So, break this down for me: are Community Aces sock puppets for WG or what? They spout the most inane stuff like "GA are effective in battle" or "heavies aren't OP" or shit like this which is beyond words stupid.
This question begets a rather lengthy explanation.
When the Community Aces was started back at the start of 2013, it was made up of some of the most helpful testers and community members. We posted in depth feedback, which helped recommend fixes to a lot of issues to the game that are under NDA, pointed people in the right direction of where to go on the forums, offered advice, and overall tried to improve the player experience - both in and out of the game. It also as a bridge between Wargaming and the community, and was rather good at its purpose. Players were invited to join based upon their merits. We were allowed to create our own rules, conduct policies, and recommend new players for inclusion.
About a month ago, a new community team came in to run the Warplanes portion of the game. From what I surmise from my experience, veteran Wargaming personnel were pushed aside in running the community for the new team, led by someone also new. Let’s call her “Jane.”
After the Fulcrum and SIMP headhunting events, there was an outcry from the overall community (not I) to have a bounty event among WoWp players, and to select those in a democratic process. A few of us were voted to participate by the public community. Some of those voted to participate were CA’s and some non-CA’s; it wasn't a CA event. We were messaged by Jane to do this event - getting shot at and headhunted in a low population queue for two hours, which was later raised to four. I asked what we would get for doing this event because it was going to be emotionally draining to run such a thing - to the point where it wasn't fun; it was going to be work.
We were told we would get... 500 tokens and spotlighting by Wargaming.
Okay, 500 tokens is pretty much nothing. It was the equivalent of two days of premium time, along with 'more' recognition. If we're already getting voted in by players, we're already recognized by the participants of this event, and that's not necessarily a good thing. Let me explain:
I am headhunted; a lot.
I hear so many times from people in subsequent rounds from players on my new team that the entire enemy team last round was saying "kill Kird," or something to that effect. Being a target monkey doing loops and dodging eight planes coming solely after you an entire round without firing any guns is not really fun, especially if this event only increases this exposure. It's not like in tanks where running the headhunt the WGLNA Pros event allows participants to dip behind buildings for cover. And yeah, I dread the day XVM comes out for Warplanes.
Also, this is one of the reasons why almost all my battles after release have been in flights because personally I need serious protection. I don't want to just fly the overpowered heavies. I want to fly the USSR and IJN planes, but I don't want to get mercilessly slaughtered doing so. It's bad running into an enemy flight in heavy fighters when you're starting out and a decent player, but its suicide when it happens to you with name recognition and an underpowered aircraft.
Anyway, I objected to this offer of 500 tokens, saying such an event was emotionally taxing and was essentially helping them advertise their game to the community with zero benefit for us in return, and would feel more like work - a hefty amount of work.
So instead of just rejecting the invitation, I asked for something more lucrative in gold that would be more fair to helping WGA run this event.
After suggesting this, the reply I received from Jane after this went as follows:
Sent: 11 October 2013 - 06:56 PM
The community requested we focus on Warplanes veterans rather than WoT Pro Teams. In this, we supported that idea and complied, then you asked for payment for your time?
The pro teams were not compensated for their time doing this event and gladly volunteered. In conclusion, thank you for your decline in the event; we will be finding other volunteers.
I responded in turn:
Sent: 11 October 2013 - 10:20 PM
First, Fulcrum and SIMP are compensated by doing this. They have been compensated through their already existing opportunity and proficiency in eSports. Gaining followers, publicity, and people to watch WGLNA directly grows the eSport, which is currently running in the black by being a cost department in North America, because it’s a mandated business move by the head office to run international eSports to grow the game and keep people playing and paying for World of Tanks. It is way more successful in Europe and Russia, but they need to push it here and other regions to make it a fully legitimate eSport. If they do not, then their compensation will eventually dry up. The advertisement for their teams grows WGLNA, so that their eSports scene in North America can become financially stable, and the prize pools available for their WGLNA seasons remain and grow. In addition, it helps them gain followers leading towards a sponsorship. It's mutually beneficial to Fulcrum, SIMP, and WGNA to run these events. It’s a win-win for everyone.
