If Blizzard could start this week over, the Irvine game company tells me it probably would. Blizzard’s online ticketing meltdown still has fans steamed that they went through two tortuous days trying to buy a $100 ticket to BlizzCon, the fan fest happening in October in Anaheim. (Read the background on this HERE.)
Blizzard has finally responded to questions I originally asked Wednesday. Shon Damron, Blizzard’s PR manager, responded to my questions (UPDATE: Shon later told me these responses were from the man himself: Mike Morhaime, Blizzard’s CEO and co-founder):
Q: Can you, meaning Blizzard, be specific as to what technically happened and why do you think the system broke down? Was it outsourced?
Blizzard: The issues that people faced were due to an incredible rush to purchase tickets. Last year we sold about two tickets per minute, selling out in 72 hours, and this year, with 50% more tickets available, we sold out in a combined total of 15 minutes. This meant that thousands of people were trying to purchase tickets at the same time, so some people were not able to get all the way through the purchase process before the tickets had been sold out.
Q: Any idea how many requests you were hit with to bring the system down?
Blizzard: We don’t have an exact number, but it’s safe to assume that it was well into the thousands.
Q: Last year, it took 3 days to sell out of 8,000 tickets. Sounds like many, many more fans wanted tickets this year. What was the difference this year? More out-of-state, international fans?
Blizzard: Most likely it has to do with the fact that we currently have more announced games in development than ever before. The 2nd World of Warcraft expansion is in beta testing, StarCraft II is well into development, and we recently announced Diablo III at our Worldwide Invitational event in Paris. Our goal was to address additional demand by adding another convention hall and 50% more tickets, but clearly that was not enough. We’re continuing to review the entire process in order to better address these issues for future Blizzard events.
Q: Lots of complaints from frustrated fans who stayed up for two days refreshing their screens, getting tickets into their carts and then nothing. Will they have any recourse?
Blizzard: We plan to make 3000 more tickets available for purchase via a drawing. We will have more details on that soon, but it’s important to note that only people who created a Blizzard Account for the Online Store by the time the Sold Out message was posted on Tuesday (9:00PM PDT) will be eligible to purchase any of the tickets available in the drawing. Having a drawing will help us avoid the rush to buy tickets that resulted in people not being able to get all the way through the purchase process.
Q: If Blizzard could rewind time and go back to Monday, what would/could you do differently?
Blizzard: Having seen the level of demand we had for tickets this year, we believe that the drawing we’ll use for selling the additional 3000 tickets would have helped avoid the complications that players experienced this week.
Q: Does BlizzCon need to be bigger?
Blizzard: It’s clear that we needed to accommodate even more people for BlizzCon this year. By offering 3000 more tickets, on top of the 4000 we had already added compared to last year, this year’s show will be approximately 90% bigger. As with our games, we want to ensure that BlizzCon attendees have a high-quality entertainment experience at the show, so we have to be careful about how many tickets we sell. That said, we’ll continue to evaluate all the options available to us for future shows.