Tobold's Blog
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
All WoW characters deleted!

Dear Blizzard customer!

During today's maintenance we noticed a bug that corrupted all character data. We immediately proceeded to roll back to the backup version, but accidentally overwrote the backup with the corrupted data instead of the other way round. Now we have no valid copy of any character data left. In consequence we were forced to delete all characters on all servers. Everybody will have to reroll at level 1 again.

As compensation we have credited every account with one free month of game time. We also made the old guild recruitment channel work in all zones, and put guild charter NPCs in all starting zones. Thus you should be able to find your friends back and get your old guilds up and running fast.

We apologize for the inconvenience.

Your Blizzard Developer Team
Dream or nightmare? I don't think this could actually happen, but as hypothetical situation it is quite interesting. I am currently pondering the question of why we play, and attachment to our characters is certainly a big part of it. One of my pen & paper roleplaying friends just quit WoW because he felt Blizzard had nerfed his warlock too much, without even considering just rolling another class. So what if we removed character attachment from the equation, and deleted all characters? Would people be willing to start over, maybe use the opportunity to play a different class, rediscover the fun of old content, run low-level dungeons with their guild mates? Or would WoW crash and lose most of its subscribers? Are we only playing because we are attached to the characters we started?

I'd love to hear from you how you would react if all the characters were deleted and you would have to start over. Would you play or quit? Would you play the same class or a different one? Would you choose the same server and try to find your old guild back, or play on a completely different server? What would you do the same, what would you do different?
Funnily, the 3.1 patch shows quite some love for the Warlock class. I was playing a Warlock, too, but this is not a reason for me to play the game again. The stone old EverQuest style design is outdated and bad, I was always a supporter of Ultima Online style.

It would be an interesting experiment if experienced players, heck, everyone, had to start from scratch again... :)

I think many would realize that the game got old and they are bored with it, levelling a different class through the same static zones just does not kick it.

But a heavily and densely populated world, basically most players progressing together with you, is the best possible experience in EQ style games. This is why some people like to play on "fresh" new servers.

But I think most would quit the game.
Think I would probably quite the game. Sure got the friends there. But such an accident would have destroyed all that I've done last couple of years. Would be the same as if you've walked back into your work to find out that during the night all your work space and your project been totaly wiped out. No account of what you've done the last 5 years. An opportunity to start it all over again doing it better this time or just a reason to quit it and look for something else in life?
The attachment that I have to my main of 4 years is quite substantial. I'm a huge fan of character progression, and even though the scope of such progression is very limited in WoW, I still have a strong attachment to my main. I'm quickly approaching the 5000 achievement point mark with my main, and have not changed specs since day one of hitting level 60(outside of the forced resets due to talent changes). My character is also named after my very first D&D character that I rolled way back in 1981. It would be devastating for me if the scenario you presented were to occur, and I would, without a doubt, quit the game if some form of character restoration were not at least attempted in such a case.

With Blizzards track record of outstanding cutomer service, and the availability of armory information with which to manually restore a character, I highly doubt that such a situation could not be remedied in short order.

To tell you the truth though, if this were to happen I think that social scientists would love to see the outcome of such an event. Just imagine the chaos that would ensue as characters were manually restored along with the assumed chat spam as players desperately tried to rebuild guilds if those links were also lost during the data loss. It would definately be an event for the record books, and I wouldnt be surprised to see oodles of lawsuits as well. Which raises and even more intriguing question; What exactly does Blizzard owe it subscriber base in terms of safeguarding data in that regard? Absolutely nothing I suppose, but it would be an interesting event to watch unfold at any rate.
I would re-roll and start fresh. And I know this because I kinda brought what you describe upon myself. I had a level 80 priest that was raiding Naxx as Disc, having a good time. But I noticed little things , and then I got a little distraught over some happenings on my account. I'll leave the drama out for sake of breveity, but the conclusion was that I deleted my level 80 priest (which had some Naxx gear) and my level 70 warrior. I then RAF-linked two new accounts and started fresh, with the idea of getting back into the old game, and just remembering my roots, why I loved WoW in the first place. I'm a busy guy (wife, two kids UNDER TWO!) and my life has changed a lot since 2004, when I first started playing..

