BlizzCon 2008

Monday mornings are usually a pretty groggy affair for me.  After spending all weekend doing what I want, staying up late, and sleeping in for long hours, getting up suddenly at the crack of dawn leaves me a tried wreck for the rest of the day.

Not so for this most recent Monday, however.  I woke up at 6:15 AM, bounced right out of bed, and making a break from my normal routine, landed straight in front of my computer.  BlizzCon tickets went on sale on Monday, and I had promised my brother I’d get us tickets for his birthday.  Neither of us have ever been, but we are both fans of many Blizzard games, so it seemed like a good idea.  I found my way onto the BlizzCon website, and from there clicked through into the Blizzard Store.

I logged into the Blizzard Store, navigated to the tickets, got a few errors on the way, but eventually made my way to the final checkout page.  I clicked ‘Purchase’ and watched the little Firefox wheel of dots start spinning –  I was mere seconds away from my tickets.

Or so I thought.

Up comes the now-familiar error page, a Murloc holding an “Oops!” sign.  I back out, had to re-type everything, and attempted to purchase again.  Same error.  Back out, re-type, submit.  Error.

At this point I figured that the Blizzard store must be being bogged down by all the requests, so I got up from my computer, finished getting ready for work, and tried once more.  Same error.  I hopped in my car, sped to work, and tried again all morning.

Around noon that day, I began getting a completely different error message; gone was the friendly Murloc with his sign.  In its place was a less-pleasant yellowish page with a single box at the top, informing me that a crucial file for the store could not be found.  Successive refreshes brought up the same page, and by that afternoon, this page was replaced by another which I had a feeling was on the way after my first encounter with problems early that morning: the “down for maintenance” page.  It seemed the high demand for BlizzCon tickets had been a little bit too much for their web server to handle, it buckled, and they needed to do emergency maintenance to the site while mine and thousands of others’ ticket orders remained in limbo somewhere in our browsers’ session info.  Ugh.

Not only did I want to grab these tickets because I had promised them as a gift to my brother, but I was excited to go as well.  The give-aways look like fun, and the opportunity to see new games like Starcraft 2 and Diablo 3 in action is amazing.  So I pressed on.

I refreshed the page all day, went home, and checked a few more times, and finally went to the World of Warcraft forum where they had made a few BlizzCon announcements earlier.  Sure enough, a new post had been made, this time informing potential customers that indeed there were troubles with the store, but Blizzard was working hard to get things straightened out.  The ETA for the Blizzard Store’s re-opening was sometime the following day, so they had time to make sure everything was working, and to prevent people from staying up into the wee hours of the night.

The next morning (Tuesday), I got up and checked the site again, but it was still down.  The drive to work was frustratingly slow, as I let the irrational fear that they would re-open the store and all the tickets would sell out while I was on the road poke at me.  The store was still closed all morning.

As I was about to take my lunch break, I just happened to check the store again (I was on the phone with my girlfriend at the time, and she reminded me about it), and incredibly, I got the normal ticket-buying page again!  I entered all my info, clicked through to the checkout page, and…  Murloc error.

I backed out, tried one more time, and after a few harrowing moments watching the Firefox loading animation roll around, I was finally directed to the purchase confirmation page!  Suck-cess!  I don’t think I’ve ever gone through so much trouble to try to spend $200 in my entire life!

It was announced only a few hours later that tickets for the event were completely sold out.

Over the last few days, I’ve read a bit about people unhappy with Blizzard’s flub of the 2008 BlizzCon ticket sales, and Blizzard has even gone so far as to issue an apology, and offer up 3,000 more tickets (on top of the 12,000 already sold).  It’ too bad that there have been so many problems – obviously I would have much-preferred that I would have just gotten my tickets in the first few hours I tried – but with so few tickets available for what is seen by many as a world-wide event, you have to go in expecting problems.  You can’t please everyone, after all.

Anyway, now that I’ve got the tickets, I am anxiously awaiting October 10th.  Hopefully my brother and I will have a good time at BlizzCon!  I’ll be sure to write about it here when that time rolls around.

Images courtesy of Blizzard, Joystiq, and WoW Insider

7 comments:

  1. Dmaster270 - Over a year ago

    It sounds like you went through alot just to get those tickets. It better be good. Can’t wait to hear about it.

  2. desertdweller - Over a year ago

    Wow. BlizzCon is apparently pretty popular. :) I’d never heard about it until this blog post. Interesting…

  3. kc lc - Over a year ago

    “…and Blizzard has even gone so far as to issue an apology and offer up 3000 more tickets…”

    Sounds like a marketing ploy. I mean, why issue 25% MORE tickets over their full capacity? Why risk pissing off a full house of 12,000 visitors by over-crowding? Those people may decide to leave early (i.e., spend less), or worse, not come back next year. And that would really anger the vendors — their life blood.

    Sounds really suspicious… or really dumb. Either way it’s not good marketing strategy. That’s why I’m suspicious it’s just a ploy to sell out the unused tickets.

  4. FredFredrickson - Over a year ago

    It’s definitely possible, KC. After all, 3,000 extra bodies is quite a bit of extra space to take up in a crowded convention center.

    From what I have read, they added all the tickets to the store in bursts, to keep the traffic under control, so people ended up getting “sold out” messages over and over, only to come back later and find them available again. They may have just decided to withhold a certain amount after seeing all the trouble people were having. Whatever the case may be, they flubbed the ticket sales for sure.

    It seems funny to me though – Blizzard is responsible for the most popular MMO on the planet right now, and they’ve managed to get that game pretty much under control. Networking problems in WoW are rare. And yet, they can’t put together a system that can handle a bunch of ticket sales? Odd.

  5. Mattthew_H - Over a year ago

    I haven’t heard of BlizzCon either, the only one that is slightly simmer that I’ve heard of is QuakeCon, id software’s version of this event I guess.

    I agree with Fred, there servers handle the largest and most popular MMO in the world, yet there servers are crashed by a few measly people buying tickets…Yeah, it does seem a little strange to me – makes me wonder…
    Maybe the software or how they coded the site could not handle this many people using it at the same time.
    Also, do they really want there event over-packed with 3,000 extra people? and is it really facilitated to handle that many people? I mean, 3,000 people is a lot!

    -Matt

  6. skinnyeddy - Over a year ago

    It’s not surprising the servers crashed and the tickets sold-out within 2 days as Starcraft is played on National television in Korea (10 years after it was released!) and WOW is the most popular MMORPG.
    I do agree that the server shouldn’t of crashed. Maybe they should have sold the Tickets in WOW? That would have been original and given them even more good publicity.
    At least you got your tickets, have fun.

  7. System Requirements - Over a year ago

    So when is starcraft 2 coming out anyway. Any mention of starcraft ruffles my feathers, I hate late games…Sweet blog though, keep it up!

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