Rob Pardo, Blizzard’s Senior VP of Game Design, has been interviewed by the Wall Street Journal. It’s not a financial interview, since even the WSJ runs an entertainment blog these days. The interview is apparently brand new; it references the controversy about the real money Auction House, but alas, doesn’t really dig into Blizzard’s reaction to the fan outrage. There are some useful questions about the AH though, plus other game feature changes from D2 to D3.
Here’s a quote, and thanks to fmulder for the tip.
Rob Pardo: There have been microtransactions going for a while in games. What no one’s done is the player-to-player aspect of it. We’re taking it a step back and saying it’s up to the player base to decide. It’s not up to us. It’s a player-driven economy; if people find value and want to do this activity, then there have to be sellers and buyers. You don’t really have that sense that, like in some of these games, players feel they have to buy some of the items, or they have to buy gold from the company to even be able to advance in the game. That’s not how we’re designing Diablo III at all. I think the important thing for us is to make sure the game plays really well if you never trade an item.
Do you expect the meta-game to evolve in unexpected ways?
Rob Pardo: I would say that’s quite likely. Considering that we don’t have anyone to look at that’s done it like this, it’s going to be hard to predict exactly what will happen.
The player base is very vocal about any change perceived to threaten the integrity of the game. In your experience do the majority of these concerns die away after the games are released? Or in other cases do you learn that they did have a point?
Rob Pardo: You ignore the opinions of the fan base at your own peril. I think what’s really important to us is that when there is an uproar or a concern that we listen to it and think seriously about it. The thing that often happens is that players have imperfect knowledge of the situation. They imagine the game’s going to be like this, and here’s everything that’s going to happen. So there’s usually a lot of fear without a lot of knowledge going on. If we’re wrong, then we’re pretty unafraid to change things.
So for the scientifically-measured 51% of you guys who hate or dislike the RMT; do you feel your objections stem from your lack of complete knowledge of the situation?