What's killing World Of Warcraft?

World of Warcraft

The World Of Warcraft is dying. Sure, looking at the numbers you’ll be forgiven for thinking otherwise given the still-hefty player base, but when you consider its latest expansion pack, Warlords Of Draenor, has seen a decline of nearly five million subscribers, a loss of roughly half its peak at the launch of the expac, then you can’t ignore the fact that something is wrong with modern day WoW.

And that’s just the thing, really: as the gradual evolution of the industry’s premier MMO rolls on, gamers are becoming increasingly less enthused with the decisions Blizzard have made with recent expansion packs - leaving the game in position that, frankly, very few are completely content with.

“WoW at the moment is in a diabolical state,” says Az, known for his YouTube channel Heelvsbabyface. “It’s atrocious compared to how it’s been in the past, and the whole attitude of the development team to the community. It’s really the worst state it’s ever been in in its near-11 years.”

World of Warcraft

Az describes Blizzard’s “we-know-best attitude” as a significant reason that so many players have finally kicked their addictions. Subscriber counts will always rise and fall in line with the release of expansion packs, of course, but it seems Warlords Of Draenor was the final nail in the coffin for many - and that’s even including the publicly despised Mists Of Pandaria.

“Blizzard seem, at the moment, very driven by profit,” claims Az, “and they don’t seem particularly driven to looking after the community and making sure that they have things to do.” With that we’re reminded of the in-game store and the fact that, now more than ever, it’s abundantly clear where Blizzard’s priorities must lie: unique pets and mounts. That these are items that are considerably more detailed and varied than anything you can actually collect in game highlights just how cynical the WoW machine has become.

But more important is the fact that players do have so little to actually experience in the World Of Warcraft these days, a fact that YouTuber Asmongold is incredibly determined to see Blizzard change. “It’s a big problem,” he says. “Now that we have LFR, all roads leads to Hellfire Citadel. Everything you do, no matter where you start from, you end up in Hellfire Citadel.

World of Warcraft

“At a point it was always like that,” he admits, “raiding has always been the most difficult point in the game and it’s always given the best gear, but now the entire in-game experience is based around raiding. Blizzard needs to find more ways to encourage solo progression and other paths to moving your character forward outside of raiding.”

The blame, it seems, lies with the introduction of Looking For Raid. It doesn’t matter who you ask, if they’ve been playing WoW for a long time they’ll all agree that the game was at its ‘best’ before the release of Cataclysm - and most will point to LFR as the cause for its decline.

Fellow YouTuber Zybak used be a dedicated WoW-er, but his interest waned to such a point that now he’s quit completely. “I would say the lack of meaningful stuff to do,” states Zybak as his reason for quitting, adding that, “I’m someone who hates LFR for multiple reasons, but part of a game is having something to reach for and with LFR everyone can kill the final boss - that kind of just kills it.”

World of Warcraft

You’ve probably heard such a criticism of WoW before, but it’s true: these days it is just far too easy, in all avenues of play. Zybak lists off a large number of elements that have been butchered by through oversimplification, stating features like dungeons, professions and even world content is almost entirely irrelevant these days either because of how little there is actually do with them or because they’ve all been taken over by the ease of LFR.

And it’s not that there haven’t been promising additions to the game either; Warlords brought with it compelling levelling with an interesting (and well-presented) story, and even the raids have been very well received. But the lack of extra things to tackle once you hit that level 100 mark is a detriment, while everyone quietly sits in their garrisons farming herbs they don’t need and sending followers off on missions simply for something to do.

So therein lies the biggest problem: by making the game too easy Blizzard seem to have done away with the nostalgia-soaked ‘good old days’. “If Blizzard are wanting to create content for lowest common denominator,” says Az, “they always have to create the content for that denominator. So whether they’re doing dungeons or raid zones, or bringing new areas into the game it - by their own justification - has to be doable by the worst of the worst players.”

World of Warcraft

“It is too easy,” he adds. “Call me old-fashioned, but I personally think that challenge is something that keeps me coming back to something because I know I do have something to work towards.”

It’s hard to know for sure, but it seems like Blizzard’s efforts have moved away from creating new and interesting content, and towards producing a system of scaling difficulty, a repetitive cycle rather than something new and fresh for players to jump into. It’s a system designed to keep players on life support, rather that tempt them to come back for more. Is Blizzard out of ideas, or is this just the beginning of the end?

