Thoughts on World of Warcraft

 Massively has a post up today (done by Syp of Bio Break) about the decline of WoW. It’s a good read and the comments section is pretty enlightening. There are a couple trains of thought about why World of Warcraft is losing subscribers at a breakneck clip:

* The content got too easy.

* The content got too hard.

Well, clearly both things can’t be right.  Right?

Actually, I think they can.

The leveling game became too easy. I mean, World of Warcraft didn’t exactly make it a challenge before Cataclysm to get to max level, but the on-rails questing added to the new zones made it pitiful, really. And worse yet, your altaholics didn’t even want to re-run the on-rails questing that replaced the Old World zones.

The raiding game, and even the 5-man heroics, became too hard. You couldn’t PuG either consistently. Which wouldn’t have been a problem had Wrath of the Lich King not set the bar at that specific level.

 Blizzard dropped the ball, here. They listened to the vocal minority instead of the paying majority. It always made me laugh to see people ramble on about how “dumbed down” the game became in WotLK, knowing full-well that the vast majority of the whiners hadn’t completed Arthas on Heroic mode. Well, made me laugh at the time, at least. I know now those fools are probably the reason things got screwed up in Cataclysm.

 For me, WotLK was the pinnacle of WoW (please note I was not playing in Vanilla). The raiding content was ample and the vast majority / all of it could ultimately be completed by a good PuG. It wasn’t so horribly stressful that our good group of buddies would snap at one another on the 25th wipe of the night, and not so easy that we didn’t feel a sense of accomplishment when we’d down a boss for the first time. Five-man content was certainly PuG-able (the later Icecrown Heroics were slightly tougher, but certainly not impossible) and again, didn’t cause a lot of heartache to run.

 As the challenge increased into Cataclysm, so did the level of “asshattery”, for lack of a better term, from the player base. It had been growing and growing with each passing day, but really hit its peak with the Heroics in Cataclysm. Let’s review…

 The ball began slipping for Blizzard with the advent of the Dungeon Finder. GearScore drove the level of player on player cruelty to new heights, and the Group Kick functionality was yet another step towards a relentless, judgmental player base. Then Cataclysm released and the Heroics had a minimum GearScore requirement.

Let that sink in for a minute: a minimum GearScore requirement.

 Way to go, Blizzard, you just condoned the type of behavior that your average player had grown to loathe.

 Had they taken ten minutes to read through any number of WoW-blogs before Cataclysm, they would’ve seen the constant deriding of GearScore as a metric. Raid formulation in WotLK had gone from “LF x; pst with spec” to “LF x; GS 3100 required” and people hated it. At least with the prior iteration you could talk with the person and discuss your spec or plead a case to join the raid (social aspect), here you were simply a number. WoW became less about being a person and more about being used if you were “good enough”. Even so, people endured and more than ever, raid content was being downed. I suspect the population on the whole was pretty pleased. Cataclysm was highly anticipated.

 But after giving the population PuG-able raids and Heroic AoE-fests in the closing months of WotLK, they pulled a bait and switch for Cataclysm. World of Warcraft had gone all-in shifting towards the mentality of the elite. “Harder content!” they cried, “No PuG raids! No AoE heroics!”. And sure, I can understand not wanting to start at the point where WotLK ended. Power creep would happen in Cata just like it did in Wrath, and ultimately it would get to that stage. But somewhere in there was a happy medium – early Wrath era where Naxx wasn’t a total pushover. Instead, they went off the deep end with punishing Heroics and completely unPuG-able raid content.

  They missed the mark, entirely, and they’re paying for it now. At least that’s how I see it.


~ by Drew on August 31, 2011.

6 Responses to “Thoughts on World of Warcraft”

  1. As an addendum, I think it’s important to note that my interest in WoW waned mainly because upon my return when Cataclycsm dropped, many of my guildmates had moved on to other guilds. A few too many of us “took a break” and those who were still actively raiding went to Heroic progression groups.

    Raiding was never about better gear for me, it was about enjoying the group I’d come to know and love raiding with. Losing that toasted my interest in progression – a void that tackling PvP as a primary goal couldn’t fill. I even went so far as to try a PvP-specific guild and that certainly didn’t work. (Filled with totally annoying people. PvP has a tendency to bring out the worst in others.)

  2. Even though I have unsubscribed multiple times, I’ve enjoyed the heck out of it everytime I’ve gone back. And I will be going back again soon. The problem I have with the game is burnout and I can’t blame Blizzard for that.

    • I’ve unsubscribed and gone back a couple times, too, but I don’t see myself going back until another expansion drops, I suppose. I just really lost the drive to play in Cataclysm especially with many of my friends gone and/or scattered.

  3. I think that we share opinion on how Cataclysm release had some mistakes for the average player. At release, my healers attempted to heal at 85 and wound up gun-shy and I was totally broken of the desire to heal, leaving my most beloved character as just a place holder while I tried to learn to love my DPS toons.

    A nice read!

    • I can imagine; people are brutal towards tanks and healers by default (it’s always one of their faults on a wipe, you know). The higher level of difficulty + general PuG population led to some ugly scenes in party chat.

      • I remember having someone say to me in party chat, “No offense, but is this your first time healing?” I think it was the first time I wanted to quit WoW. I didn’t though, but I certainly didn’t heal either for a LONG time. I think there were many that gave up healing during Cata, if not forever, at least initially. It’s still evident by the CtA for healers that there aren’t enough of them around anymore.

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