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Should WoW Be More Account Driven?

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One of the subjects that continues to draw attention in the development of not only World of Warcraft, but all of Blizzard's titles, is how to make the games more account-driven. In an era of Xbox LIVE, PSN, Steam, Uplay, iOS Game Center, and more, the functionality of the WoW and Battle.net account systems seems decidedly dated.

 

On the WoW side, it's safe to say Blizzard has come a long way. As early as the addition of heirlooms in Wrath of the Lich King, it became apparent that improving the total player experience across your WoW account was on their radar. Many of the game's achievements are tracked in ways that are very positive for players who utilize multiple characters (the achievement for total Honorable Kills is a phenomenal example of this). The game's mount and battle pet collection systems are also excellent in this regard.

 

There are also further improvements on Blizzard's radar. Much has been made of the eventuality of an account-wide heirloom management system, as well as the possibility of some kind of tabard collection similar to mounts or pets. Continued efforts in these areas seem to suggest we're headed in the correct direction.

 

Having said all of that, there are a plethora of places where Blizzard's system is showing its age and design inconsistencies. A newer example is the player/reagent bank. In Diablo, all of your characters share a common Stash, which allows for the simple transfer of items to whichever character you feel like playing. WoW is effectively there with heirlooms and other account-bound items, and the ability to instantly mail unbound items between your characters - but the innumerable workarounds to track inventory across multiple characters suggest that Blizzard's inventory management isn't meeting the needs of its players any more.

 

Some of that can be ascribed to technical limitations, to be sure, but the advent of things like the Toy Box shows that there are possible vectors to improve it. A shared Reagent Bank, for sake of argument, seems like a quick and obvious improvement. Even some modifications to existing things like this, or making more of the game's achievements account-based rather than character-specific, would be great strides.

 

Speaking on a more global Blizzard basis, it seems as if a lot of potential exists for the Battle.net ecosystem to have more account functionality as well. At this point, the launcher is great for certain fundamental features, like managing authentication, friends across multiple games, and patching. It seems limited, however, in a number of other ways. Blizzard could easily implement a Battle.net achievement ecosystem to track your combined score across all of their games; having the ability to start multi-user chats from the launcher would be excellent as well. Being able to invite friends to join you in a party/game across the various clients is possible in numerous other comparable services, too.

 

Battle.net is something of a confusing beast. The launcher has some useful features, and the account-driven friend system is great, but that appears to be the entirety of its purpose today. Giving it some additional value would be a huge move on Blizzard's part.

 

Finally, on a similar note, with the lessons learned from developing the mobile Armory, WCS and BlizzCon apps, and now the mobile Hearthstone clients, it would certainly seem like the talent exists between Blizzard's walls to meet the apparent demand for further mobile (and web) features for the games as well. Whether that's mobile Garrison access, app-based remote login, a Battle Pet app, a Battle.net chat app, or something we haven't even thought of, there are a lot of ways that Blizzard could add some serious stickiness to their platform.

 

What are your thoughts? Are there things you'd like to see shared across your WoW account? Features that Battle.net could have that would improve your experience? Mobile applications that would keep you coming back?

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I'd like to see more rewards and interaction between different Blizzard titles. similar to how the Hearthsteed mount was given out in WoW for winning games in Hearthstone. The rewards shouldn't give an advantage in the other games, so getting raid gear for wow by winning a SC2 match wouldn't work, but there are plenty of cosmetic/vanity/fun rewards that could be given out between titles.

 

Some ideas:

- Hearthstone abosultey needs to have wow pets like the TCG did. Blizzard will start geting $50-100 more per month out of me tomorrow if they did this.

- Some sort of Achievement in D3 that allows you to get your D3 heroes as followers in wow

- A random chance when completing a hearthstone match to get an item in WoW to give a follower the hearthstone pro trait

- Hearthstone card backs based on achievements in other Blizzard titles

- Maybe even a few WoW achievements that give hearthstone cards, but the cards would need to be something fun that isn't necessarily good from a competitive standpoint.

- Garrison monuments, banners, skins, etc. gained through playing other titles. How cool would it be to display a Hearthstone Legend monument in your garrison.

 

I could come up with a lot more too. Blizzard certainly has the tools to do this, and they've casually mentioned it in the past, so I'm surprised there hasn't been a lot more interaction between the different titles.

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Crossover benefits between the Blizzard franchises would make a lot of sense from a business perspective. You already see that threshold crossed with the Collector's Edition or Digital Deluxe copies of the games conferring almost strictly cosmetic rewards in each Blizzard game.

 

This is maybe another example of why the Battle.net platform needs to evolve further - right now, wholly separate teams of people each have to implement rewards in their own ecosystem (e.g. the WoW team has to design and release the Battle Pet reward for the Starcraft collector's edition; the Starcraft team has to set up portraits and decals on their end for the WoW CE). Basically, every opportunity we have today for some kind of benefit that moves between the games requires people on multiple disparate teams to coordinate it.

 

If, for sake of argument, earning a 'Battle.net' achievement conferred rewards in each game, that might still involve people from each game contributing to ensure that their in-game reward is properly designed and implemented, but it would set the stage for a platform-driven experience, rather than a game-driven one. Long term, collecting Battle.net portraits, emblems, trophies, or achievements might be as important to players as the in-game rewards are today.

 

As long as the rewards continue to be vanity things, as you've accurately described, it can only incentivize players trying multiple Blizzard franchises (or investing more time/money into the ones they play already). Seems like a great idea, from where I'm sitting.

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I have to agree on the crossover benefits. I for one would love cosmetic rewards for playing certain games. (e.g. Tyrael Wings cape cosmetic item in WoW, Sulfuras cosmetic weapon in D3, etc.) Mainly because I think there should be an indication of dedication to other blizzard titles.

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