I was noticing an unhealthy level of attachment to my Priest, and after some minor stuff affected me greatly, I decided to take action. It was tough at first... but I've since gotten over it and I feel I won a battle there, to be honest. Now I dual-box, which is fun in its own (new angle to playing) and I'm just taking my sweet time enjoying the classic vanilla WoW. Most importantly, I got a good chunk of my real life back, which is invaluable. All wins...
Well, I'm in the unique position that my favorite character is equipped with two items that can no longer be obtained in the game. One being a Green Lens of the Eagle (not able to be created since patch 1.3) and the other being a set of shoulders enchanted with the old Power of the Scourge enchant that dropped off Sapphirion in old school level 60 Naxx. >.>
I think that the subs numbers would definitely take a hit. Perhaps a substantial amount of Achievers, and to some degree, Explorers and Killers (the few left in WoW) would leave but the Socializers would probably stay and do exactly that: reform the guild and started having fun on the old content.
Perhaps they would even get a new subscription boom, from all the untapped casuals who don't start the game because they feel they arrived to late to the wagon.
Who know? I think WoW reached a point where the only way of drastically reduce the subs number would be to pull the plug on the servers permanently.
As far as I'm concerned, if I hadn't burned out from the game, the Socializer in me would stay if I were in a guild with good friends.
This actually happened to me recently. Through no fault of Blizzard, though. I've been playing since June 2005 and had leveled 7 characters to 70+ and 2 to 60+. One morning about 5 wks ago, I logged on and just had this overwhelming feeling that I'd seen and done it all (or most of it anyway). Although it was hard, I decided to say goodbye to WoW and made a clean break from the game. I deleted all the gear/bags/items etc from all 10 of my toons and put all the funds into my guilds bank. I then uninstalled the game. As fate would have it, about 2 weeks later, I started to miss the game a bit. So I re-installed the game/mods and all. I rolled a new lvl 1 holy paladin and began anew. I ticketed about having my toons/stuff restored, the ticket was escalated, but I didn't hear anything even after 3 days. So I just closed it. I have to say, in a strange way, it's been somewhat refreshing hitting the reset button, so to speak. I've managed to level her to 70 in 5 days, 20 hrs /played. My guild has been great about helping out - dungeon runs here and there, a starter heal set for lvl 78, even a 500g loan that I was told should never be paid back, :) It's nice to be focusing on just one toon for the time being. And while I DO miss my last holy pally, at the end of the day, he was just a bunch of polygons. Albeit, a bunch of polygons I spent a few years developing, but whatever.
@Chris @ obtheob: You mention starting anew. But both of you say that it was your own decisions in a first place to delete the toons. It's a bit different situation. If one would run amok and smashed all his belonging he wouldn't hold a grudge to anyone. Eventually you'd find it quite refreshing and probably a new opportunity to start over your life. But would you view it in a same way, if it would be me to get into your house and burned it all down? I really doubt it would be the case. It's never easy to get along with the mistakes of others that affect us.
I'd probably reroll on Alliance for some variety, but I would probably quit after reaching the point where the only difference is the quest giver's name and race. And even that difference goes out of the window when you start doing dailies for rep.

However, as many have pointed out, the faster leveling speed has put previously-tuned zones out of alignment. You're quite likely to outlevel the challenges long before you've completed most of the quest chains the zone.
Even if lots of people decided ot start over, my guess is that a lot would leave anyway out of a worry of blizzard's carelessness than a desire to keep their characters. (Though it still seems likely that a lot of players would quit, which might be a good thing in general, as a lot of the quitters would be people who weren't enjoying WoW but kept playing out of attachment.)

My personal story on this: Deleting all my characters was how I quit the game after I had started spending too much time on the game. None of them were past level 40 or so, but the thought of having to level the characters up again was enough to keep me out of the game after that.
As someone who is drifting away from WoW, I think something like this might bring me back. I think it'd be fun to start over with everyone else. Plus there would be lots of ways to make easy money on the AH.
@ Grzegorz: Sorry, didn't mean to suggest that if the reset were Blizzard's fault that I wouldn't (or others shouldn't) be extremely upset. I certainly would. Obviously two different scenarios, but similar nonetheless.
I think most of the long timers would quit.

