I recently wrote a brief paper on World of Warcraft, a game I’ve never played before, for the Service Strategies course I’m taking at Babson. My paper discusses what about Blizzard Software’s functionality with the MMORPG of WoW was innovative or offered a bit of service differentiation. You can read the whole thing here. (pdf)
I had chosen WoW for as my topic for three reasons. One, it was among the suggested topics Professor Rao offered for the assignment, two, I love sci-fi and I played Magic in high school, and three, my sister has played some WoW and she’s cool.
After spending a few hours working on that paper I realized that I should really have a crack at the actual gameplay for the good of scholarship. Not because I have a lot of serious work to do that I’m trying to avoid. Not that at all.
With a 10 day free trial, I couldn’t go wrong, so I started the download of the game and it was 3.6 gigs of data streaming over some type of resumabale http stream. Oh well, I thought, I’ll let it go over night and try it out in the morning.
Little did I know that the application was going to require a half dozen patch updates. Each update requires hard drive space for the patch itself and the uncompressed installation of the the patch’s data. Most of the updates were less than a hundred megs, but I have had at least three downloads of a gig or more each requiring an additional 1-7 gigabytes of free space for the installation. I’m sure that the requirements to download and install the game are greater than 20 gigs at this point, which is out of control.
So far, I’ve used two days of my free trial just trying to get the game installed on my D630 here and I’ll be honest the service experience has been something of a let down so far.
Suggestions for improvement:
- Blizzard should offer the fully patched W0W version 3.2 available for direct download in the first place. Rebuild, repackage and release that to your new customers. Don’t give them the runaround with all these silly patch releases.
- If you can’t do that, offer a real estimation of the amount of disk space involved. This has been a really cleansing exercise as I’ve purged a ton of non-required data from my 150 gig laptop internal, but I would have much rather known what I was getting into from the get go.
- Offer your patch releases as torrents. I like that Blizzard’s direct download allows you to resume, but the speed overall is too slow. Blizzard should host a bunch of seeds and suggest that we torrent via an official tracker rather than serve the data in a direct pipe. It is just too slow.
I think the most troublesome issue is that I assumed that since I was installing via the web that the original download would reflect the current state of the game. Instead, I had to go through the complete patching process from 2.x to 3.2 just as I would if I had bought a DVD from a game store. What is the use, Blizzard, if you’re going to offer an ancient build as your foundational game download?