Tobold's Blog
Friday, September 19, 2008
 
No Wrath without Burning Crusade

WoWInsider reports that Blizzard confirmed that you won't be able to play Wrath of the Lich King if you haven't got The Burning Crusade installed. Not a huge surprise, you'd have a problem to close the gap from level 60 to 70 without TBC anyway. But a reader was writing me and asked whether I thought that in the long run this could be a financial barrier to entry for people wanting to start WoW if they have to buy all the expansions.

I don't think that will really be a problem. You can now get the World of Warcraft Battlechest for $30, containing the original WoW and the first expansion. So you pay less for the bundle than either of them did cost on release. If on November 13 you want to buy WoW, TBC, and WotLK all together, it only costs you $70. And really, there is no good reason to want to buy WotLK for a new player right from the start. I'm pretty sure that by the time the third expansion comes out, there is some cheap package where you can buy WoW with both expansions for $30 or so.

The real barrier to entry into WoW nowadays is a completely different one. Like one of my readers commented yesterday, he had a friend joining for the first time, and that friend asked "where are all the other players?". That will be worse after Wrath than before. Not only will everyone be at level 80, which even with sped up leveling is a long way to go, but also there won't be all that many low level alts as in The Burning Crusade. TBC had veteran players making level 1 draenei and blood elf. WotLK has veteran players make level 55 death knights. Big difference for the future population of newbie zones.

Sad as it is, the best way to start WoW nowadays is via a friend, who recruits you with that triple xp offer and rushes you through the part of the game we used to love back in 2004/2005. Because in 2008/2009 that part of the game is an empty wasteland. You can still quest in the Barrens, but when you read some reference to the famous "Barrens chat" you won't know what they are talking about, because all you heard was eerie silence.
Comments:
Something similar happened in DAOC when they allowed all players with a lvl 50 char to create new chars starting at lvl 20. It really killed the game for new players.
 
Interesting observations.

I've never played WoW, or even watched anyone else play it. All I know about it is what I've read on the web and the endless discussions/rants I've heard about it in the games I have been playing since WoW launched (mostly EQ/EQ2/Vanguard/Guild Wars/LotRO).

I always had it in mind to try WoW one day, but there's always been something MMO that looked more interesting. Since I prefer playing in very low population environments (Test servers and/or U.S servers on GMT time for example), and since I massively prefer low-level gameplay to high level, Tobold's comments actually make trying WoW seem a more attractive idea to me than it has done previously.

Realistically, though, with expansions imminent for three MMOs that I already know and enjoy, plus Warhammer, which I would like to try, and several interesting MMOs in development that I'm lookng forward to, it looks increasingly likely that, despite having played MMOs as my main leaisure activity for nearly ten years, I will never get round to playing the biggest and most successful of them all.
 
Well, been one of those who choose GW insted WOW in old days, i played only LOTRO in meanwhile. And Aoc, for a month ;)
I just started WOW and it is empty, but that doesnt bother me.
I have a friend which is helping me (old veteran, ofc), and its fun.
But i must admit that im wondering how WOW looked like in glory days :)
 
Ah...Barrens Chat (TM). How I miss thee.

Rememeber when that one guy said "You're mom" and that other guy said "No. YOUR mom" and someone said "I did your mom" and then someone else chimed in with "Oh yeah? Well Chuck Norris is soooo badass that..."

Sigh. I really miss those days.

/cough

Jason (resident drunken idiot of Channel Massive)
 
Well the thought of purchasing the starter (original game) and WotLK comes viable through this sentence you wrote:

"TBC had veteran players making level 1 draenei and blood elf. WotLK has veteran players make level 55 death knights."

It's more than plausible for the newcomer to want her/his piece of the action which is happening in the most active level range. My guess is that Blizzard will bundle WoW and TBC into one package completely and thus take one hurdle away from the newcomers.

Sadly that does empty the Old World content with it's dense lore completely. But then again, the more time and space for us explorers to go through the whole area.

Alone. In silence.
 
Blizzard should designate a few servers as "leveling" servers where you get one free transfer off the server.
 
If there is nothing particularly heroic about Death Knights now (i.e. no quest to create them), why not just start all new characters at level 55 and blank out Azeroth altogether?

Oh yes, for the extra cash flow.
 
"You can still quest in the Barrens, but when you read some reference to the famous "Barrens chat" you won't know what they are talking about, because all you heard was eerie silence"

There are some advantages to being a newbie, then!
 
