John Funk of WarCry recently interviewed Blizzard's VP of Game Design, Rob Pardo, about WoW's five-year anniversary, and he shed some light on a number of topics, including their total subscriber numbers (twice to three times as much as its current 12 million), what audience their new MMO is meant for, and what he thinks WoW's greatest successes were. But some other very interesting information came up when the interviewer asked what he thought WoW's biggest mistakes were.
He begins by saying that he wishes that the servers had been more stable at launch, and that there had been more of them, but he says that in terms of design, Arenas were the single biggest mistake in WoW's history.
Pardo indicates that most of the changes to the game since launch have been a success -- the shrinking of raid sizes, the addition of Heroic dungeons, etc -- but that Arena has been a huge headache for Blizzard and players alike. He goes on to say that if he had the choice, he'd either go back to WoW's beginnings and change the fundamentals of class balance, or, barring that, would nix the decision to add Arenas during the development of the Burning Crusade expansion.We didn't engineer the game and classes and balance around it, we just added it on, so it continues to be very difficult to balance. Is WoW a PvE cooperative game, or a competitive PvP game? There's constant pressure on the class balance team, there's pressure on the game itself, and a lot of times players who don't PvP don't understand why their classes are changing. I don't think we ever foresaw how much tuning and tweaking we'd have to do to balance it in that direction.
A pretty candid statement about a pretty controversial topic. It's good to see that Blizzard understands that the implementation of Arenas was a mistake for a game like WoW. Of course, Pardo also says that they can't just axe Arenas completely, at least not yet, so we may be stuck with them for a while. Sorry about your PvE burst damage, guys.
You can read the full interview with Rob at the Warcry Network. It's not all about Arena, I promise.