Monday, April 23, 2012

WoW has too many subscribers

WoW today is worth too much money to too many people to be just a game any more. It needs to be all things to all people. It needs to be exciting and accessible to new players, while not alienating existing players by making the game too simple. To provide challenging content to those who want it, without alienating players who think they should be able to complete everything by standing still and spamming Steady Shot. To value all players and playstyles equally, without alienating players who feel entitled to a game tailored to their specific tastes and who are deeply offended by the idea that any feature that they themselves have no interest would even be developed for the game.

The huge number of people attracted to this game have skewed the demographics too far towards the casual player-- the type of player who just wants to log on and win things and display their epeen. The type of player that considered the 4.0 Heroic dungeons too hard; that thinks gear level is the best factor on which to judge other players; that sees nothing wrong with being carried by an overlevelled friend; that will leave a party after one wipe, blaming the healer or the "fail group".

The type of player who spends $25 on a single mount.

If we could just swing those demographics back towards people who actually care about WoW as a game [or a role-playing experience] we might be able to convince Blizzard to focus more on making a game rather than a series of systems dedicated to convincing each and every player of how awesome they personally are.

There are plenty of fantastic ideas out there for streamlining group play that I am sure would work brilliantly, but will never be implemented because they all tend to involve some kind of personal responsibility mechanic which would alienate people who are too dumb to think for themselves.

The sad thing is that there are plenty of newer players out there who want to improve their skill at the game, if only the game offered them enough feedback to do so. But this will never happen for fear of allowing chronically terrible players to gain any factual realisation that they are in fact terrible at the game; that it's not just that they are being matched to one fail group after another-- groups that may not really be all that bad, but are just not overlevelled enough to carry someone that terrible. There's a reason the random dungeon tool prefers to match good players with bad players.

I understand the old jaded WoW player. WoW was in many ways a better game back in BC, but it's not because Blizzard changed it-- it's because the playerbase changed. Blizzard just responded to the shift in demographics.

It's ludicrous to expect Blizzard to make an awesome game while simultaneously pleasing everyone, but as often as they are unable to succeed at the latter, if you take off the rose tinted glasses for a moment it's not hard to recognise that the game is better than it ever has been.

Also, this is kind of barely related but I really don't understand why people thought the motorcycle mount was so impactful in its immersion-breaking-ness when helicopters have been part of the lore since Warcraft 3.

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