WoW: Swift(y) Situation

July 19, 2011

I honestly do not have any real opinion on the subject.  The video itself seemed extremely shady on both sides.  Mostly because it did not actually allow for us to see a timeline of events, nor did it show the actual server going down.  Just him saying the words “guys we dont want to crash the server” (or something to that effect) and him in game getting notice that he was banned.  We, the people who are commenting here, have no idea what Blizzard’s investigation shows.  I for one can say, that if Bashiok is to be held to his word (which I am less and less inclined to do but am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt), the GM that actually used the banhammer in game did so without following the correct protocol.  Watching the video at least, we are lead to believe that there was some sort of streamed live event, the servers went down, he logged back in and was banned on the spot.  We as outside observers do not know if this is the case.  We are not even privy to the exact thing he was original banned for.  We do NOT have all the information.

Unfortunately, Blizzard and Bashiok specifically have lost their ability to manage their own community.  They have lost their touch and have lost their ability to do any good P.R. spinwork.  They realized too late that this player that their GM team had banned was an “internet celebrity” and Player sponsored by one of their key merchandising partners.  This is the most unfortunate thing.

Whether or not the ban of Swifty (and friends) was appropriate or not, we are left with very clear idea that Blizzard fucked up and did so multiple times during this fiasco.  We now have the distinct feeling that 1) they may have not followed their own internal protocols on how to handle player bans/investigations 2) that they can and will be swayed by a large amount of forum outpouring and Youtube hype and 3) that they will bend over backward for their Sponsor/Partners.

While 0-3 of these things may actually be true, we are left with the feeling that they all are.  The saddest fact that has come out of this mess is that we are left now with Bashiok and when you add all of this to all of the rest of the recent messes, we are left with a community that has very little respect for him.  He has gone from a community manager who people listened to and grudgingly respected to someone who just seems like a little informed brat.  The forums lately have become a festival of gripes over this or over that.  This is not the first time this has happened, it is just the first time that the CMs seem to be doing nothing but fueling the fire.

In my opinion, Bashiok should take a much needed break away from the forums and let someone else take over his role for a while.  We could use some new blood feeding us the WoW news everyday.  Both the good and the bad are there to be had everyday, but we could all stand to lose a lot of the thread deletions, this thread already exists, and other random junk that is fast making the CMs sound and feel like just a bunch of bullies and the userbase feel less and less heard.

In the end, the entire situation with Swifty just comes off as sketchy to me.  We do not know the entire situation from either point of view.  If he did what he is rumored to have been a part of.  Even if it was not something that he was a completely willing participant in, he should have been banned and kept being banned.  I realize he is a WoW celebrity, but the reality is, celebrity should NOT protect you from doing stupid crap and getting away with it.  We have had entirely too much of that in the past.  The sad fact of the world of MMOs however is that there is no jail, there is no court system where you are fined, or put to community service.  If there were, he probably would have been fined 100k gold and sent to the Molten Front to do 30 day of hard dailies (oh wait…)

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