Many people who play WoW these days simply ignore the official Blizzard forums. Unfortunately the forums are usually seething with bitterness and hostility. Too often those posters indulge in the “forum” meta game of one-upmanship. However, from time to time there are moments of poetic greatness on the official WoW forums. Last week a gem of a post by Calian of the Norgannon server caught my eye with a well-written, thought provoking history of the state of Blizzard’s MMO.
It’s rather long but it’s well worth the read. I do disagree with him on some minor points such as casuals being universally happy about being able to get epics via the PVP system. I would counter that not all casuals like to PVP. Many casuals are just happy soloing, grouping and leveling alts. Other casuals just happen to be time-starved PVE’ers and raiders at heart.
I do think that the great PVE vs PVP debate has left many players falling through the cracks. One example is role-players, where is the content for these folks? Heck, where are the epics for RP’ers? Where do they fit in if all in the grand scheme of things at Blizzard? Blizzard has practically ignored role-players in a so-called MMORPG despite the fact that in a recent interview with PC Zone magazine Jeff Kaplan acknowledged that role-players do in fact exist.Although Calian identified some of the big problems in WoW today, he was curiously short on solutions. Regardless, it’s a very good read:
After an illuminating account of the history of WoW the MMO, he basically he comes to the conclusion that the two main groups in WoW (casual and hardcore players) exist in a symbiotic relationship –even though they seemingly despise each other.
What players do not understand is that they are inextricably linked to one another: the hard core and the casual.For the casual, the hard core player (believe it or not) has served as your WoW billboard for more then 3 years now. It is by their accomplishments that we have measured our own success in game, time and time again. At one point or another, you’ve seen some player with a new item and thought, “I want that” or’ “That looks REALLY cool”. These players have served as a driving force for interest in this game and the hopes to achieve ones goals. One needs milestones and heroes to look to for inspiration when founding our own dreams of success.
For the hard core, there is no raiding; there is no “hard core” without the casual. One can only inform their significant other, room mate, or mother of the fact that they have laid some “uber pwnage” on a boss so many times before your self lauded praise falls on deaf ears.
And what is the cause of this rift between casual and hardcore players? He describes it as symptoms of “invalidation”. Both groups feel invalidated by the way Blizzard treats the other group. Raiders resent casuals that gain access to epic gear from PVP. Casuals resent raiders that have access to epic gear that results from Blizzard spending a disproportionate amount of resources on creating raiding content for a small minority of the player-base.
I think what is really going on here is that players are confused as to what MMO they are playing and where Blizzard is taking them. WoW was originally created as a PVE based MMO. Back in good old vanilla WoW, most aspects of the game were cohesive and worked well with each other. You could solo and learn your class, eventually you’d start grouping to complete quests. Then you’d progress to instances to learn more group dynamics. Ultimately to advance your character even further and experience high end content (Onyxia, Molten Core, etc), you’d need to join a good guild.
All the while on PVP servers, Alliance players would assault Tarren Mill and then Horde players would in turn assault Southshore. No bribes, incentives or rewards were needed back in those days to get people to engage in “war” between the Alliance and the Horde. People engaged in PVP for one reason: it was fun.
Then Blizzard decided to create a whole new form of advancement within WoW: PVP Battlegrounds. A new form of advancement was created where players could battle each other and be rewarded with better gear (also known as “welfare epics”) that equalled what was available in instances and in raids. With the introduction of the Burning Crusade Blizzard expanded PVP into a Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome meets Gladiator experience called Arenas.
I believe the major problem today with WoW is that PVP has become reduced to a transactional system with so-called “honor” as it’s currency. PVP in a virtual world should be about being emotionally invested in your town, your race, your faction. Give us reasons to care about defending the Horde or the Alliance. Instead, PVP is emotionless and very mercenary in it’s approach. It’s all about the “me”, instead of the “we”. And that’s why it fails for me on every level. Clearly, PVP in WoW was an after thought that was ineptly attached to a PVE centric game.
In WoW, PVP is a literally a virtual world within a virtual world. It has had a negligible impact on the real persistent world within WoW. There are very few dynamic events which lets players shape their world for the the short term or the long term. Ironforge will never burn to the ground, Stormwind will never fall. Nothing ever changes because everything is safely instanced. Like the Las Vegas commercial: what happens in Battlegrounds, stays in Battlegrounds.
