WoW: A Smart Example of Brand Crowdsourcing

Everyday, hundreds of thousands of people play World of Warcraft, an astoundingly popular MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game, and yes, that is a commonly-used acronym).  Last month, Activision had twelve million monthly subscribers to this swords-and-Orcs fantasy world where people battle monsters and explore a vast landscape, questing hither and yon.

The popularity extends offline as well.  Since 2005, Blizzard Entertainment has promoted an annual convention at the Anaheim Convention Center around this and a few of their other titles.  And every year, BlizzCon’s popularity grows, from 8000 attendees in year one to over 27,000 this year, all attending panels, beta testing games and doing whatever else excites online role players.

At this year’s show, a young guy stood up and questioned Chris Metzen, vice president of creative development, about a recent storyline.  Caught on camera, the query quickly went viral under titles like “The Nerdiest Question Ever” and created an instant celeb out of “the Red Shirt Guy.” Check out the magic below…

For  lot of us, that is unintelligible.  Luckily, Reddit, translated the exchange:

Red Shirt Guy: Hello. I have… I just finished reading The Shattering yesterday and I noticed something. It said that Falstad Wildhammer was going to be on the Council of Three Hammers but in the beta it’s Kurdran Wildhammer and Falstad is not in the game at all. What happened to him?

Chris Metzen: Isn’t Falstad dead? From Day of the Dragon? No?

Red Shirt Guy: No, he survived and in fact he was the leader of Aerie Peak in vanilla WoW through Wrath of the Lich King.

Chris Metzen: Of course… Yeah, Alex what’s up with that?

Alex Afrasiabi: Thanks, Thanks for pointing that out. We’re going to get that fixed.

Red Shirt Guy: Thank you.

I know, it still doesn’t make much sense.  Suffice it to say the authors made a little boo-boo in their narrative and this eagle-eyed obsessive caught something none of Blizzard’s paid employees did.

Dennis Ryan, Element 79, Chicago AdvertisingBlizzard’s ensuing response was brilliant.  They not only restored Falstad Wildhammer to his rightful place on the Council of Three Hammers (whew!  I know, right?), they rewarded Red Shirt Guy’s fandom by giving Falstad an assistant: a red-shirted avatar named Wikihammer Fact Checker.  They not only listened, they rewarded and fulfilled the promise of Web 2.o for brands.

At least, for brands that exist on Azeroth with Falstad Wildhammer which incidentally, would be a great name for a metal band.


By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79


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