Blog Archive

Companies... Who Care?

It isn't surprising to find many large companies that remain ignorant to the needs of their customers. It seems in the syndicated, corporate run world we are surrounded by today, the true need and want of the consumer often goes unnoticed and in worse cases, purposely ignored - if the company can get away with it. Luckily, there is always the occasional company that goes out of its way to help the very people who keep them in business from day to day. For gamers like myself, it is always refreshing to see when employees of a large video game company side with fellow gamers and actually try to help correct errors that may or may not have been their fault.

Specifically, I am speaking about the recent fiasco that occurred with the much anticipated Beta sign-ups for the even more anticipated next installment of the Call of Duty series - Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. While I haven't been keeping up with my blog posting, one thing I have found time to fit into my busy schedule is this game. Ever since my brother first brought home a fresh copy of the original Call of Duty, I have been hooked on the series. While I started playing on PC, I quickly found my roots in the console world of Call of Duty with the release of Call of Duty 2 for the Xbox 360. In fact, being an owner of (gasp!) a still kind of working 1st generation Xbox 360 - one that I sat and spent 22 dreary, cold, rainy hours waiting in line for - Call of Duty 2 was the first, and only, game that I picked up when I first purchased my console. In fact, being a poor college student at the time (what am I saying, I still am!), it was the only game I owned for over a year for my console. Call of Duty was the reason I signed up for an Xbox Live Gold account, the reason I broke my first controller (within 7 days), the reason why my first XBL account was banned (I couldn't pay the back logged monthly fees) and probably the very reason that I decided to buy an HDTV - two years before I could actually afford to do so.

I remember I was so enthralled to see the game in its true HD glory that when TechKnowOverload came to my college and I saw that they only had a crappy racing game playing on their demonstration Xbox 360, I went to my dorm, packed up my Call of Duty 2 and a controller, and proceeded to talk my way into letting the organizers agree to let me play the game on their presentation HDTV. Boy was that a great day. Ahem, but enough about my love for a terrific video game series...

What I saw today with the entire beta sign-up issue was the fact that while Infinity Ward was obviously under prepared (may it specifically be their fault or not - I say no) for the massive interest in this upcoming game, they refused to let it all end in a terrible heap of crap like other previous beta sign-ups. Anyone else remember the Halo 3 Crackdown problems? Seemingly working overtime and keeping dedicated to their fans, the people behind have re-upped their site and re-opened the sign-ups for the COD4 beta. Sure, it isn't on a first come first serve basis anymore and is only based on a lottery style selection, but it sure beats the previous "adventure" of reloading your browser 100 times over and over again only to find out 20 minutes later that it was all in vain. (Words of personal experience? You bet). Currently, the sign-ups are open for a whole 24 hours, with up to 82,000, if not more, open spaces available for the anxious gamers waiting for a chance to play this game early.

But this wasn't the only part that gave me hope again for the often faux consumer friendly corporations and businesses that are so popular in the world today. Rather, it was the personal concern and anger felt by some of the staff of Infinity Ward itself that caught my eye. Specifically, it was I am Fourzerotwo, Infinity Ward's community manager, that caught my attention and melted my cold corporate weary heart. Needless to say, when my attempts to get into the beta that I had been looking forward to for so long failed because of "technical problems" I was livid. More than livid, I was pissed. Pissed at the server, pissed at my computer, and pissed at my own assumption that I would be the only one interested in testing such an awesome looking game. Yet, when I happened across his blog post on the subject of the beta "madness", I was happy and relieved to see that the anger was not only from the consumer side. In fact, it was hard to tell who was more pissed off about the problems, me or him. haha.

To further impress me, not only did he stick around to talk about the issue at hand and how they were going to fix it, he actually took time to consider what people were saying and responded and updated his post accordingly. Even when the new beta sign-ups started again at 7:30 PST, he was there giving updates and words of encouragement toward users when most people in his situation would be heading home, stuck in the never ending LA traffic (meh, I know how that is).

In all, while his actions may not be anything amazing or special, I find it to be a refreshing reminder of how close the game developer world can be with their gaming consumers. To see and hear a person involved in the making of a game such as COD get so upset and determined to fix the problems that angered and stressed their (potential) customers and fellow gamers, I can't help but smile and remember just how much more human the world of video games seems to be compared to the corporate monsters that rule the rest of the business world. Even as large giants like Microsoft and Sony struggle to maintain their ever sliding user friendly image, it is the slightly smaller guys who keep us involved and excited about what is just around the corner in the gaming world. In the end, it is best to remember that while a lot of these businesses are out to make a profit, many of them are still being run and influenced by fellow gamers like ourselves. And that is something I will be willing to put my hard earned money into.

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