Wasn’t WoW supposed to be about an ongoing “war” between the Alliance and the Horde? Wasn’t that conflict the very foundation of WoW lore and the reason for playing in the first place? The way I see it, the conflict between the Alliance and the Horde is presented as an uncompelling, shallow, meaningless farce. Blizzard has utterly failed to make that conflict believable and engaging.
Yet despite the lack of real and meaningful major conflict in the actual game, we paradoxically have an epic conflict within the WoW community. The battle for the future of Azeroth is at stake. Casuals vs. hardcore and PVP’ers vs. PVE’ers. Who’s “world” of Warcraft is it really?
So why has Blizzard chosen this path? It gets worse. I believe it’s all about the money in the long run. Blizzard seems to believe that PVP is the best way to keep 10 million players entertained and subscribed. Since every opponent is controlled by a human with varying degrees of skill and equipment, the gaming experience and content will always be somewhat fresh and unpredictable. Creating content for PVP is cheap versus creating expensive labor intensive raiding/PVE content. Repurpose existing art assets such as gear and structures and presto — you have another arena or battleground. WoW Insider columnist V’Ming Chew nailed it when he said the following in his excellent article: Blood Sport: Is WoW turning into a PvP game?
This Arena columnist feels that Blizzard is now trying to retrofit the entire game – and our beloved classes – into an e-sport game. We are into the fourth year of WoW and Blizzard seems to be realizing that regular PvE content development will never keep pace with the rate at which player consume it. Other than high-end raids designed for the elite gamer, most of us have repeated leveling content to different extents with different toons. The PvP and e-sport route is probably more sustainable in terms of player interest – and revenue – in the long run. PvP encounters are never the same, after all.
In 2007, I published a blog article entitled Are MMO’s in Danger of Becoming A Spectator Sport? which talked about how casual gamers end up experiencing content vicariously through the achievements of hardcore players. Little did I know that Blizzard was seriously considering the e-sport model for WoW. In fact, Rob Pardo speaking at the 2008 GDC admitted the following:
“We didn’t design WoW up-front to be an e-sport game. We’re now trying to retrofit this in — I hope one day to implement some sort of spectator mode,” he responded to a question on a spectator mode for PvP.
With all this focus on PVP by Blizzard, it’s no wonder that millions of loyal subscribers who came to WoW for it’s PVE game are worried and uncertain about the future of this once great MMO. One has to wonder why long sought after features like player housing and guild halls (long promised by Blizzard) have been put on the backburner in favor of features that nobody ever requested like built-in voice chat and now WoW as an e-sport.
So in the final analysis, you have a MMO that doesn’t know what it’s trying to be or perhaps it’s trying to be all things to all people. Is it a PVE MMO or is it a PVP MMO? Both systems as currently implemented are not complimentary to each other and lack synergy and cohesion. And that is exactly what is causing the angst and division among the player-base today.
Lately, some players have been thinking that Blizzard needs to bite the bullet and split WoW into two games: PVE and PVP. (Note: a long thread on the official Blizzard forums entitled Idea: Split WoW Into 2 Games has been mysteriously deleted by Blizzard). Unless they can revamp PVP and correctly implement it into the PVE structure, I think this idea has merit and would be a good approach. Let PVP’ers and PVE’ers support their own games and let the chips (and dollars) fall where they may. Then at least Blizzard could adequately fund each game with resources from their respective games.
If Blizzard wants to change WoW from an MMO into an e-sport game then I will gladly cancel my subscription and find another more suitable MMO to play. It’s time for those in charge at Blizzard to come clean and tell their subscribers where they plan on taking this MMO. At Blizzcon in 2007, Mike Morhaime the President of Blizzard Entertainment bragged that the number of WoW subscribers exceeds that of many countries. It follows that as de facto leader of this virtual country and in light of the growing uncertainty of the player-base with regards to Blizzard’s increased focus on PVP, he needs to make a state of the union type address to reassure 10 million loyal subscribers world-wide and explain where this MMO is really headed.
