Just a few hours before BlizzCon 2023 goes live, an autumn chill is in the air in the wee hours of the morning here in the Pacific Northwest. It’s time to reflect. The last 10 years have been tumultuous for Blizzard Entertainment. The video game studio once revered by their loyal fans, is now the object of ridicule. Most of the blame for Blizzard’s woes can be placed directly on the head of Mike Morhaime and the rest of the executive team. A fish rots from the head down.
Somehow, the greatest video game company in the world tripped and fell into the gutter. But it was no sudden mishap; it was a process of incremental emasculation that took many years to accomplish.
It’s not fashionable to care about Blizzard or World of Warcraft anymore. One reader got upset with me when he realized I was playing WoW Classic some months ago and he’s never talked to me since. He knew I was playing because both of us were on the same Discord server where Discord loves to broadcast what games you are playing. I decided to give WoW Classic a spin and I guess that was a bridge too far for him. I was going through a bad time in my life and I felt didn’t owe him an explanation nor was I going to justify it to him.
How WoW Went from Stunning Starlet to Crazy Cat Lady
WoW is like a beautiful actress that you once admired but found out she is now old, fat, and living on food stamps in a dingy apartment full of cats. Even though I despise Blizzard for what they did to WoW, I still have a flicker of love for the old MMO.
The period from 2004 to 2010 from classic to the Wrath of the Lich King era was the golden age of the fantasy MMORPG. I loved the genre ever since EverQuest. Since Sony Online Entertainment under the stewardship of John Smedley could never duplicate what Blizzard achieved with WoW, the torch passed from Sony to Blizzard and with it all our hopes and fears.
That golden era of World of Warcraft represented me as a male gamer. Unlike the overly feminized, diverse, and inclusive company they are today, Blizzard was a masculine company back then. Hot sweaty Mountain Dew guzzlin’ male gamers were their bread and butter.
The Fall of the Titans
The failure of Titan was a gut punch to Blizzard. They were devasted and crestfallen that they were unable to replicate the magic of WoW. Suddenly they were exposed as frauds who got lucky with WoW which was essentially a more accessible version of EverQuest. The egos of Metzen and Kaplan never recovered so they opted to cannibalize the assets of Titan and embrace a woke worldview with the ambitious Overwatch. Overwatch is everything I hate about WoW. It epitomized their hubris, their braggadocio, and their vanity.
Both Metzen and Kaplan got married and presumably had kids. I think this domestication had a lot to do with how the direction of Blizzard started to change and embrace a more kid-friendly, female-friendly, and alphabet-friendly mindset.
Jeff Pardo left Blizzard and went to form Bonfire Studios in 2016. $26 million dollars and 7 years later, they have still not announced their upcoming game. Where’s the beef Jeff? Seriously dude, what are you waiting for?
The glow of invincibility has long worn off Blizzard.
The other critical thing to know is that Blizzard transferred all of their A-list talent from WoW to Project Titan. The “B” team took over the helm of WoW and ran it into the ground.
Don’t expect to win the NBA championship if you replace the Harlem Globetrotters with the hapless Washington Generals but that’s exactly what the geniuses at Blizzard did.
BlizzCon is a Joke
In the past when you showed up at BlizzCon, you were greeted with unapologetic kickass male gamer content like Diablo, Warcraft RTS, Starcraft, and their flagship World of Warcraft. Even the cosplay stuff was limited back in the day. Today, events like Blizzard are a magnet for throngs of annoying cosplay girls who most likely also have OnlyFans accounts.
Sadly they have not learned their lesson and are planning another pointless Inclusion Nexus lounge for alphabet people and sodomites. They have to justify the millions they are spending on diversity, equity, and inclusion.
In contrast, Blizzard 2.0 exudes a very unserious, wimpy, LGBTQ-friendly, feminized aura. The inclusion of the Disneyesque Overwatch followed by the campy Hearthstone was a turn-off for me as a male gamer. Overwatch was Blizzard’s attempt to turn lemons into lemonade from the failed Project Titan.
The problem is that Blizzard became too big for their boots. They started believing their own hype. They were high on their own supply. Incredibly, they started believing that they would be the Disney of gaming. They had the audacity to create a Disney-type theme park for Overwatch. Nothing says narcissism more than creating an in-game shrine to yourself.
Since the release of the ill-fated Cataclysm expansion, WoW has been on a downward trajectory. In 2023, WoW is no longer cool. If WoW Classic or Hardcore didn’t exist, the future for the WoW franchise would be extremely dim.
The long-awaited return of Warfact messiah Chris Metzen is perhaps the only thing that can save the flagship franchise after alphabet simps Ion Hazzikostas and Steven Danuser have utterly destroyed the franchise with their amateur-hour shenanigans and woke pandering.
Blizzard Needs to Man Up in a Hurry
The only way Blizzard has a future is if they stop trying to appeal to everyone and start focusing on niche demographics: white male gamers. Period. Stop. End of fucking story.
In his heart, Chris Metzen knows this.
In a perfect world, Alex Afrasiabi would return triumphantly to Blizzard to run the entire show. In a less-than-perfect world, Chris Metzen would return as he appears to be doing so later on today. Now that Microsoft has purchased Acitvision-Blizzard the future is even shakier than before. Microsoft are the grim reapers of the video game world. Halo excepted, most of what they touch turns to shit and dies.
What’s Next for WoW?
About a year ago I read that Holly Longdale had formed an “experimental” team to work on WoW. I believe that the purpose of this was to chart a course for WoW Classic post-Wrath of the Lich King era. Cataclysm is when the problems started for WoW. They would be foolish to allow that to happen.
I think they are going to take WoW in a new direction using all of the assets of subsequent expacs and repurposing existing geography. That’s the smart play. This way they can let all the alphabet freaks and non-binary feminists continue to play WoW live and recapture the white male gamer niche for WoW classic. By the way, I figured this out long before the recent leaks. I was so down on Blizzard that I had no motivation to bother posting it.
The only way that the Warcraft franchise can be saved is if they can somehow find the courage to go back to their male-centric “war” — the war in “Warcraft” — conflict-based roots. It goes without saying that need to jettison all of the diversity/inclusion/representation wokeness and dumbed-down gameplay that was introduced into the MMO since Cataclysm.
Does Blizzard Entertainment deserve to die? They sure do. But they can redeem themselves if they wake up and smell the stench of death that is coming for them.
Wow Classic Plus?
A robust, reimagined WoW Classic Plus is the only path forward worth taking. If I was Microsoft, I’d resist the temptation to meddle in Blizzard’s affairs. But one thing I would do is spin the entire Warcraft team into a new studio — preferably not in the People’s Soviet Socialist Republic of California. They need to distance themselves are far away as possible from the cutsey, garish Disneyesque, globohomo trajectory that they have been traveling for 25 years and go back to male gamers making games for male gamers. They need to fire their entire diversity team, the useless trophy hires, and the HR bimbos they brought in the past few years.
Instead of forcing your political and social agenda on your customers, focus 100% on your core value proposition: making kickass video games. Anheuser-Busch, Disney, Netflix, Amazon, and a host of other companies learned this lesson the hard way. Activiosn-Blizzard will learn this as well if they don’t smarten up.
You can’t be all things to all people. You can’t appeal to all people, nor can you keep everybody happy. Focus on a niche, then work hard to make the consumers of that niche happy. It’s like good game design philosophy: it’s better to have a few highly polished amazing features than to have a slew of unpolished mediocre features. This is exactly the same mistake that Morhaime and his executive team learned the hard way. But have they learned?
Let’s see what happens at BlizzCon 2023.