A very illuminating article appeared at Random Battle this week. Coincidentally Cameron has summed up where I am with regard to my WoW career; I have a feeling that many other loyal players are feeling that way as well. I really agree with his spot on observations about how raiding changes people and how it has the effect of chewing you up and spitting you out. For myself, I’ve maxed out Karazhan with a group of people as I’ve got all the loot I need pretty much from there and from badges. I was just tanking Kara for these people more out of sense obligation then enjoyment. To go any further into 25 person content would require a significant increase in the commitment and time that I would have to devote to WoW; I’m just not prepared to give Blizzard my entire life for a few more purple pixels.
Once you progress to 25 person raids — WoW becomes a virtual job. Many guilds start off as “casual, family style” guilds but soon end up becoming hardcore raiding guilds. Since many people are truly addicted to WoW at that point, they put up with it. It’s hard to walk away from avatars you’ve sunk massive amounts of your life into. Another interesting thing is that progressing from the outside of the donut (Blizzard’s design philosophy) into the hole of the donut changes you. As Cameron noted that transition has the effect of changing people — for the worse in most cases. They get caught up in raiding and forget the reason they started playing WoW in the first place: the fun, the social element and the incredibly immersive world.
When a player decides to go hardcore, WoW raiding becomes like the Rocky Horror Picture Show meets Riverdance. Everyone plays their part in a very complex Broadway dance number. They keep doing it till they get it right and then presto…you get to loot your purple epics. This repetition is what raiding in MMO’s has been reduced to. The Time Warp lyrics say it best:
It’s just a jump to the left
And then a step to the right
Put your hands on your hips
My family, my career and my health come before a MMO that requires me to spend crazy amounts of time raiding and then even more time farming for mats and badges on our days off from raiding. Kinda strange when you think about the concept of “days off” from raiding — it sure feels like a job to me.
It’s very strange as I ended up quitting vanilla WoW approximately 6 months before the first expansion was released due to the same problem. We had hit a brick wall as we didn’t have the time or skill to progress any further — we just wanted to have fun as a family guild instead of becoming hardcore raiders. The problem back then was the quantum leap in difficulty from Molten Core to Blackwing Lair. It literally tore our guild apart (as well as countless other guilds across most servers) and for that I will never forgive Blizzard.
Blizzard’s fundamental problem right now is that they are not releasing enough substantive casual friendly content on a timely basis. Many people are losing interest in WoW because Blizzard can’t seem to speed up development despite the fact they are enjoying tremendous economies of scale. The revenue Blizzard is taking in could simultaneously fund 20 EverQuest expansions. It boggles the mind as to what they are doing in Irvine with all that money. They need to hire more people and create a separate expansion dev team — but you know they won’t. Despite the fact they promised to start making expansions faster at the last Blizzcon, it’s looks as thought WotLK will take 2 years just as the Burning Crusade did. The result is that people are quitting WoW in droves because there’s really nothing left to do except those horrifically tedious daily quests and of course “farm”.
WoW is also suffering from other factors that seem to be eating away at the once great MMO: a lack of purpose and focus, dabbling in PVP and e-sports among other things. The danger if WoW fails is that it may take the whole MMO industry into the grave with it. How long will gamers put up with doing the same crap day in and day out? It remains to be seen if MMO’s are a fad or if they have true longevity as a viable form of gaming.
As a result I’ve finally canceled my account. In it’s own small way it’s a protest. I’m sure it will have more of an effect then any of my blog articles I ever wrote. I doubt I’ll be back for Wrath of Lich King either. WoW is tired and vapid for me now. The fact that there has been zero innovation from Blizzard really irks me more then anything. I really feel they are taking my money and putting nothing back into WoW. Most of the good friends I met in MMO’s over the years have stopped playing altogether. MMO’s seem to be dominated by kids and teenager’s now anyways. Thanks to WoW’s solo friendly design, the social ties that would normally keep you playing just aren’t there and in the long run that’s WoW’s Achilles heel.
When a you feel that a game is playing you rather then you playing the game — it’s time to pack up and leave. In the last few months of playing WoW I really have felt that I’ve been swindled by Blizzard and Vivendi; I realize how silly that sounds but nonetheless the feeling prevails. After 4 years of playing, the initial wonder and enthusiasm I had for WoW has turned into scorn and resentment. I suppose that’s a perfectly natural way to feel as a MMO’s starts to show signs of aging.
Don’t expect me to stop writing about MMO’s or WoW. I have at quite a few drafts of articles that I’m developing that will hopefully see the light someday. Paradoxically, writing about WoW has become more enjoyable then actually playing the game. Sorry Blizzard you’re not getting off that easy.