Bravo! I couldn’t agree more with your analysis. I joined this game b/c of its awesome HUGE feeling of PVE. I care nothing for PVP and really wish they would leave the game alone. I have often thought that why don’t I have a quest chain that is 20 or more quests long, does not involve any elites or instances, but will take me on a wild and fantastic journey and at the end of it all with a nice tough boss fight, grant me an epic item specific to my class and geared for more PVE content? Instead, I’m formulating plans on how to farm blues (b/c I also don’t have the time to raid) and I guess thats ok for now. However, I am also worried about the future of this game especially considering your links and Bliz’s comments.
The age old battle still rages between hardcore and so-called casual players. It’s not just a problem in WoW but in nearly every online game since they started -having- online games.
Your article is well written and reasonable. It had, quite honestly, never occurred to me that PvP content updates are much simpler and cheaper to inaugurate than are PvE content updates. That in itself speaks volumes for the direction that WoW is turning.
Kudos on the article. This is certainly a site to continue watching.
People have been asking for arenas, spectator mode and better class balance since the game released. These ideas unlike player and guild housing are actually useful and contribute something to the game. Of course they are still going to churn out new PvE content I honestly don’t know what you are complaining about.
I actually would disagree with the PvP content being easier to develop. If that was the case, where are the new battlegrounds? New battleground rewards? New world PvP? New world PvP rewards that are actually meaningful? New anything PvP that wasn’t arena related?
Blizzard admitted as much, that new PvP content is not easy to develop, because of the underlining problem of “if it isn’t right, players will exploit it and hurt other players in the process”. No one external is affected when Guild A exploits Hole B in Instance C. Therefore, the design going into pvP content has to be rock solid on day one. There is no developer hovering over a test PvP objective hitting the switch when they feel the group has done “good enough”.
PvP content is often confused as easy to design implement, simply because when it’s done right, there is near endless replayability. However, there is more than just giving the players a place to kill each other to the design.
It is far easier to develop the PvE content according to Blizzards fairly rigid PvE template. Put Monster A in Instance B, adjust through testing until encounter is set. Add rewards based on where the encounter fits into the progression scheme.
Just look at patch 2.4 : an entire new ZONE, set of DUNGEONS, and the REWARDS to go with them. This single patch will have more PvE zones and content added than all of the PvP content and zones added in the previous 20+ patches! There are 4 battlegrounds, 3 of which HAVE NOT CHANGED since they were introduced. How many dungeons, raids, and other PvE content has changed repeatedly over the course of the game?
The truth is, PvE is far easier to design and implement than PvP content ever will be. I don’t buy the bullshit that Blizzard can’t do it, but it is more a lack of trying than the complexity of the PvP cotent.
To be honest, I agree with your post. I share a very similar point of view but on the flip of it all. I think we dont entirely look at the overall picture in regards to how the WOW community as a whole utilizes the PVE/PVP content Blizzard puts in place.
To give vague background on me, I read alot of the WOW lore so I love the PVE aspect of the game. But then again I was also a Grand Marshal, but at the same time shortly before venturing to rank 14 I was an Undead Tank pve’ing and doing MC, ZG and so on.
So I guess you can consider me an all around player, not as hardcore as it may seem since the R14 grind was fun and hard at the sametime. But I love the PVE aspect.
But honestly take a look at the raid content pre-tbc and post -tbc. You have Onyxia, Molten Core and that was a norm for many, then BWL which all of a sudden im sure you see a decrease in how many ppl actually did the instance and of course the amount of community participation steadily declines from BWL to Ahn Qiraj and Naxxaramas.
Correct me if im wrong but such a small percentage of guilds even made it to Naxx pre-tbc in comparing to how many ppl played the game at the time. ( ive heard 1% but thats just heresay)
The WoW community as a whole simply isnt utilizing all of the PVE content. Some of which is guild size, maintenance and longevity. I tried leading 2 different guilds, 1 on horde, 1 on alliance and all were rather successful in general. But not Naxxaramas successful or Black Temple successful. U must find a guild as you stated, but that guild needs about a handful of dedicated ppl (usually more)that will strive for its success longevity and overall mgmt of the guild.
