As a long term World of Warcraft player I am sad to see where the game is today, and by that I mean the fact that less and less people are playing it. Blizzard recently released the subscription numbers and it was around 8 millions subscribers world wide (Still the biggest MMORPG by far), but it’s quite a drop from the glorious days of 2010 when there were 12 million players.
Personally I don’t understand why this drop in numbers has hit the game. Blizzard has really made a lot of improvement to the game and added loads and loads of new features in the past years, such as rated battlegrounds, looking for group system and not to mention the pet battle! Yeah, some might say that the game has become too easy, that in Vanilla and The Burning Crusade you needed lots more skills and whatnot to even have a chance to finish up the end game raids, and I do agree to a certain extent, but I don’t believe that’s what “killed” World of Warcraft. What I believe gave the game a massive blow are 3 things:
With people running around with heirlooms at any level in the game has had a huge impact on it. Everyone runs around with heirlooms, whether it be in the instances, the battlegrounds or questing. You no longer need to get that one helmet that will help you out. You no longer need to farm Scarlet Monastery to get Morgraines’s mighty Mace. No, you got it all from level one. By farming a little bit of instances/battlegrounds on your main you’re able to give your new character whatever gear you need from level 1. Levelling a new character has become ridiculously easy… I mean, I still remember when I levelled my main, it took me several months to get from 1-70 and it was an amazing feeling when I finally made it. Now levelling is just something that has to be done to get to the farming process at level 90.
Flying in Azeroth:
This is something that I’ve hated from the start, why would they add this feature? Sure, you can get from Stormwind to Scholomance in no time… great! But why?! Yeah, I remember when I had to get a group from Shadowfang Keep and we had to decide who went to summon the rest of the group.. Now that was a hell of a walk, which most often ended with 2-3 ganks, but it had its charm, as our dear friend Bilbo Baggins would have said “I’m going on an adventure!”. Yes, I do realise that flying in Azeroth is for the high levels, so it wouldn’t have had any impact on me running to Shadowfang Keep, but my point still stands.
Another thing with the flying in Azeroth is that you rarely see anyone more. There is no interaction with other players, especially not cross faction. I’m sure that most of the people that played in “the good old days” remember the endless ganks and ganking in zones like Strangelthorn Vale and Hillsbrad Foothills and it was FUN, even if you were the one ganked. All you see now is, if you’re lucky, a player flying somewhere high above. It starts to feel like you’re playing alone.
And arguably the BG/Instance queue system:
So this pretty much goes with the flying in Azeroth thingie. You don’t have to go out there. You don’t have to interact with people. You queue up, you kill some mobs and then never see the group again. I don’t know the locations for half the dungeons any more… Where the hell is the Siege of Niuzao Temple?! I don’t bloody know, because I don’t have to! All I need to do is to hit that lovely queue button and some magic happens and I’m in a group. Lovely right? No, because this group might as well have been an AI, no one is talking, there is no communication whatsoever.
When people had to run out to find the dungeons it added a lot more… life.. to the game, you saw a lot more players around. Same goes for the Battleground instances. I miss the days when people gathered in Stormwind Keep to queue up. There was always a lot of talking and people showing of their newly acquired PvP gear. There was a gathering point for like minded players.
Now, I don’t know what Blizzard should do to make up for this fatal mistakes. You cannot simply remove the features, it doesn’t work like that. But I might have a few ideas that could help out. Or at least I wish it would. But here is my favourite one:
Competitive play:For those of you who have read my blogs know that I love the eSport scene, and I believe World of Warcraft has a lot of potential. In both aspects of the game, PvE and PvP.
I love the idea to see a better PvP competitive scene. Admittedly I don’t watch the arena sections and I find the insanely dull. But I honestly believe that if Blizzard put a team together to work out a tournament for battlegrounds it would have a massive success. The eSport scene has the great 1v1 games (Starcraft 2), it has the 3v3 (WoW Arena) and then it has the 5v5 (League of Legends and DOTA2). But it doesn’t have the huge 10v10, or even 15v15 if you dare. Yeah, it might be insanely difficult to make it work, to get 10-15 like minded players to work together in perfect synergy, but if there is one community there can do it, it’s the MMO community. We see it all the time, the top guilds of World of Warcraft going for that world first, and if they can do it in PvE then they can do it in PvP as well.
All Blizzard needs to do is to add some sort of spectator mode for battlegrounds. Not sure if it should be a 1st person view like Counter-Strike, 3rd person view like WoW arena, perhaps the spectating system from SC2 and LoL could work, or maybe a combination of all 3. And then Blizzard needs to make it attractive to the players. Give it a lot of talk, put bigger prizes out there, give the players a chance for fame. You have done it with Starcraft Blizzard, now do it to World of Warcraft.
So this one is somewhat already ongoing… The Race to Worlds first (Great documentary by the way, you should watch it), where the top guilds in the world tries to be the first to clear the content, to get the fame and glory. So what I think should be done here is to have tournaments, both for worlds first, but also fastest clear of a certain dungeon/raid. Have two teams/guilds facing each other and see who has the best strategy to clear it the fastest. This has already been done at several BlizzCons, where Blizzard has invited top guilds to go on scene and play, so why not go a bit further? Have a monthly tournament where you give the players a chance to get their 15 minutes of fame.
As I said, I don’t know what should be done with the game, but I strongly believe that this could help it out, make it more attractive to players, both the current one and people looking for an alternative competitive one.
Hope you guys like my idea and I wish we could get the word to spread and make it happen!