WARNING: The following blog post contains salty language and a generous outpouring of nerd rage. Viewer discretion is advised. Reading aloud is not safe for work. Or children.
In case any of you missed it, Chopper-Gate is the absolute fiasco created and carried out by Blizzard who seemed to be absolutely oblivious to the effect that giving a free mount to only one faction would have on the fanbase. In other words, Blizz is giving a free motorcycle to all Horde players and gave the finger to the Alliance. That’s not too surprising, because that’s not exactly a new turn of events. Blizzard has a long history of favoring the Horde and shafting the Alliance in pretty much every aspect of the game. The difference? This time they were obvious and open about it. Predictably, all hell broke loose.
Lots of people agree with Blizzard and are embracing a general “fuck the Alliance and everyone who plays it” mentality. A few “sympathetic” souls have gone so far as to suggest things Blizzard could do to make things more “fair” to the Alliance, with the front runners being “allow Alliance players to pay $25 for the same mount Horde gets free” and “let the Alliance players ride the Horde bike and proudly display their submission and allegiance to the other faction.” So, yeah, there’s that.
So, how can Blizzard fix this absolute clusterfuck they created? Well, they could just give Alliance their bikes, too. Alternately they could give both bikes to both factions. However, since both of those suggestions would be fair and reasonable, don’t count on either of them happening. Even if they do, sorry, Blizz, but it’s too little, too late. The Blue half of your paying customers shouldn’t have to throw an outright hissy fit to be treated the same as the Red half of your paying customers.
With that bit of well-deserved bile out of the way, let’s move on to a more important subject: how Blizzard was colossally stupid to have set this contest up in the first place. I get what they wanted to do: they were trying to do something cool for the players, drum up a little faction pride, and do some sort of tie-in with the American Choppers TV show. That, in itself, is cool. I don’t have a problem with that. Nor is it sour grapes that my current main faction is the one that got the shaft: don’t forget that 6 of my 90s are Horde. The thing is, fair is fair, and no matter how you slice it, screwing over 1/2 of your players is unfair.
So, what could they have done to avoid this situation?
- Change the teams. There are plenty of other factions/parties/races that could have been an interesting design competition without alienating either faction’s players. The Pandaren, Mogu, Zandalari, Scourge, and Burning Legion (just to name a few) all have uniquely inspired visual art/designs that could be incorporated into some bad-ass motorcycles. Having any two of them squaring off would have been preferable to the two prime factions.
- Change the format. They could have had a collection of different chopper designs drawn up for each faction, with the voting determining which of the designs got built into an actual motorcycle. At the end, both faction’s winners would also be turned into faction-specific in-game mounts. That way both mounts are available for free to the whole player base regardless of whether you play Horde, Alliance, or both.
- Change the stakes. What Blizzard has failed to grasp in all their iteration of reward is that the difference between winning and losing isn’t just the reward for winning, it’s also the punishment for losing. You cannot separate those two concepts because they are opposite sides of a coin. In order to keep the winners happy, the reward must be tangible, but in order to keep the losers happy, it must also be negligible. A time-restriction can accomplish both at once. The Horde won the vote, so give them their motorcycles first. After a week or two (maybe even a month) give the Alliance theirs, too. It gives the Horde a window of opportunity to gloat about their favored child status without creating (or, in this case, adding to) a permanent faction imbalance.