There’s little surprise that World of Warcraft has lost millions of players since its peak during Wrath of the Lich King. Ralph Koster, long timer game designer and MMOG theorist, pulled a Moore’s Law for the industry long ago. But that’s the larger trend. Why, in general, subscriptions peak and fall. The devil is in the details. Why does an individual chose to leave a game they once craved? This is incredibly important in small scale. Mine is relatively simple. Not as easy as the Wrath drop, but very close.
I began my professional video game writing career shortly after The Burning Crusade was announced. It struck me as rather odd that Blizzard would force require us to pay for a subscription and the expansion itself. Combine that with the cash-strapped nature of a junior year of college, two plus years of the same content and I had had enough. My money, at the time, was lost. Clearly, this didn’t persist, as both Project Lore and Lore Hound exemplify. At any rate, my connection to the universe remained a slippery slope. No expansion held my attention like Vanilla, TBC being the least played, and no expansion approached my connection with Wrath.
My modus operandi since then has been, sadly, quite predictable. TBC was largely ignored due to a major life change and cost backlash. Post Wrath it’s been simple: Pop level cap, throw out a horde of articles while I quest and dungeon, farm loot for heroics, move to raids, farm more loot and get bored of the same content and leave. Poor lore has exasperated the problem in recent expansions. Far more so with loltimeparadox Warlords of Draenor.
Sadly, I’m not expecting good lore with Legion. Will it hold my attention more than the few months WoD did? I don’t expect so, but I’ll give it a chance. Yet again. What about you? What’s your typical WoW path?
In Warcraft I was forever hearing ” the game doesnt start until you hit end game”. For me it was actually the reverse it was the raiding and the end game where I started to lose it.
When I started playing games like WoW the world seemed so huge, full of endless possibility, but as you level up so the world gets smaller. The Massively Multiplayer shrinks down to become Group Co-op as you split off into small (often pretty elitist and picky) groups in isolated instances away from the rest of the world.
Leveling up from 0-80 was not so much a grind – or if it was you were carrying out the grind with a variety of areas to choose from – when you got to end game you found yourself grinding the same content, the some surroundings, the same enemies over and over again.
The other thing that disillusioned me with MMOs was the thrill, the surprise the unexpected was lost when you hit endgame. You could not go into a dungeon or raid without having watched videos or done reading up on what to expect, most groups wanted you totally boned up before letting you in. But for me knowing whats coming up goes against what gaming is all about. And all builds end up being similar a mage has to have a certain set of optimal gear – which means they all end up looking and playing the same, and if your mage is specced off the norm its hard to get a group.
Finally I watched a few videos of people playing WoW with the addons and thats when I knew I would never be an MMORPG player of top order. I hate addons, the videos I saw had meters and stats all over the screen pretty much playing the game for the player. ” Agro is at this level, stop hitting, aggro at the level you can now start hitting” it seemed that the computer was playing the game for them. There was no skill just press the button when the meter says to press it.
WoW was addictive, when I played it the game was enjoyable, but after I had given it up and look back I cannot for the life of me put a finger on why.
Then again – many a junkie says their addiction is enjoyable at the time, but when they get clean they realise the truth.