WoW Retail, born Nov 23rd, 2004, has sadly passed away at the age of (almost) 15 on Aug 26th, 2019. Cause of death: WoW Classic. RIP in peace.
Ever since WoW Retail become a monster hit sometime around 2005, ‘WoW killers’ have been announced, launched, and found lacking. WAR couldn’t do it, Rift wasn’t the title, SW:TOR sold you hotbars, and on it goes. Regardless of what other MMO launched, WoW Retail always remained the top dog, even as it lost its way following WotLK and went charging head first into the dumpster fire that is the current game. The grip of Azeroth, even terribly watered down, was still strong. Not 10m+ subs strong with good content and a growing user-base, but still considerable to take for a 1-3 week spin every 6 months when content was added.
Then on Aug 26th the one true WoW killer arrived. Its name was WoW Classic, and its Old Blizzard design (with New Blizzard expectation management…) reminded the world why, back in 2004, so many fell in love with Azeroth. It wasn’t the welfare epics, the complete silence of LFG, the faceroll of raidfinder, the space goats, the Horde Paladins, the timetravel-inspired lore bastardization, or making every class a hybrid dps/tank/healer reskin.
It’s a reminder that the world in WoW is the star character, not you oh generic hybrid iLvl placeholder. It’s a reminder that even if you think you don’t want ‘collect 15’ quests that require killing 60 mobs because the drop rate is 5% (math checks out), you actually do. That dying because of a careless pull at level 5 is important, regardless of how initially frustrating it may seem. A reminder that a quest with a cloth item reward for your warrior that sends you across 5 zones, and that during that quest you are walking 99% and doing anything BUT walking 1% of the time, is not a ‘design flaw’ to fix and sanitize. A reminder that content which pushes players to play together, by nudging those who insist on going solo into social situations, is healthy game design for an MMO, not a ‘carryover’ of old and outdated thinking. And that those who completely refuse to group can’t see the end of the story and the cool big bads like Rag or Onyxia, because fuck you this is an MMO, join a guild asshat!
I can understand the frustration of the few remaining Retail players as they look at their guild rosters and see ‘last online Aug 26th’. It always stinks when a better game comes along and takes most of your population. Its even worse when that better game is from the same company as your current game, and suddenly you go from the star pupil to the redheaded stepchild of the family. No one wants to be the Heroes of the Storm of a company, yet here we are today, with Retail and HotS sitting at Blizzard’s kids table, muttering under their breath about how unfair it is that the more successful, better looking, much smarter WoW Classic child is the favorite now and gets all the love/attention/budget/respect.
It double stinks that all these years you kept saying how Retail WoW is great, and that those who claim Vanilla design was superior are just wearing rose-tinted glasses, and now Classic is here and you are forced to realize you were wrong, we were right, you stink, we rule. That must sting. Maybe not as bad a sting as your server being turned off to make room for more Classic servers, but still a bad feeling. I’d suggest running a raid with the quarter of your remaining active roster, just to take the old game for one last spin. May I suggest the ‘updated’ post-Cata Deadmines? I hear its a real hoot! And as you mindlessly pull the whole room and AoE it down, know that it’s not your fault that Retail is dead, sometimes mom and dad just drift apart.
Well, I mean, it actually is your fault. You asked for welfare epics because you were jealous as I danced on the mailbox in my raiding gear while you looked up in your poor person blues. You complained that walking to a dungeon entrance was a burden you couldn’t handle. You said that rogues should have a heal because you have no friends and playing a priest is like, really boring. You pointed out the ‘flaw’ in having to commit to a talent build with respec consequences, and had that ‘flaw’ fixed when talent trees were removed to make the game ‘better’. Every quest SHOULD have a reward you yourself can use, damnit, and that quest should show you exactly where to go and require you, at most, to spend 5 minutes in total. Who the hell has more than 5 minutes to play these days when we all have to take care of our 6 kids? This isn’t 1965 is it? Don’t you have a phone?
The glass-half-full view of Classic killing Retail is that perhaps this saves the overall MMO genre. No longer will we get WoW clones based off the inferior and flawed version of WoW that is post-WotLK. Perhaps the next WAR/Rift/SW:TOR will be a Classic clone, and by default already be a better MMO because of it. That’s a win/win for everyone besides the sRPG players that cling to the corpse that is Retail, right? And since we aren’t grouping with those solo heathens anyway, do they actually count? The answer is no. No they do not.
So a big congrats to Blizzard for releasing a WoW Killer! That’s a huge accomplishment that should be celebrated by all! It’s always a tall task to take down the market leader, even if in this case the market leader is long past his prime and a shell of what originally made him great. Hey, it still counts!
And my most sincere and heartfelt Thoughts and Prayers to Blizzard that WoW Retail is dead. What a run, this almost 15 years! And to the few remaining Retail players: You think you want to keep playing that version of the game, but you don’t.