Check out the newest animation video from Carbot.
You know things have gotten bad for Blizzard when this hit the nail pretty good.
Knowledge is Power
I don’t think it’s a “WoW is so bad they keep losing subscribers. (X) expansion is bad. Blizzard is greedy and doesn’t care about its players. Dead game LUL.” situation with WoW. I think people have either just moved on or just don’t like the game enough to keep playing it so much.
Most former players (myself included) realized that WoW is a game designed to keep you playing. Expansion comes out, therefore I must get gear in order to raid, patch comes out, not I must gear again, and so on and so forth. You could compare this to Guild Wars 2, but it doesn’t require 15 dollars a month to play it. So instead of staying in the loop most of us got out.
There’re also many instances where the community doesn’t care about its non-hardcore players. I’ve hopped back in a time or two and end up not playing much because either in PVP or Dungeon Finder people are pissy because you don’t know how to play anymore. Then to avoid that toxicity players could always just quest but that’s boring as hell on its own also.
Finally, WoW is almost 20 years old, it’s been updated and expanded upon but games are getting better in general. Some free to play such as Fortnite and Rainbow Six Siege and some games where you just invest 20$ on a sale and get something along the lines of The Witcher 3, Prey, Borderlands, or Dishonored. At this point you could get a hell of a game for around 20 bucks compared to paying 15 monthly for the same experience.
This isn't aimed at you, well none of that was, but Carbot's animation about WoW is kind of disingenuous.
Its kinda hard to understand why WoW wouldn't just go full on ftp or at least pay once and just gain additional money off the microtransactions. Back in the day WoW was revolutionary for being one of the few actual MMos available that is both popular and well designed. Nowadays there simply so many more games doing the same, not many can stomach the subscription fees anymore, especially given that the game is fairly repetitive.
Oh well, at least its not as crazy as EVE online, which is at the apex of being games as a second job that you pay to work for.
Either way, that video just comes across as sentimental rather than trying to expose blizz as a company fueled by greed. Unless blizz starts revolutionizing its game tech again, its unlikely to ever recapture what WoW did in the past, not least because of the subscription model.
I want to start off by saying the video hit the feels train real hard. Waking up on Saturday and consuming that as the first bit of content for the day was an emotion rollercoaster.
I think a lot of World of Warcraft players can relate to that start. It was just so magical, diving into the Warcraft universe in an MMO setting. We got to experience the world and create our own story within it. We met new lifelong friends, ran around like chickens with our heads cut off because of inexperience, and just had fun. Experiencing memories again via Classic WoW when it released a couple of years back and then in the animation, damn, that's some powerful stuff.
I don't really have an issue with the cosmetic sales though. There's a lot of online anger about them, and I definitely understand it - I too wish those mounts could get just added to the game itself - but I don't fault a business for milking that bank, especially when it is for cosmetics that don't matter. The level boosts? I also don't find them to be a big deal. In the retail version of the game, it isn't saving folks much time. Classic, the boost to 58 is definitely a huge time saver but I've already got my 60 (well, 70) and so do plenty of other folks that will not go crazy with alts. Getting people back into the game though that didn't make it through Classic and were really waiting for TBC, that's more important to the overall health than a few folks getting angry about it.
I really started my WoW journey in Burning Crusade. I did everything - PVP, Raids, World Stuff - and had the time of my life. That extended into Wrath of the Lich King where I really stepped up the game, got more hardcore about it, became a massive obnoxious dbag. Still though, the game was awesome and I didn't really have many complaints.
Then came Cataclysm. Raids actually weren't that bad. The Firelands daily area had some pretty great quests and rewards and was a great ground for PVP, something we sorta lacked in Wrath when compared to the Isle of Quel'danas in TBC. The expansion lacked content though, mainly due to the revamp of the old world; Not a whole lot to "explore" out in the Cataclysm zones. This was the first expansion of the modern version of leveling that we have where you spend a dozen hours getting to max level and the quests are very streamlined. Although it was a welcome change of pace, looking back on it after playing Classic and TBC again, I wish Blizzard had made it take longer. It felt too much like a rush to max with it going by so fast, unlike the previous expansions. This marked the beginning of the decline.
Mists of Pandaria hits and we're given more improvements in questing up to max level. The pacing felt better than Cataclysm and it was nice having one cohesive land to play on again. Raids were fantastic, PVP was a bit of a pain in the ass (imo), and there was an overwhelming number of things to do in the world. It felt really solid, though plenty of folks didn't come back because they were either soured by Cataclysm or they couldn't get over "pandas in muh game". Admittedly, I was concerned about the Pandaren too, but quickly came to love them, even if I did sometimes poke fun of them. This expansion is the most modern version of the older style of WoW that we have available, one that had many quality of life features. It also introduced challenge modes, the precursor to mythic plus, which was an excellent improvement in giving players more stuff to do at max level. I sometimes wonder how many more players may be playing WoW today if they had of just come back for Mists.