Second, the comparison of Fulcrum and SIMP to us is apples to oranges. We are not a clan; we're individual players that the community voted on to participate in an event asked for by the community and I merely asked to have some small amount of compensation for the time donated to help Wargaming market their game in this specific event. I don't speak to everyone in this conversation, only myself and others that might agree. Your words that the community asked for this event directed towards us is not synonymous with all of us; a lot of the people in here are part of the community but do not speak for what it wants as a whole. Also, I have plenty of gold and am not hurting in this department, so it’s not really a loss but more asking for a symbolic gesture. If you just ask other players to volunteer their time for such an event that they didn't really vote for, then it’s not something special that really helps get people to play the game and wasn't what the community really wanted. It's just another random event that loses its luster.
Third, I do not understand the response I am receiving, because this attitude towards specific community compensation should have been a lesson learned in the past. There is already precedent for the degradation of WGNA Community for their attitude towards compensating people who put time into their for-profit company. [Moderator name omitted] used to do a lot of moderating for the WGNA WoWp forum, and WGNA refused to compensate him for his time after he realized the amount of commitment it entailed to do a thorough job was substantial. He eventually left to moderate the WGEU WoWp forums, for which they continue to compensate him. At this prior moment in time, the moderation in the NA WoWp forums took a turn for the worse and it has yet to fully recover from his departure.
Fourth, the approach that I am seeing by the new community team is upsetting to say the least. I submitted a logical and well-reasoned proposal for what I thought was fair compensation to ask of us in this event. A lot of us have donated hundreds, if not thousands of our own personal hours on our own accords to improving this game through writing direct and pertinent feedback. Some of us have had really strong and impactful suggestions that have helped improved the game. To respond to your existing volunteers that have given the company so much and asked for so little with such a vexed and nastily worded response as if it was some grave injustice is saddening. It is one thing to politely decline the suggestion, and it’s another to write such a response with a sarcastic closing "Thanks."
I am deeply concerned if this correspondence is a microcosm of what WGNA wants to take towards the rest of the community into the future.
For a time I thought this matter was closed. I received no response, and Wargaming changed up the event to bring literally anyone who wanted to do this event in to participate, including people with <50 battles. The weird part is they still advertised these peoples' streams, and I am surprised someone from War Thunder didn't come over and volunteer for this, only to have their stream be of them playing Gaijin’s Ground Attack Lovefest. It could have been a serious PR disaster, especially with a recent surge in 'raids' on the Warplanes forum by the daftest WT trolls, but luckily this didn't happen so I guess that’s okay for WGA, even though it was a serious loophole flub with no consequence.
Anyway, a few weeks later I was typing in the CA Skype channel talking about how I had just won some stuff in the "On Track to AMX 50 B" event in tanks. Names Omitted:
[11/5/2013 3:17:59 PM] Me:
[11/5/2013 3:18:00 PM] CA 1: type?
[11/5/2013 3:18:19 PM] CA 2: ok
[11/5/2013 3:18:22 PM] CA 1: [random link omitted]
[11/5/2013 3:18:38 PM] CA 3: [Kird] good job (clap)
[11/5/2013 3:19:47 PM] Me: SgtFrostX saved my bacon in the 50 100 round
[11/5/2013 3:20:00 PM] Me : I was like "arty help, help me!!!"
[11/5/2013 3:20:10 PM] Me: clipping omgz!
[11/5/2013 3:20:12 PM] CA2: lol, making a killing at tanks?
[11/5/2013 3:20:18 PM] CA2: lol!
[11/5/2013 3:20:38 PM] *** Jane (Community Manager) has been promoted to conversation host. ***
[11/5/2013 3:21:03 PM] *** Jane (Community Manager) removed (Kird) from this conversation. ***
I immediately went to the forums and noticed that my CA status was revoked, and my CA signature that I had created was removed from my profile. About two and a half hours later, I received the following message from Jane:
Sent: 05 November 2013 - 05:57 PM
We are just informing you that at this time you have been removed from the Community Aces. We know that you are a valuable member of this community. Recently, some of your post have been quite negative and demanding compensation for a community event does not exemplify the best qualities of a community ace. We know you are still a great supporter of this game and appreciate your time and effort. If you would like to regain the title, please let us know by showing us the amazing, helpful Kird that has been around this community for such a long time. Please note that several members have been changing among the group. We hope to have you back in the Aces soon. Thank you for your time and support.
