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?