Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Disneyland Souvenir Accessibility

Tobold wrote an analogy for raid accessibility in the form of a petition to Disney Land. Rohan provides a counterpoint response from Mickey Mouse. This meme amuses me, if for no other reason than because - as Tobold noted in his first post - it will confuse the heck out of Google. (Sorry if you found this post via a Google search, with no intention of getting MMORPG blogs. ;)) Therefore, I present a discussion of WoW incentives by analogy to Disney World.

(I suspect that I will get some number of flames for this post, as Rohan and Tobold did for theirs. I'm okay with this, though I will point out that analogy is, by definition, not 100% accurate, and some exaggeration has been employed for the sake of satire.)

To The Disney Board:
As you are no doubt aware, recent additions to the park have changed the way in which parkgoers obtain epic quality souvenirs. Originally, patrons who wanted epic quality souvenirs would participate in the park's traditional progression, in which they would form groups of 40 (more recently reduced to 25) to farm the Haunted Mansion for attunement to Space Mountain, where a handful of randomly selected souvenirs that may or may not have been on anyone's wish lists would be awarded to the group once (and once only) per week for distribution by whatever means the group felt were appropriate. The new changes have added two prominent alternate paths to souvenir progression:

PVP (Patron versus Pirates)
We observed that a larger than expected number of parkgoers were only interested in riding the Pirates of the Carribean ride, due to its convenient location and accessiblity, and an inexplicable fascination with Orlando Bloom. Prior to Park Update 2.3, however, the PotC souvenir store provided only rare quality souvenirs, which resulted in limited interest in repeatedly queueing for the ride. Under the new system, Piracy points awarded for PVP can be exchanged for epic quality souvenirs, allowing patrons to collect a full set of souvenirs solely through PVP.

Badges of Wishing Upon a Star (BOWUS)
We also discovered that patrons who had already advanced to Space Mountain had no incentive to continue to use easier rides, leaving them with little to do while waiting for Space Mountain to reset with the new week. Meanwhile, patrons who were unable to complete easier rides, such as the Haunted Mansion, were similarily out of things to do in the Park, as they had completed all the rides that were within their reach. To provide incentive to use easier rides within the park, we implemented the BOWUS in Park Update 2.4. The badges can be earned on entry level rides within the park, such as Splash Mountain, and can be exchanged at a special badge vendor for epic quality souvenirs that are nominally of equal quality to those obtained randomly at Space Mountain.

Effects on the Value of Traditional Park Progression Incentives
Though these changes have allowed Disney to sustain and grow its customerbase, while every single other theme park in the market slowly but surely loses customers over time, there is much concern amongst patrons who had been sucessful in the traditional park progression that greater accessibility for epic quality souvenirs somehow diminishes the value of their more difficult achievements. We have taken care to ensure that PVP and vendor epic quality souvenirs are not quite as good as their group progression counterparts, but many feel that the park has gone too far to cater to the less dedicated park patrons.

Ultimately, we have opted to continue and expand the use of PVP and Badge souvenirs in the park's recent second expansion, as we feel that these new systems are in the park's best interest. However, many of our lead park designers are themselves fans and veterans of the old school park progression, and we wanted to give our most dedicated progression fans a little nudge nudge wink wink to let them know that we'd be looking out for them if only the bean counters upstairs would let us.

Therefore, we are officially endorsing the use of the term Welfare Souvenirs (45 sec- 1 min mark on the video) to describe the souvenirs obtained through PVP and badge vendors. Some of our patrons might feel that our use of this term is inappropriate for the following reasons:
- We designed and implemented the souvenirs in question, because we wish to retain the revenue that customers interested in obtaining these souvenirs provide.
- The term is insulting to both our customers and to people who are actually on welfare, in ways that one might figure are inappropriate for a major entertainment corporation's employees to publicly endorse.

We, obviously, disagree, and will instruct all Disney employees to continue to use the term (even though, ironically, some have said that the welfare souvenirs now come from our most recent group rides, rather than PVP/badges). We do recognize that mocking other park patrons' "welfare souvenirs" at a family park might upset their children. Though we aren't sure the community team will allow us to use the term ourselves, we're told that the appropriate response is "cry more, kid".

This type of inter-patron class warfare might seem counterproductive to the good-natured spirit in which Walt Disney founded our company. We are alright with that - anything our users are complaining about that distracts from the true root of their displeasure, namely the glacial pace at which we have historically added new content to the park, is fine by us.

Respectfully submitted,
Jiminy Cricket, CFO


Klepsacovic said...

The latest advance in welfare reform: WoW-style welfare. What you'll do is complete extremely repetitive tasks for a few tokens. These tokens can be stored up and then a few dozen (sometimes over 100) can be traded for useful items.

Wait... that just sounds like a normal job. Ah yes, the retarded welfare epics analogy. Somehow it's welfare to perform imitations imitations of RL work.

Green Armadillo said...

I don't care that the forum trolls use the term, even though I agree that it's kind of stupid, but I wish the company's employees wouldn't. Blizzard is a business, and they make decisions like these based on what's going to be best for their numbers - I may complain about their calls, but it's nothing personal.

When Blizzard's top designers take the stage with an attitude that the only deserving epics are the raid epics, that actually is personal. "We put this stuff in so you'll keep paying us, but we'd just like you to know that we think raiders are better than you."

Meanwhile, if token/pvp epics are like a real job, what does that make raiding? Being a professional poker player? :)

Anonymous said...

As someone that doesn't (or at least has never) raided I don't really understand all the issues. But I do agree with the notion that there is a definite class system to the game (as in India class system) with Raiders on top, PvP next, and everybody else effectively the untouchables. And this mentality was not created by the players themselves but is actually an outgrowth of Blizzard's development/moneymaking philosophy.

Despite the fact that there are now 11.5 million players in the game, the truth is that development is still managed to appeal to about the 25% that are actively raiding. I think that's wrong, as a non-raider, but that is the way it is.