In addition to leadership/raid leading knowledge, most guilds just dont accomplish this or have the handful of dedicated ppl to assist the leaders and ultimately fall apart sometimes to nothing at all, maybe mergers that fair no better, and then theres an even smaller percentage that actually make it and lasts to reach Illidan and so on.
The point I’m trying to make is even though many of us want to see alot of pve content of all sorts or have the pvp and pve aspects in synergy, there just isnt enough successful guilds/groups as a whole utilizing what i consider to be awesome pve content. Just look at the pve leader boards when it comes to BT, Hyjal etc for various servers. You dont see tons of guilds experiencing the content, like u do… Kara… Gruul, maybe…. Guilds just dont survive t put it to use and without it being put to use, it gets put on the backburner.
The size and age of the server contributes to this, but I’d be surprise if u found a server that hasnt (or has)been around since the beginning that has say 10+ guilds all in Black Temple and another 10-15 in Hyjal. (that would be amazingly pushing it in my opinion but i guess thats the problem)
Because of this lack of participation, blizzard focuses more of the PVP aspect of the game simply because thats what a larger population of the community is doing. Theres tons of arena teams and tons of ppl pvp grinding for gear. In comparison to guilds doing BT per server it dwarfs that number altogether. Thats why PVP is up in the fore front imho. Thats all blizzard is experiencing and seeing from the community itself and thats where they are seeing revisions first. Until u have tons of guilds doing T6 instances etc, you wont see many pve revisions and additions, in the same speed as you do PVP ( look at all of the pvp revisions per character in the pass few months )
I like the idea of defending towns and mixing both aspects, personally I really just want to PVE and see all of the content I often read about in my books etc. But I just cant seem to get in a guild that survives long enough to get all the way to the end.
Out of the 3 or so servers Ive played on.
Bloodscalp was where my first character was made – And BWL was/became the “end all”… of instances back then (:p reminising) On horde side there was maybe 2 guilds tops that had passed Ragnaros, 1 out of the 2 that made it 2 the end of BWL. Wows player base as a whole was smaller back then as well so that that into consideration and u can see why AQ, AQ20, ZG and so on were created along with the handful of outdoor bosses. The percentage was viable for more pve content.
Hakkar Server –
PVE wise – we had about 1 -2 guilds at most alliance side that made it through AQ etc.
But I remember……… Alliance had 2 new Grand Marshals a month, 2-3 Field Marshals at any one time 3-4 Marshals Tons of Rank 10s etc……… and at present after a year of TBC they have had 1 (maybe 2 or so now since last i checked few months ago) make it to Illidan…. =\
My Current Server , Onyxia –
We’ve had 1 guild kill Illdan Alliance side….. That is all. With not more than 3 Horde/Alliance combined even in Hyjal. When Illidan was killed we had no other guilds in T6 instances (the 1st guild that downed him no longer exists meaning BT was not being used at all for months ) Now we have 1 or 2 tops that are at least doing 1 boss in BT which isnt enough compared to the overall population.
In conclusion, I agree with your post basically… Completely agree actually… I love pve content and want more of it, but most players/guilds never last long enough to make it to that point in pve to divert Blizzard’s attention like they did pre-tbc with Ony, MC, ZG-(because 40ppl was getting rediculous) AQ, AQ20 etc. So many ppl were just focused on pve back then, guilds lasted longer, but that longevity is getting shorter and shorter and the use of the instances is at such a small percentage the chances of the pvp focus changing… Airs on the side of 0, at least it wont be changing anytime real soon.
When the next big instance after BT comes out, they’ll mostly likely be no one utilizing it for months…… But yet it still has to run and be maintained. Which unfortunately becomes inefficient and the pve aspect in a whole gets the inefficient label in the wake of blizzard’s attention span.
For another analysis, see this thread:
yes, PvP is broken, and nothing feels epic anymore; no, Blizzard will not change this, because they focus their game towards players who want to ‘win’ and those who don’t care about the long-term value of their achievements.
It is sad, but since your blog says MMO design and commentary I thought maybe you’d be interested in this link. Future MMOs ‘n all.
