The Average Gamer

Farewell to World of Warcraft

World of Warcraft - Ashes of Al'ar
I wouldn’t like to guess at how much of my time and money has been willingly poured into Blizzard’s bank account over the years. Having played from vanilla all the way through the expansions to ‘Warlords of Draenor’, it’s knocking on for just over ten years (though not all of them subbed). I’ve raided, levelled alts and even have an ‘Ashes of Al’ar‘ mount.

So why am I finally quitting this addiction? ‘Savage Feasts‘, that’s why. I’ve had enough, I want out. It’s not the raid food’s fault you understand, who wouldn’t want to gain 100 in their secondary stat? I’m just using them as a poster-consumable for why I feel Blizzard’s continued moves towards making the game more accessible has sucked the soul right out of the MMORPG and is, in fact, turning it in to something resembling Farmville.*

Once upon a time, if you wanted to raid then you were expected to farm materials for the event – this would be: a Guild wide activity; tedious; and take a couple of hours per person. You’d end up with a top of the range set of buffs from food, potions, and the various professions’ bits and bobs.

Yes, it was a real pain in the arse but it gave a value to the item – not just fiscally but emotionally. You’d put real life hours in to making sure everything was prepared. You were invested. Success meant more than a shiny, new pair of boots – you’d made it worth your while spending all that time collecting ‘Suspiciously Crusty Tissues’. Nowadays all I have to do is build a Level 2 Barn in my Garrison, catch a few beasts and SHAZAM, top-of-the-range raid food. No need to grind materials, no need to level a crafting profession and no need to invest.

It’s not just the bloody cooking either. Garrisons sport a herb garden and a mine – no need to go traipsing about to try and find materials, just wait a day and they’ll all re-spawn. Want an epic? Remember to log in each day to create your profession-unique-base-material and that’s it. No endless dungeon farming for the recipe, no trying to find “just one more” of those rare reagent drops – just wait for the next day and add a few more bits of ‘Spangly PVC’ to your stockpile.

WoW Horde Garrison GroupPvE suffers too. Not in the content area, but by introducing the Looking for Raid / Group Finder – a cross realm tool for bringing together players from different servers in to quick (ish) queuing dungeon groups. Convenient? Definitely. Conducive to players sticking it out through the tough spots to complete a difficult boss? No. Ultimately, this has led to a game community that has a tendency to quit at the first sign of something not going their way, endless stories in Guild chat about the group from Hell and considerably less need for the social side of this game.

In striving to make all things fair, Blizzard have simply limited the player base to the lowest common denominators in terms of effort invested, time spent and skill. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In making the game more accessible Blizzard can hope to attract new gamers to the world of Azeroth and beyond, and perhaps to gaming itself. But for me, this feels like the end of the road. The things I’ll miss it for are the people, the stories we made (and the retelling of them), the raid bosses we spent hours trying to beat before finally, FINALLY getting them down, the random people you’d meet and stay friends with for years, the in-jokes, the Guild drama and most of all, the chance to belong somewhere.

For the Horde.

*Don’t get me wrong, I actually quite like Farmville. I just wouldn’t pay £8.99 a month to play it.