A Blizzard's brand loyalist

October 1, 2013

“The sequel to my favorite game ever isn’t as good as the previous one! Publisher X has failed me and should be burned at the stake!” There are dozens of variations to the vocal gamer’s whining about their favorite series as the brand evolves over time. But what about the less vocal gamers, like myself, who are brand loyalists regardless of the changes and childish chatter?

I appreciate the RPG and RTS styles that Blizzard has in their three primary IPs: Diablo, StarCraft, and WarCraft. Even as the three respective series have evolved from their initial entries, I continue to put my trust in Blizzard’s development teams because they continue to deliver what I believe is quality entertainment.

That being said, the various changes and evolutions in the three brands have been noticeable and vocal gamers have made it clear that they dislike almost all changes made from one entry to the next.

Part of the problem is that generations have different perspectives and introductions to games series like these. The brands are expected to provide more and more in each iteration, while maintaining the level of quality from predecessors. That’s a hard balance to accomplish.

Brand changes tend to come with tradeoffs or compromises. New editions generally provide more content, abilities, or customization. But, newer editions tend to also have more quirks, learning curves, or in some cases, bugs. It’s up to the companies to do their due diligence in quality control, communications, and consumer engagement to ensure that significant brand evolutions are properly conveyed to consumers. When that due diligence isn’t done, consumer backlash tends to be excessive and can go viral thanks to social media.

Yes Diablo 3 is an obvious change from Diablo 2, but the same could be said for Diablo 2 from Diablo. Why should Diablo III be a cookie cutter of its predecessor from over ten years ago? There’s a whole new generation of gamers for Diablo to engage with on top of the established generations of gamers. There’s a slew of new software and hardware upgrades for developers to utilize. Re-skinning Diablo II or StarCraft into 1080p and current OS power does not a new game make. No matter how much some fans wish it were so.

Game brands like these should not be cookie cutter commodities doled out on a regular basis with only minor tweaks. Brands like these need evolutionary and revolutionary changes to ensure that brand relevancy can balance between old school gamer fans and new gamers alike. If game developers churn out a new part of a series every few years, the quantity tends to overshadow quality.

Although I never got into the series, Guitar Hero exploded in popularity back in 2005, but edition after edition made what could have been a several-decade long IP into a half-decade long series before brand burnout occurred.

Overall, these three product brands provide immersive and engaging user experiences. I’ve spent close to 75 hours delving through Diablo IIIs various difficulty settings, I’m sure over 100 hours on Diablo II over the years. StarCraft II has a good 60 hours of gameplay on it, including the first expansion pack: Heart of the Swarm. As for WoW, I don’t play often or for long, but I do make a point to keep my software patched and updated for the times I have a few hours of free time to burn.

Are there brands you remain loyal to even when there’s a vocal group that complains about new versions, releases, or changes?

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