Don't stop there. They go far beyond just transparency. They allow people to beta test the changes for the updates to avoid the "nerf drop rate for item X" altogether. They actually take the time to respond to players on key issues like raid balance, PvP balance and other issues completely unrelated to sh*t that would normally be in the @#%^ing manual.
Yeah, I'm sure they don't need to have emergency maintenances to fix sh*t from the Beta. I'm sure.
I bet it is also fun to know exactly what is in the update months ahead of time so you won't die from the heart attack the surprise caused you. If it's not predictable and boring it's bad
WoW patch days are buggy, crash ridden messes that tend to go on for several days after wards. If it's a big patch, like say the 4.0 pre-cataclysm patch that's coming up (or is it out? I didn't keep track) you can expect unstable servers (of varying degrees) for at least a couple weeks. That said, they do always seem to get things ironed out and playable in a (somewhat) reasonable time frame. Though tbh I'm not a fan of the amount of maintenance they go through each Tuesday.
Also, having the patch notes out ahead of time doesn't make it boring at all, it fosters discussion about the changes and their use of a Public Test Realm (P.T.R.) allows the playerbase to experience and comment on the changes before they go live so that people aren't completely confounded come patch day (some class changes can be fairly massive in regards to the impact on playstyle). Also, Blizzards patch notes are not
100% complete until the release date. some things they do
keep hidden until P-day contrary to what was posted previously.
Now WoW's community (speaking generally
there are, as always, exceptions that are both nice and helpful) on the whole is horrible, beyond horrible, it's the most vile-filled scum ridden cess pit you could possibly hope to find (forum community at least, and certainly a vocal part of it in game). As such, the "discussion" at least on the general forum tends to be more poorly spelled and constructed QQ crapfests then constructive feedback.
However, If you can put aside the seemingly irrational, spontaneous, uncontrolled polarization that mentioning "WoW" or anything "WoW"-related seems to create*. You should be able to see that there is merit to their system of doing things. While their open relations with their community is certainly not a huge part of their success, it's obvious it is part of it. I'd love to have an SE O-Board monitored by company admins that posses the ability to also speak for (within limits) the company and discuss topics directly with players, some admins even having direct communication with the development teams.
I think, given how much better XI's community was in general then WoW's, such discourse could lead to some very interesting and productive posts.
Off Topic -*I have no idea why this happens personally, I can understand not liking a game. But even with games I couldn't stand to play I'm not going to ignore something it does right. There are plenty of flaws with WoW, plenty of flaws with Activision-Blizzard (*cough*Bobby Kotick *cough*), and plenty of reasons that not only did I quit WoW but that I quit it 2 years faster then I left XI. This said, I can see the things they have done and continue to do that set a certain standard for MMO's in general.
I don't get the Us vs. Them mentality some people seem to have when it comes to games or even companies. In my mind a nigh perfect MMO would be one that could blend the quest system, dungeon system and community relations (as in, dev team to playerbase) of WoW with the Story Telling ability, depth of world, social community focused game play of FFXI. Not to mention the myriad of other little bits and pieces of each game that I loved.
I apologize I seem to have digressed a bit from the topic here. I'm just confuzzled by the enmity created for no apparent reason.