It’s here, the first major numbered patch for Warlord of Draenor is here! With it you will find the addition of a new legendary quest line, graphics improvements, addition garrison content, and possibly most talked about, the addition of twitter integration. Patch 6.1 was pushed out as a background download or upon logging in, after scheduled maintenance early on Tuesday. Assuming your character was in your garrison last time you logged off you’ll immediately notice a multitude of yellow exclamation points awaiting you. New dailies are present, as well as a tweak to the interfaces with your profession buildings. You may be alarmed the first time that you go to collect your garrison resources from the cache, as they’ve moved it about 10 feet to the left against your town hall building. If you happen to have a Storage Shed you’ll also notice that your Guild Banker has been replaced with a chest. These are just some of the small Quality of Life tweaks that Blizzard has implemented. All of which were designed for a better user experience in your garrison. Assuming that you’re up to date on the errands that “Khadgar” has assigned you, you’ll notice that he has some new tasks for you as well. There’s even a quest to go out and get a Jukebox for your garrison! The graphic improvements and tweaks that were made are also apparent, at least with a high-end graphics card.
Since the newest raid instance, Black Rock Foundry, dropped just a few weeks ago (Congrats to Method on World’s First) this patch wasn’t anticipated to bring much meat in the content department. that prediction, upon initial examination is holding true, there’s a few quests, but the biggest “news” out of this update seems to be Twitter. Blizzard has given us the option, which is disabled by default, to tweet our various moments and achievements throughout WoW. There’s been a lot of talk in the community, both the podcast and blogosphere, along with social media on just what twitter integration would mean. Social media integration in games is not a new idea with games like Rift, and services like Raptr allowing us to share our in-game achievements. The more remarkable fact may be that World of Warcraft hadn’t implemented this feature earlier.
Scanning twitter today, there were many tweets from those of us that decided to jump right into this new feature, but surprisingly not the explosion of online chatter that you might expect from a community of over 10 million. There’s plenty of tweets of graphic glitches, boss downs, and a plenty of people standing around their garrison. The biggest surprise out of today may be that “#Warcraft”, the default hash tag that Blizzard puts on your tweets (which you can edit and remove) didn’t even trend today. While the jury may still be out on this feature being a huge hit, it’s obvious that WoW players are cautiously getting into it.
The bigger question in all this is whether social media integrations of this nature are something that should be part of our games. Social media in all its forms is definitely an integral part of our societal makeup, for better or worse at this point. Sharing our gaming on social media is a natural progression, being as is one of our interests and social media being a platform to talk about your interest and bond with others of like interest. Gamers are uniquely positioned to accept social media and an online persona as it’s something that we’ve been doing for years in-game. This is evident in the amount and quality of conversations that occur on Twitter, which has become the “gamer’s choice” in social media for some years. The ability to interact with developers and conversely for developers to talk to their community has been mentioned as an invaluable tool on both sides of the fence. Blizzard seems to have done this the right way, it is entirely up to the gamer to choose what and when tweets go out, they’ve even given up the ability to crop our screenshots in order to compose more interesting content. There’s no indication in fact that a tweet came from within the game rather than the gamer taking the time to compose the tweet and edit a photo out of game. At this point it becomes the responsibility of the gamer to control the amount and the quality of the content that goes on their twitter feed, which will be the linchpin for the long term success of this feature.
While many have claimed that this update is “fluffy”, the truth of the matter is, Blizzard has been wonderful in providing content for this new expansion. Raids have been pushed out at a reasonable pace, patches and hot fixes have been put in place at appropriate moments, and never has there felt like there is a lack of content available. To call Twitter integration “fluff” at this point is to underestimate the power of more easily leveraging social media to spread the message of your game. While there’s never been a shortage of Blizzard tweets, and they may not have hit trending yesterday, the communities responsible usage of this feature points to the maturity and awareness of this games player base. While I know that “maturity” and “WoW players”, are not often used together, I applaud my fellow WoW players for the quality and amount of content that is going out via Twitter over the last two days. Will these tweets remain valuable? Will it descend into the vulgarity of trade chat with shots of other players rear ends, or other childish posts? Only time can tell where Twitter and WoW will go together, but I’m optimistic that this will be a friendly and prosperous friendship for both companies, with us, the gamers, being the true beneficiaries.