless you need help

By Cody Neramaar Hargreaves

Customer Support. In some countries,

reading those words aloud is considered witchcraft, and will likely see you burned at the stake. Probably. It sure as hell feels that way when I do; it trenches up all kinds

of repressed memories – Internet service providers, telecommunication services, credit card companies though none as horrific as the MMO, and none as dire. They say that

in the land of the blind, the one eyed man is king; well, in the land of MMO Customer Support, that man is Blizzard.

Realistically, this should come

as no surprise. Blizzard own and operate both the Battle.net service (used mostly for online matches of Starcraft and Warcraft III) and the infamous World of Warcraft,

and the latter houses more than 11 million players worldwide. It’s only natural to assume that an MMO with a player base exceeding the total population of people living in

Switzerland would likewise be required to manage a Customer Support Center with an incoming call volume exceeding the total population of planet Earth, and that does not an

easy job make. I understand that. I get that. Blizzard has a tough time handling their call volume and providing their paying customers with the Customer Support they

so desperately require and deserve; fair enough. What I don’t get is, when I call Blizzard with an issue at 11AM on a Thursday morning; why, instead of say, helping me, do I

receive instead a message saying we are currently experiencing a high call volume and are unable to take your call, please try the webform, with no option to leave a message,

no offer for a call back, and no Customer Support whatsoever?

I guess you could that that I’ve already answered that question above; that it’s

due to the high customer base, but for the sake of argument, let’s take a look at it from another perspective. With that many players, all paying $14.99US (or thereabouts)

per month to play (and this is exclusively related to the World of Warcraft population), Blizzard are generating something in the vicinity of $1,648,900.00 every single month.

Subtract from that server costs, staff wages, development enhancements, shipping, customer support and everything else – and youre still looking at something like a million

bucks a month. Profit. Well, probably not. There’s no doubt a lot more involved than I’m suggesting, and they more than likely receive a far less amount of cash per month,

though I’d find it hard to believe that Blizzard’s CEO isn’t living in a house made entirely of gold-encrusted opals extracted from the third layer of the Earth’s crust by

an army of Ethiopian slaves.

My point is this, they have cash. Lots of it. What they don’t have is a competent Customer Support department. When I

hear a message like the one above, my brain acts like a filter and the message is construed. What I actually hear, is this: We apologise, but we are unable to take your call

as we are currently understaffed and have no intentions of fixing this in the immediate future, or ever, because we like our money too much, and can’t justify spending it on

anything short of private helicopters and trips to the Bahamas… please try the webform. What else could it mean? They have the money. They dont have the staff. It’s plain

as day.

Looking at it from this perspective (what I like to call, the realistic perspective), you start to surface some truly horrifying

undertones. Would we be able to tell if Blizzard shut down their Customer Support department entirely and added that message to every call? The reality is, we wouldn’t. And

it’s a scary thought. Bottom line, something needs to be done. There are questions in need of answers, and sadly, Blizzard has never really been the type to hand them over

easily.

Of course, its highly possible that I’m overreacting here. But hey, I’m a writer. That’s part of my job. At least I’m doing it.

Blizzard’s Customer Support department clearly aren’t doing theirs. This specific scenario, outlined above, happened to a friend of mine this week. It’s possible that the

storms in the area are the cause; that this situation is specific only to this week; that on a normal week, when the weather is clear, their service department is open for

business and the customer satisfaction is flowing as rapidly as the water from the storms is flowing into the World of Warcraft servers as we speak… but I doubt it.

My own personal experience (made doubly infuriating by my location, Australia) in dealing with Blizzard has been equally unsatisfactory. Long wait times, longer response times

hell, right this second my brother is waiting for his World of Warcraft account to be returned to him after it was hacked. He’s been waiting two weeks, so far. I’m

taking bets on how much longer it will be. Any takers?

I don’t know about you, but if one of my customers was hacked and had his account stolen,

I’d be holding his bloody hand every step of the way. And I’d have it back in a matter of minutes or I’d make him a new one. Blizzard isn’t; in fact, they haven’t said

a word to him in over a week. No daily updates. No information. NO CUSTOMER SERVICE. Am I making my point yet? Its unfair. And it shouldn’t go unpunished.


/>

So then, how do you amend such a problem? Blizzard would undoubtedly say, to which I would reply, Well, you start by hiring more staff. Oh, right. You only employ

people living in Irvine, CA, and youve already employed EVERYONE LIVING THERE. I see your problem. Okay then, how about this: START OUTSOURCING. It’s all well and good to

stick to your guns; to hire in-house and never let your employees leave the building lest they divulge precious secrets, but you’ve blown your expected customer-base out of

the water and you haven’t updated your policies to reflect that, and we, the customer, are suffering the consequences.

Look, Blizz. I love ya.

You make games like Tarantino makes movies. You offer quality products at affordable prices, and you offer them included with the love, care and affection we’ve come to

expect from such a stalwart example of quality gaming in a world so littered with crap. But you’re dropping the ball in your support area, and it’s really beginning to show.

If you put even half as much effort into support as you do development… well, you’d be making this gamer happy to be one again. And hell, I might even come back and play

World of Warcraft, too.

About MMO Games