I don’t know whether Trion Worlds has been holding this ace-up-the-sleeve for the perfect time or whether the serendipitous moment just fell in to their lap, but the result has been very effective. Basically, Rift will give players free server transfers to characters to try and hook up with friends, get away from a busier server, or change to a different rule set. Fans are happy. Cynics are cynical. And, business goes on, much as usual.
Two heavyweight MMO bloggers, looked at it from differing perspectives regarding the marketing approach. Tobold noted that the inclusion of some weasel words could turn this amazing feature into what every other struggling MMO has done at the three-month mark: merge underpopulated servers. Wilhelm at TAGN takes the same premise, but broadens the focus a little to remark on server architectures and Blizzard’s premium service allowing subscribers to do the same thing for a price.
For some reason I thought of McDonald’s, when I saw Trion Worlds’ impressive marketing maneuver. Nobody can kill the golden arches. It’s just too strong. It’s brand is nigh impenetrable. They are everywhere. There is no confusion as to the product. It is integral to fast food. And even with Angus burgers and healthy options, it still sucks.
We eat our fast food at Chick-Fil-A. Now, I’ll be the first to admit Chick-Fil-A is not perfect with their evangelical underpinnings and apparent lack of any green initiatives. They also have okay fast food. It’s slightly better than McD’s. Where they win, hands-down, is customer service. They make us feel like we are valuable customers. Everything from bringing our food out to us, asking us at our seats whether we want refills, greeting us with a smile and simply being polite, and my wife’s favorite, saying “Have a great day at Chick-Fil-A” in the drive through.
It’s all silly small stuff that has nothing to do with the product. Either way I am stuffing my fat face with an unhealthy option. Still I have had a manager at Chick-Fil-A comp my whole meal because I off-handedly told him how one morning they forgot to say the greeting in the drive through to my wife; whereas, at McDonald’s my brightest memory is arguing with unfriendly cashier on how a slice of ham was supposed to go on my McMuffin.
Trion Worlds understands this premise. Their product is good, but it’s not enough. Just like McDonald’s, World of Warcraft is omni-present in their field. Luckily, World of Warcraft seems to not score high marks on treating customers and their subscriptions as highly valued. This gives Trion Worlds an edge. If they also make the customers feel special and give them pride for being a customer, the Rift airship is going to stay aloft a long time.