Monday, January 24, 2011

Random Shots: Placing The Blame For Cataclysm

  • There is a lot of finger pointing going around lately as to why people are dissatisfied with World of Warcraft: Cataclysm. Wolfshead started us off with his long expected denunciation of the expansion, describing Blizzard like suicide bombers trying to take down the MMO industry. Lonomonkey tried to parse out the reasons why people are turning away from the game so soon, coming to the conclusion that the theme park is now much to theme parky. And Larisa tries to put the brakes on the Hyperbole Express while pointing out that this cycle has already happened before. As such, I think she hits a lot closer to the mark.

  • While any number of people want to blame Blizzard for some perceived failure, I think we all need to take a long look at ourselves and the role we play in how we feel about a game. When Cataclysm was released, it was greeted with high expectations and the highest of praise. It was hard to turn anywhere without seeing "the best expansion yet." Based on where the game has been and where Blizzard wanted to take it, I agree. Cataclysm is the apotheosis of the Blizzard-style MMO.

  • The problem comes from whether you still like the Blizzard style of MMO. Many people do not. Some don't yet realize that fact, so they blame the game they have played for months or years for suddenly failing them. Wolfshead seems to glee in how terrible the game is now. The game has changed over time, to be certain, but never to become unrecognizable from how it stood in 2004. But we, the players, have also changed.

  • I sometimes wonder about the expectations of MMO players. In what other type of game or any other form of entertainment do you expect to receive years of enjoyment? A movie will last two or three hours, a book a few days to a few weeks, a television show will give us 11 to 24 hours for maybe a few seasons if we're lucky. But we expect that an MMO will continue to be entertaining month in and month out over the course of years. That is unrealistic.

  • I know Tipa has one again issued her MMO Challenge wherein you dedicate yourself to a single MMO for a full year. These games do require an investment to get the most out of them. But at the same time, you are asking quite a lot from a developer to keep you entertained for hours on end over the course of twelve months. (Please note: I understand that the true purpose of the challenge is not to suck the marrow out of an MMO's bones, but instead to get players to invest in the community. However, I think the point is still valid.)

  • If you are feeling a little lost in your current MMO, take a moment to check your total play time. Across my three main characters, I have about 100 days of time played. Is it really surprise that I'm burned out on the game? Cataclysm was enough to get me excited again but it is still the game I burned out on months earlier. That is not Blizzard's fault. I just don't need WoW to be my one true game anymore.

© 2011 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.


  1. I always wondered at the psychology of someone who could do the same thing (anything, really, video game or sport or hobby) all evening every evening for years on end without getting paid for it. The WoW players I know aren't really the one-or-two-nights-a-week type. Seems like a burnout would have been inevitable long before this.

    But then, not understanding how it's maintained such a user base for six years (six years!) in the first place, I suppose I can't assume that's why it's failing now either.

    Weird stuff.

  2. You touched on one of my pet peeves about many MMO "fans": they will turn on a game as suddenly as an inbred puppy mill pit bull, and act like the developers came to their house and murdered their children. It's insane.

  3. I'm with you on everything. Clearly, things have changed on the MMO landscape in the last six years. WoW used to dominate and while it undoubtedly still does, we have a LOT of other good MMOs on the market now.

    As most of the bloggers, tweeters, commenters we come across in the gaming community are generally MMO fans and not just WoW fans, I can see why people are moving away from WoW in such numbers. It appears that way to us, but I don't think it's because WoW has become a bad game or that Blizzard is evil. I think the game is just finally starting to experience the other side of "WoW tourism." People aren't taking a break from WoW to check out other games anyomre, they're taking a break from their other MMOs to check out Cataclysm.

    I think I feel like that right now. I don't think I'll play WoW anymore, but not from burn out. I don't even think it was a conscious choice; I just had stuff going on in my life that prevented me from gaming much, and WoW just faded from my mind. Which should tell me something, I guess.

    (Blah, I didn't realize i left such a long comment. I guess this should have been a blog post :P )

  4. The "One True Game" syndrome is one Achilles heel of the sub model, which does demand something close to gaming monogamy. Burnout is built in. It also taps neatly into the human penchant to resent sunk costs. It's no surprise to me that WoW creates such bitter vets.

  5. I hadn't been paying much/any attention to the WoW-focused blogs so I didn't realize there's been any backlash, but it doesn't surprise me. There was way too much hyperbole regarding the new goblin and wargen zones, and there was no way Cataclysm (or any game) could have lived up to it.

  6. I'm not playing Cataclysm so I don't know what's right or wrong with it, but I've heard nothing but good things about it.

    Personally I think Wolfshead is an idiot who still wears his rose colored glasses longing for the time when games were crap. I have always hated Everquest and I am glad that MMO's have evolved since then to something playable and enjoyable.

    The world has changed over the past ten years, Blizzard was smart enough to keep up with the times. I don't always agree or like the changes they make to WoW, but the game is great, enjoyable and easy to get into, that's what makes it so successful. That and probably many other things.

    I don't know what games this so called developer has made in the past but his armchair developer blogging and personal vendetta against Blizzard is old. If his posting isn't annoying enough, he often gets mass amounts of comments from mindless clones who will agree with is asinine statements. From reading through the comments it seems this time he has some opposition.

    What I don't understand is if he loves Everquest so much then why isn't he playing that instead of post stupid stuff. Oh yeah I know why, cause it sucks!

  7. @ Benjamin - MMOs are a whole different beast, to be sure. Part of the reason I love them is the ability to dive in so deep that you can spend a lot of time working out all of the best systems. But eventually, you do work it all out.

    @ Yeebo - I'm glad you got a great blog post out of it. :)

    @ MMOGC - Feel free to leave long comments anytime. Makes my blog look better. :)

    It shouldn't be surprising if the WoW Tourists eventually find some other game that they'd rather play than WoW. And with so many games out there, there a more chances that will happen.

    @ Tesh - WoW maybe worst of all because of its longevity. I wasn't in the scene at the time, but I wonder if EQ had the same kind of complains five or six years in.

    @ Blue Kae - "Hype is the mind-killer." That is the quote, right? If not, it should be.

    @ Jayedub - Wow. Let me just say I agree. If he has one thing going for him, he does rant really well, even if he's completely wrong.