Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Alpha Drama

Since the Friends and Family Alpha began I have occasionally wandered over to MMO-champion to have a look at the slew of alpha pictures posted. Boubouille, the owner of the site, said that the Alpha was now "slightly less private" and so he would be posting information from the alpha. I had no idea what "slightly less private" means, but I assumed that he felt that Blizzard wouldn't do anything about the information he was posting or he wouldn't be posting it. That assumption was wrong. Yesterday Boubouille announced that he was removing all alpha content from the site at the request of Blizzard. In addition all forum posts discussing content still under NDA will be removed.

I have to say I am a bit shocked at this turn of events. It was my assumption, now obviously an erroneous assumption, that Blizzard was fully aware that leaks like this were going to occur in the Cataclysm alpha just as they did in Wrath. I thought that not only were they aware that leaks were going to happen, but that they didn't really care or even were happy about it despite the official company line. Please stay with me as I try to explain my thinking. When the Friends and Family alpha was announced myself and many others eagerly awaited the leaks we knew would come and sure enough they started to show up. No one, not even Blizzard themselves, can say they were surprised that the NDA was being violated. It would have been shocking if no information had leaked out. I thought that if Blizzard really wanted to keep the information from the general community they would have learned from previous alphas and either been much more stringent with who they let into the alpha and level real legal penalties on anyone who violated the NDA, or forgone the friends and family phase all together. In my mind it was going to be impossible to keep the alpha client under wraps and therefore Blizzard was not too put out about leaks. In fact I would argue that it helps to keep the Cataclysm hype going and is actually beneficial.

Obviously all these assumptions I made are dead wrong. Blizzard does seem to care about the NDA and is intent on enforcing it. That is perfectly within their right, but I have to say that I just don't understand why they feel that it is beneficial to keep the alpha out of the public eye. The only reason I can come up with is that they don't want people jumping to conclusions and starting to QQ about things that are only half done, but in my mind the hype benefits surrounded leaked information would out way the downsides.

Finally in regards to MMO-champion and sites like it, I do not support personally violating the NDA. If by some miracle I was in the Friends and Family Alpha I would honor my legal agreement and not disclose anything. I have no idea how Boubouille got his information. If he was a part of the alpha and extracted the information himself I don't support that kind of behavior but I am not surprised by it. However if he got the information from others who leaked it and he himself is not under NDA he has every right to post it in my mind. If he personally did not violate the NDA I would support him if he refused Blizzard's request to take the content down, but I also respect his discussion to honor Blizzard's request. The one thing I can say for sure about this whole situation is that I hope the Beta arrives soon to satisfy my lust for Cataclysm information.

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