I wrote a few years ago about the DPS Meters, Theorycrafting and what I thought their impact was on MMOs. I think it’s more true today than it was then. This isn’t to say that WoW doesn’t have a myriad of other problems because it does but I think this is a foundational issue with WoW. But I can’t help but think that Blizzard’s momentum of bad decisions might have actually started to overcome the community inertia that kept the game on top.
This is the first part of a two part series on Accessibility in MMOs, using World of Warcraft as the critical piece. The second half of this piece will be published next week.
I stumbled across this video from Preach about the evolution of World of Warcraft, and more importantly the concept of the Journey in MMOs. Preach makes some valid points about the direction of WoW and accessibility in his video, and I don’t want to rehash them–you can just watch it, and I think you should. So I’ll let you do that.
OK – I’m sure you heard a little bit of whining in there about accessibility and the evils therein. I think preach oversimplifies the situation in WoW’s case because he doesn’t mention things like Deadly Boss Mods, QuestHelper, Carbonite as mods that make the game VASTLY easier than what it was before. Last I checked, things like DBM and Omen and similar addons were required to raid. Add in the fact that most of their betas are open, encounters well documented, and boss’s challenged hundreds if not thousands of times before the actual content even hits live servers and most players just have a cookie cutter model of following instructions. Sites WoWhead, WowWiki, and Thottbot show every aspect of the game down to the most minute detail and are only a google search away. Is it really any wonder, even apart from increased accessibility, the players complain of the game “dumbing down” or too easy? Continue reading “Accessibility in MMOs – Part 1”→
As reported by Massively, World of Warcraft is down to a Whopping 9.1 million subscribers, about a million lower than a quarter ago in May. This has to be making big-cat Activision-Blizzard anxious, despite the admittedly positive tone of the report. Between Diablo III’s impressive launch (for both positive and negative reasons), and Mists of Pandaria’s impending launch, the company is lined up for a strong quarter. My concern is the staying power of WoW. The responses I’ve heard in the blogosphere, even the fansites, has been decidedly “Meh.” about the next expansion. I don’t think this has anything to do with the topic of the expansion (pandas — loosely tied to lore), I think it has more to do with Blizzard painting itself into a proverbial corner with their game-design and a few other reasons I covered previously. That, combined with the fact that the first round of Annual Pass subscribers is coming up real quick (and I know of at least 2 people who will be cancelling when that hits.) I have to wonder what their numbers will look like come November. Regardless, Ghostcrawler and company might be showing their age a little bit. Via: World of Warcraft has 9.1 million subscribers, down by a million since May on Massively
News today that Diablo 3 will require an “Always On” Internet connection to support several features of the primarily single player game. So let me repeat that–a game, that has an online component (albeit a large one) but which can be played offline in its entirety, still requires you to be online at all times.
Wow. So. I’m gonna go ahead and say this is a bad idea. Just check out the Ubisoft for justification for that statement. Blizzard says (and no doubt will actively maintain) that the always on status is ONLY to support key features such as an auction house, player chat, persistent server-side character storage, etc but I can’t help but wonder how much of it has to do with a heavy handed attempt to smack down the hacking and taking advantage of the system that was so prevalent in the first two Diablo games. I know for me, the rampant hacking and exploitation of Diablo 2 online was ultimately why I stopped playing it.
But I can’t help but feel they might be going too far with it. As others have said, you can easily achieve almost the exact same result by requiring periodic check-ins as opposed to an always online model, which has been not the best received when other companies have attempted to use it. I kind of wonder what makes Blizzard think that their gamers, arguably the most loud and obnoxious of all gamers, will take to this kindly.
When look historically at the kind of uproar generated by the art team trying to do something more with the art design than “Grind house muted colors complete with lots of blood that looks like it’s rotting,” and the uproar generated by the RealID fiasco which blew up the forums for days and days…it makes me wonder. This has a ton of potential to not be well received, but Blizzard seems to be blissfully ignorant of this eventuality. I think it’s become a question of not if there’s an uproar over it, but rather how much of one?
Blizzard seems to be making these somewhat gamer-unfriendly decisions more and more frequently lately, and I have to wonder what kind of influence Activision is having on the company as a whole. My fear, the quiet, deep nagging fear, is that it’s much much more than is let on anyplace but internally at Blizzard.