Blizzcon Ticket Purchasing Window – AKA the Internet Lottery from Hell

I have been stewing upon this topic for a while and whether it was worth posting and bringing it up or not.  While I look for the next thing to talk/complain/suggest/contemplate I might as well.

Before I get to my thoughts on how to improve the experience lets take a step back and actually look at the problem by asking a few questions.

  1. How many players of Blizzard Games would want to attend Blizzcon?
  2. What is the maximum capacity of the current venue?
  3. What percentage of the answer to question #1 is the answer to question #2?
  4. If ticket price was raised slightly to rent more and therefore increase the answer to #2 does the answer to #1 end up less than #2, if not then it may be time to rent even more space and raise the ticket price slightly.
  5. What time is it?
  6. No seriously what time is it and by which clock are you using?
  7. When do tickets go on sale?
  8. No seriously when to tickets go on sale and defined by which clock?
  9. What is your current internet latency to the server?
  10. What is the official world clock time?
  11. What is the difference between official world time and the time on the server?
  12. What is the difference between your local clock and the official world time?
  13. Are you using your computer for time and do you set its time automatically from a time server?
  14. Does Blizzard’s server actually use the official world clock time server?
  15. So do you know when you need to click refresh to be able to by tickets given all of these variable some of which are unknown?

The end result is that no one really knows when you will be able to attempt to buy tickets and actually stand a chance to acquire them.  If many of these are actually based on the official world time then you have a good approximate guess.

I believe the figure tossed around was somewhere within the first 30-45 seconds, if not less, all people who were able to obtain tickets were already in queue.  That is really an unacceptable system.  If it is going to be a lottery then well lets make it an actual lottery.

New System – Based on Beta.

So what I would imagine would be where there is a time period for Beta tickets to be sold, say over a 2 week period.  Every 48 hours a new lot of “winners” would be sent notifications that they could log into Battle.net and purchase tickets.  If they don’t buy them by the next interval they forfeit the chance.  Now they could also call in and purchase them by phone and what ever other methods are currently in place.  Some sort of verification code would be needed and the ticket limit would also be in place.  This should be done via Battle.net accounts and not the individual game accounts, especially after Diablo is released.

For example say 30K tickets are available and lots of 1000 battle.net accounts are chosen randomly.   So Monday 1000 notifications are sent and say 90% actually want to go so from the first lot you have 900-3600 tickets sold since people can buy up to 4 tickets with actual purchase data a better model could be built to determine how many lots on average you would need.  Then at the end you just do smaller lots until you sell out.

This would be much more orderly and would put the randomness on Blizzards RNG rather than variations in time and space.  In the end I may not end up being able to go to Blizzcon again under this system but at least I know it was not because I could not refresh fast enough or did not guess the time differential correctly.

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