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Blizzard Customer Support live Q&A recap

Blizzard Customer Support Live Q&A
Yesterday, between 5pm and 6pm Pacific, Blizzard's Customer Support Team took part in a live Q&A, using some new software to answer players' questions in real time. In attendance were CS Forum Representative Vrakthris, WoW Game Support Manager Marcus Maczynski, SC2 Game Support Manager Angelo Concepcion, D3 Game Support Manager Andreas Unger, Senior CS Information Specialist Charles Areson, and CS Social Media Manager Antonio Achucarro.

With players asking the questions, there was fairly high traffic for the team to deal with, Zarhym told us they received over 1,500 questions in under an hour! Not all of them could be answered, but we've been busy pulling out the key questions and responses for your delectation.

Comment From legracen
Are there any plans to update/change the in-game ticketing system for World of Warcraft so that the wait times for tickets can be reduced?

Marcus Maczynski: Hello Legracen! We're constantly evaluating how we receive CS requests from players. Right-Click-to-Report and self-service options (such as Item Restoration) are both examples of this building in this efficiency. Updating the in-game interface to prompt players for exactly the information we need to service their requests is definitely something we want to do.

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Filed under: Events, Blizzard, Mists of Pandaria

Wikia turns a profit, thanks in part to WoWWiki


Wikia has been doing a little bit of press lately -- they're the for-profit company that has spun off of the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation that runs the huge Wikipedia website. Wikia has announced, as reported in the Wall Street Journal and elsewhere, that they've hit profit early. While they didn't expect to actually make any money running ads next to user-generated content until next year, they've actually made some money this year already. They credit the growth of all of their miniwiki sites, which has expanded greatly over the last year.

So why are we reporting all of this here? You may have already guessed: one of their largest sites, if not the largest, is the World of Warcraft-related wiki, WoWWiki (which we definitely read and use here at WoW.com all the time). WoWWiki is mentioned in a few reports as having 70,000 pages (almost 1/3 more than the next-biggest site in the network, a cooking wiki). In fact, at least one reports credits WoWWiki, along with the Twilight-related wiki, for the growth entirely. We're not sure how much of a part they actually played in the new reported profits, but they are definitely growing, and are a terrific resource for those of us in the WoW community.

Filed under: Fan stuff, Odds and ends, Lore, NPCs, Making money

There could be up to a million Chinese gold farmers

A new report on MMO gold farming claims that there are about 400,000 working in China on gold farming and trading, and that there could be as many as 500,000 to even a full million. Of course there's no way to tell exactly how many people are employed in the business (and the number almost certainly doesn't stay constant for long), but according to interviews and surveys done of business there, that's the number they've come up with. They also claim a $10 billion a year turnover, however, and that number seems way high, though remember that they're talking about all MMOs, not just World of Warcraft. The report has some other interesting information about how China does gold farming: there are a number of brokerages staffed by English speakers in the larger cities that handle the actual transaction, and then the farms themselves are usually outside the cities, where cheaper labor is available. Typical pay in the farms is about $140 a month plus food and board, working in about ten hour shifts, while pay is higher in the city-based brokerages. Most employees are younger guys, who play while drinking beer and smoking cigarettes, and lots of their ingame tasks are automated with custom-made and adapted software.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Making money

Activision loses money, Blizzard to release one marquee game per year

Activision-Blizzard held a conference call for the press yesterday, and so there's all kinds of financial and release news floating around out there. The biggest news isn't necessarily Blizzard-related, but it does mean that our game's company is finally feeling the crunch a bit: Activision-Blizzard reported a loss of $72 million in the last quarter, and their outlook for the coming year fell short of analysts' expectations. Even though that sounds bad, it doesn't mean things are necessarily bad, though: Blizzard themselves added nearly a billion dollars to the total, so while A-B might not be doing so well, B is doing just fine.

Blizzard CEO Paul Sams also announced during the call that the company is now aiming for "one 'frontline' title per year," though not necessarily World of Warcraft related. That likely means that we'll see the first Starcraft 2 this year -- our friends at Joystiq have a quick report on the beta appearing soon, as well as the Battle.net revamp we've been waiting for. And it also means that (unless Blizzard is really rolling on Diablo III, which I doubt, given its condition when we played it at last year's BlizzCon), that we'll be looking at mid/late 2010 for the release of the next WoW expansion.

Besides the loss of the $72 million (it's always in the last place you look), things seem to be hopping at Blizzard and their parent company. Should be a pretty busy 2009 for them.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Expansions, Making money, Wrath of the Lich King

Four of the top ten PC games are World of Warcraft

Normally, we don't concern ourselves with sales charts too much -- we really only cover the one game, so comparing it to others really isn't our thing. Unless it's the only game in town, which, according to this month's NPD PC game software sales charts, posted by WorldofWar.net, it pretty much is. Out of the top ten PC games, Blizzard is responsible for a full half, and of those five, four are World of Warcraft related.

1. WoW: Battle Chest
2. The Sims 2 Double Deluxe
3. World Of Warcraft
4. Nancy Drew: The Phantom Of Venice
5. Spore Creature Creator
6. Diablo Battle Chest
7. Warcraft III Battle Chest
8. WoW: Burning Crusade
9. The Sims 2 Ikea Home Stuff
10. Call of Duty 4


Just wild. Diablo's Battle Chest is undoubtedly there because of the Diablo III announcement, but the rest is all World of Warcraft -- people are picking up the game, its expansion, the Battle Chest (which combines both), and even the predecessor Warcraft III (in which the Wrath backstory features prominently) in droves.

PC gaming isn't dead at all. But there's no question that of the struts keeping it standing, Blizzard is definitely one of the strongest.

Filed under: Odds and ends, Blizzard, Making money, Wrath of the Lich King

Vivendi makes $1.5 billion in 2007, BC pushes Blizz up 58% from 2006

A few days ago we tried to estimate how much Blizzard was making from those 10 million accounts, but now we know for sure: it's actually around $1.2 billion (which is up 58% from 2006). Now, you can probably see that that's only $500 million short of the estimate that we were trying to prove was wrong, but don't forget that the $1.2 billion isn't just subscription fees-- it includes all those sales of Burning Crusade last year at full release price. What Blizzard earns from subscription fees is just part of that total.

Still, a $1.5 billion year for Vivendi (especially when their other games divisions actually dropped by almost 30%) is good news for them. Of course, the question they (and more specifically, Activision Blizzard) have to be wondering about is if the success can continue. If Blizzard can release a new expansion this year and hold off the coming threats in the MMO industry, they'll be looking at even bigger numbers in 2008. But that's a lot to ask-- there's no question Vivendi (and Activision) will come up with huge amounts of profit this year, but growth of this magnitude will be a tough hill to climb.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Economy

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