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Warcraft Killed The Community Star

Rich Weil on why community seems to be the same ol’ okey doke after a decade:

Community relations is not a new phenomenon, it is merely young in the games industry. A kind of professional isolationism exists here that puts any kind of independent existence of OCR entities in peril. Quite honestly, for the reasons I’ve previously listed, there is almost no reason that all our functions could not be directly integrated into marketing, PR or any larger communications structure.

Sanya Weathers doesn’t want to agree, but does anyway:

Even the White House values the synthesis a good community specialist brings to the table. But in games, after a decade of hard work, a community weenie is someone you call when you realize your president should probably stop posting on message boards.

My take on it is pretty simple. World of Warcraft is showing that, once you reach a certain mass? Community management doesn’t particularly have a great effect on your game’s success.

 

Can you identify the name of the head of World of Warcraft’s community management team? No? I couldn’t either. The ones visible to the customer base – “Eyonix“, “Nethaera“, etc – are front-line CMs who are visible by dint of posting on WoW’s forums,  but do you know who heads the department? You know, the community manager for the most popular MMO on the planet, the man or woman who signs off on what’s communicated to WoW’s millions of players? Who talks down Mike Morhaine after he drinks a full quart of chocolate milk and decides to post on the Yahoo ATVI board at 3:42 AM?  It’d be a fairly visible post, I’d think. It is, after all, a very large community!

Well… I got nothing, either.

So I checked the credits. As best as I can tell, the head of World of Warcraft’s community team is Paul Della Bitta. Who also runs the WoW eSports initiative. I guess at Blizzard, community management doesn’t keep you busy all day.

And sorry, Rich, that’s why community is the same ol’ okey doke after a decade. Because everyone is looking at Blizzard for the template of how to print money. And Blizzard shows that once you get to the executive suite, community management isn’t really a full time job. Because, you all know, all you have to do is put up twelve billion forums and walk off, until your designers get bored and decide to play community manager. And it’s all good, because as long as the core game itself is fun, the community will just deal with it.