Me, I would like it. Then the tank in my guild would be -forced- to group with my alts in low level instances. I'd love to see him kicked down a little and made to help people other than himself.
My first instinct was to say that I would quit. But then I realized that the old world would suddenly be more populous and that I would enjoy leveling again. For me the game just needs to feel alive. Even some of the Free to Play games feel more alive than vanilla WoW and while I don't really play them much I enjoy being in the midst of the virtual crowds.
I would totally re-roll and do it again. My favorite time in 2-3 years playing WoW, was far and away the vanilla experience.

Sure, it will never be quite as amazing as your first time, but quite honestly some of blizzard's best work is in the 1-60 game, and it feels kinda sad being in that great content on an alt or something knowing it is all but abandoned. Despite my attachment to current characters and my time investment in them, I would relish the described scenario. I wouldn't even complain.Imagine running instances and group Qs again, knowing that everyone you're grouped with is on their main character. Only the gear they earnt themselves is available again, like the game in its first year after launch. Awesome.

The game used to be such an adventure on your first character (this was my first MMO too) and I really can say I have much more of an attachment to the memories of starting the game for the first time than I do to any of my specific characters.
I think I'd make a level one and go through everything again. Finally you could do sub-80 dungeons as designed, and you could actually find groups for them. My current 77 mage has done a grand total of four dungeons so far, and one of those was a run-through... The economy would be interesting too with no wealthy 80s spending gold like water.

In fact this has me somewhat tempted to create a character on the next new server that opens up, providing it isn't open to transfers.
Well, it'd be a chance to relive old times and some might see it as that. I think inevitably many people would leave but they might have better retention of new subscribers as a direct result of everyone being in the low level zones and excited to play from the ground up again. Several games have done this and it hasn't totally decimated them, but I don't know if WoW which is so much about how much time you have sunk into the game, is capable of enticing people to do it all over again too many times. Once might be ok but repeatedly would be unforgiveable In the player's eyes.
Though I think most people would be reasonable and reroll, I think there are a good number of crazys out there who would literally storm and/or bomb Blizzard HQ. I'd not be suprised. People are nuts.
I'm an alt-oholic. So I really don't mind releveling. There are certain quest chains that I always do on my alts, for example, even my DK got his Scholomance key, and ran all of the Scholo/Strat instances. I didn't hit outlands until I was 62, but that content is just so wonderful, I do not miss an opportunity to pass it up, ever. I still hate the barrens, so I've been sending all of my new toons to silvermoon or the Seplechur so I do not have to run that zone. I've also found new quests that were added after I leveled my first toon to 60 that I quite enjoy.

That being said, I think I would be very sad to lose my Druid or my hunter (which I raided through twin emps with). I've put a lot of time and effort into her and she has grown her own "personality". I'm not sure if I'd quit, as I don't think I'd mind starting over. I guess it would all depend who else stayed around and if I continued having fun =)
As another confirmed altholic, I love the whole levelling process and learning the ins and outs of different classes and specs, so it wouldn't be the end of the world for me. Sure I'd miss my main, but it would be a chance to learn more - maybe level as feral rather than balance - it's a completely different playstyle.
Something like this would acutually cause me to pick up WoW again. My favorite time in an MMO is when the game is young and everyone is leveling. And I like to level alts, in any case.

Bottom line: I have nearly zero character attachment.
I've posted a couple of tangential discussions over on my blog, so I'll plug that, but directly addressing the question at hand, if I were sitting on a level capped character in WoW and then had to restart, I'd mourn for a bit, then get right back into a new character (or five, since I'm pretty altish as well). WoW is most interesting to me in the world exploration phase, puttering around in the leveling content.

That said, I'd be most annoyed with the perception of monetary loss. If WoW were monetized like GW, it wouldn't be nearly the same psychological hit as a wipe under the sub model.
Assuming that I could survive the shock and disappointment of the loss, I might actually find the experience enjoyable. One of the issues with the "old world" and leveling content in general is that it's an empty world. You rarely, if ever, will run an old instance like Maraudon or Shadowfang Keep because of the lack of players. A forced reset has the benefit of repopulating that world (at least temporarily).

