and you can ignore the WoW Old World quicker than ever before!
OK, so maybe that’s not really news. It’s just one more piece of a saddening trend that Blizzard has indulged in; speeding people through the old world content. To my mind, not only does this offer an apparent admission that they are ignoring the old world, but it places even more emphasis on the “flavor of the month” endgame content, rather than really creating an interesting MMO world. It’s still a fun game, don’t get me wrong… but it’s just not living up to the potential of the genre.
Then again, since it is the 800 pound gorilla, maybe it’s an indicator that most players don’t want to see the MMO potential realized. Most players would rather have a carebear single player online RPG with optional multiplayer. I actually don’t mind that, since it does tend to coincide with my own desires as a gamer… but it does potentially illustrate how the market is thinking, rather than what the design potential of the genre is. That’s important to the business side of making games.
As always, the sticking point with WoW for me is the subscription model. I’m happy to pay for content, but I always loathe paying for access. Perhaps if content were more expensive than access, like the rent (sub) vs. buy (Guild Wars) analysis in housing, it would make sense. Thing is, when you can effectively get hundreds of hours out of either WoW or GW, they should be priced roughly the same. If you play through all of either game in three months, that’s going to be roughly the same cost.
If, however, you have constrained play time per month, it could take considerably longer than three months to play through the content. That’s fine in GW, since you paid for content. In WoW, though, you’re renting access, and if you take longer, you pay more. That just doesn’t sit well with me.
One, I don’t like paying more. With my schedule, WoW will naturally cost more because I take longer to play.
Two, the time constraints mean there’s always a clock ticking in my head, telling me that I need to accomplish something while I’m playing, or it’s a waste of time that I’m paying for. That’s the natural consequence of paying for time, rather than for content. Content can be consumed at any pace, time is inexorable. I can just look around in GW, smelling the digital roses, because there’s no clock. (Let’s just ignore for the moment that playing a game at all is often a waste of time…)
Three, I often shelve games for a while, sometimes months, and then come back to them. Yes, I could cancel a subscription in WoW and then restart it, but why bother with the hassle?
Four, I like to pay for work well done. I consider WoW to be work well done, even though I don’t think it’s a perfect game. I’m happy to pay for the work that went into the content. What I’m not happy doing is paying, and paying, and paying for the same content because I’m taking my time with it. I’d pay the box price for WoW in a heartbeat if it used a GW model.
Five, speaking of time and roses, I’m a Bartle Explorer. I love to look around. I take lots of screenshots. That ticking clock in a sub model works directly against such impulses. It’s no wonder that there’s a rush to get to the endgame; looking around and taking your time means you’re spending more money per unit of content than the player who blazes through in a gluttonous binge.
Six, there is inevitably fuss in the blog world about microtransaction models and “XP potions” that accelerate players’ rate of XP gain. Um, yeah… that’s pretty much what this is. Except, in WoW, players have had to grind through the game and pay for subscription time to get these “legacy” items, where in MT games, players just pay for them up front. I’ll take the less grindy, more direct approach any day. It has the virtue of being honest, as well as not wasting my time.
Anyway, that’s enough for today. Happy Hunting, Winterfest (or whatever it’s called) MMO denizens!