World of Warcraft is known as the quintessential multiplayer online game… at least it was in its heydey. The folks at Blizzard knew how to make a stunning and thought provoking game, while encouraging teamwork and imagination. It was full of life, along with victories and letdowns came relationships with fellow players and an open world that you could literally spend hours just looking at. But somewhere along the line, it started to falter.
My friends and family like to say, “And on that day, the Lich King died, and World of Warcraft died with him.” There are arguments on whether it’s the fault of the developers for spending so much time on one IP for so long, or Activision and it’s money-mongering ways of trying to appeal to too many demographics (hardcore vs casual). Some place blame on Free-to-Play games saturating the market, while others still uphold the belief that World of Warcraft is the best game out there.
But whether you’re looking for someone to blame, or you think WoW is still alive and well, one thing is agreed upon by everyone I’ve talked to about it. Something changed with the dynamics of the game near the end of the ‘Wrath of the Lich King’ expansion.
WoW didn’t have the same feel anymore. Dungeons that had previously been a major challenge and accomplishment to beat were being nerfed into the ground. More and more “daily quests” were being added for people who didn’t have more than a few minutes to play. Stats were being blown to ludicrous numbers, and epic gear started to lose that “I have to have that” look.
I played up until right after ‘Mists of Pandaria’. At that point, the game just felt like a grind-fest to me, and I no longer enjoyed playing. Back in the days of Vanilla and Burning Crusade, I could play all by my lonesome and still have fun. Near the end of my WoW existence, I would really only log in to chat with my guild mates for a few, before calling it and getting on some other game.
So, where do I place the blame? Honestly, I place the blame on the gamers themselves. So much bitching and complaining about game mechanics, or that something was too hard. That they couldn’t find people to run instances with, or that there weren’t enough things to do in only ten minutes. Even gamers like me, who once enjoyed the game, but soon came to find that they were no longer having fun, but still paid the monthly fee for some reason or another.
You can only feasibly be a great game for one type of player at a time. “Candy Crush” wasn’t made for hardcore gamers that like to sit and waste 5 hours on a game, and they’re not going to change their gameplay to get those gamers to play. But WoW did change. They went from an epic storyline with well developed and nigh impossible end bosses to having pet battles and more quests that you can finish in five minutes than you can shake a stick at.
Blizzard did not keep WoW what it was. And that is the fault of the gamers.
Why do I even bring this up? Well, honestly it’s because I still have conversations about it. The fond memories that we had as guild-mates. The screw-ups, the small victories, the big wins, and the major losses. The many political dramas within the guild that resulted in /gkicks or “soandso has left the guild” messages. The times we couldn’t find our pants in our backpack in the middle of a boss fight, so we didn’t wear any. Fun excursions onto other servers to cause chaos on the other faction. The many holidays spent chasing after some crazy trinket good for one use. Funny or lewd things that would come out of some people’s mouths in the heat of battle. All of this stuff that happened and brought us closer together, not only as an online guild, but also people. And almost NONE of it happened after Cataclysm.
During talk of all these memories, I start to think, “What happened? What changed to make such a drastic difference?” And the answer is simple. We did.