Over on his blog, Tobold has provided a nice little analysis of hardcore players’ complaints on casual players. In the midst of that, he made the following comment:
If Blizzard wanted to know what their players want, they would have to put up some sort of survey *in game* with in-game prizes for everybody who answers, so that even the casual players would want to participate.
The funny thing about this, is that Blizzard has crafted a game world with enough tongue planted firmly in cheek that this could easily work.
First off, they’ve already introduced a game mechanic, the daily quests, that has taught the players to return to the same NPCs on a regular basis for new content. Using that, restricting it to “per account” instead of “per character”, and co-opting the sense of humor that already pervades their world, they could insert NPCs representing the Azeroth Census Bureau. These agents, standing in cities and towns with their clipboards, could ask monthly, or even weekly, questions in the form of quest text and reward choices. Participants in the surveys would be paid for their time, perhaps in money or maybe in faction for the location of the census representative. The agents could even have localized questions, asking about nearby raid instances or other features, if localized data collection would be of benefit.
With an in game mechanic like this, they’d be more likely to collect better sample data than that of any out of game forums. Well, except that hardcore players might not participate if the rewards aren’t great enough, but surely adding more avenues of capturing the voice of the players couldn’t hurt.