Saturday, September 5, 2009

Quiting, not Quiting, Quiting again...

I'm coming up on the year aniversary of the first time I cancelled my Warcraft account and wanted to do a year-in-review of sorts.

Cancelling my WoW Account (September 08)
The straw that broke the camels back for me was when they decided to reset honor points and marks for the Wrath expansion. A decision they later reversed, but the damage was done and by that time I was fully embracing Warhammer Online.

That was the reason I cited at the time, but my MMO angst concerning WoW had been a long time building.

My love-hate relationship with Warhammer
I don't think any game ever highlighted it's potential as much as Warhammer during the Preview weekend which preceded the launch. Limited to the entry-level Tiers, players were all condensed down into a handful of areas and some of the really unique features of WAR (like oRvR and Public Quests) were on grand display.

I even wrote at the time that "[PQs] feel like a spontaneous 10-man raid at level 3." High praise indeed. Unfortunately, what became apparent after release is that many of these PQs were empty of any players 90% of the time.

Still, it was a great game and I had a blast leveling up TWO characters simultaneously to Tier 4. Tier 1 to Tier 3, even with the population issues, were incredibly fun. Then Tier 4 came to a grinding halt of suckiness.

On November 17th, I ended my relationship with WAR. Citing, at the time, that WAR peaked for me in Tier 3.

And then back to WoW...
I left WoW pretty bitter about the last six to eight months of my gaming experience. In particular, the flawed social engineering, the retarded reward system and the lack of significant content updates in a timely fashion.

However, since WAR ended up stalling for me, I needed to look for an MMO fix somewhere and turned back to the old faithful, bought the Wrath expansion and resubscribed.

My criticism aside, I'll give credit where credit is due and say that Blizzard has learned quite a bit over the years. If you liked WoW before, then you'll enjoy Wrath since it does a much better job of delivering the same things in a much better way. I give Blizzard all the kudos in the world for improving upon an already well designed model.

And that is where I think all the other MMO titles really end up falling short. It’s not that they can’t improve or what-not, but that they try to be clones. So you get 2004 WoW questing in a 2008 release of WAR. The irony being that even 2008 WoW players think that 2004 WoW questing sucks now.

My other big criticism of WoW, the accessibility of raiding content to casuals, was also addressed with the 10-man raid instances. It has really opened up even some of the hardest content to players that were never able find a guild with 24 other regular players.

The only negative effect has been that raiders are able to master the content much more quickly and easily (since they get two attempts each week; 10 and 25). In my opinion, this is largely responsible for the "raiding is ezmode" reaction by the more hardcore community.

And then I quit again...
BUT -- after seven months of play, Wrath just didn't have enough staying power to keep me until the next expansion. As I wrote over a year ago, the real "WoW Killer" won't be another MMO but stagnation.

Players are becoming more and more impatient for content updates and many of us are simply going to quit rather than grind out dailies, achievements or other artificial bullshit intended to consume my valuable time.

And that's the key: WoW competes with my time -- not just my gaming time -- but my free time that can be used on other activities. So instead of playing WoW, I'm reading a book. Or watching TV. Or going to BBQs.

At least until Cataclysm. :)