WoW Legion: We get to watch it all burn down to the ground

Oh New Blizzard. After attempting “We are making the game like Vanilla again, come back!” with WoD, and failing to actually deliver, New Blizzard is back with “We are making the game like TBC, our one good expansion, come back!”, and, based on the feature list, have failed again.

Likely the only good that will come out of Legion is it further reinforces that TBC was the last time WoW was growing because it was still a solidly designed MMO, and I’m one of those crazy people who believes that the quality of your design has an effect on how successful something is. New Blizzard is, in a somewhat ironic way, trying to copy/paste Old Blizzard now. Unfortunately New Blizzard isn’t as good at the copy/paste game (see WoD vs Vanilla design), so isn’t getting the expected results.

Another problem going forward for New Blizzard is people aren’t going to be fooled again. WoD provided a large spike because people want WoW to be vanilla/TBC WoW, and bought into Blizzard being capable of return the game to that level of quality. A lot of people experienced that Blizzard isn’t capable of that today, and won’t believe Blizzard saying it this time around.

Additionally, past mistakes like the initial release of Diablo 3 with it’s RMT AH, subpar games like Hearthstone, and abortions like HotS have all worn away at the Blizzard name. They aren’t a sure-hit studio anymore, and fewer and fewer people will blindly buy the next Blizzard offering just because its a Blizzard game. What Warcraft, StarCraft, and Diablo built, these new release have torn down.

There will of course be some spike in numbers when Legion releases, because for all its long-term faults, enough people do still enjoy the first month of new WoW leveling content, and even at increased expansion prices, still see that month as a worthwhile buy. But between now and launch, subs will continue to erode away due to bad design and the fact that FFXIV is doing to WoW what WoW did to EQ2; just being a similar but outright better game (though for all its faults, WoW today isn’t nearly the disaster that EQ2 was, so at least the fight is a bit harder). How far those sub numbers fall will be interesting, as will seeing how much smaller the Legion pop will be compared to WoD.

I also think another major factor will be when Square-Enix announces it now has the largest sub MMO out, because that announcement will be seen as big news and draw the curiosity of the ultra-casual WoW player who doesn’t follow gaming news as closely as a lot of us do. MMO population momentum can turn quickly, and if suddenly guilds in WoW are getting empty, with everyone going to that FF MMO they keep hearing about from their friends/guildies, that snowball is hard to stop.

For me the most interesting item to watch is not when WoW is dethroned, or how quickly it falls overall, because those items are now inevitable, but the larger picture of when will Blizzard stop being considered a major studio? Right now their pipeline looks terrible (HS, HotS, and the only upcoming new title is Overwatch, which I think most of us know will be DoA), and they can’t live off older IP glory like Diablo and StarCraft for long. Can’t say I’ll shed too many tears over seeing the studio that nearly destroyed the MMO genre finally burning down.

About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
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15 Responses to WoW Legion: We get to watch it all burn down to the ground

  1. Pingback: WoW Legion – Slouching Towards The Broken Isles | The Ancient Gaming Noob

  2. “FFXIV is doing to WoW what WoW did to EQ”

    There, fixed that sentence.

    EQ2 was such a mess on day one that it never had a prayer of holding off WoW. I think EQ drew as many players back from EQ2 as WoW drew away.

    Meanwhile, WoW at least took a month or so to pass the EQ peak subscriber number. I think WoW eclipsed EQ2 on day one. Yes, WoW stole from EQ2, but that is like saying that the guy who robbed the liquor store also took the change from the “need a penny” jar on the counter as well.

    I think we might end up seeing an unprecedented third expansion for Diablo III at some point, especially if Legion is a year out.

    • SynCaine says:

      Yea the only point I was trying to make with WoW/EQ2 is that in addition to 2004 WoW being solid, it was hugely aided by the fact that EQ2 was a disaster. So while FFXIV is really solid, it’s growth is certainly aided by Blizzard continuing to make mistakes with WoW today.

      If Blizzard was working at vanilla/TBC levels with WoW, FFXIV would still be successful, but I don’t think they would be within reach (or, my guess, already in possession) of the crown.

      • I get you. I just like the parallel narrative about an up and coming newer title dethroning the long acclaimed reigning champion.

        The WoW versus EQ2 trial is more like the plot to Megamind, where WoW is Metro Man.

        • bhagpuss says:

          Its very instructive to google back and read the commentary that was actually happening in late 2004/early 2005. There are a ton of articles and forum posts comparing EQ2 and WoW with people asking, speculating and arguing over which they should try/buy/spend the rest of their lives in.

          I had never played a Blizzard game then. I’d barely even heard of them. Diablo was some dumbed down kids’ action game I’d vaguely heard mentioned and hat was it. I’d been playing EQ for five years by then, had chatted to hundreds of people about gaming and MMOs and I can’t remember anyone ever even mentioning Warcraft or Starcraft.

