Warcraft isn't what it used to be. There's been a lot of changes to everything over the past decade. While the base of the game is there in some regards, it's hard to say that the experience of WoW is anything like it was when some of us first picked it up. In 2004 the game was, quite literally, your second life. Now? It can be a casual companion, one that you can come and go from with ease.
This fundamental change doesn't sit well with some people, but with others its something that's allowed the game to keep with their lives after all these years. I fall into that category -- there's no way I'd be able to enjoy the WoW of 2004. I can't farm mats forever, and I can't spend five hours every night raiding. Some days I can only log in and play for 30 minutes, others I can binge for hours and hours. WoW has evolved as my life has evolved, and I love it for that.
Lately there has been a lot of unhappiness in the community. Changes that people don't agree with, things that have happened that make little sense to a lot of people. I'm in that group too -- I don't like everything I've heard out of Blizzard lately. I don't get the change of the capital locations. I don't understand the mass removal of abilities. And even though I'm happy about something like the auction house combination, I don't feel like we have all the answers and it leaves me wanting more details.
But, all that is secondary and needs to be put into some context -- and this context is something that the community needs to come to terms with quickly.
Blizzard has two paths to take with WoW. Either they put it into maintenance mode and begin to sunset the game, or they forge full speed ahead and remake the game into a modern entertainment complex. Blizzard's choices are no more complicated than that.
And frankly, both choices are probably OK. WoW is a ten year old game. I'm turning 31 this year. When I started the game I had just been legally able to buy a beer. If it's time to sunset the game, now is it. Blizzard could use WoD to create structures and systems that would last a bit and not require much development effort beyond the initial rollout, and thus would be the end of WoW.
However that's not what Blizzard has decided to do. They've decided to push the game ahead, they're finally rolling out new models, dramatically revamped systems, and are not afraid to throw out what has been in place for the last decade. Goodbye Heroic Strike, I'll never forget you.
People are saying Blizzard is killing WoW, that they're forcing WoW to die so their next MMO will be able to swoop in and be massively popular. I don't think anything could be further from the truth. A company that is killing a game doesn't make changes that are going to upset their fanbase, while at the same time rolling out a massive graphical upgrade -- one that hasn't ever been attempted at the scale Blizzard is going after. A company killing their game off isn't active on social media day and night talking to gamers, explaining their vision and reasoning. A company killing off their game isn't willing to talk to press and respond in any nice way.
Change is very hard. In any change you get some things you like and other things you hate. Warlords is going to be a hard pill for some people to swallow. A few will no doubt leave the game, but others will take their place. Such is the cycle; it has happened before and it will happen again.
Grab your towel and hold on. The change will be done soon, and we'll have a modern game to play in -- one that is deeper and richer than any other on the market. This is only a good thing. Change is hard, but it's also good. Let's just enjoy it.
Filed under: Analysis / Opinion