What’s that trite yearbook phrase? “What a long, strange trip it’s been!”
This past month marked the 15th anniversary of World of Warcraft’s launch in North America. It’s coming during a strange year of ups (World of Warcraft Classic) and downs (financials, #BoycottBlizzard). While it’s being marked by media, gamers, and in-game activities, the 15th anniversary still seems rather subdued compared to the big hubaballo that took place at the 10th.
It doesn’t feel like WoW’s launch was yesterday; it feels like it was forever ago. The Syp from 2004 was in a much different place than the Syp in 2019. In 2004 I was 28 years old and had just proposed to my soon-to-be wife. I was still living alone in an apartment that was oddly kid-free. I wasn’t blogging back then, I wasn’t writing for Massively (which didn’t exist until 2007 anyway), I hadn’t gone back to school for my Masters, and my online gaming experience was rather limited and focused.
Back then, I played a lot of single-player RTS and RPG games. I had dabbled in Anarchy Online, but City of Heroes was where my passion was for most of 2004. I was growing more enthusiastic about MMORPGs, which was partially fueled by the lead-up to World of Warcraft over the 2003-2004 period. I remember pouring over articles and forum posts about this upcoming title, salivating over the stylized graphics and the player friendly nature of the gameplay.
I put in a couple of weeks into the beta in November 2004, mostly because I couldn’t wait any longer. You can best believe it that I was there right on launch day, too. I drove over to Best Buy and picked up a Collector’s Edition right off the shelf, not knowing that the silly pet I’d get from that CE would be hanging around with me in 2019 when WoW Classic launched.
The first few months were incredibly unstable. It was a crap shoot every day whether or not I’d be able to get onto a server to play. But I don’t remember raging at the delays; I was just incredibly glad to have some game time whenever I got it. Azeroth hooked me from the very start, and off and on, I’ve been playing in it for 15 years now.
It’s not been a perfect game, nor has Blizzard been a perfect studio. But it’s been a very *fun* experience in which I’ve met some great friends, gotten some good stories to write about, and been a reliable fallback for when I burn out in other titles.
I don’t know where I’m heading with this game in the future. Right now I’m not thinking about it too much, preferring to adventure elsewhere. But next year’s Shadowlands will be a strong siren’s call indeed, and I’m sure that this won’t be the last time I write about WoW on this blog.