"Houston, we have a problem..."
If you are lucky enough to be a part of the World of Warcraft Classic Beta you are likely either reading about it in chat, reading about it in the forums, or feeling the effects of it in game. I am referring to the negative impact professional Twitch streamers are having on the game.
Before I dive headlong into the issues we are seeing, I want to issue a caveat: I care very little about most of this. I believe at least some of it is overblown and is relegated to serial complainers. However, some of it is serious and will possibly affect the number of people who play the game.
The first issue has to be the influence streamers are having on the developers themselves. The week prior to beta launch, many of the more popular streamers like Asmongold, Esfand, Staysafe and others were invited to Irvine to play the beta ahead of time and give feedback. Now, I am positive this had at least mostly innocent reasoning behind it. Devs know that people watch these guys on Twitch so they wanted to give them a heads up as to what was coming in the beta and give them a first look at the game. Also, this group has championed the return of Classic for years, so much that they have stirred players into a frenzy of sorts for the game, so why not reward them for what they have done? I have no issue with this whatsoever.
However, we saw something very interesting during the first stress test. First, all the streamers were able to somehow get into the stress test without much issue. Most people were waiting in a queue only to disconnect after the wait. Many could not get in at all during the test. Seemingly, because they stream and create excitement for the game, they were able to log in and stream quite easily. Could you imagine the negative feedback if these guys spent their whole stream waiting in queue and getting disconnected? That publicity would not be good.
Second, I personally watched Asmongold's stream during the test (since I could not get into the game) and I noticed that the developers were not only interacting with Asmongold personally, but they were also REACTING to his requests. He asked for Ragnoros and they spawned the Fire Lord himself right there in front of him. This is a serious problem! No single player should have this much sway over developers of a game as it not only undermines the integrity of the game itself, but it also undermines the players' confidence in the developers ability to be impartial.
The second major issue is the influence of streamers over the general player base of the game. I happen to be part of "Make Azeroth Great Again" which is Asmongold's guild. We currently have 999 members and believe me when I say a lot of these players are just drooling to help out the streamers with getting items. One has to believe that a big part of this is due to people wanting to rub elbows with famous streamers. So, not only do streamers play as a full-time job (which gives them a time advantage) but they also have players chomping at the bit to group with them to help them get Best-in-Slot items. Believe me when I say I personally care very little about this, but again it gives the streamers yet another in-game advantage, that when added to the influence they have with the devs, undermines others’ faith that the game is a level playing field.
Some serious questions should be asked here:
- How do players know going forward that streamers will not have preference in raid drops? If devs are spawning bosses at a streamers request, will they make sure they also get their preferred drops from raid bosses?
- How much influence on a server are the streamers going to have? Will Soda be the first High Warlord based on the fact that he has 50,000 viewers watching his stream?
- How about legendary drops? Will Bindings of the Windseeker just happen to drop when Esfand is in the raid?
The devs must understand that we as players want to have confidence in their impartiality. It makes the game neutral and more enjoyable for everyone if we know they are not working behind the scenes on behalf of the streamers simply because they have an audience watching.
For the sake of the time I am going to keep this concise and end here. One point I would like to make is that I very much appreciate what the streamers have done for the game. We likely would not even have Classic were it not for their monumental efforts. They are really to be lauded in a big way. I hope the devs read this though as the concerns are important to the player base, and if there is one thing they have learned over the last few years, it is that we are passionate about World of Warcraft Classic!
Please feel free to comment below. I would love to hear your feedback!