So with all the hubbub about 3.0.8's problems, a lot of people are wondering who to blame. Activision seems to be a popular target, with people blaming them for nerfing Blizzard's famed "it's-ready-when-it's-ready" game design cycle and rushing things out the door while they're still buggy and imbalanced.
Popular MMORPG blogger Tobold is in that camp himself. In one of his latest blog posts, he theorizes that Blizzard has been cutting spending for some time now, be it because of falling stock prices or the need to move WoW team members to Diablo 3 or Starcraft 2 or simply because of the economic downturn in general.
As proof, he offers the wildly imbalanced classes, crowded, laggy servers with no signs of relief, and the lack of a new original multi-boss raid instance in Wrath. All of this, he says, are signs of a reduced staff or other cost cutting measures that are preventing Blizzard from fixing the problems that have plagued the game.
Like Mike Schramm, I shy away from simply heaping all the blame on Activision, but Tobold is a pretty respected old school member of the MMORPGing community, so it's tough to dismiss him out of hand. Certainly, in this economy, very few companies can avoid tightening their belts to some degree, and as Tobold has pointed out, Activision Blizzard's overall stock price has dropped significantly.
However, it's probably worth pointing out is that Blizzard is responding to the problems to some degree. They've been transferring characters between servers pretty regularly, and have even opened a few new servers, and we're getting some bug fixes today. It may seem like things are slowing down at Blizzard, but isn't that what we've always expected from them? They take things nice and slow. Usually that ends up being to their advantage. It's just lately that that's become somewhat of a liability.