          When I went to EQ2 it wasn’t instead of going to WoW – I barely knew WoW existed. The entire “which is going to win” thing – and apparently it was a thing – passed me by. I only noticed WoW when (and because) the original version of EQ2 was so much not fun. And as Wilhelm points out, the response of all those people leaving EQ2 wasn’t primarily to go to WoW instead – it was either go back to EQ, as I did, or give up playing MMOs altogether, as most of the people on my friends list did.

          Ten years later, having now played a lot of EQ2 and some WoW, I can see why you like FFXIV better. It’s all the parts of WoW I didn’t like but on steroids with prettier pictures. I think you’re right that it will make a great home for a lot of disaffected WoW players and good luck to them.

          Then we can enjoy another decade of game companies trying to copy the formula without really understanding it. That’ll be nice.

  3. Wulfus says:

    It all looks horrible to me. They’ve thrown lore out the window. It makes no sense for Illidan to be back, and it just feels like a parade of old names so they can say “Remember this guy?!! You liked him, come back to our game!”

    FFXIV has a solid story, and a makes you feel like you’re actually a part of it. Also, after playing FFXIV for a while being locked into one class or role feels stifling. Starting a whole new ‘main’ with a new class feels like throwing away too much of an investment.

  4. Silverangel says:

    Blizz has an ecosystem factor that you don’t seem to be factoring enough, and it’s best to reserve judgment on pipeline for another three months imho. Also, most of the world has never played Diablo.

  5. kevinbrill says:

    I’m curious the breakdown of people playing WoW vs FFXIV.

    I wonder about the number of people who:

    * Are playing FFXIV that have chosen it over WoW
    * Are playing FFXIV that have never played WoW
    * Are playing FF that have never played an MMO

    There’s all this talk of the hardcore WoW players from Vanilla/TBC growing up and having different gaming priorities and time commitments. That’s why I’m curious if people playing a more “hardcode” MMO like FFXIV are ex-WoW players, or people new to the genre?

    And just for transparency, I’ve never played FFXIV.

    • SynCaine says:

      I don’t think FFXIV is more hardcore than WoW overall, both are pretty easy-to-play themepark MMOs. What FFXIV does much better is in being an MMO; there are a lot of solid long-term hooks at work in FFXIV that don’t exist in WoW anymore, so while you can jump in and absorb WoD in a month, you can’t do that with Heavensward, and the content in FFXIV overall is far better interconnected than in WoW, which could easily be played as a ‘pick your flavor’ lobby game.

      More to your point, I’d be shocked if more than half the people playing FFXIV haven’t played WoW, though I think the percentage that haven’t played WoW would also be really close to the percentage that have also never played any MMO. Certainly the FF IP draws some in, along with the game being by far the best console MMO out (rather slim field of course, but still).

  6. cirdanx says:

    Yes, i would agree with all of that. After watching the presentation i was left with a bitter taste in my mouth. The reaction of the crowd was also very underwhelming and the devs talking should never be on a stage. As much as i dislike Metzen, not for his personality, but because i think he is a talentless hack writer, he knows how to get a crowd to listen and how to stir them up.

    Anyway, i didn´t like it mostly because of lore reasons. They reached the point where they completely bend and twist their lore to match the game and not the other way around as it should be. (a bit is fine, but it became more and more) This says more about the competence of the people in charge to me, than a faulty game mechanic.

  7. anon says:

    “What Warcraft, StarCraft, and Diablo built, these new release have torn down.”

    It is amusing that they started by making games that were all about fun, with no concerns for mass market and, in doing so accrued a following so large it became a mass market on its own.

    And then they started to make games that are first about mass market, second about fun (to some, merely “fun”) and are, to put mildly, struggling to maintain the overall position of the company.

  8. bzbetty says:

    Having not played since end of wrath I was actually quite excited about this announcement, that said I obviously haven’t seen the lack of quality of the latest 3 expansions which likely explains it.

    I thought bringing naxx back in wrath went OK. It certainly wasn’t the same dungeon as vanilla but did bring back memories while progressing the game. Thought rag/zg/za might do similar but it sounds like they weren’t that popular.

    Lore wise I thought both WoD and MoP sounded terrible, neither felt like a progression. Legion should have followed Cata.

  9. Mikrakov says:

    What I want to know is why they haven’t made Warcraft 4 yet, seems like a no-brainer to me.

    • When they were officially showing Heroes of the Storm game play for the first time, my first thought was, “This would make an excellent engine for Warcraft 4.”

      No such luck… yet.

  10. j3w3l says:

    People will be fooled again – and a large quantity. Looking at the sales of WoD, even with a dismal feature list proves that. And then we have the many months beforehand of absolutely no content. You would think after that people would have been butter but nope – 10 million sales.

    I am also seeing a rather positive swing to it on social media, definitely not a large population but it does seem to represent a certain general feeling well enough. It was getting rather critical just a month ago and now mostly positive.

    It’s like i said in a recent post. All these people are driven by hope, hope that maybe this time WoW will be able to provide experiences that compare to the old ones. Nostalgia is a damn powerful drug.

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