Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Twitter Integration

World of Warcraft is introducing Twitter Integration in Patch 6.1:
We have a new feature coming in Patch 6.1 that’ll allow you to send out Tweets directly to your Twitter feed while playing World of Warcraft. It includes the ability to send out text-only Tweets; easily take, crop, and Tweet out in-game screenshots; and let your friends know about your recent accomplishments.
It's not automated at all, and looks to be entirely under the player's control. If there is Twitter spam, that will be entirely the fault of the player.

Reaction, at least on the forums and in comments, seems to be fairly negative. At best, people feel it is a waste of resources. At worst, some people believe this heralds the decline of Western Civilization.

I take the opposite position. Now, I tried Twitter for a bit, and then dropped it, so this is a feature I will never use. However, there are a couple of positive results from Blizzard undertaking this.

First, consider the "This is EVE" trailer. If there is one lesson that MMOs should take from that trailer, it is that genuine player enthusiasm is the best way to market these games. Players visibly having fun playing these games, and getting excited over random things, are an enormously powerful tool for attracting new players or bringing back lapsed players.

Twitter integration is a easy way to expose genuine player activity to others. Since players are fully in control of their tweets, they will tweet things at an acceptable level. Or at least a level where they avoid everyone unfollowing them.

Second, this is a low stakes project for Blizzard devs to work with integrating with another company's service. At least one where the end user triggers the external service during gameplay. In many ways, the computer world is moving towards integration of services from many different companies, or even within the same company.

While not complex, there are always small things that go wrong with these things. You have to account for the other company behaving weirdly, or changing the rules on you. Developing best practices in a simple project like this can help with future projects. For example, Twitch.tv integration in future games.

I think that those two reasons--especially the marketing one--are good enough to make this project worthwhile.


  1. I agree with your analysis (including the fact that I'll never use it as well :)). The idea of making it completely manual is very very good, since, as you say, it will prevent the facebook-spam typical of mobile games.

    I must admit that I never understood what twitter is good for, I have a couple of accounts which sit completely unused, maybe I should convert one to WoW-spamming :)

  2. The "This is EVE" trailer works though because its a highly filtered version of player reactions. The high points in EVE are the highest in the genre, which makes a video of reactions to some of those high points interesting and worthwhile, but imagine if "This is EVE" was also a bunch of bonus room recordings, or station games, or any number of 'less than ideal' situations.

    Not that I think this will be a big deal ultimately either way, but don't you think allowing instant 'this just happened in WoW' feeds to twitter will likely result in more bonus room-like examples than what we saw in "This is EVE"?

    In other words, more negative than positive, so for that one person on earth who doesn't know what WoW is all about at this point, they will more likely be turned off than brought in.

  3. This is EVE is a video which you see if you want to see an EVE video. The twitter integration will expose people to WoW spam who did not wish to be exposed to WoW spam.

    Also, I hate to agree with Syncaine, but have to: the story of an average player isn't spectacular in either games, but especially in WoW. "OMG I explored Feralas" or "I looted epixx lol" aren't the things that would draw anyone to play WoW.

  4. @Syncaine, not really. I imagine the vast majority of tweets will be a loot, boss kills, or funny quests.

    I suppose you could tweet snapshots of in-game chat, but that's a bit different than voice recordings.

    WoW culture is different than Eve culture. Scamming is not really a part of WoW culture.

    If there is negative tweets, I would expect them to run along the elitism edge. Maybe tweeting DPS meters and laughing at the people on the bottom. But even this is mitigated by the fact that serious players raid with guilds, and doing this in a guild would get you kicked.

  5. @Gevlon, I disagree. If you don't want WoW spam, you stop following people tweeting about WoW. It's entirely organic and under the control of the individuals involved.

    Also, I think that you're wrong about what attracts many people to games. People having fun, even in the simplest things, is a powerful attractor.

  6. Just like the highs of EVE are higher than WoW, so are the lows, but that doesn't mean WoW doesn't have its fair share of lows, especially when you consider the scale difference of the two player bases.

    For every bonus room host in EVE, there are easily 10 if not 100 griefers in WoW. Now sure, you can bubble yourself more in WoW, but someone begging for attention, even if its negative, will get it if they go far enough (griefing an in-game funeral). Now WoW has a built-in distribution mechanism for such things. Not exactly great, and dumb mainstream media is far more keen on picking up a negative story and running with it. "Blizzard help spread a Nazi-lovers message in WoW via Twitter". Real or imaginary CNN headline?

    As for blocking people, that doesn't always fully work. What if I still want to follow someone for certain stuff, but now because they play WoW and have this enabled, I also get a bunch of crap I don't care about? Blocking that person because of WoW has now cost me the stuff from that person I liked, so I blame WoW.

  7. @Syncaine Getting a bunch of crap from someone you follow on Twitter is not a WoW specific issue. If they suddenly started trash-talking EVE with a completely uninformed opinion after a bad newbie would you blame EVE?

    There's simply an infinite number of topics that anyone can talk about which is "crap" to you. Like everything else in life you have to filter out the stuff you aren't interested in.

  8. I think that one unintended side effect is that it's, well, Twitter. It is all public all the time.

    And there are plenty of people, such as, say, your BOSS, who might think less of you playing video games. (I work in a tech company, and you'd be surprised at the people who look down on video games in the tech field; it's a lot larger than you think it would be.)

    Posting to Facebook is one thing, since you can edit who sees your posts fairly nicely, but Twitter doesn't have that filter.