Ironically, it's not the "character loss" that would bother me so much as the in-game economic loss of all the wealth I have acquired. I haven't farmed a mat in 2 years and I must have one of the wealthiest set of characters on the server. I've carved out my own little empire on the AH and I think having to start that from scratch again would bug me the most.
I'd do it immediately if my guild all agreed to reroll on a new server, so yes, this would be a pleasant thing. I love going through the earlier content, but hate not being able to group easily. I have a friend who just joined the fold a month ago and we actually got a group of level appropriate people going through Ragefire Chasm and it was a blast. 4 old hats and a new guy that we had to explain the basics of tank-and-spank to.

I would actually be excited if this happened. I know quite a few people would leave, but I also know that many of my guild mates would continue playing. We all have tried new games together. We end up coming back to Wow for the camaraderie.
I don't think I'd quit the game. I do know that I wouldn't rejoin my current guild. I have friends there, and that's why I stay, but I have approximately a 0% chance of seeing end-game content with this guild, and I'd like that experience.
I started fresh myself when BC came out, completely abandoning my guild and all of my characters on one server to start fresh on another. It was quite refreshing to start over, so I did it again in Wrath -- not on a new server, but creating a new main right after 3.0 was released and leveled her to 60 by the time the expansion shipped. If all of my characters were deleted today, I would make a new account RAF-linked with my fiance and we'd go on a whirlwind adventure through Azeroth all over again. Probably with the same classes, because by now, we have a pretty good idea of what classes/roles we like the most.

And it might actually be a good chance to have a lot of fun! There would probably be a lot of other people re-leveling their characters from scratch, so it might be possible to find groups for instances where people aren't tremendously twinked-out or being escorted through by high-level characters. It's been a while since I've been through those places where I actually had to pay attention to what I was doing.
Considering that most guilds are in contact via an independent forum and website, getting everyone back together wouldn't be that hard. If we're going to ignore this possibility, then yes, I'd run around trying to find everyone again, might actually be fun.

As for restarting from scratch? I'd love it. I like playing the game with friends for the sake of playing the game. I'm having fun at any level as long as I have other people to group up with. My gear and gold is simply a means for me to see content and experience things with friends. E.G. I chase gear in Naxx for the sole reason that it will enable me to see Ulduar, not because I have any feeling of ownership or accomplishment attached to receiving gear.

If I did have to re-roll from scratch, I'd probably coordinate with my guild to fill in a role that we need more, maybe a tank or healer. Would be a blast all leveling up together again, playing through Deadmines and Mauradon, helping each other with crafted gear and so forth.

Of course I can imagine that the above letter would be understandably devastating to a lot of players. I'd view it as a new opportunity to enjoy the game again.
I'd sigh and start afresh with my dwarf hunter. I don't care about achievements much, and consider it a gear reset just like when a new expansion is released. I would miss my gyrocopter and choppa though, as well as my portable beer keg! Those are loots that are truly eternal!

(I would also love if they put new starting zones cause I think they're where some of the most fun is to be had, really).
I'd probably giggle with glee and start right back over. The best times I've had in WOW were back in the vanilla days on a brand new server. Hell - they could even turn on the old battleground honor system and I'd be just as happy.

I know...I know...I'm seeking help >_<
I've been playing on and of (several months on, months-to-a-year off) since three months after WoW launched. My four original characters (73 hunter, 54 druid, 17 warrior, 9 shaman, all Tauren) are a novelty the importance of which fluctuates as time goes by. Right now, two months since taking a break, I am content to let them all wash away and leave only memories. I like their stories. Sometimes I have flashbacks to scenes and emotions from the game; I like this. I'm not going to delete them, but if Blizzard effs up and does it for me, I can live with that. I am not inclined to start again from zero; as an explorer/achiever, I get the picture, and would rather go back to Morrowind or play more Evochron.
I don't think I would be particulary sad. I took a 18 months step back from the game once and I am not that much bond to my character. But I would be reluctant to start things over. Call this the weight of achievements (I mean achievement in a general way, not 3.x achievements) : it's just hard to start over. Quiting or not would be a decision based on what my friends would do I guess.
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