A snippet of Wolfshead post on his reaction to World of Wacraft’s expansion news.
If you could ask God one question what would it be? Would you ask a deep question such as what is the meaning of life or would you waste your question on something trivial like how to remove bubble gum from a sole of a running shoe?
If you happen to be a disciple of World of Warcraft and can make the pilgrimage to BlizzCon, you actually can ask the virtual gods of Azeroth a question. This was the case at BlizzCon 2011 held this past weekend in Anaheim where thousands of true believers assembled before the thrones of the gods of Azeroth. In fact one player actually praised Greg Street Lead WoW Designer and outright called him “a god”.
What did I think of BlizzCon 2011 and the Mists of Pandaria preview and what does this mean for WoW?
BlizzCon 2011 General Impressions
This year was the first year I watched BlizzCon pay per view event without having an active subscription to World of Warcraft or any other Blizzard products. So I had no skin in the game as a player.
As a game designer and MMO commentator, BlizzCon is compelling on many different levels. As a designer I appreciate the behind the scenes “under the hood” look at the creative process of making MMOs. As a commentator I enjoy watching and evaluating the interactions between the fans and the developers. Finally, as regular person, I enjoyed the spectacle that is BlizzCon from a purely entertainment perspective: this includes the rousing introduction by Chris Metzen, the wacky costumes, the Blizzard panels, the dev interviews and other related activities.
Blizzard’s Proud Attitude
I was hoping for some indication that Blizzard has become humble after losing 600,000 subscribers — I was disappointed to say the least. There was no hint of “we screwed up” on the faces of the lead devs like Tom Chilton was as cocky and smug as ever. Even J. Allen Brack brought his usual snarky, self-satisfied smirk with him. You’d think that after releasing an expansion that lost 600,000+ subscribers someone would have been fired but the same people were sitting on the stage this year with the exception of Alex “Furor” Afrasiabi who has joined Jeff “Tigole” Kaplan to work on World of Star…I mean Titan.
Blizzard is in trouble with WoW but you’d never know it even though Star Wars the Old Republic MMO looms in the horizon like a menacing Death Star. The only possible hint that Blizzard is acknowledging this threat is the fact that they are now bribing players with a free copy of Diablo 3, an amazing flying mount, and a WoW beta test invite if they will commit to 12 months of a WoW subscription. This is what desperation smells like.
By leveraging the assured popularity of Diablo 3, they can prop up their declining subscriber numbers to continue to fool investors that WoW is still a viable MMO.
The WoW Community Taking Sycophancy to a New Level
Probably the worst thing about the entire weekend other than Jay Mohr’s predictable slacker comedy routine was the banality of the WoW fans that ambled to the microphone to ask questions in the Open WoW Q&A Panel. The caliber of the questions was abysmally low.
Most of the questioners seemed to be selfishly concerned about the personal power of their own characters and classes. When they weren’t complaining about their own class they were heaping praise upon their virtual benefactors.
There were almost no tough or thoughtful questions posed to the Blizzard “B Team” devs who have presided over a MMO in decline with 2 million subscribers who have vanished like prime rib at an all you can eat buffet. Naturally when you consider the cost of a BlizzCon ticket, the airfare, the accommodations, the meals it’s easy to see why someone who was critical of Blizzard would not spend thousands of dollars for that privilege of confronting the virtual gods of Azeroth.
One thing I did notice was that the questions coming from the players attending the Open WoW Lore Panel were of a higher quality. Role-players and lore junkies make me proud!
Still, it’s regrettable that again BlizzCon attendees missed a great opportunity to knock the Blizzard panel from their ivory pedestals by failing to demand some form of accountability from them. It seems as long as the spice is flowing in the form of new content all is forgiven.
Missteps of Pandaria
After taking a hard look at the feature set of the new expansion Mists of Pandaria I see some good things, bad things and some ugly things that will affect the future of this MMO.
Artistic credits in part of header image go out to, Soundninja @ deviantart.com