We saw a few years ago here in the United States the big auto makers, and banks called to large to allow to fail. And I wonder if WoW has reached a similar status. Beyond all of the employees directly working on the Warcraft franchise, you have many outside web sites with employees, advertisers that have space on these web sites. While I do not thing World of Warcraft is of the same magnitude as say a Ford Motor company or a Meryl Lynch, there are in all likelihood a few hundred if not thousands of people that would be affected if WoW ever shuts down.
Joe mentioned in a blog comment earlier about the feeling they phoned in the expansion. And I have to wonder if there is not some truth to the statement. 2+ years ago when they started working on the expansion the concept, etc were all underway. I think we can all agree the leveling was top notch true to Blizzard standards, the zones look amazing, the dungeons and raids are right up there. Perhaps the thought over two years ago was that more people would be getting in to the raids, more would be running all of the various levels of dungeons offered. Maybe they are. I don’t know. I do know that initially subscriptions swelled to near or over 10 million as people rushed back to rejoin, to relive the Burning Crusade experience and many thought it would be, but it did not take very long for near 5 million of them to just walk away. Is it because the nostalgia was not what they thought? Was the outside world that uninteresting? I doubt we will ever know if there was a predominant reason for those that left. And no, I do not think not having flying had all that much to do with it. So refrain from those kind of comments please.
I do think that perhaps, and this is just the thought that is in my head at the moment, and I am sure there are as many theories as there are bloggers, that they might have coasted a little on this one. That they probably put the teams on like they normally would, got the entire framework in place, and the art department busy, but then they pulled people off to make the new titles ready, lets get Overwatch up to speed, Heroes of the Storm needs to go, Starcraft has to be ready, we need to get these up and set to go. Perhaps the thinking was that we got this, people will be back in droves, and initially seeing the big jump in pre-sales, seeing subs jump as people came back at the end of MoP to be ready to run at the drop, and I am sure there were many pats on the back, many high fives, until the numbers started to drop, and the exit surveys started rolling in.
I no longer think that Blizzard should be treating World of Warcraft as a game that they keep going because there is still a lot of story to be told, but that they should think of themselves as caretakers of a cultural phenomenon. Whether it was just a magical alignment of the stars, or just dumb luck that they came out with such a huge game, it truly is a cultural phenomenon, and perhaps it does deserve to have a bit more care taken than it was shown this last expansion. Maybe they knew prior to release that there might be problems, the entire expansion took a bit longer than they anticipated, and for all I know resources were diverted to making Legion the crowning achievement for them. But Joe is right, beyond the content for the game, a lot of the normal yearly stuff has seemed to be a bit of a patch it up and ship it. Changing the loot tables for Holiday bosses, adding a few pets to vendors. I am sure that a lot of features implemented such as the Timewalker Dungeons, and the additional tier of dungeons and raids takes a great deal of time to balance and test. I do get that there is probably a lot of things that were done that do not even get noticed. All that stands out to me is the general malaise of players towards what we have available to us for the next 6+ months, beyond raiding or running Mythic dungeons or Timewalker dungeons. All of the outdoor content has been released. There will not be a Ruby Sanctum coming, what we have is it. Yes we can all go and make our own enjoyment with all there is for us, we can go back and run old raids solo, or with friends, we can visit all of those areas we may have missed in the fast leveling process. WE can even level another character of an opposing faction, Roll a new one on a new server, even as Alternativechat did, roll one on a different continent.
There are many ways to find things to do in the game, perhaps try out PvP before the big shake up, maybe go back and give pet battles a try, work on Loremaster, old faction reps long forgotten, farming for mounts that are drops off of bosses that are so trivial now that many can be done solo on 25 heroic difficulty. There is a great deal to do, even though we are guided and coerced into paying attention to only the new and shiny. I have not given up on WoW, and I certainly hope the folks at Blizzard have not either. For the longest time the running joke has been what game will bump WoW out of the top spot. Many have caught the attention of players, but also too, many have not. While these new games have flashier features, have more appealing systems, player housing, better lore, there is just some thing lacking in many, and many find their way back to Warcraft.
I do hope that Legion is going to be the start of a long string of highly successful expansions, and that WoW continues on for as long as the lights stay on at Blizzard. But I would as you, the principles of the company, do not look at this experience as a wild ride that finally came to an end, look at instead as something to be cherished, and to be carries on for the children of those that grew up playing, and their grand children, who knows even their great grand children. So many people grew up with WoW, they graduated High School, they went to college, they got marries, have had kids, many parents and grand parents play alongside each other, It is a marvel in its simplicity and complexity when you look at all of the different cultures world wide that play, the ages ranging from 10 year olds to those in their 70’s and 80’s. So please, if there ever comes a day, the day when the subs drop to a level that you are on the fence on whether to continue or pull the plug. Consider what the gaming world would be like, if there is never another like this to take its place.