To me this represents poor world design. It was bad enough when TBC came out and all the 70s went to Shattrath while the old world was a ghost town. Now even Shat will be history as everyone becomes lvl 80. Why doesn't Blizzard add things to bring back high levels to other areas? ie. daily quests, random events, open world pvp. Imagine if Stormwind was threatened by a plague and needed people to mine, hew and fight to save the city from attack!

Wow wastes a LOT of good potential on a linear, gear-driven design.
 
I observed the same thing a few days ago, when I explored the Exodar with a twink. Ok, it was a "recommended" Server and it was about midnight. But within an hours time I met no (!) other player not even at the bank or auction house. In addition the Exodar is so large that the feeling of loneliness is doubled...
 
Those were the days! leveling in the barrens for the first time, crossroads battles,id love a new start server, were everyone joined at level 1, that would be cool! i wonder what the take up would be
 
Well, I guess that WoW is coming into the "catering to the established community" part of it's life cycle, much like EQ is in for several years now. WoWs popularity has probably peaked with TBC release and I don't think that there will a great influx of brand new players to WoW anymore. It will be mostly just old players resubbing for new expansions and so on.

If WoW plays it's cards right it might manage to retain a loyal core audience for many years just as EQ successfully did. After a certain point it just makes more sense keeping the current players happy and making content for them, instead of trying to entice new players to a somewhat aged game.
 
I think the problem you had with Exodar is its just another Darnassus, and hardly anyone ever goes there.

As for empty zones, I guess it depends on your Server. On Argent Dawn EU at least - Barrens Chat lives on, albeit in Elwynn and of an even worse variety.

Cyber too!
 
There hill near the crossroads where if you listen long enough you can hear the echoes of Chuck Norris jokes of ages past.
 
Definitely agree. One smart thing that Blizzard did this year (February) was to open up a new server with no in-bound transfers allowed for six months (Cairne).

It was great, the meeting stone outside Ragefire Chasm was mobbed. Getting into an instance group took seconds.

Now the 5-man instances are all but dead.
 
That's really why they never created an AH or trainers in Outlands, so that high level players would always have to return to the capital cities and "show off" to the new players.
 
Wont the achievement system in some way force old players to go back?

Or maybe roll a new one and complete all them the "fun" way?
 
Bliz should just rename Wrath Of the Lich King (WotLK) to Gives us your money heres more fluffy awsome garbarge (GuymhmFaG).
 
I was really excited about BC when it first came out. But as I began the task of leveling a few of my low level alts, I began to realise some of the stuff I missed out on in the before BC era.

I was lucky to get in a few Scholo and Strat runs. But I missed Naxx, UBRS, BRD, CORE, the original endgame stuff.
 
I've written about this before, most cohesively in my "Old World of Warcraft" article. It's just poor game design to make a persistent online world focus on the endgame while ignoring the leveling content. I like the lore of WoW, but the business and design decisions leave me scratching my head.
 
Even on the Beta servers, Barrens Chat is alive and well. It now resides in World Trade Chat.
 
I've written about this before, most cohesively in my "Old World of Warcraft" article.

A comment like that needs a link.
 
I agree, I would like to read the article too, sounds interesting.
 
Thanks for the link, Tobold. I thought of putting one in, but wasn't sure what protocol to use. It's a bit of a meandering article, so it's less cohesive and more comprehensive... but all in all, it discusses many of the same concerns that you've expressed. (As well as some others.)
 
My subcription to WoW just expired this morning. I chose not to renew it. Instead my son and I are playing Wizard101. And Lego Batman comes out next week. I think I'll be ok ;)
 
I think you will always have a certain faction of any game who enjoy low level content. Personally, I would much rather roll a new alt than participate in a 25-man raid. I agree with one of your previous posts that some horizontal content would improve the game, but a lot of people who are of a mind to make alts are at the 10 char cap per realm (I am on 3 diff servers).
 
It's now official, no one reads press releases...

http://www.blizzard.com/us/press/080915.html

"The Wrath of the Lich King expansion requires the original World of Warcraft game, available now for a suggested retail price of $19.99, along with World of Warcraft: The Burning CrusadeĀ®, which sells for $29.99. These two products are combined in the World of Warcraft Battle ChestĀ®, are available for $39.99. World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King has received a Teen rating from the ESRB."
 
This makes an interesting point about WAR : what will happen in two year's time, when all the veteran players will be rank 50 or 60? Right now leveling is a blast with scenarios and PQs and objectives and keep sieges - unfortunately all of these are utterly reliant on other players being around. At least in WoW you can level as an online solo RPG, I'm not sure how well that would work in WAR - the mechanics are simply too different.
 
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