I’m not sure which “some of my post” recently had been negative on grounds for removal, because I had no recent RO’s or warnings on the WoWp forums, and none in the past year except for posting “Team America – Everyone has AIDS” in November 2012, and that was obviously was just to raise awareness about a great cause to help rid the scourge of disease that is plaguing an entire region of the world. I guess my posting was negative in that I saw something that I didn’t agree with, and I wanted to voice my opinion.
Because this is America, and I am ingrained with a sense of freedom to my core and a right to express my views when something is non-optimal. I do this to help incite change and progression towards where something can become positive for me, and hopefully the rest of the NA community in WoWp and those who have yet to come.
Anyway, so I had given the past year of my life towards helping improve this game an community, totally voluntarily, donated hundreds of hours - in ways that I of course enjoyed and gave me my own amount of joyful utility, and was suddenly and unexpected removed with a "what have you done for us lately" message by someone who had only been working for Warplanes in North America for about a month, and it was for something completely unrelated to a Community Ace thing.
Why was I removed? It was for not drinking Jane’s cup of tea, and the fact that I wrote a pm that about five people saw that made her look bad. However, I didn't make her look bad. She did that herself by being, for in kinder words than deserved, completely and utterly foolish and ignorant. Later, I heard that she posted in the CA section that my removal was not even open to the other CAs’ discussion, and the Community Aces was to be run by her with “an iron fist.” Since this time, several veteran CA’s have left on their own for their own reasons. How a company can employ someone who likely generates a questionable to negative return on their product completely baffles me.
It seems that this new community team has changed their idea of what it means to be a Community Ace from its original inception to be – pardon the directness, but I can't think of a more apt and striking description – whoever voluntarily wishes to get down on their knees and perform corporate fellatio no matter how dry their mouths are.
The majority of CA’s is now largely made up of new CA members that the veterans have had no say in – the veterans who probably have a better idea than WGA personnel of what is best for the community due to larger amounts of interaction – and will be managed with a sense of fear of removal due to 'negativity' and dictatorial power than the original WGA employee and player commonwealth that existed prior. It’s a forum title and endorsement by WGA WoWp for posters who border anywhere between incredibly helpful, to incoherent, to actually damaging.
In closing, I still believe in this game and community and do wish to participate in future Wargaming endeavors, as I enjoy their historical games and like the majority of those people from Wargaming I have been privileged to interact with. I believe Warplanes has a competitive yearning to break out into something incredibly fun and exciting, and I look forward to this especially once current balance issues are amended. For all the bad apples, whether they are Jane or certain players that I disagree with, the overall Wargaming fruit is quite tasty or I wouldn't be here. I don’t think Wargaming is a perfect company, quite far from it, and they have a ways to go to deal with being a company that grew too fast too quickly across many different cultures.
But the best part of the CA’s is gone, and it had a really good purpose that I’m not sure anyone involved with it probably even noticed and Jane would certainly herself not understand.
It was a way for Wargaming America to be more lax in PR than they are likely allowed to be, bearing in mind that the corporate policies are likely set in Belarus, a country with a vastly different culture and office direction than what would likely make their titles more successful in North America.
Most of the time you’ll hear everyone from Wargaming America say everything is great. This is great, that is great, and everything is wonderful. Having the original CA’s allowed Wargaming America to endorse players who were free from such constraints and have more lax forum PR that is exactly what’s needed North America – people who absolutely love the overall game, are decent human beings, and are able to speak to the community with a level of understanding that reaches out to other players with both positives and negatives in a way that touches customers’ hearts and minds.
Unfortunately, this is gone because Janseph Stalin is running the show and just ruined the best part of the CA’s by making it a WGA public relations puppet of “everything is great”- something it already has and needs less of, not more.
Such a waste.