I for one am so sick of people acting like World of Warcraft is the only game there is. Specifically I’m sick of people holding it to these higher standards as if it sets the tone and pace of the entire MMORPG industry!
Yes, it is vastly more popular than any other MMO product to date. Is that because its the best game ever made? Not even close.
WoW is a solid 7/10 MMO that was built on an extremely sexy original IP which already had a ravenous following.
I’m not saying that any established world would make a great game, (Star Wars, D&D, LOTR come to mind) only themes that are already huge in the world of gaming. If tomorrow valve decided to make Half-Life, the MMO, millions of HL, CS and TF players would be lining up to try it. As long as they made a halfway decent game that sucked in new players we’d be having these pointless debates about THAT game instead.
Sh!t, what if Nintendo made World of Super Mario next year? Most people would no longer even remember World of Warcraft much less hold it to such a high standard.
I’m not a WoW hater. Its a good product that has just grown too big for its own britches and suddenly become the Wal-Mart of MMOs. (Or the catholic church of MMOs if you prefer.) I’m just sick of everyone whining that their beloved Warcraft is going in the wrong direction. I don’t think Blizzard ever thought they would end up holding the chain attached to such a huge beast that this game is, and at the end of the day they are doing as well as I would expect any company to be able to.
Its simple, if you do not like the game, quit. If you’re “friends” aren’t willing to try out a different game with you, then they aren’t really your friends. Once you get to level 15 in a different game that you truly like, all the time you spent in WoW is quite suddenly worth nothing.
If you’re sick of WoW and you can’t find another MMO you like, maybe these kind of games aren’t good for you. Take up bike riding, scrap booking, team sports, gardening, golf, hunting, camping, rock climbing, painting, auto tuning, ANYTHING.
Wake up people. Its only as important as YOU MAKE IT.
The seemingly unimportant and incidental things are which gives WoW it’s much lauded charm. WoW is full of small things which appear to be meaningless on their own but provide a sense of depth when part of the bigger world. Vanity pets, holidays are two such things like this but I would argue they provide context to the so-called useful things like combat. There really can’t be a World of Warcraft without a tangible world worth fighting for.
I would also argue that Blizzard now has the money and resources to implement many of these long promised and sought after features.
You’ve made some good points here. I think PVP content requires far more testing then PVE content. Testers are usually entry positions at most gaming companies as opposed to the more expensive salaries of programmers, artists and designers. However I think it does require more resources to design, create and implement PVE content then it does PVP content which is essentially — players entertaining themselves.
I think you may be right. It does seem that the current PVP systems have been created to provide an alternate avenue of character progression aimed directly at casual gamers. My problem is that it really doesn’t feel like it belongs in a PVE based MMO. It just feels too disjointed and lacks harmony. Even from a lore standpoint, how does it make sense that the very best soldiers of both the Alliance and Horde who are allegedly at war with each other *and* the Burning Legion, are busy beating each other up in arenas – whilst the war for the universe rages on a few feet away?
I do think that Blizzard has had a general disconnect with the accessibility of their PVE content (especially raiding) content since the inception of WoW. I’ve always championed the cause of casual gamers being able to see and do more but within reason. However, two wrongs don’t make a right. The answer is for Blizzard to enhance the PVE experience for everyone instead of draining all of its blood. The current focus of PVP is undermining PVE entirely right now. That has to be corrected.
With great power, comes great responsibility. We can and should hold Blizzard to the very highest standards in maintaining their MMO if not for WoW, then for the trail that it’s blazing for future MMO’s. Everyone in the video game industry is looking at Blizzard very closely as they are the standard bearer of the state of the art. What happens in the next few years will determine the future (if any) development of MMO’s for many years. Sure I understand your frustration about too many of us focusing on WoW. I do agree with Richard Bartle when he said jokingly that the best thing for the industry would be if WoW was shut down completely as it would be a boon to the other MMO’s out there in combating the hegemony in expectations that WoW has created.. But we know that’s not going to happen in the near future 🙂
Thanks folks for the great comments and feedback!
