Azeroth Choppers

Azeroth Choppers, hell yeah!

So Blizzard announced a new web series based off American Choppers, Azeroth Choppers.

Azeroth Choppers

A new web series is set to premier tomorrow 4/17 involving Blizzard Entertainment and a very well-known motorcycle designer! Paul Jr, formerly of the hit TLC show “American Choppers,” and Blizzard will have a themed bike build-off. The basic premise of this series pits two teams up against each other in order to create an amazing World of Warcraft themed bike. The winner will be chosen by the WoW community itself in a winner take all-event and be featured as an in-game mount.

Grab a front-row seat for the ultimate road showdown! Legendary custom motorcycle designer Paul Jr. has assembled two handpicked teams of bike experts to bring to life a pair of asphalt-kicking chopper designs inspired by World of Warcraft®’s two warring factions. Joining each crew on their epic quest are members of the World of Warcraft development team, on board to help to infuse the essence of the Horde and the Alliance into each bike. In the end, only one chopper will reign supreme as the undisputed king of Azeroth’s roads in a winner-takes-all showdown voted on by World of Warcraft players around the globe.

Let’s be clear…I love this idea. It takes one series I always tuned in to watch and a game product I love and mashes them together. I will stipulate, I fell off of American Chopper when the power struggle between Paul Jr and Paul Sr began to overtake the bike builds. I tuned in to see great design and fabrication, not emotional fights and a father-son battle royales. To top it off the series teams will be headed up by one of my favorite artists in the world in Samwise Didier and none other than Chris Metzen. Again, a little disclosure…I am not a fan boy of Metzen, but I do have respect and admiration to him as a leading creative force in all things Blizzard. I think his public persona is just a bit over the top in self-love and ego..but yeah, he is personally responsible for so much of Warcraft & Starcraft that I still have to tip my hat to the guy. Any who…this really makes the series more fun to watch in my opinion. We will see a pair of bike fabricators led by each Blizzard persona with Paul Jr as lead judge/host plus getting to see the final results voted on by the WoW Community and added as a mount in-game!! What is not to love?!

Oh, that’s right….outrage. Because people always have to be outraged about something, right? Well what’s the outrage over? The usual stuff, which honestly I won’t get into…feel free to do a Google search on the storied history of complaints regarding Blizzard and their game and story development. You’ll find it. I of course will add my usual counter to the ongoing complaint department, why are you still playing the game? If you don’t like an artist, why buy their work and hang it on your walls? If you don’t like the food/service at a restaurant, why would you keep going back again and again? Additionally, every time a change is made it’s never enough. The wait-staff at Blizzard has re-fired your meal 100 times over and brought you a fresh plate trying to address the last complaint you had and yet you still can’t stand it, you still find fault. At some point someone would tell you the problem is you. Maybe that’s true, maybe it’s not…personally, for me, at some point I would just accept it’s not a fit for me. I’d stop playing, stop buying their products, stop supporting at a game developer that doesn’t suit my needs.

Case in point…we have a Honda Odyssey in our house. We have 3 kids, a dog, I coach multiple soccer teams – we need the space. BMW doesn’t make a mini-van, also I happen to think their vehicles are way over-priced. Does this mean they make bad cars & SUVs, no. I am under the impression that folks that own them swear by them, but the company does not make a vehicle that suits our family, and I am less than enamored with the pricing structure of their product – simply not worth it in my book. So, is the solution my constant derailing of BMW as a worthless and disappointing car manufacturer for not offering vehicles at a lower cost? Do I spend my time decrying them as marginalizing families for not having more family friendly vehicles in their lineup? No. I simply don’t shop for or buy a BMW. Simple as that.

I do not NEED a BMW, I NEED a car. One of the positive aspects of a capitalist society is having multiple alternatives in the marketplace to offer me a choice in my car buying. Same can be said for video games, and the flagship of Blizzard – World of Warcraft. There are other MMOs to play. There are other game developers from which you can purchase products. Also…hint hint…you do not NEED a video game. You want one. You want a game that matches your play style, your personal ideologies, your persona; you want a game that reflects YOU. Funny, so do I…so does everyone. Therein lies the rub, as a developer Blizzard is making a game a world they like. One that they choose to share with us in hopes we will like it too. Granted they look for feedback to sway the needle slightly one way or the other to shape and mold the world in which we play; but how far can you expect them to go? Not very in my experience.

