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.
As others have mentioned, it seems like Blizz is very much using WoW as a cash cow to fund other projects (and their focus is elsewhere), or else they would be able to put out more content consistently. Look at the rate that Turbine releases new content, for example.
Unfortunately, there’s not a whole lot anyone can do about it. With the numbers they have and maintain, it’s hard to argue that they’re doing anything wrong—the subscription revenue clearly disagrees. Kudos to you for sending the financial message and canceling your account, but despite everything I dislike about how Blizzard is handling their game, no one else has made a game that captivates me more. I will continue to play it casually (though I switched factions in an attempt to mix things up) just because online games are my hobby and WoW is the best I’ve got.
Wow! You make some excellent points. I agree with a lot of that. I still have fun playing, fortunately I enjoy leveling alts- just a relaxing way to spend some time I guess, but the WoW ‘endgame’ is a big turnoff for me. Like you said, it just doesn’t scale properly. You can play all the way from 1-70 solo, then all of a sudden you have to learn group dynamics, read boss strategies, and organize a schedule with other people just to keep playing the ‘game’ you enjoy.
Ultimately, I think Blizzard has become spoiled and takes for granted that people will keep playing. There simply isn’t any valid competition yet. I really hope WAR will give Blizz a kick in the rear and maybe we’ll see a little more innovation there (or maybe WAR will do a better job about adding content).
Anyway, that was much too long. Sorry to see you leaving WoW, but I hope you keep up the great articles. Cheers
I finally quit WoW in Nov ’07. On the casual side of things there was, like you said, nothing left to do for me but dailies, (rep) farming and BGs. On the more casual side of raiding (Kara, Gruul, Mag), some sort of disrupting roster fluctuation set in as more and more people were leaving (quitting the game entirely or moving to the more hardcore raids), effecively stunting progress. Plus, after about two years of raiding, I just couldn’t put up with three raid evenings a week any longer. WotLK won’t bring me back either, as I look at it the way you did in your other article as “more of the same”. Yawn. Here’s a nice web comic about what WoW will look like after the n-th expansion (warning: contains heavy amounts of satire and small grains of truth): http://www.meghanohara.org/hog/ (Hammer of Grammar, looks discontinued)
I honestly don’t know whether a (hypothetical) WoW2 will be able to kindle my interest, let alone making me want to buy a subscription again. Here’s why: looking back at the developement of WoW after release, I notice a serious disregard of the developers for their own IP. WoW’s story is based on three successful Warcraft RTS games, all of which impelled and improved the story of a fantasy world. Walking inside it and seeing the sights with your very own avatar felt fantasic at first. But after countless hours, after all character progression, the world of Warcraft was becoming static an stale. Before BC, there was no attempt of developing the story further (AQ was a flashback, remember?). After BC, major larger-than-life-villains were, or are in the pipeline of being, degraded to mere raid bosses, eventually on farm status by everyone who puts up long enough with raiding. What’s next? Taking on the titans?
On what IP could a WoW2 be based? What white rabbit could Metzen pull out of the hat? Perhaps a WoW 40.000, Taurens in Space? (yeah, April Fools…) As of now, I doubt that whatever Blizzard will come up with for WoW2 will be interesting enough for me to check out, given their history of shooting themselves in the foot lore-wise. I’m not entertained by purple pixels alone. “I like my lore to be epic.”
I quit yesterday. Going to skip WotLK.
Just got Mass Effect. Going to replay Diablo 2 while we wait for the Diablo 3 announcement.
Sorry, I’m late to this; I’ve just found this blog, and am prowling through the posts.
Regarding Irvine specifically, have you checked out the real estate blogs? Specifically, patrick.net and IrvineRenter. That’s almost ground zero for the housing implosion. Financial responsibility isn’t really native to the area. (Even beyond the pithy is the practical; to operate anything but a virtual business in the area, there’s real estate involved. Also, employees need housing. A smart company would take their HQ elsewhere.)
I love prowling around in the world of WoW, but I’ve only ever done so with free trials. There’s a lot I’d still like to explore, but the endgame holds no interest for me. As such, I flatly refuse to pay money for the ability to play a game, especially if it threatens to become a part-time job/obligation. There are many better things to do with my time.
Excellent post and insights. The fact that their subscription numbers remain high will re-enforce their path in how WOW designs it’s content and end-game. It seems like they are attempting to blend it toward the middle. I’m not sure how successful that will be. It reminds me of the “special coke” / “classic coke” recipe change debacle.
The reasons you’ve given are similar to why I left my guild
Nice blog, this is my first visit to it after seeing your posts on mystic worlds. I am becoming increasingly frustrated with Blizzard and their mmo model. They say that increasing soloable content is a priority, yet their new content (what there is of it) is purely end-game material. Sunwell Plateau? Ha. I have never even set foot in Kara, how am I ever going to see SP? Good luck in your next mmo!
today is 5/3/2010 and iv finally quit wow,reason;cause the funs gone,iv watch my guild go down the pan ); over the yesrs and we had 4 oldys left playing wowlk,we had some great times but theres to much forcen to do things by blizz to enjoy the game.To get gear now u have to raid or do instances,our guild was never about that,its was just about haven fun and sadly its no there anymore.
It’s funny about how most quitting anecdotes mention how they get to max level and quit. This shows how the game can consume too much of your life. You never hear someone say “OMG I QUIT” at Level 35. Given that the trial is free up to level 20 now, anyone can try it. I’ve quit and come back with every expansion. I always seem to get fatigue when the last patch before new expansion hits. I quit during TBC, came back for LK, quit end of LK, came back for CATA, quit same week 4.3.2 pre MOP. Mostly because the next expansion is usually a long time away from when I hit “end game”, which is much easier to get to now. I’ve seen all I want to see, it would be impossible to do all I want to do with this game as I don’t have infinite time. If I had a time machine I would go back and stop my younger self from playing any MMO all those years ago. I remember when I played a first-generation MMO 10 years ago, when they were just about to become popular there was a guy in trade who sad this game is rubbish, don’t play it. For me, personally, if I remain static in terms of my career or overall life goals, I’ve actually gone backwards because my peers are now much successful then me, or appear to be anyway. I’m not obese, disabled or anything, but I’m not exactly an athlete. My overall health is not as good as it should be, that’s a polite way of saying sitting down for 30 hours a week playing MMO’s on top of sitting at work for hours a day.
If somebody reads this who is in two minds about quitting, maybe the future me will stumble upon this article to prevent the present me from playing again, just quit. Don’t even think twice, get a crappy net-book or something that can’t run games and do something more worthwhile. Because dear God I want the last 7+ years of my life back.