03
Jul
15

All the Blizzard hate

It seems like the “in” thing to do these days is to hate on Blizzard.  If you read such active sites as the official forums, the /r/wow subreddit, or the forums on MMO-Champion they all make it seem like Blizzard is the epitome of all that is evil.

Depending on which parts you read, you would find the general opinion is that

  • Blizzard hates PvP
  • Blizzard ruins PvE by trying to balance it with PvP
  • Garrisons suck
  • The Shipyard sucks
  • Blizzard went with time travel in Draenor to avoid writing new content
  • Expansions are too far apart
  • This expansion is too short
  • Tanaan Jungle is awful
  • Archimonde is a terrible final boss

and on and on…

First of all – I’m not going to claim that Blizzard has done everything right.  However, the internet has a habit of making everything black/white with no position in between.  The game isn’t everything you hoped?  It can’t possibly be just some innocent misses in game design or decisions that look bad in hindsight.  No, clearly this is the work of money-grubbing greedy bastards at Activision who are conspiring to milk WoW subscribers for every penny and not offer any value in return.  MUA-HA-HA-HA!

Here’s how I see it:

  • Garrisons are a logical extension of the farm from MoP which was very popular.  It was VERY popular at first, but didn’t age well and was old within a month or two.  It was a very sensible design choice on the surface, but there was not enough vision to see the long-term effects.  Probably a bad design decision, but seemed good at the time.
  • People have been asking for a faster expansion cycle for years.  Blizzard has acted on this, but not in the way people hoped.  Rather than lots of content compressed into less time, they’ve gone with less content for a faster turnaround.  This bothers people, as we all hate getting less than we expected.  But the go-to argument is that WoD is not worth the $60 box price.  I don’t agree with that.  Did we get less for our $60 this time than we got in WotLK or Cata?  Yes.  But most got a lot more gameplay from WoD than they got from $60 Destiny or $60 Skyrim or $60 Assassin’s Creed.  Yes, there’s the subscription price but that hasn’t changed in 10 years and so is a non-factor in the argument.
  • Archimonde is an epic foe, but maybe wasn’t the ideal end boss only because he hadn’t appeared in the story all through WoD.  People compare him to WotLK when Arthas was everywhere, or Cataclysm when Deathwing was all around.  I agree with this.  HOWEVER… when Grommash was initially announced as the end boss of the expansion, it was met with all kinds of disappointment at the prospect of another orc-centered expac.  Blizzard responded by replacing him with an even bigger baddie.  This was the player’s getting what they wanted!  However, it comes off as slapped-in since we don’t see any build up to Archimonde in the story.
  • Two raid tiers in WoD is low since we’ve had so much more in past expansions.  I want to give Blizzard the benefit of the doubt here.  IF they have already assigned a lot of their personnel to work on the next expansion, then the current expansion clearly must suffer.  That’s a big “IF” and time will tell.  IF we get a new expansion by early 2016, then we can look back and perhaps understand their choices.  There will be those who whine that Blizzard should have enough staff to do both current content AND the next expansion.  That’s wishful thinking.  That’s like wanting your favorite restaurant to hire more staff so that you don’t have to wait for your food.  Sounds nice, but its not going to happen.

Personally, I blame a lot of what we are seeing on just a falling-out-of-love with MMOs.  I think that the current MMO model has played itself out, and really there is nothing Blizzard can do that will make people happy.  MMO numbers are declining across the board in all MMO games.  There has never been a “perfect” MMO.  Many have tried (ESO, Wildstar, Amalur, many others…) but all have failed in some way or another.  WoW is equally imperfect, but years ago we were more forgiving.

Analogy – Lets say that you have a girlfriend who is awesome (I’m going with girlfriend since I’m a guy.  Flip the genders in the analogy if you like).  She’s funny, smart, and has similar interests to yours.  But she has an annoying laugh.  At first, you are so enamored with her that the laugh is irrelevant.  As you reach your 5th, 8th, and 10th years together, you’ve come to take her good features for granted.  But that laugh still grates on you.  After all those years you’re less likely to overlook the laugh.  One day you get into a fight, and with all the anger your annoyance with her laugh just seems magnified.  Its like the last straw.  You don’t break up because of the annoying laugh, but it was in your thoughts the whole time.

