Monday, 14 December 2009

End game

One of Blizzard's stated aims for this expansion was to make raiding more accessible. At first glance this appears to be a reasonable desire - raid content must be the most expensive form of level-cap content that Blizzard produce and it is at times breathtakingly well executed. Allied to this, Blizzard have tried to remove elements of the game that felt "grindy" or required a considerable investment in time, especially repetitive tasks.

You would think therefore that this would make the game better - more great experiences for more players, and less annoying aspects.

Blizzard have failed utterly however, and pursuing this strategy is destroying the game.

MMORPGs are successful where they create a persistent online society. Where you log on every week and see your friends, where you have long term goals, and where you see your character slowly improve in meaningful ways.

But there are no long term goals in the game any more, other than perhaps the levelling experience (which we've all been through now more times than we can count). There are very few rep grinds left- rep for most of the main factions comes for free at 80 via the tabard system, and the important enchants are now Bind on Account so you only need to do them once. There is no "gear path" since the emblem goalposts get shifted with each patch - it is almost always correct to grind "heroic" instances to get epic gear one tier below the current raid tier. Blizzard are trying to turn Warcraft into an arcade game - something that you just pick up and play for an hour or so and then put down. It is ironic that just as Warcraft becomes the most fun it has ever been, the game is dying because Blizzard simply cannot put out new raid content fast enough. When content is hard then you enjoy it for a long time. When content is easy you enjoy it until you've killed it two or three times, and after that it becomes boring.

Icecrown Citadel perfectly illustrates how utterly defunct Blizzard's policy is - it looks and sounds like a wonderfully put together instance, but Blizzard are so terrified of it being cleared in the first week that they are intending to drip-feed the content to us over the next four months. Even with the "self nerfing" Ashen Verdict system, whereby the instance naturally gets weaker over time, Blizzard have been unable to give us normal mode content that can't be beaten in a matter of hours.

I am trying to put together a guild run for the instance tonight and all my guildies appear to have cleared all four bosses on several alts.

Blizzard are worried that people will kill Arthas, let their subscriptions expire, and only renew in 4.0. The fact is however that this is exactly what many people will do because when Arthas is dead there is nothing meaningful to do in the game any more. Unless you are hardcore enough for the hard modes, you may as well say goodbye until Cataclysm hits, because the game is so easy now that there's nothing left.

Think about this - in January when the next set of bosses open up in Icecrown, you will already have the first four on farm and be starting to get bored of them. You will only have three interesting new bosses to do. At no time in the next few months will there be a significant amount of fun, challenging PvE content in the game. And Blizzard have nothing in store for us until Autumn 2010...


  1. Hey DB this is Ogri/Peter, remember me? :)

    I read your blog and the Guild forums from time to time and I just wanted to commend you on a very well written post. For me it sums up the reasons I left WoW and unfortenatly it seems my suspicions about IC and the continued degradation of the Raiding aspect of WoW were not unfounded.

    I especially liked your piece about long term goals (or rather the lack thereof) since long term goals is IMO what guilds is all about and TBH I dont know what Blizzard is thinking when they dont seem to realise that the main reason that a lot of people keep paying the subscription fee every month is because they are paying for the opportunity to be guilded with people you actually enjoy being around on a daily basis.

    If you remove the reasons for (raiding) guilds to exist as such by turning the game into an arcade, why keep paying for the weeks and months in between new content when all there is left is the gameplay and virtually no social aspect?

    Bad business if you ask me. Well at any rate, I will probably give Cataclysm a shot when it hits but I dont think I will be around before that. Hope to see at least some of you guys around at that point.



  2. Peter

    Great to hear from you again. I think that Blizzard must be realising their mistake - the gating system for ICC perfectly illustrates the problem, and we have the new "guild talents" and "mastery" (or whatever it's called that powers you up the more you play) for Cataclysm. We will see I guess. I will be there for 4.0, the guild will (probably) be there, and I hope that you will be too.

    Take care old friend


  3. I do too wonder when we'll see Cataclysm.

  4. Couldn't agree more. There was always an intrinsic feeling of progression and achievement in Ye Olde WoW that is now completely AWOL. TotC bored me to death after a few attempts and ICC doesn't seem to be anything different. The reason I finally made the decision to leave was based simply on that 'magic' being gone from the game, possibly combined with it having been all a bit too much. :)

    I'll definitely be revisiting things for Cataclysm - looking forward to playing in the old world as it is still one of the best memories I have of the game - leveling up and finally getting into MC!