Tobold's Blog
Wednesday, August 10, 2016
My World of Warcraft status

I quite enjoyed the Warlords of Draenor expansion of World of Warcraft for several months. Which is probably why I decided at that time to pre-purchase Legion. Today I'm not totally convinced that was such a good idea, because the stuff I like in Warlords of Draenor (garrisons) becomes nerfed and useless in Legion. However the economic gameplay I liked about garrisons netted me over a million gold pieces, part of which I already converted into WoW tokens when they were still cheap (they doubled in gold price since). Which means that the combination of WoW tokens and Legion pre-purchase results in there being no further cost to me to try out the new expansion, other than of course the time cost.

So last weekend I patched World of Warcraft to the latest version and spent a WoW token on a subscription, but didn't do much more than cleaning up my inventory. Today (in Europe) the expansion pre-event starts, including the possibility to play the Demon Hunter new class. So I'm planning to play World of Warcraft tonight, over the coming weeks, and especially next month when the expansion proper is out. The general idea is to try the Demon Hunter and level at least one character (Warrior or Demon Hunter) to the level cap.

I'm keeping an open mind, and maybe I end up liking Legion. But I also consider the possibility that this is the last expansion of WoW that I'll buy, because right now I'm far from being enthusiastic.

I honestly thought Cataclysm was going to be the last expansion I played, as WoW was (and has continued) moving away from what I think makes it great. I assumed at least one of the many MMORPGs to come out since then would be at least comparable to WoW. Instead, the genre moved to action combat and open-PvP, leaning heavily on "sandbox" gameplay (translation: very little content). A series of failed "WoW-clones" has apparently convinced industry developers that WoW is some bizarro fluke, that everything WoW does is wrong, and they should continue doing the opposite (despite that also failing).

So here we are, and I am once again seriously considering a return to WoW. All the while, I'm thinking, "surely this will be the last time, surely a better game will come out that I'll want to play instead." But I've said that twice before, and looking out on the barren horizon of future MMORPG releases, I can find no real reason why this instance is any more promising than the previous.
The lore and story set up for this expansion is pretty great. Their pre-release set up with cimocs, motion comics, and a short story really have told the story well (at least a lot better than WoD).

For that I am cautiously optimistic.
The lore and story set up for this expansion is pretty great. Their pre-release set up with cimocs, motion comics, and a short story really have told the story well (at least a lot better than WoD).

For that I am cautiously optimistic.
Garrisons were not just nerfed, but rather crushed in moneymaking aspect a couple of weeks ago. Legion invasions starting today yield ilvl 700 gear which dooms Draenor crafting (you get 2 random pieces just for being in the invaded zone while the big crowd of playes completes objectives). So it's not the best time for economy-oriented gameplay.

On the positive side, you get a bit of new content. Also, if you're transmog fun, now is your time (before the levelling begins, you can fully commit yourself to collecting appearances).
Could could barely get started on WoD or even muster the energy to care. After seeing the movie I jumped back in briefly only to realize that what I really wanted was a new game which looked more like the movie, felt more like the movie....and not WoW which feels so corny and trite by comparison. I'm holding out for the fever dream that Blizzard's next big project will be a WoW II with genuinely upgraded graphics and gameplay --and maybe even an effort to make the game more focused on a semi-serious effort at storytelling like the movie was, rather than the never-ending range of outdated pop-cultural meme jokes so many of the quests actually are (but yeah, probably just a fever dream. Sigh)
And yet, no one will produce a competent successor to what made WoW such a success, PvE.

I am reserving judgement on Legion so far... I DID make a Demon Hunter, I gave it a hilarious "Illidan" derived name, (Which I think works well for me, since all my characters have names that start with an I and are procedurally created anyway.)

So, my rant right now is going to be on the double jump. What the hell? Are they going to give everyone double jump, or make it useless by never having terrain you can double jump over?

Ok. Rant part 2. Then I swear I'll shut up for at least a day about this. You get a talent in the second tier that removes YOUR ONLY ability that directly creates fury. You generate FAR MORE fury using the original ability than with the retarded replacement, and you relegate yourself to standing there waiting for auto attacks to generate fury if you have the talent.

I guess the invasions could be fun. If you're on meth.
Demon's blade is intended as an option for people who like slower gameplay. I like it.

It will never be the best talent on the row, per dev statements. Strictly optional.
Ulrik says:

"Demon's blade is intended as an option for people who like slower gameplay. I like it.
It will never be the best talent on the row, per dev statements. Strictly optional."

The devs actually SAID THAT? Well hell... if you like slower game play, just leave your talents blank! Problem solved! This is pants on head retarded.
Samus at this stage of things I think you should be a bit more respectful of the opinion that WoW is a bizarro fluke. In the 20+ years of MMO history, no other has come close to its success (at least in the West) in spite a long, long list of games that tried. I played quite a few of them, I can't really claim they were really worse.

