Archive for April, 2009

GW Free Xunlai Storage on PlayNC – Generating Pointless Customer Ill-Will with Deceptive UI Design

April 25, 2009

So, like all the masses of Guild Wars players out there, I said to myself YIPPEE! More bank storage tabs! And a free tab for the anniversary period, wooties!

…and that’s where the whole problem started.

NCSoft didn’t beef up their servers at all / enough (not sure which), to handle the amount of interested customers in that feature, making it almost impossible to log in.

Additionally, instead of using the Guild Wars Online Store – accessed directly via your own account on GW once you’ve logged in, they force you to go to PlayNC and log in with your PlayNC account, which is discrete from your GW account.

This means that many people who don’t remember what on earth their PlayNC accounts were, or like me, what the passwords were for them went ???

That’s fine yah? Just get a new password sent! Nope, not so fine when your server drops the connection almost every time, because it’s too busy. And then decides that ‘you’ve tried too many times even though I dropped the connection because I was too busy, try again in a few hours.’ Added to this is that due to the load, I assume, their human-verification graphic thingies (I HATE those), load so slowly that by the time you submit the form after it’s loaded, the whole thing has expired.

…but no, this isn’t just a pointless rant! The point is coming soon. This is just the buildup!

After about 24 hours, I finally manage to get my password changed, and log in. I click on the Xunlai Storage Pane, Buy Now, and eventually come to this page.

gw_plaync_bad_purchasing_ui

You’ll see that the page is a bit different from the actual page, because only after the fact did I realise I was angry enough to log back in for a screencap, as a result this line “There was some text here telling me to type ‘FREESTORAGE’ into the coupon bit. It said NOTHING about no purchase or applying the coupon immediately.” is not the line shown on the actual page, before you change your account. Because I had to log in again to capture the screen, the actual line was already gone.

…This page imo, makes it look like you have to purchase a tab in order to take advantage of the free storage offer. You don’t. But I did purchase one. Because that is what I thought it was forcing me to do.

And I was angry. Even though I was going to purchase the max no. of tabs anyway.

And what do I find when I log into GW? Well. The tab I purchased was in, and the free storage was not. So I had to go back to PlayNC, wait for their farce of a login system again, and realise that what I was actually supposed to do was to type ‘FREESTORAGE’ in the coupon area and press “Apply Coupon”.

To all those people who said ‘the wiki shows it really clearly’, having a wiki is NOT an excuse for such plainly sloppy and deceptive User Interface design.

I can honestly see no reason other than systemic incompetence OR a desire to deceive customers in precisely the way I was deceived, to implement it the way NCSoft did.

Instead of doing that, they could have:

  • simply made a separate tab in the GW PlayNC store for customers to claim their free table
  • changed the current UI for the page shown to at least have the FREESTORAGE text all in bold, and add something saying that customers should CLICK APPLY COUPON, YOU DO NOT HAVE TO PURCHASE ANYTHING
  • let people just claim the free tab via login onto the GW online store linked to the account, in game
  • just given the tab to all accounts with active logins during this anniversary period

All of those would have worked.

The worst thing about this whole stupid setup by NCSoft in the PlayNC store to me, is that it was totally unecessary. Most people who play Guild Wars happily are going to buy all the tabs anyway. There was no NEED to deceive me into buying things I was already going to buy!

Now, instead, I  have NOT bought the other three tabs, though I doubtless will in the future.

I’m just too pissed off at NCSoft to want to right now.

I design UIs as part of my job. Seeing something like this, plus the user response online trying justify such behaviour with reference to a wiki when faced with a grumpy person, as opposed to someone who warned of the exact same thing earlier – before I could log in to get my tab, gives me just that little extra insight into how users react to things based on context.

In the first instance they were feeling defensive FOR GW and NCSoft (though why I don’t know), while in the second instance, the person just stated the situation outright without ranting and no one jumped on him with ‘it was in wiki’.

Worst part is, I really admire many of the UI elements in GW itself.

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