So, outrage over Azeroth Choppers makes no real sense to me. It doesn’t affect or change the game play of World of Warcraft. It’s an ancillary viral marketing campaign. If you don’t like the idea then don’t tune in. If this turns you off from the game, then so be it. I doubt that you were headed down any other path than un-subbing anyway. And please do not espouse to me how this is alienating half the player base. Unless you have actual data that shows this you are grasping at straws at best or worse yet using anecdotal evidence to make your argument (You used a personal experience or an isolated example instead of a sound argument or compelling evidence). Don’t do this. You can use anecdotal evidence to form your own opinion, you can use it to shape your constituency, you can use it to illustrate your opinchopperion or perspective…but it’s not a basis for a logical argument. Just don’t.

I’ll be tuning in tomorrow, and to each episode. I am a motorcycle fan and love the fabrication and design process. I happen to think OCC (by extension Paul Jr.) has made some of the coolest bikes on the planet. I’d love to see one in WoW. That is all this is about. No more no less.

Sometimes a chopper is just a chopper.



Team Horde
Team Horde is led by Warchief Samwise, aka Sam Didier, who’s spent his entire career in the entertainment industry. Sammy’s first job was in cinema . . . as usher at a local movie theater. There he spent countless hours perfecting his art on candy order forms and bathroom check sheets. It was a bold move, but Samwise left behind the spiritually rewarding job of sweeping up filthy movie theaters to join Blizzard Entertainment in 1991 as one of the fledgling company’s first artists. Samwise is also the lead singer of Blizzard’s in-house band, The Artists Formerly Known as Level-90 Elite Tauren Chieftain.

Joining Samwise on Team Horde are Gary Platner and Jason Hutchins.

Gary Platner is a lead environment artist and former stand-up comic (he even got paid once!) who’s been training Krav Maga for about four years. He loves training, sparring, and getting kicked in the head by his fellow students.

Jason is a senior game producer who’s living the dream. He married his high school sweetheart and enjoys the finer things in life: cars, cocktails, guns, motorcycles, and food. Not in that order and never all at once.

For the Horde!


Team Alliance
Team Alliance is led by Chris Metzen, Blizzard’s chief storyteller. He’s filled countless roles at the company over the years, seamlessly transitioning from artist to game designer to voice actor and writer. He’s the guy who’s been creating the characters and worlds that millions of gamers have grown to love. When he’s not psyching up a packed BlizzCon® crowd from the main stage in the Anaheim Convention Center, he can often be found reading and writing comics or riding a dirt bike.

Joining Chris on Team Alliance are Terran Gregory and Monte Krol.

Terran Justice Gregory (yes, that’s his real name) is an associate project director, dedicated Gnome enthusiast, and filmmaker who lives and dies for the Alliance. Terran is a huge World of Warcraft lore nerd who was the player behind Kyle’s mage in South Park’s “Make Love, Not Warcraft” episode.

Monte Krol is a lead software engineer who’s even done some writing and voice acting for Warcraft III and World of Warcraft—he’s the voice of the goblin saying “Time is money, friend!” Monte’s also hardcore into 3D printing, recently printing a working six-speed transmission.



WoW is dead…once again.

So Blizzard released the news that the pre-order for Warlords of Draenor would be available in the digital store. Now for me personally, pre-ordering is only worthwhile for two reasons. First for any bonus items I may get for having pre-ordered; like for instance a mount or pet. Second for the opportunity to pre-download the content so I can log-in & play immediately when the new game is fully released. Now the second reason means you could theoretically pre-order a week ahead of launch and be fine. The former however could be trickier, since some times those benefits could be time sensitive; like “Pre-order on or before next Friday and get the extra knife set free!”

Now, here comes the kerfuffle. Legally if you have someone pre-order an item, you must state by what date they will receive the item they have purchased. So Blizzard has to put something in there…December 20, 2014. Yes, DECEMBER 2014 is what they chose. This could have been a totally arbitrary choice..