The ones that imitate Wow fail to get close to WoW; the ones that do something different fail. The people who claim it's a fluke are only making an factually accurate observation.

Justin, that is a bit like saying that the people who wrote cheap pulp fantasy novels failed to get close to the Lord of the Ring in spite of imitating it. Just like Tolkien put an immense amount of work into creating content for his virtual world, so did Blizzard create an immense amount of content for World of Warcraft. The imitators who succeeded best are those who were strongest on content, e.g. SWTOR. Those who made much shorter "books" found that people finished those within 3 months and left.

Tobold covered it pretty well. Certainly WoW was a fluke in terms of outright success, I'm not sure it could be duplicated today no matter what game you released. My main objection is in dismissing it as "just a fluke," as if we should disregard everything they did. Clearly there were circumstances which contributed to their success, but there were ALSO lots of things they did right. For several years now, and seemingly into the foreseeable future, MMORPGs have stopped trying to do any of those things, and instead appear to be trying to do the opposite.
Is it weird that I think I'll be a bit sad when you stop playing WoW. I haven't played it myself since wotlk but I've kept a tab on it through various bloggers and a few friends who still play. Gradually they've all dropped off and I think you're the last. It was a massive part of my life when I played but it will finally be dead to me.

I'll still read your blog though. :)
Well, if Lord of the Rings was the only fantasy novel to sell more than 10 copies... While it's obviously very successful, there are plenty of other series that have done very well.

In any case the book example doesn't really scan, as the book series isn't basically intended to be a lifestyle.

WoW came in at the right time and place to capture an entire world of potential MMO customers. Right when broadband, which was more or less needed to play these games and have much fun, became common. It captured several decades worth of customers. There just isn't enough demand support two WoWs, and apparently when players leave WoW they are mostly leaving the genre entirely.

So I think it's more like Ska music in the 90s or rollerblading or whatever. Briefly very popular. It still exists, but it was a niche before and it'll be a niche afterwards.

"Well, if Lord of the Rings was the only fantasy novel to sell more than 10 copies..."

More like only one to sell more than 100 million copies. The success of WoW has seriously skewed the perception of what constitutes a "successful" MMORPG. You may recall that WAR and AoC both had over 1 million subscribers at one point, and were called flops anyway. I would venture to guess SWTOR is one of the 25 most financially successful PC games in the last 5 years. And I would bet a great deal of money that Legion sells more copies than the next 5 newly released MMORPGs combined. The success of any given MMORPG is almost perfectly correlated with how similar it is to vanilla WoW.
Well, WAR and AOC were pretty floppy. I was there. AOC went into fail mode in a month or so. WAR lasted a bit longer until you just logged in one day to find out your guild was had died over the weekend. When 2/3rds of your customers bail after a couple of months, it's kind of hard to call it a success.

We might be kind of saying the same thing. WoW created the impression that MMOS are a far larger market than it really is. A fluke, or fad, if you will. Or it skewed the perception of what constitutes a successful MMO, which is the nice way of saying the same thing.

MMO players are, mostly, not permanent customers of the genre either. Eventually they burnout or get bored and move on to at least other genres, if not other hobbies altogether. I think WoW's grabbed most of the pent up customer base and used them up. So the question is what the rate of virgin customers entering the genre are, vs. the ones exiting. I haven't kept up on the numbers, but AFAIK the millions of ex-WoW players don't appear to have moved to other MMOS. They're mostly just gone. Also, AFAIK, no MMO is really growing. So I have my suspicions on the burn rate.
I'm also talking about Legion as not being all that great. But look at the financials of it. How much does an expansion cost to produce if you use a lot of graphics and animations from the previous game and expansions? Maybe $10 million? But there will be over 10 million people buying Legion for $40 and playing it for at least one month at $15. That is over $500 million of revenue! Only the top PC/console games like Destiny or The Division make that sort of money. And that is for a tired expansion of a tired MMORPG.

I agree that the market size for World of Warcraft is much larger than the market size for another generic MMORPG. But I don't like to call it a "fluke", because exactly the same thing is happening right now with Pokemon Go: The market size for Pokemon Go is far bigger than the market size of a generic augmented reality game. If we use Pokemon Go as a yardstick, all future augmented reality games will be called flops.
A big draw of the pre-patch for me was that it make old content more accessible for me. I finally have the bag space to go out hunting for the more interesting transmogs. It also made for a good testing ground for my new specs. It provides examples of all three main types of combat; trash, burst damage for rares, and full rotation/sustained DPS on the bosses.
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