In a recent video from indie developer, YouTuber, and industry insider Michaell Bell AKA Bellular Gaming revealed that some of the current Blizzard developers are frustrated working with Chris Metzen because of the direction he’s taking for the World of Warcraft franchise.
Chris Metzen recently returned to Blizzard after a six-year hiatus. His official title is Senior Vice President of Creative Development. In practical terms: he’s currently in charge of the lore and story for WoW.
Here’s the quote from Bell:
“There‘s been a fair amount of internal discussion on that team — from what I understand — about the direction of the game. And quite a few people on that team, I think, are not particularly interested in, you know, they’re more interested in the kind of well… Dragonflight storytelling and because as much as you know Ian’s talked about how it’s amazing to be working with Chris again and there’s been quite a lot of buzz about that lately. I’ve also heard one or two bits of buzz on the grapevine that some people are really frustrated by it because it’s no longer the WoW that they want to work on. But the thing is, it’s like yeah, well Metzen kind of did establish WoW. And I think the vast majority of the player base wants the WoW that was informed by Chris and Samwise.”
Here’s the YouTube video cued up at the point he starts these remarks:
It makes sense that the current regime of World of Warcraft senior designers would not be pleased with Metzen’s triumphant but unexpected return to the storied halls of Blizard HQ. They have messed up things badly since Metzen departed the studio.
Bell makes a lot of great points in the video. It’s well worth watching as are the videos on his channel.
The main thrust of Michael’s video is the current uninspired state of WoW in 2023. Bell has found that fewer and fewer people are watching his WoW videos which suggests that interest in the venerable MMO is waning. I almost feel sorry for him as he avoids discussing many obviously uncomfortable issues that are at the heart of the sickness that has plagued Blizzard.
For my part, I will not hesitate to mention what Michael failed to say but could not.
The Death of a Thousand Cuts has all but Killed World of Warcraft
I believe that WoW has suffered the death of a thousand cuts in the post-Wrath of the Lich King era. Every since WOTLK, WoW has been in decline. There are many reasons for this:
- The sale of Vivendi to Activision in 2008. This was the beginning of the end for Blizzard. Slowly but surely Blizzard and Mike Morhaime inevitably lost control and relinquished it to supervillain Bobby Kotick.
- The hemorrhaging of key talent from Blizzard over the years which included Rob Pardo and other veterans who were instrumental in forging vanilla WoW
- Gutting the WoW team: Most of the talent from the WoW “A” team including Metzen, Afrasiabi, Kaplan et al, was transferred to Project Titan which was a $50 million boondoggle. As a result, the very best WoW developers were no longer working on the MMO. This left a huge vacuum of talent and the results showed.
- Too much emphasis on storytelling and not enough emphasis on core MMORPG gameplay bolstered by class interdependence that creates social cohesion: Players want to make their own stories and memories in fantasy virtual worlds. If they want cheesy episodic entertainment they can binge on Netflix or HBO. Stop trying to be the next Steven Spielberg.
- Too many self-indulgent distractions like the Warcraft film and e-sports
- Too many gimmicky mechanics that are over-engineered
- Aggressive and relentless monetization
- A decade of non-stop diversity hiring has watered down the talent pool at Blizzard. Instead of hiring by merit, track record, and experience, they embraced mediocrity by hiring women and various minorities to check off diversity quota boxes.
- Woke California workplace policies driven by the moral panic of the #metoo movement and the fetishization of Black Lives Matter propaganda have transformed Blizzard into a dreadful feminist-run penal colony that drives away talented straight white male developers.
- Activision-Blizzard developers must attend diversity, equity, and inclusion workshops and Maoist struggle sessions where they are told to hate white men and promote so-called marginalized communities
- Too many meddling HR and DIE featherbed officers waste precious resources that could be spent on making better games
- Unrelenting LGBTQ propaganda with PRIDE and Progress PRIDE flags being flown everywhere at Blizz HQ and with a focus on “transgender rights” throughout the studio
- Blizzard foisted woke idealogy onto their players by removing biological sex designation in the character creation screen to appease transgender, queer, and non-binary people that don’t play WoW
- Blizzard inexplicably introduced incoherent racial diversity into the fabric of WoW and started blackwashing NPCs for no reason other than to virtual signal their wokeness.
