Since I got so many comments on my last post about the state of WoW, (and since I keep getting depressed when I work on the gear section of my bear guide), I’ll talk a little more about my thoughts on WoW in general. (And thanks to Bell, Lis, Vallen, and others for great thoughts.)
First, it’s important to remember that WoW is more than one game. It is actually many different, interconnected games/activities, including:
- Guild Management
- Mercantilism (Playing the AH)
- Gearing (Gemming/Enchanting)
- Achievements (either in support of the other games, or by itself)
- Home-made challenges (Can you solo OL Heroics?)
- Others I’ve missed, I’m sure
I think Leaf nails it in his latest post. In Classic WoW/BC, all the activities above, with the exception of PvP, were meant to funnel the player into raiding. You had to do all the above TO raid (you needed the gear, which required money, which required farming or professions, etc.) Now, this was great if you loved raiding, not so great if you didn’t. Due to a too-steep difficulty curve and some unfortunate decisions about raid sizes (Where the hell did 10 and 25 come from? Wouldn’t 10 and 20 have been so much easier?), most raiders, including me, only saw Kara and a bit of ZA. This led to a drastic curve where only 20% or so were able to complete a good portion of the content, with only 5% or so able to do everything.
However, those 20%, easily, generated 80%+ percent of the discussion about the game. Blizzard listened to them for a long time, and created harder and harder challenges (Sunwell, anyone?). At some point, however, someone senior on the design team had a flash of inspiration, and said “Why are we creating so much content for such a small portion of our userbase?” Hence, the WOTLK design has flipped things, to where raids are important, but not more important then anything else, and accessibility is the new mantra. This makes a majority of the userbase happy, who just want to beat challenges and progress their characters…but it really flies in the face of the raiders who formed Blizzard’s core in BC.
Is there a solution to this problem? Probably not. Blizzard’s not going to change direction now, so we’ll probably see a difficulty level for ICC between Ulduar and ToC, complete with artificial content gating that’s just as annoying as ToC’s was. The top 20% will roll over normal mode, again, though not as fast as ToC…and then boredom will set in again, as the top 20% demand more content and do hardmodes as a stopgap while the other 80% catch up.
And this is a GOOD THING. Let’s do a thought experiment, and imagine WOTLK raiding with a BC-era mindset. Heroics require CC. For raids, everything up to TOC is available at launch; however, only 10-man modes exist for Naxx/OS/VoA, and only 25-man modes exist for Maly/Ulduar/Onyxia. TOC is only present as 25-man TOGC. ICC is “TBD.” What happens?
- WOTLK misses its launch date to have all the content ready, and loses 20% of its potential new subscribers.
- On release, the top 5% clear everything in three months, and start hollering for more content. This is 50% of the discussion on forums.
- The next 15% are working through Ulduar/TOGC, and complaining about the difficulty. This is 30% of the discussion on forums (with half of it being the top 5% telling people to L2P)
- The next 30% have rolled Naxx/OS/VoA, and can’t find groups/guilds for anything harder, and complain about the difficulty. They eventually quit, or roll alts that quit.
- The bottom 50% do a few Heroics, or the occasional raid, but just hang out and chat in Trade. Many of these quit (Hey, you can chat anywhere.)
- Bottom line: WoW is still the dominant MMO, due to the other choices sucking, but with nowhere the dominance it has today, and its fading fast. Cataclysm becomes something else (The Fall of Sargeras, perhaps?), and WoW’s final expansion.
If you really love WoW for what she is…you’ll accept her, even as she changes. Thoughts?
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