On May 23rd 2013, Robin Torres posed the following question over at WoWInsider: What’s wrong with WoW? It’s no secret that WoW’s numbers are declining. If I recall the statistics correctly, WotLK was the height of WoW’s popularity. But I thinking asking what’s wrong with WoW presupposes a “yes” to the more important question: Is there anything wrong with WoW? And to that I say “no.”
WoW is over eight years old at this point. It’s been the king of the MMO world for quite some time. Many competing games have been introduced that were dubbed as “WoW-killers” like Aion, Rift, Old Republic, and Guild Wars 2. But thus far, nothing has lived up to the hype. The health of the game, despite the decline in subscribers, has remained strong.
WoW’s biggest problem is its lifetime. It is incredibly difficult to get players to play the same game for eight years. I love Halo, and I’ll occasionally boot up a game and bask in the nostalgia, but I could never have played it for eight years. At some point, the game simply becomes too repetitious. New multiplayer maps could be added which would give the game some life, but that could only go so far. At its heart, it is the same game.
WoW breathes life into the game with every expansion through new classes, races, spells, zones, etc. It’s a little like playing a brand new game, but it’s still WoW. An expansion is more substantive than a multiplayer map pack would be, but it can only go so far. At some point, players just get bored with it.
Unfortunately for Blizzard, this often has a ripple effect. During Cataclysm, my guild broke up. Some people went to another guild, others stopped playing altogether. It was very frustrating for me and it removed all my desire to play at the time. Finding a new guild is hard. Getting people you enjoy playing with and earning their respect takes a lot of time. Doing it mid-expansion is even more problematic because it’s difficult to find a raiding spot.
A friend of mine recently stopped playing because his guild broke up and he lacks any desire to find a new one. After having transferred to two realms to find a guild that raids in his schedule, I can’t blame him. There’s nothing Blizzard can do to stop these things from happening though. The friends I play with are the reason guild breakups aren’t completely debilitating for me. I still have fun leveling alts or trying to 2-man an old raid we’re not quite geared for.
I take breaks with WoW. I’ll either be incredibly active with it or only log in to raid once a week. It’s a very cyclical pattern. It even applies to individual aspects of the game. When pet battles were introduced, I actively sought out to catch ‘em all (with the caveat of trying to catch every possible rare I could find). I burned myself out, though, and stopped pet battling for a month or two. I’ve only recently started again.
Many games, such as Skyrim, took the place of WoW for weeks on end. Players get burned out. There’s nothing Blizzard can do to prevent it. In my experience, players eventually return to WoW once they’ve had enough of a break. There’s nothing fundamentally wrong with the game that causes it.
Now, there are certainly aspects to Mists of Pandaria I did not like. As many others have said, the daily reputation grind was extremely irritating. I think the problem could’ve been alleviated somewhat if dailies were not restricted to level 90 players and I could’ve started gaining more Tillers rep at 86 or 87. The time required to get valor capped at the start of the expansion was miserable too. I was also not a fan of the Golden Lotus rep gate, and I severely disliked the removal of reputation tabards.
All of that being said, I didn’t stop playing altogether. I voiced my frustrations and was happy to see Blizzard took some measures to address concerns. The double reputation commendations were a welcomed change, players now only need 50 lesser charms of good fortune per week instead of 90, a small amount of bonus rep is earned when doing a random dungeon or scenario, and patch 5.3 removed the Golden Lotus gating.
There are parts I love and hate about every expansion. Mists of Pandaria is no different. Players will always find something to complain about and label it as the reason it stopped being fun. It’s just a flavor of month type of deal. I know that sometimes, a revamped system or nerf will be the single cause of a player deciding to quit, such as the big Will of the Forsaken nerf back in Vanilla. I just can’t see any of it being the cause for the drop in subscriber numbers.