Posted in World of Warcraft

WoW: Easy Mode

While I still have a lot of good friends over in World of Warcraft (presumably) (I mean, presumably they’re still playing, not presumably they’re still my friends) (because I don’t have friends) (just imaginary ones), a brief look at the recent expansion solidified my decision to never return to WoW.  Call it my 2009 resolution or whatnot… four years later, and I am cooked and done with that game.

It’s not necessarily what it was as a game — I had a great time and the play itself was pretty smooth — but what it’s gradually become.  The heavy emphasis on raids and the mind-bogglingly bad decisions Blizzard has made concerning Arenas and “retooling” character balance across the board for this style of PvP just dampened my enthusiasm.  Seeing the explosion of reportedly overpowered Death Knights overrun the servers struck a mortal blow (which, c’mon, everyone and their sister predicted would happen).  And hearing reports like this one over at GameSpy, where they investigate just how easy and non-challenging WoW has become, killed it completely for me.

There’s a very important lesson for devs to learn that Blizzard, in all its infinite wisdom and power, has just refused to pick up on: don’t invalidate your earlier content when you expand.  Yes, mudflation is inevitable and MMOs always change and grow and become refined, but there’s a difference between that and just chucking everything in the garbage because you’re only concerned for making content for players at the end game.  Not to sound like an old fart here, but I remember when hitting 60 was a MAJOR accomplishment in WoW, something that took considerable time and effort to do.  I remember selling some crafting items for 25 silver apiece and watching a small fortune of about 6 gold grow from it and feeling richer than the ten kings of Europe.  I ground my butt off for that fancy Timbermaw epic summoning trinket that was promptly negated the second The Burning Crusade released.

This is why in the blogosphere you see a lot of writers finally breaking the shackles of WoW and trying, perhaps for the first time in years, another MMO and finding its challenge sweet.  I don’t mean to pick on WoW too much here, because other games shoot themselves in the foot over time as well, especially when it’s time for the ol’ expansion routine, but WoW’s expansion pack came out, what, three months ago?  And there’s just zero buzz over that game that I’m seeing from my usual multiple-MMO haunts.  Could it be that it’s finally too easy to be interesting?

14 thoughts on “WoW: Easy Mode

  1. Nearly 12,000,000 people think WoW is the best game in the world, possibly best that can ever be made.

    And then there’s you… so…

    Millions of people have no problem with it!


  2. “Could it be that it’s finally too easy to be interesting?”

    It might well be. What I wanted when I went back to WoW before Christmas was exactly that, Easy Mode, and that’s what I got. If I’d wanted challenging gameplay, I’d probably have been crying in a corner 2 days after my reactivation. When I get to wanting more challenge, I’ll probably move on.

    I also suspect WoW’s complete lack of player housing (and I feel safe in predicting that they won’t add it in 2009) will eventually drive me away.

    In the meantime though, I’m actually having a very fun time — but on very limited, carefully-defined terms that most likely wouldn’t suit 99% of everyone else out there. (It helps, I suspect, that I’m not a raider and I don’t care about items. Oddly enough there’s more to do in WoW for non-raiders than I remembered.)

  3. I think you’re probably right, but for every player, like us, who decides to never return to WoW, there’s another three players buying the game and logging in for the first time.** It’s possible that many people no longer find the game interesting or challenging any longer, but I still hear echoes of the words “11 million subscribers” ringing in my head.

    I’d be curious to see how many players who had never played an MMO before WoW will move on to another MMO when they’re finished with WoW and how many will quit the genre entirely. As unexceptional as WoW has become, it is still the standard by which other MMOs are measured, a very polished and refined standard. Will ex-WoW players be able to move on to a less polished, less refined game and have the patience to stick with it? I think a number of WAR players have proved it’s possible, but I can’t be sure about everyone.

    **this is a fabricated figure

  4. Hmm… good points. I played the expansion-pack for about 2 months, and I was done. I don’t know that it was exactly too easy, as much as it was mostly a re-hash of what’s been done before. The leveling process went by insanely fast and that was a downer. The end result was that even though I love the atmosphere, the story, the quests, the gameplay, etc… I was bored to death. Every time I logged in, instead of being excited to play, I kept thinking that in another 1.5 – 2 years, I’d have to do it all over again. I became very aware of the treadmill, and that just killed the fun for me. Other than phasing, this expansion didn’t seem to add anything really new to the game.

    As for the “11 million people can’t be wrong”… I don’t think anybody is saying it’s a bad game. It’s a very good game, it was groundbreaking in a lot of ways and it set a high standard for playability and immersion for future MMOs. But after playing it for 4 years, burnout can be expected and I think a lot of the people who are quitting the game now are those original players.