Developer Dude: Hey, we need to put some kind of date in here before I hit publish. It says LoremIpsumber 20, 2014. That’s not a month.
Senior Executive Dude: Well, damn, if we pick a month the players will hold us to it.
Developer Dude: True, but if we are launching this year, how about we just pick December?
Senior Executive Dude: Good…I like that…run with it!

I still think the game will launch prior to December 2014, but of course everyone knows how the WoW community reacts…so, clearly: WoW is dead. I’ve seen all sorts of commentary regarding how launching the next XPAC 9 months from now is a huge mistake. Players will have been in SoO the final raid tier of Mists of Pandaria far too long. That other games will take up people’s time and many folks will simply un-sub for these 9 months and maybe come back if Warlords is worth it. There is a distinct issue with all of these perspectives…they only apply IF Warlords doesn’t launch until December 20th!!!

Now, a new pre-order screen states the expected game release is for Fall 2014. Is that really much different than saying “on or before December 20, 2014”?

Warlords of Draenor

Warlords of Draenor

Not really. Not as far as I am concerned anyway.

But the masses have begun to decry Blizzard’s mistakes, how WoW is dead, the devs have lost their minds, Blizzard is ruined.

We’ve heard this reaction before….right? My memory isn’t off here is it? Oh yeah! That’s right!!! We HAVE heard these responses before…right after EVERY SINGLE ANNOUNCEMENT BLIZZARD HAS MADE. Yup.

So, in the end its fine. Blizzard can be ruined, Wow can be dead. Cats and dogs living together…its anarchy.

I doubt that any of this is true, at least not in the real world anyway. In the make-believe land that these people all live within, I’m sure WoW is dead. Since I have no idea what color the sky is there…I’ll stick with my real world blue sky and the belief that Warlords will drop well before December 2014, and that WoW is definitely not dead.


Level 90 = 13 lbs of bacon

Yup. World of Warcraft is dead. As a door nail. Doomed. Toast. Gone. History. Spent.


Ok, not really…but when the servers came back up and it was reported out that the boost to 90 feature was indeed available in the in-game store and it cost $60, yeah, minds were lost. The blogosphere, WoWnews sites, Twitter, Facebook, verily the Sochi Olympics were postponed to denounce the horror of Blizzard charging such an obscene amount of real world hard earned dollars for this service!!!

Like I said…WoW is clearly dead.

Alright, I’ll stop. Though you would consider it to be the case based on some of the commentary you see. Now personally, I stated via Twitter that Blizzard is the dealer, and we are the addicts. We’ll take whatever they dish to us and we’ll like it. Of course I was then ridiculed for comparing Blizzard to drug dealers, when in fact that wasn’t exactly my analogy. On Monday mornings many of us state Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts are our dealers, and we the caffeine addicts flock in droves to reap the rewards of the delicious java brewed by some part time barista. No one thinks I’m comparing Starbucks baristas to some seedy alley way meth dealer, so why would you think I felt that way about Blizzard?

I digress from the specifics of that argument, and circle back to my focus…the analogy of Blizzard dealing out delicious digital content and we as addicted gamers to said content. Its true. Argue against whatever shame inducing thoughts or feelings you may have about this, and accept it. Blizz can and in fact does do what they please and we accept it. We always do! Don’t get me wrong, we are the consumers and can help shape what direction they sometimes go. We can do our best to provide criticism and feedback and some times Blizz will heed that advice and alter products and services.

Someone asked on twitter if this was a service that should have been made, my reply: No. The point of the game is to go on an adventure in this expansive world. Instant level 90 negates some of that adventure, potentially all of it. There are a few points and counter points though the essence of this question. Is boost to 90 at a cost of $60 worth it. First lets tackle…

$60 = 15 Grande lattes at Starbucks (~$4 ea.)
$60 = 7.5 Sweet & Sour Chicken combo w/ pork fried rice and 2 pieces of beef teriyaki (~$8 ea.)
$60 = 1 stick – Kingston 4GB 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 Desktop Memory (~$53 ea.)
$60 = 17 gal of regular gasoline (~$3.35 per gal)
$60 = 13lbs of bacon (~$4.5 per lb)
$60 = 12 Imported draft beers (~$5 ea.)

