Negativity, Criticism, and Feedback in the WoW Community
Recently, especially with the Burning Crusade announcement along with 9.1 PTR datamining, there has been a lot of negative sentiment in the WoW community. Today I want to talk about that sentiment regarding where it's come from and where I think it's going to go.
Ever since Vanilla WoW, there have always been "doomsayers" of the community.
"Burning Crusade killed WoW"
"WotLK turned the game into Casual EZ mode"
You know what I mean. You've seen it for years just like I have.
The feedback itself is always the same and it's never different however the tone as of late has changed. The former passionate righteous indignation followed by a 2000 word essay has faded away and been replaced with a resigned, defeated tweet. The anger is still there, but the hope behind it has been replaced by inevitability. When Warlords of Draenor turned out to be a disaster, the frustration came from a place of betrayal. How could Blizzard do this to us? Why is this happening?
Now, when Shadowlands systems like Soul Ash or Conduit Energy are coddled along despite resounding condemnation from the community, the feeling is no longer betrayal. It can't be, because betrayal requires trust and that trust was broken a long time ago.
Now, when I see a system like Conduit Energy kept in the game, I see it as another desperate attempt to exhume participation metrics from a dying playerbase.
Now, when I see a pop up that Burning Crusade is releasing less than a month from now, and Illidan's iconic "You are not prepared!" quote co-opted to sell ridiculously overpriced microtransations, I see the last bit of heart and soul of a game I love being drained away for a quarterly earnings report.
These things are so blatant in their disregard for the player experience that even the most resolute of Blizzard defenders have had to resort to saying that they don't care instead of trying to look on the bright side, because there is no bright side. They take pride in being taken advantage of, as if being able of afford a 70 dollar "micro"transaction is an accomplishment, as if it's not lining the pockets of executives who don't even know who Illidan is.
World of Warcraft used to be a game that made you want to waste your time. Now it's just a game that wastes your time.
Every system that's added into the game with obvious playtime extenders (corruption vendor rotation, losing Soul Ash when transferring to alts in 9.1, Conduit Energy, etc) do something that's much more insidious than just making people mad. They show the man behind the machine. The experience you have in the game, the time you spend is no longer the result of trials and tribulation inside of Azeroth but instead time-trials and tabulation inside the accounting department. The willing suspension of disbelief is shattered and the only thing that's left over is a poorly designed Skinner Box with an uninspired disguise.
Bellulargaming recently came up with the most beautiful metaphor for describing the way Blizzard designs it's systems. It's like eating a great salad, but there's a dick in the salad.
Blizzard, get the dicks out of our salad.
You can try to eat around it, put dressing on it, or pretend it's not there, but at the end of the day, there's a dick in the salad and everybody knows it.
To put it in more plain terms, stop making systems with obvious flaws. Stop waiting until the .2 or .3 patch of an expansion to implement QOL changes that were suggested in ALPHA. It's fucking ridiculous to think that we get fed obviously dysfunctional systems only to be hyped up later into coming back and paying more money so that we can play them properly.
I'm sick of it. I was willing to deal with this in Legion with Legendaries and I was less willing to deal with it in BFA with Azerite/Corruptions but now in Shadowlands I, along with many other people, no longer welcome QOL changes with excitement but instead with "about fucking time".
Human beings have evolved to see patterns, and I think everyone here sees the pattern.
There are two realities in which this can occur. The first, is that the developers are genuinely incompetent. They actually have no idea how players will interact with their systems and that they honestly need 6 months of failure points to come to the same conclusion that the playerbase came to during Alpha. The second reality is that they're doing it on purpose, they intentionally withhold QOL changes and obvious improvements in order to artificially extend gametime and boost performance metrics without actually having to create new content but instead just making existing content take longer.
The truth is that I don't think that it's the first or the second, I think it's both.
The developers lack the humility to give the playerbase what they want, and when they do, they lack the insight to give them what they need.
The developers identify problems that players don't have, then implement solutions to those problems that players don't want.
In Battle for Azeroth, I really tried to be more diplomatic with how I talked about the systems and state of the game but at this point I'm so fucking tired man. It's exhausting. The funny thing is that this is a very general post, but I could literally make a post this long about any number of systems in the game and their lazy and deserved decline. How many reskins of the Gorm mount do we need? Why do we need to do 20 of the same world quest for an achievement? Why do Shadowlands rares only drop their unique items for people of that loot class when most people want the transmog universally? Why?
Here's why. It's because instead of innovating the game, Blizzard has mired themselves down into micromanaging expansion-specific systems. Imagine how hard it is to balance all of that, I don't envy the life of a WoW dev at all! However, it was not my decision to make character balance in WoW have more unnecessary complexities than a Rube Goldberg machine.
Blizzard wants to reinvent the wheel every expansion, and they do. But they don't make a wheel, they make a hoverboard instead. Then during the entire expansion, we spend our time worrying about how will it fly? What fuel will the hoverboard use? How can we have a seatbelt for the hoverboard? We waste our time trying to design the perfect hoverboard for each expansion, we get halfway there by the end of it, then we throw that hoverboard away and work on a new one. All at the same time that the playerbase is just asking for a better wheel.
Micromanaging these systems is coming at the cost of genuine innovation. The last time the game had REAL innovation was in Legion. Now, almost all our systems are lesser derivatives of their Legion counterparts. Covenants are innovation to an extent as well. We need NEW ideas. not the same 8 ideas and each expansion we get to pick 5 of them.
Torghast is a great example of this. Torghast is currently at 5% of it's potential and 9.1 is looking to push that number up to somewhere around 15% of it's potential. Wake the fuck up and take some risks! Look at the incredible design of the Mage Tower bosses and then compare them with the Corrupted Trash Can of a boss we have to look forward to in 9.1. What the fuck happened?
Torghast is supposed to be a Roguelike, a new experience, but the only thing its been is like a Roguelike. 9.1 is a good start but it needs to come faster, and it needs to be better.
Nearly every aspect of the game is suffering from lack of innovation, least of all raids (from my opinion). Raids are and have been the one thing that Blizzard has not stopped innovating and developing in better and better ways. I'm always excited for a new raid or dungeon in WoW, but WoW shouldn't all just be raids and dungeons.
The reason I'm sitting here writing this past midnight is not because I'm negative about the game, it's the opposite. It's because fucking love the game. That's why I care so much and I want it to get better. This game has been a huge part of my life for the past 15 years and I'll dammed if I leave it at that without a fight. I WANT to play it for the next 15 years, even now, in the Shadowlands content drought, I still log in every single day and do the little activities that I enjoy.
That's why I don't unsub. It's very simple, it's because I still enjoy the game. While the negatives are present, so are the positives, and there are more positives. The reason I'm frustrated and angry is because I know it can be so much better. I know it and many of you out there do too and I'm sick of pretending like I don't. We got a taste of what the potential of WoW is with Legion, now imagine if that level of innovation and inspiration carried into BFA and now into Shadowlands. I'd never leave the house, and I'd be proud of it!
To the Blizzard developers: Stop fucking us around and stop fucking around and start making the game that we KNOW you can make. Get the dicks out of the salad. Give us something worth wanting. It doesn't matter how a system "should" work, it matters how it makes a player feel. Stop releasing dysfunctional systems then add QOL improvements later on as "content".
To the players: Stop accepting dogshit. You're better than that and so are the developers. There is no pride in having your time wasted. Stop trying to look on the bright side, you shouldn't have to, there shouldn't have been a dark side to begin with.
This has been quite a long post but I've had this on my mind for a long time, especially after the 9.1 PTR and Burning Crusade announcement, so I really appreciate anyone who has made it this far. Thank you.