    I also agree with Jennifer, I’d like to know how many WoW players will continue to play MMOs after WoW. It picked up so many people from other genres (especially a lot of console players) so it’ll be interesting to see how that plays out.

  5. Ahhh, attack of the WoW fanbois!

    Actually, people, 11 million folks may love it, but that leaves, you know, another 6.695 billion or so who either don’t give a rat’s ass about it or just don’t like it. 😉

    I just find it comical that every time a blogger posts something even remotely negative about WoW or WotLK these days, you get a dozen people shouting you down. :p Defensive much?

    Either way, with Tobold posting a series of “raahhh blizzard” posts in the last week, it’s nice to see someone go against the grain. Keen has posted some interesting WotLK commentary as well that gives me yet another reason not to play it. I quit WoW a couple of years ago and there’s no way I’d ever play it again (or WotLK).

    I’m not arguing that it’s not a nicely polished game, but just saying that 11 million people are playing it doesn’t mean it’s for everyone — we’re all entitled to our own opinions.


  6. @ Nick — who’s shouting? Who’s a fanboy? We’re just making points of our own. Point me at the rabid frothing if you would, unless you just like to be snarky at people for its own sake.

    Alternately, I could go “Ahhh! Attack of the people who can’t see anything positive about WoW without slinging the WoW-fanboy mud around!”

    For starters if I were one, which I’m not, I’d be a fangrl, and so would at least 3 other commenters here. Secondly, I’m not a fan-anything these days. Played too many, burned too many. (Just don’t diss Asheron’s Call or I may have to hunt you down and scold you very harshly.)

  7. i remember when i played WoW last year, i exclaimed in general chat that i had made 1g.

    this is before i made it to stormwind, and had yet to check out the AH etc. but by vendor standards, i had more than enough to buy all the common armour and weapons i’d ever need.

    i got “lulz nub” a plenty in reply.

    WoW is nothing more than furious peen rubbing.

    the game was polished, smooth running and had plenty PvE to do. i enjoyed most of it for the 4 months i played it: though when i got my main to lvl64, it really hit me.

    i’d never compete on the AH cause i dont have the time to grind mats etc to craft epics.
    i’d never get into a raid group to get my epic armour sets…cause i dont have epic armour sets in the first place, and if i did manage to find a good raiding group that supported ungeared players to get said gear: i’d just do the same raids over and over agian…

    the only thing that isn’t static in WoW, is the PvP: which is just terrible, let’s be honest.

    so i play another MMO: it’s refreshing and PvP well implemented and has a promising future providing the community holds.

    i’d never consider WoW again.

  8. I, like alot of people played WoW for a couple of years. I think it was a good game. It was something new with familiar content. But, I think that Blizzard to make it more attactractive to the non-typical gamers made the game as simple as possible. Sure, it was cool the first time your guild made it all the way through MC. But, after running through it several hundred times hoping that one of your armor pieces drops became boring. My point is that the whole game became boring to me. After awhile I started making little games with myself to see how fast I could level characters to 60 or how fast I could get through a line of quests. Everything became a grind. I left a couple months after Burning Crusade.

    I jumped around to a couple of games looking for the perfect MMO which I have not found it, yet. I really dont know what I would want in the perfect MMO…new content? new concepts? familiar themes? maybe!!! A couple of things I really liked about SWG was the player housing and the player-made cities. You had the freedom to move anywhere. Another thing I liked about SWG pre-NGE was the crafting system. I like how the harvested items changed qualities and rotated through the planets. But, it had its flaws too.

    I am curious about what other people thought would be implemented in the perfect MMO.

    So, I am curious as to what other people thought about would be in the perfect MMO.

  9. I think a lot of people here are missing the perspective that while WoW is a great game and popular to boot, it’s such a shame that the best parts of it at launch have been neglected and watered down.

    To make yet-another-probably-poor-comparison:

    It’s like a bar that’s so crowded and trendy, nobody notices when they start watering down the beer. Or when someone does notice, the rest of the crowd treats it as just raining on their parade.

    I’m in with Syp, I left WoW after 3 years and I have no intentions of returning because Blizzard has abandoned the parts of the game that I enjoyed most. They’re in the milking it and cashing in stage, that rather than maintain their old content, they’re just making sure players can fly by it to get to the new shiny stuff. This will appeal to many players for sure, but it also makes the game feel so shallow to me (at least compared to the depth they started with).

    And to follow another much-used comparison:

    Blizzard has given up on the virtual world and are emphasizing the amusement park paradigm. I’m tired of standing in line for the next ride, I want to alternatively explore and feel comfortably at home within the game.

    Disneyland attracts huge crowds too.

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