As gamers can attest, customer support for online games can vary greatly depending on the title, but nearly gone are the days of quick in-game support at 2 a.m. from a live person who is knowledgeable about the game and has the tools to address many issues that players encounter.
I say "nearly gone" because, in Magic Online, those days are still here, and they're going strong through the efforts of the game support team. If you have a problem in Magic Online, there's a person on duty to assist—whether by email, phone, or in-game chat.
There are approximately sixty people on the game support team, which is made up of several smaller teams, including a tier-one team that covers in-game chat and email, a tier-two team that covers telephone support, and a crack operations team.
One of the quickest and easiest sources of support can be found in the Knowledge Base, or KB. This is created and maintained by the game support team and is constantly being updated and improved. Looking for details about an event in Magic Online? The KB's Events section is the best place to go.
The KB is the product of the massive amount of information available for Magic Online, as well as all of the thousands of player questions the team receives. There's a good chance a problem you're having has been encountered by someone else, and it's likely to be represented in the KB, where you can find it with a search.
But what if your issue isn't something that's found in the KB?
- Chat Up an ORC In-Game
The first line of live support assistance is right in the game, from an ORC. This is our Online Response Crew, a trained team of more than forty Magic experts who are available in Magic Online by clicking the Chat button in the upper-right corner of the client. They also respond to email support requests.
There is a low turnover in the game support team. Team members love Magic and working at Wizards of the Coast, so their tenures are often very long. As a matter of fact, several members of the team have been around from the very beginnings of Magic Online:
- ORC Wyvern started as a forum moderator in August of 1996 and became an ORC in January of 2008.
- ORC Paradox started as a forum moderator in August of 1997 and also became an ORC in January of 2008.
- ORC Anic started in April of 2002.
- ORC Ghost also started in April of 2002.
- ORC Nashira started in December of 2002.
- ORC Calliope started in August of 2003.
The game support team is growing along with Magic Online, so there are new members coming in, too. As a matter of fact, two new team members had their first day at work this past Monday, December 16.
If you're interested in working in game support, keep watch on the Wizards of the Coast Careers page for opportunities. Positions are usually in Renton, Washington, which is where Wizards is headquartered. There is a distinct advantage to having the game support team in the same building as the Ramp;D team, the business team, and the others that make up the company: There is a lot of communication that happens between these teams. Game support does much more than just solve customer problems; they participate in testing, "bug bashing," and communications, among others. It's a versatile team, and because of this game support can be a launch pad for entry into other areas of the company. Several former team members now work in marketing, Ramp;D, and organized play.
- Tier-Two Phone Support
10:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m. Pacific
Closed December 25 and January 1
Email support is available during all holidays.
The next level of game support is the phone support team. If you prefer talking to a live person, you're covered. Phone support is available seven days a week, from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Pacific time (except holidays). If your issue proves complicated, it can be escalated to this tier-two team for assistance. This team tackles the tougher cases players might encounter in Magic Online. Despite the greater difficulty of problems, this team is able to resolve 72% of all problems within the first twenty-four hours. The majority of issues—95% of them—are resolved within forty-eight hours.
Visit the Wizards of the Coast Contact Us page for phone support numbers, as well as other ways of contacting us.
There's extensive training for new game support team members—four to five weeks of training and job shadowing—plus, many ORCs have years of Magic play experience, so they are able to get the job done fast. More than half of all tier-one support requests are solved within the first four hours—and a significant portion of these are solved within minutes. Nearly 95% of all issues are solved within ten hours. When you consider the complexity of Magic Online and that there are between 20,000 and 30,000 chat support requests in a given month—that's literally thousands per day—you begin to get a sense of the enormity of the support task, and the necessity for efficiency.
The pursuit of efficiency is important, but not at the expense of quality. Game support takes quality of service very seriously. They refer to this as concierge service. "We love games here," says John Kozar, senior manager of game support and ops, "so we're players, too, and we know what we'd want from support. Magic Online players invest a lot in the game, and we want to give them a great experience worthy of that, which means the best support."
Key to providing excellent support is equipping the support team with the tools it needs to solve problems. Support team members now have more of these tools at their disposal, so they can cut right to helping players directly without having to pass them to other systems or people as often. Whether it's a lost password, a rules question, or a player conduct issue in the middle of the night, game support can help. The operations team helps make these tools available.
- Facilitators: The Operations Team
The ops team is an escalation team that covers the toughest cases in Magic Online—the 5% that are passed up from tier-two support—plus a wide variety of other aspects of Magic Online. Members of the ops team are facilitators, acting as the conduits and translators between the business team, Ramp;D, and the customer support team. They're technical experts, and if something goes wrong, they're on-call to come into Magic Online and help correct it. For example, if an event fails to fire, they can come in and create it manually. They can then investigate why the situation occurred and address the problem. And this is stuff that can happen in the middle of the night for ops team members!
- Looking Ahead
Magic Online is growing, and this includes game support. "The support team has to remain flexible and still be accessible as the game grows," says Vince Price, manager of game support.
There are also plans in the work that improve the administrative tools game support uses to solve problems. These new tools will further improve the team's ability to support players and reduce resolution times.
The game support team is very passionate about Magic Online, much the same as its players are. When players offer feedback on how they're doing, they're very appreciative of it—and this feedback has an impact. The team looks to player responses in its surveys and direct communications to gauge how its doing. It is used in reviews of performance and to map out improvements.
There are a lot of improvements and new offerings coming 2014 (Vintage Masters!), and the game support team will be ready to support them!
Finally, the game support team would like to wish players and their families and friends a wonderful holiday season. During all holidays, there will continue to be support available by email and in game. Phone support will be closed on Christmas Day and New Year's Day, and during the week of December 26–31; otherwise, phone support hours will be from 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. Pacific.
Clayton Kroh is a veteran of the videogame industry and a fiction writer. He started with Wizards of the Coast in July of 2013 as a digital content specialist for mtgo.com and contributes creative content to Magic whenever he has the opportunity.