Procrastination Amplification: Punditry on MMOs and games in general.

You can pry these 40 bucks from my cold, dead hands

If I, of all people, am channeling Charlton Heston in the title of my post, I must be really mad. And I am. I just found an announcement on that their live BlizzCon coverage has been cancelled. Blizzard, in an obvious attempt to get us to buy the DirectTV coverage of the event, was so kind to inform the brilliant volunteers over at WoW Radio ten days before the con about this.

For those that don’t know, WoW Radio has been providing streaming audio (and previously video) coverage of all BlizzCon panels. Last year, DirectTV scored a contract with Blizzard for exclusive video coverage of the event. For forty dollars you can buy a stream from the DirectTV website that promises sixteen hours of coverage.
WoW Radio on the other hand promised (and would have delivered) full audio coverage of every single panel on the con. For free.
If the DirectTV coverage is anything like it was last year, much of their time will be spent on covering the costume contest, tournaments and the like. Panels will likely only be shown in excerpts.

Now they use the leverage of some exclusivity clause or other to ban WoW Radio recording all together. Not only does this remove a great option to get the coverage for free (which it should be!) but it actually removes any option to get full access to the content that matters. The tournaments can be streamed for free from the Blizzard website anyway and I couldn’t care less for something like the costume contest. What I do care about are the panels – and I will only get to see parts of them, even if I pay forty (FORTY) bucks for sixteen hours of streaming video?

Alright, so they are a business. Maybe Blizzard had no chance but to adhere to the exclusivity clause in the contract when DirectTV asked them to. (Though one may wonder why this clause was in there in the first place. Exclusivity on video – OK. But audio too?) That doesn’t make it worth forty bucks but is somewhat understandable. But to give WoW Radio such short notice? Arrangements had been made, BlizzCon tickets for the reporters organized and recording gear purchased. WoW Radio had a donation drive raking in more than $4,000 which was meant for equipment and lodgings for the reporting staff. Most of this will have been spent by now.

Blizzard, what you have here is an incredible fansite, providing free coverage of your publicity event, and you just kick them in the groin on such short notice? Ignoring previous requests for comments and ignoring the fact that you have allowed WoW Radio to report freely in previous years.

I encourage everyone to listen to the studio shows WoW Radio will be creating at Blizzcon. And I’d especially ask you not to spend your forty bucks on bad coverage that’s worth ten when you could have had much better coverage for free!

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