On Friday I mentioned that it will be interesting to see how Blizzard and CCP differ in the next year when it comes to their flagship titles, but over the weekend, playing some EVE while thinking about Blizzard (I did some mining, so lots of thinking time), I’ve come to some conclusions already. I also want to talk a bit about that comment Tobold made.
When I first read about Mists of Pandaria it sure sounded like Blizzard saying “sorry” for WotLK and Cata. No flying until the cap, refocusing on the open-world, world bosses, harder instanced content, etc. It’s 2004 all over again! Of course Blizzard has promised those things before, and well, we know how that turned out. (Still love this line: “Over time, we’d like the focus of PvP to shift back to being more BG-centric and more focused on Horde versus Alliance — the core of our game.” I was also reminded of the technical impossibly that is Wintergrasp as I crossed areas with 500+ people in local.)
But when you look at the major features, it’s very clear what Blizzard is doing. More of the same. Not in a ‘give them more of the same content’, but rather more of the same approach; slowly evolve WoW from what it was to what Blizzard hopes it will be – an alternative to Saturday morning cartoons.
Trammel and the NGE are significant because in one day, they radically changed their MMOs and gave current players the boot in favor of people NOT playing the game at the time. Grass is greener and all that. Really worked out well for SWG, and nothing says Britannia like elves and ninjas!
WoW has never had such an event, yet every expansion has slowly been pushing people out. Whether you dropped out because raiding went from 40 to 25 in BC, the game went drool-cup in WotLK, or sRPG in Cata, at different times different crowds have been Trammel’ed/NGE’ed out of WoW, and each time the hope was that newer, younger (real or mental age) players with lower expectations would come in. MoP is a fitting acronym here, as Blizzard is cleaning out the old and looking to bring in a totally new crowd.
It’s also fitting that Blizzard is giving away Diablo 3 to millions of people, in the hope that when they MoP up WoW, the dirt transitions to D3 and continues to pay via Auction House taxes. (Side note: Raise your hand if you got a free copy of SC2 because you subbed to WoW for a year? Anyone? No? Wonder what’s different this time…)
As to WoW having always been a non-serious game; either you are delusion or a total Blizzard apologist. Possibly both.
Somehow I don’t think pre-teens were running around knocking out elite mobs in the open-world, organizing town raids, playing the first version of the PvP system, min/maxing the second system, or sitting around with 39 of their closest pre-teen friends to knock out Rag after a five hour raid. And to suggest that this was just a ‘very minor’ part of the game, well, guess Blizzard disagreed when they expanded that ‘very minor’ part for well over a year straight, while at the same time picking up millions of new subs. Naw, total coincidence. Just like WotLK stagnating growth and bring drool-cup easy, or Cata sinking WoW and being a sRPG are total coincidences. It’s just burnout finally setting in after 2-4-6 years, yo.
What is surprising about all of this is that, in effect, Blizzard is throwing in the towel with WoW being a real MMO. Yes the signs have been there before, but MoP sure looks like a total admission here. When your trailer looks like an intern put together a demo to bringing Kung Fu Panda to Saturday mornings, are you saying anything else? And is TAGN going to start double-posting real Pokemon and WoWmon updates? Will we be able to tell the difference?
It’s all a pretty stark contrast to what CCP is doing with EVE, which is to refocus and continue building on to the core game that started 7+ years ago. (Side note: how is it that EVE is a year older with a much smaller player base, yet today looks like a 2011 game while WoW continues to look like a 2002 game?)
From a business standpoint I’m sure MoP will indeed bring in a bunch of new pre-teens to mess around with the game for however long their attention spans last, but from a players perspective WoW has ‘lost’ in terms of supporting those who have supported it before. For many it took a while, but slowly people are being shown the door. Kinda sad that an entire sub-group of MMO players will see this as the norm, and not know or understand that not only is it possible, but it should be expected that instead of turnover and change, an MMO is about growth and addition.
Final side note: SW:TOR has to be pretty happy about this right? They will be the only major online sRPG in town now. Double-defeat admission from Blizzard?