An open letter to Ion Hazzikostas

I am not on Twitter any longer, so if anyone would like to share this with him through there, that’s fine.  I am sure it stands as good a chance being read through here or there as it does if I printed it out and mailed it to the company directly.

Mr. Hazzikostas,

I am writing this to express my thoughts on the current state of the game as a near 10 year player.  My wife started playing on the 2nd or 3rd day that the Borean Tundra server was open.  When we installed the original core game in January of 2009 we did not have any clue what it was about.  A year or so prior we had watched South Park’s, Make love not Warcraft, and thought there was no way a video game could be like that.  I had found the game at our local Best Buys on a bargain rack and had bought it for her as a joke more than a year prior to actually playing it.  At the time we had one computer in the house, and we connected to the internet through DSL.  My wife was hooked, but with only one computer she was the only one playing, I watched in amazement at the lands and how in depth the game was.  I recall watching her level her Draenei and as she made her way to Auberdine for the first time.  When she had gotten off the boat there was a full scale Horde assault going on, and seeing a fellow Alliance player losing health tried to bandage them, only to find herself flagged for PvP and dead as these were much higher level players and she was only around level 10 or 15 at most.  It did not take long to realize our old computer could not handle the game and we had a friend build us our first gaming PC, I got the other computer and would spend evenings looking up quests on Thotbot for her.  I should backtrack for a moment to talk about how we came to the server we did.

When we started up the game that first time, we had to choose a server, we looked over the list and saw the one labeled New Players.  We figured that meant you started here and then worked your way through the list.  To us the list of server names seemed like it was a list of zones you completed, similar to the different difficulties in Diablo 2, we had no idea.  Where we happened to choose was the Borean Tundra server, one of the last new servers ever created, and it was created after Wrath had begun so we were all behind the curve from the start, it was locked out to transfers in, everyone there was starting from the beginning.  Certainly we had our share of veteran players that were there to get the gate opening event and possibly the mount, but the vast majority of us were brand new to the game, and after many months we were treated like that, we were the Noobs, the Wrath Babies, the Carries, we were called all the names in gaming culture, and yet we still played because the game was so much fun it made ignoring the digs very easy.  I got started about 8 months after she did in August of 2009, Wrath was closing in on being out for a full year, and I had a lot of catching up to do.

I have heard it said that you were from the Elitist Jerks web site, pardon my grammar, LOL.  I remember visiting many times, I spent a great deal of time at Shadowpriest.com, eventually becoming a Moderator at the end, I was even offered the opportunity to purchase the site from ZiZero, but because many of the people who I thought were the most notable Priest players in the game, told me it would be a mistake and I should just redirect people to How to Priest, I told them to stuff it.  If I had known then some things I know now, I would have found a way to make it work.  Water, Bridge, I’m over it.  Back then we had the Shadowpriest class site, we had Elitist Jerks, MMO-Champion, the World Hunters Union, etc.  All run by players looking to help others with the sole goal to help people playing so the game could continue to be the best game out there.  Your official forums were extremely active, if at times a bit of a dumpster fire, and you eventually reformatted them, and more recently reformatted again.  They have not gotten better, the are just inhabited with the old guard that keep them alive by shear force of will.  If I still had access, I could pull up archives from Shadowpriest.com to post discussions going all the way back to the beta for Burning Crusade, people complaining that you were catering to the casuals, that trying to make more content available to everyone would doom the game.  It is a recurring comment that happens at the beginning of any expansion.  Certainly over the years there have been a lot of changes, some good, some bad, the game has survived.  It has survived an endless run of “The Next WoW Killer” games, and they have come and gone like Wildstar.  All have had some gimmick that appealed to a lot of people, and while we may have lost some, we always seemed to gain some more.

When we were playing through Wrath, most of the new players we interacted with were kids, older adults, mothers, fathers, grandparents, people who would log in for an hour here and there when they could.  I once knew someone that spent almost 5 years working her way to level 80.  She did not care that we were all beyond her, she just liked running around exploring.  The base of players we learned with were not bleeding edge players.  We were always trying to catch up and until the beginning of Cataclysm we never did.  Fast forward to server merges where we ended up connected to Shadowsong, one of the original servers.  The downside was we were Central time, and they were Pacific.  We made it work, because for us it has always been about server community, not being Worlds best.  We had spent those early years being called every name in the book and it made us protective of each other.  Certainly we have our share of Trade Trolls, and people that just love to push the limits of what can be said.  But we are a community, not because of Twitter, or Facebook, but because we experienced something not many others will every be able to.

So what does it all mean? Nothing really I guess. You come from a different experience in the game, you’ve been a part of higher level game play for longer than I have played. You were hired and given a position to reflect your experience and knowledge of how higher level game play should be. The design goals you are following are not what I would consider fun, but you are given direction from above and do your job the best way you know in order to steer the game towards the direction they want it to evolve.

It is a rough time for me as I watch more and more people just unsubscribe until the next patch, or they’ve left for good. Many have no desire to pick up Classic because they recall all to well exactly what it was like, so they are effectively gone for good. My frustrations lie in the state of guild management. There is no longer a reason to work at growing a guild, the benefits are there for all and honestly they are only really good for putting groups together. I’ve spent years building and maintaining the guild I inherited that was created the first day our server was opened. That use to mean a great deal, now we are just another entry in the thousands of bank guilds listed. And no word on if it will ever improve.

For myself personally I no longer can play my class to a level where I have the confidence to want to try more. I have not run any Heroic Dungeons, Mythic+ is beyond me and I will never participate any more. Shadowpriests were revamped in Draenor and Legion and the new way is not something I could master. It may be appealing to many, but it has destroyed me to a point I barely log in anymore. I don’t know if playing Classic will revive my desire to play or just make me bitter to how the live version has changed so drastically.

I cannot honestly say that you personally are responsible for the state of the game, you like all of us have a job and are given directions on how management wants it to evolve. I’m sorry that you are at the frontline taking the heat. Hopefully things will turn around. It’s all those of us that have hung in for 10+ years have left.

Thank you,

Marathal

GM-Fates Call

US Borean Tundra

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3 thoughts on “An open letter to Ion Hazzikostas

  1. I read every word of this letter, and I am tweeting it to @WatcherDev, though I have scant hope he will read it. The thing that comes through to me from it is the terminal frustration of a loyal game fan, of someone Blizz should be fighting to keep, because you and others like you are the core of WoW’s success. You represent a significant group of players who have stuck with this game even in bad times, but for whom the missteps of BFA are pretty much a last straw.

    Sadly, Blizz seems neither to know nor care that they are driving you away. In their zeal to chase monthly metrics and esports $$$, they are jettisoning the very players that made the game successful.

    Liked by 1 person

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