Which leads us into Warlords. Blizzard pulled another Cataclysm and the content sucked. If you weren't raiding, which had some solid content, you could lag your ass out in Ashran or sit in your Garrison. Long wait times between patches, too many promises from Blizzard, and the expansion never really gave us an ending, instead pushing us into Legion to get our end. Warlords was basically just a nightmare that took place during the Legion expansion. It was at this point that my remaining friends, save for a few, gave up on the game. Also, come on, why the hell was Shattrath just a shitty daily hub.
Legion was the good expansion of the good-bad-good-bad alternating releases. Artifact weapons were initially good and so were legendaries but then when it turns out you can't get the stuff you need to succeed, you lose the will to play. Class halls were amazing to sit around in but damn it Blizzard, you spent too much time on a core system, told everyone in the community that WE WERE WRONG about it being junk, and then you did the same shit that has become a trend in World of Warcraft as of late where you finally admit you can't design good systems and we're free to have at it and they'll make it easier to get the things we want. JFC.
Battle of Azeroth was so promising. Uldir was an awesome raid, there were great thematics, and Mythic+ was so much fun. The big issue though? Blizzard once again talked up how much we're going to love doing Island Expeditions and Warfronts and they poured all this development time into those and a reskin of artifact weapons, but as a neck piece that doesn't have a visible model, and then all of it went to hell. People quit. They didn't come back. They did the same shit from Legion, "no you're all wrong" followed by "lol jk we screwed up". Certainly they won't do this again.
Shadowlands. WOW. The last time I had this much fun leveling? I don't know. The last time I was that engaged for a few months at the start of an expansion? Probably Mists of Pandaria. Obviously, we've got a major issue with how garbage the time to first patch is - it comes out next week - but that wasn't the only problem. They clearly stuck all their eggs in the Torghast and Maw baskets and it sucks. 99% of the folks I know that still want to play WoW are not returning for 9.1 and have decided to either play other games or play TBC Classic. Myself? I just want to play TBC and forget Shadowlands exists because I don't want my love for the start of it to sour. I wish this was something you could just blame on Covid. Unfortunately though, they really over-promised and under-delivered... again.
I say all this because WoW's problem isn't corporate greed. Its bad game design.
You can shove as many sparkle ponies, level boosts, and paid features as you want into the game as long as they don't change the max level experience. I'm more than willing to bet majority of people do not care about it or enjoy the services. But when your game loop itself sucks, you're making everyone upset and that's when they're going to start attacking the paid stuff.
What makes me laugh about the paid stuff though is that these are different teams that work on them. Lets use Hearthstone as an example here. When the game is going through a rough patch of balance, you can't be angry with a community manager or an interface engineer when they are posting on the main social account with memes or they updated the shop UI - that doesn't make any sense. The real beef is with a the card designers and folks responsible for balance. Game development teams are huge. Their social folks are so far away from tuning the numbers on a card, its just so illogical to, in your mind, make them responsible. Its infuriating to me when corporate greed is brought up because it almost always is short-sighted as in this example.
If folks truly think the guy that came up with and priced a level boost could have better spent their time on the game and instead balance PVP, maybe they need to find a new hobby or take a course on critical thinking skills.
Anyway, I think modern WoW is actually pretty good. I do not expect to ever see the old experiences again, outside of Classic, but Blizzard needs to figure out their end game more. I think they should also just make everyone super powerful. Works great in ARPGs! Remove the stupid AOE cap so folks can push Mythic+ higher and higher because that stuff is legitimately fun.
Does anyone remember when Diablo 3 had basically 0 legendaries and no real set bonuses? Do you remember when Blizzard then buffed everything and added tons of new stuff in to fill slots with cool powers? Yeah, the game finally became truly fun to play and it was exciting to seek stuff out.
Blizzard could learn a lot from their own games. The current legendary powers in Shadowlands are really cool because they are easier to obtain than the Legion ones and we can slot them into different places instead of it being one single slot. Now, imagine if they actually let us have 3 or 4 of these in our gear at once. We'd feel like the amazing gods we should feel like at this point considering all the badasses we've killed over the years.
Just, disable that shit in PVP since that's the only real reason we can't have tons of fun in PVE. You also end up not running into the problem we saw with Rogues in PVP early in Shadowlands where the covenant powers had to be nerfed because they could essentially one shot other players.
I'll never give up on the game, but I also don't see myself playing WoW in every major patch. New expansion? Sign me the hell up! A couple of months every couple of years is some great fun.
Founder, Out of Cards
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