This is how I see our relationship with Blizzard.  In its early days we overlooked or forgave its misses.  We still reflect fondly on vanilla even though it was mostly a grindfest with unimaginative raids that had some great moments in between.  This love affair peaked in Wrath when the new features made us mostly forget the bad stuff.  As time went on, the game was just more of the same with different skins.  Now the good stuff is taken for granted and we focus more on the problems.

I really don’t think there is anything that Blizzard can do now to make the players happy.  I think that 10 years (or more if you played Everquest) of formulaic MMO gameplay has made us cynical.  Unless Blizzard somehow surprises everyone and re-invents the genre, the subscriptions will continue to decline and the complaints will persist.  I also think that Blizzard knows this, and perhaps it is why they seem so deaf to the complaints.  Maybe they know that there is nothing they can do and so are just going to ride it out as long as they can.


1 Response to “All the Blizzard hate”


  1. July 8, 2015 at 6:45 pm

    “- Expansions are too far apart
    – This expansion is too short”

    Hear hear!

    “Rather than lots of content compressed into less time, they’ve gone with less content for a faster turnaround.”

    The funny thing is that I don’t know what people really expected. Blizzard *can’t* release raid tiers much faster as guilds need time to progress through them. So the people complaining that WoD “only” has two raid tiers…yeah. Note that those two raid tiers have MORE bosses than the *three* tiers of Cataclysm…so…yeah…

    That said, I do understand that some people wanted more stuff like MoP’s patch 5.1 — the one that gave the Krasarang daily quests and overarching quest chain. And that is an area where WoD has “failed” in comparison to previous expansions — max level solo content. I put it in quotes because I know a good chunk of people who didn’t care about 5.1 at all and don’t like questing in general (and hate daily quests in particular).

    I think Blizzard, especially with their new group finder, assumed that people would actually be, y’know, semi-social at max level if they wanted something beyond LFR/random BGs and thus they’d try normal raids, arenas, or rated battlegrounds. But a decent chunk of people wanted to play the same way they have in the past: level, do five man dungeons, maybe some LFRs, and max level solo content.

    “It was a very sensible design choice on the surface, but there was not enough vision to see the long-term effects.”

    Agreed. There were also some specific things, especially at first, that were pretty poor design.

    “Yes, there’s the subscription price but that hasn’t changed in 10 years and so is a non-factor in the argument.”

    Technically you could argue it IS a factor in that it makes sense for the expansions to be slightly more if subscription is still the same. Overall it’s cheaper (if you’re constantly subscribed) to have more expensive expansions and cheaper subscription than vice versa. The only people it really hits “hard” are the people who are only subscribed for like 1-2 months per patch…so that kind of seems fine for me.

    “However, it comes off as slapped-in since we don’t see any build up to Archimonde in the story.”

    Yeah. Even something in 6.1 as a quick quest chain showing Gul’dan talking to Archimonde (or talking to one of Archimonde’s lieutenants about Archimonde preparing to invade) would have been nice.

    “That’s like wanting your favorite restaurant to hire more staff so that you don’t have to wait for your food. Sounds nice, but its not going to happen.”

    As I said above, I don’t think that analogy works in this case because raid tiers HAVE to have a certain amount of time between them — people were already really pissed off about how fast BRF came out after Highmaul. I think it’s more like saying “I’m used to a three course meal served over 20 minutes, so now I want more staff so they can serve me a seven course meal over 20 minutes.” Well…you’re not SUPPOSED to be “rushing” out courses like that! If you want more raid tiers per expansion then you need longer expansions or fewer bosses per tier, pick your poison.

    “Unless Blizzard somehow surprises everyone and re-invents the genre, the subscriptions will continue to decline and the complaints will persist.”

    Subscriptions declining is hardly the end of the world — I suspect WoW will still have millions of players for quite a few years. Like you said, to some degree MMOs are just less “cool” to a lot of people and people are “over” them. I doubt WoW will ever rise back to 11 million or whatever, but even if it stays at 4-7 million for several more expansions then it will be quite successful and you’ll have a lot of people still happy. Or, in other words, I think Blizzard is trying to cut its losses and keep the people who are happy happy…and accept that it’ll lose others over time.


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