- Blizzard is not a good place to work. Salaries there are lower than the industry standard so existing talent and other talent end up working elsewhere. The cost of living in Orange County is too high.
- Blizzard jettisoned their fundamental creative credo: “easy to learn, hard to master” and “we will only release it until it’s ready” and replaced it with “everyone’s welcome in Azeroth” nonsense.
- Blizzard devs are out of touch with their core players.
The Truth Shall Set You Free if You Find the Courage to Speak It
Regrettably, either Michael Bell does not have the wisdom to know what is really at the heart of the problem or he lacks the courage to tell the truth about what’s really going on. He may well be afraid that if he mentions anything controversial, he’ll get demonetized on YouTube and his woke confidants who work at Blizz won’t return his emails. Bell’s knowledge of the MMORPG genre (forged by EverQuest and the iconic RPGs that came before) is understandably limited because he lacks the perspective that age brings.
A few videos ago he foolishly complimented woke Forbes journalist Jason Schrier. He probably has no idea that Schrier colluded with other journalists during the GamerGate affair with his membership in GameJournalPros. Schrier is not to be trusted.
What has happened to Blizzard is not a shock to me. I have been reporting on the decline of Blizzard and World of Warcraft for almost two decades. I predicted all of this and I have the receipts to back it up.
Clearly, the biggest problem with WoW is that the current team of “diverse” developers is out of touch with their core players. The result is that WoW has lost its mojo. The DNA, original intensity, and sense of challenge that made the MMORPG a pulse-pounding cultural phenomenon have been replaced by an unfocused, scatterbrained game without heart and soul. The fact that many players unimpressed by Shadowlands and Dragonflight expansions have gravitated to WoW classic and hardcore class servers, is ample proof of this.
Blizzard is simply following the same financially unsustainable trajectory as the woke California-based entertainment industrial complex which continues to produce flop after flop.
Blizzard Entertainment used to be a unique, uncompromising, unapologetic, male-dominated studio making kick-ass games for male gamers. That Blizzard is dead and gone and it has been replaced with a feminized, woke workplace comprised of pink-haired posers and dilettantes who want to make a cutesy fantasy utopia where everyone is welcome. That kind of thinking is naive and foolish. You can not be all things to all people. Wake up people.
Art reflects the artist. When you aggressively hire subversive feminists, pansy femboys, male feminists, and deranged alphabet people for over a decade, don’t be surprised that they will not be creating content that will be palatable to red-blooded American straight white men who are your financial bread and butter.
The heart of the problem is the soulless over-paid drones at the top who hired these misfits and miscreants. The blame goes to Mike Morhaime, J. Allen Brack, and the entire executive management team that facilitated all of this insanity for the past 14 years. They squandered the reputation of an incredible studio for the approval of their woke wives and the fleeting praise of the corrupt video game media.
Blizzard stopped caring about their core demographic and instead wanted to welcome everyone for the purpose of making more profits. You can’t have your cake and eat it. Blizzard chose virtue signaling over making great games. Blizzard chose themselves over their loyal subscribers. They deserve to fail and fail hard.
Given all of this, no wonder the current low-testosterone dev team is frustrated with Chris Metzen. These misbehaving children have had it their way since Metzen’s absence and they messed things up. Daddy’s home and now they have to behave.
At this point, the mercurial Metzen is the only person who has a chance at saving the WoW franchise from the abyss of oblivion. After all, he is the J.R.R. Tolkien of Azeroth. Metzen needs to get in there, pound his fist on the table, bust some heads, and start fighting for the world he created. I hope he digs deep into his soul, mans up, embraces his inner warrior, and finds the courage to return WoW to a golden era of honor, glory, and breathtaking splendor that all of us experienced from 2004-2007. If anyone has the gravitas to pull this off, it’s him.