In terms of playing a game, $60 seems like a lot, but compared to some real life costs it really isn’t. To be fair, how much time is involved with leveling to level 90? Does it take a week? A month? well, in WoW terms I think Blizzard may feel it takes 4 months of game time. $60 = 4 months of WoW ($15 ea.)

Now, I am going out on a limb here because I have no real data to suggest what I am about to say is true…but I think its a safe limb. I bet Blizz has data/evidence that shows it DOES take the average player 4 months to level to 90. Why? Because they didn’t pull $60 out of thin air. They chose that price for a reason, and personally I think thats the reason! Give up on getting Kung Pao Chicken take out for a month, get a free level 90 instead.

Second objection to tackle…Most people have leveled to 90 multiple toons, THE ADVENTURE IS DEAD.
Wait, “most” people?! really?! Because I have 2 level 90s. I’ve been playing for 9 years, no interruptions. I have TWO. I do not think MOST people are sick of leveling. Perhaps the most vocal players are sick of leveling. Perhaps the majority of hard core players are sick of leveling. Those are statements I can fathom, but the blanket statement that most of ALL the WoW players are sick of leveling…I do not buy it.

The majority of the game’s content is in leveling. The OVERWHELMING majority of the game’s content is in leveling. I will say this one more time….THE MAJORITY OF THE GAME’S CONTENT IS IN LEVELING. Now, its not by coincidence that this is the case. With each new expansion, previous content is now leveling fodder. It becomes absorbed into the vast chasm of “old content”. Sick of leveling are you? Then really you are sick of the previous expansions. How many players flocked to level Pandarean when MoP came out? If the issue was leveling itself, then newly leveled Pandas would be rare, and Blizz would have usage statistics to show this. Sorry, I don’t buy this as a valid reason for the service, especially given that plenty of new content has been made specifically for leveling purposes. Older content has been revamped for leveling purposes. The design thought here is refresh it for existing players to go back and not be bored with it, but also ensure new players have good challenging content in which to fall in love with the game. New players aren’t jumping in saying “Man…I can’t wait to end game raiding, have to level faster!” Just no.

There are so many fast ways to level a toon now. I mean really fast. I’ve seen folks brag at how they got to 90 within a weekend. Is that true or accurate….I don’t know. I just think if you really want a level 90 Blood Elf Warlock that badly, you could power through whatever leveling process you so choose fairly quickly.

Third item to discuss…Boost to 90 is  pay to win feature.
Well….no. Mainly because the new level cap will be 100, so any player will still have 10 more levels to manually level or themselves. Also it doesn’t mean they come fully geared, so again a player has to go earn their gear through dungeons, raids, etc themselves.

Now there have been some other items thrown about:
Quick leveling negates learning to play your class. Well, what if I am paying to get a second end game Hunter? I already know how to play that class.
Buying a 90 gives you a competitive advantage. But, it doesn’t. You still have 10 levels to go. You still have to earn your gear.

I know there are other points to be made for and against this feature being of any value. Personally, I will use the free single use boost to 90, but will not pay for this feature. I am also someone who doesn’t buy pets, mounts, or other cosmetic items (I have purchased a few of them, but not all. and did so only when they went on sale for relatively little expense). Ultimately I think this service and its cost are really about one thing and one thing only…making money. Blizzard has players willing to pay to skip leveling for a number of reasons. Blizzard will make money on this. So whether its worth it for a player to pay $60 for this isn’t relevant, it will be worthwhile for Blizzard to offer the service.

wow_mugI’m ok with this. I’ve said it before, and Im sure I will again. I want my derive/product providers to make money. The more successful they are, the more likely they funnel that success and profits back into the products and services I enjoy. Blizzard, Apple, Honda, Razer, are all examples of products and services I use that have shown continued improvement based on their success.

So go for it Blizzard. Charge $60 for a level 90 character. Charge $100 for a special transmog outfit so your character looks like Chris Metzen in game. Charge whatever for any service anyone is willing to pay for in game. Just make sure you put those profits back into your products, and I am pretty much willing to take whatever you pour into my coffee cup.