I suspect that from now until the end of many of our lives, the spectre of World of Warcraft will be with us in some way, shape or form. It’s not just the nostalgia, the “we were there back when” recollections, but the sheer saturated impact that it made, an impression on the couch that’ll never go away no matter how much you fluff up the cushion.
Come a month from now, I’ll be resolutely not buying a World of Warcraft product for the first time in my life. Actually, “resolutely” isn’t even the right word for it, because that implies I’m over here steeling myself to stay strong. The truth is that I don’t feel the pull any longer. I thought I would, but every time I check, the emotional connection to the game is gone.
I think the break-up is finally taking.
Of course, I’m not writing this to say that WoW sucks or that people are fools to get the expansion, because I really don’t believe that. I think Blizzard’s doing the smart thing, even a bold thing with renovating the entire world, and I’m quite sure they’ll do just hunky dory because of it. They’ll need it, since 2011 is going to feature a few powerful MMO rookies who are going to take a swing at the throne, and even with a makeover, WoW is still WoW. It’s not a new game, even with the tweaks.
But what I am saying is that I always felt like my time with WoW constituted a pretty serious video game relationship of sorts, and when I left it — first in 2006, then in 2008 and earlier this year — it felt like a break-up. Not that I was sobbing in a pillow or drunk dialing WoW at 3:30 in the morning suggesting that we get back together, but there are a few parallels. Such as making up and giving it another try, only to realize that it wasn’t going to work because of the same reasons from the first time around. Or such as competing feelings of love and hate that could make me sing praises about my time in the game one day, and loathing it and Blizzard for perceived stupidities the next.
As everyone who’s gone through a rough break-up after a long relationship knows, these things settle down with time. With time, I have new gaming relationships — a great long-term ride with LOTRO, a recently-infused experience with Guild Wars, and a number of future titles that I’m eagerly awaiting. I don’t need WoW to fill any void, because none exists.
So I look at WoW as it’s building up the press and hype for Cataclysm, and I just smile fondly, like someone who discovers a photograph of an ex buried in a drawer and takes a minute or two to remember the good times — and then remember why they moved on.
(But I do disagree with Spinks — I think that this year’s Blizzcon is a near waste of time, at least from an announcement perspective. Blizzard’s the king of making a huge to-do out of very little, and this year they’re basically warming up the leftovers of last year and serving them up in hopes that everyone will chow down anyway.)