***I think you may be right. It does seem that the current PVP systems have been created to provide an alternate avenue of character progression aimed directly at casual gamers. My problem is that it really doesn’t feel like it belongs in a PVE based MMO. It just feels too disjointed and lacks harmony.***
Honestly, I think it particular stems from the good ol days. Before they had honor pts/ pvp gear etc. people murdered eachother with no remorse back then, remember Black Rock Mountain lol?
Corpse campign back then was a norm and almost like an unwritten law, if u died expect to be camped… It got so bad that it became too much of a task to even level up and for some ppl it hurt their play experience. People complained and complained. ( this was just as I started playing WOW actually so I didnt get to experience how bad it was )
Then they created it…. The Honor System…. (dun dun dun) Then came warsong gulch, and it freed up alot of the merciless killing.. sort of… because a little after that came… Dishonorable Kills…. (ppl have forgotten or their new and have no knowledge of these days )
The community itself is what started pvp and the seperate sessions of battle that run along the lines of azeroth and the community is whats driving blizzard to focus on it. As your first High Warlords and Grand Marshals arose it shifted the focus of the game and now look… It still lingers to this day.
It inadvertenly affected low level grinding in a positive way but… gradually hurt pve in regards to BWL, AQ etc. ( remember when the Rank 14 gear was given a buff to match or for some classes exceed the standard Naxxaramas gear ) it also hurt regular battles like TM vs SS or World/City raids in general because of dishonorable kills. ( i really miss those days)
The community as a whole seriously are marveled by pvp and the aspect to defeat other opponents. And blizzard has segregated that even more by the introduction of resilience which resides on hardly no pve gear whatsoever.
Comparing the two; Arena geared player vs. PVE geared player, in alot of ways is like comparing apples and grapes, the arena geared player not only has the ability to pve proficiently he has a “leg up” on human players in pve gear by way of resilience which as I know u see is a disadvantage most players dont want so they focus heavily on arenas, pvp in general.
The community puts pvp first. For some who solely like pve, they have to struggle to get into the right place at the right time.
Wolfshead my play experience is probably quite different from yours, when i played on alliance and became a GM at 6pm server half (almost all)of my pvp team would stop to raid. lol.
After 5 hours or so they’d all be back. Also on that particular server we had 1 giant team so its common to see 2 ABs etc and all of the players with ambitions to be rank 14 simply move up the ladder (defying the system that blizzard intend at the time )in regards to honor and allowign the higher ppl to move up and out while still raiding and progressing in pve.
So from that standpoint people seemed to keep harmony in regards to pvp and pve they did both, but our situation allowed it since we didnt step on eachother toes for honor. So thats something to keep in mind everyone’s play experience is different. I was fortunate back then.
On my server now. PVP rules. Theres hardly any guilds working hard to progress. Everyone’s more focused on doing arenas and logging off i said before in my first post we had 1 maybe 2 working to Hyjal.
I think that guild is no more now.
Another one bites the dust.
****I do think that Blizzard has had a general disconnect with the accessibility of their PVE content (especially raiding) content since the inception of WoW*****
First it was 40mans –
so u needed a legion of followers in your guild lol. Then when u finally did get to BWL and so on –
u had to open the gate to AQ lol and with Ragnaros being the first truly hard boss of its time. keeping 40 ppl focused through this was a task.
had a quest chain that’ll take u who knows how long,
also had some sort of craziness to be able to even enter it and reason why its the least used instance is because it came right smack in the middle of the Rank 14 era, no one had argent dawn reputation or at least not that high to even consider Naxx let alone being gear compatible.
Black Temple just recently had its crazy quest line removed.
SSC and TK had them as well.
So not only does a player have to individually complete them u must rely on 25-50 ( gotta have back ups ) other ppl as well. And then they are surprised no one does them.
PVE is a good aspect to me, I like to pvp as well. But they have made pve so unaccessible in alot of ways. Mark my words.
In the future raids will consist of no more than 10-15 players, they will drop from 25 in an attempt to increase participation.
Back Story on me: I’ve been a follower since Warcraft I. (Yes. Before there was a “world”.) And I’ve been an avid follower off and on thru the WoW stages. I agree with a lot of what you are saying here. I don’t think you are whining as previously inferred. I think that what I have read here is very intelligently written, and I hope that someone from Blizzard takes note.