Blizzard's Diablo 3: A Lesson in Customer Satisfaction Reviews

Now more than ever, corporations must be focused on delivering value to their customer, or the feedback will be immediate. Diablo 3 was in development for a decade, yet Blizzard and parent company Activision seemed to have paid little heed to their legions of loyal Starcraft customers who bemoaned the loss of critical features such as LAN play in last year's release of Starcraft 2. Diablo 3 did little to address the most significant shortcomings identified by Blizzard fans. I discussed a few of these issues as potential pitfalls in one my postings last week.

Judging from the feedback across the internet on the product's opening day, it seems that Activision/Blizzard chose a risky strategy by trying to control the customer and further monetize player activity by forcing them to log into the proprietary That strategy may have backfired, judging by this snapshot of first day purchasers at I don't think I have ever seen such a polarized set of customers on a product. It's like looking at poll results for the upcoming presidental election.

After reading the reviews, here are my top yikes, which are symptomatic of corporate sensibilities that are too conservative to take the necessary risks and make the necessary investments to please rabid fans and make a great gaming product.

1. The website was deluged with traffic today, and was unavailable for use by many players, who paid a handsome $60 for the privilege. Clearly, more foresight and infrastructure investment could have avoided this calamity.

Blizzard Tweets: As of 11:30pm, our continent may be back online!

2. More than ever before, content is king in this media-centric era: many players who were able to successfully log in and play found the content wanting for originality.

3. Graphics are staid and familar. Character movement and appearances are reminiscent of Blizzard's games of yore, aka Warcraft III, circa 2002.

Speaking as a fan of Blizzard products, the company seems headed in the wrong direction in terms of customer satisfaction. Pursuing short-term monetary gains without thinking about alienating rabid fans over the long term is never a good strategy. What happens when a corporation starts to ignore their customers? Just look at Apple's struggles during the John Sculley era.

I happened to come across another technology product that has also experienced some hiccups during its recent launch. By focusing on their customer, listening to their needs, and developing a product that truly bests its predecessor in all dmensions that are important to their customer, Canon's corporate team should be rightly proud of their well-earned positive reviews.

What are your thoughts on Blizzard's Diablo III launch strategy? What are your opinions on the product, or the gaming software industry?

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