Well, hopefully neither. Legion is on its way and it all sounds promising so far: customisable weapons, a story that focuses on player-favourite lore, and separate PvP and PvE balancing - something that has been requested for years. In speaking with the players of WoW, it’s clear Legion is an “in case of emergency” deal for Blizzard, a last ditch attempt to win back subscribers’ trust after the likes of Mists Of Pandaria and - it seems - Warlords Of Draenor.

World of Warcraft

But will that be enough? Blizzard certainly has its work cut out. “The group finder has been a good step, and I hope they use that to phase out LFR and the very easy Heroics,” says Asmongold, adding that giving players more things to do to progress their characters is imperative. The social aspect of the game, he says, also needs to be rejuvenated “There’s always been content droughts - you know, ICC lasted a year or something like that - but people didn’t really notice it as much because they were interacting and playing with their friends every week.”

Zybak is complimentary of Legion’s separate PvP balancing, but still thinks more effort needs to come from Blizzard in responding to those changes. “One thing that frustrates me is how long Blizzard takes to do the class changes; they say they do it because they don’t want people to think their class is constantly changing, but why is that a big deal? If something is obviously horribly broken, why take three months to fix it?”

All the same, he acknowledges that there are just far too many faults with World Of Warcraft now, claiming it’s a “death by a thousand cuts” that can’t simply be resolved by outright removing the problems like LFR, limited socialisation or garrisons.

World of Warcraft

“I’m very critical,” says Az, “but that’s because this is a game I adore. I want Blizzard to open their ears, and to actually deliver. I want to see more varied content, I want to see more options, and I want to see a proper endgame. Though I don’t think we’re ever going to get back to the days of The Burning Crusade or Wrath Of The Lich King.”

These are all common criticisms, too; it doesn’t take much to hear the wails of disappointment from gamers - even those still subscribed - but it seems the solutions aren’t too unexpected. Blizzard needs more, varied content, it needs more challenging goals to strive for and - for all that is holy - it needs to find a better solution than LFR. We can only hope that Blizzard is aware of all this as they work on Legion but, as Az himself puts it, “they just don’t seem to want to listen”.

Paladins
Sign in to Commentlogin to comment
Recluse avatarJenks avatarBelimawr avatarDog Pants avatarakme avatarXerkics avatar+8
Xerkics Avatar
374
2 Years ago

Its because Wow used to be a storytelling experience where your leveling was a journey not a means to an end now its a grind to unlock even more grind.

2
TsunamiWombat Avatar
627
2 Years ago

I don't know maybe the fact that it's old enough to be in flipping Secondary School (that's Middle School for my fellow Americastani's)?

2
Recluse Avatar
171
2 Years ago

Time, and a stale formula.

I had played from the first stress test around 2004 tell the Burning Crusade. Over the years I had went back to it more than a few times but never with the zest of Vanilla WoW.

I still remeber playing for 23 hours with my ex wife, ordering pizza twice and finally when we reached our first instance "The Wailing Caverns" it felt like an actual real adventure I can still remeber that feeling of exploration and excitement.

But then it was just more and more, bigger armors, bigger raids, everything needs to glow or be on fire or have some kind of over the top aniamtion drooling off of it!

I tried all the expansions except for the last two and it just was never the same. And I know I'm not the only person that feels this way, I would even go back and play if there was a Vanilla server, I miss the simplicty it had. Good times.

And on second thought soooo many people played WOW and played it so much more than any game they have every played I'm pretty sure it's just played out with a large majority of us. My group of 5-6 people had spent 3-8kish hours each and none of us have any desire to ever go back.

1
derple Avatar
2
11 Months ago

so many people agree with everything you just said. /nod

1
Jenks Avatar
308
2 Years ago

It's weird seeing people complain about the lack of difficulty of the game, and then pine for WotLK, which was the first massive drop in difficulty (or added accessibility, if you prefer). If you want challenging, inaccessible raiding then don't half ass it and bring back vanilla. WotLK wasn't nearly as rewarding as vanilla, just like today isn't nearly as rewarding as WotLK.

Vanilla - 40 man, no easy difficulty available

WotLK - 10 man, easy difficulty available

MoP - LFR, faceroll difficulty

They are right that LFR is shit though. Especially with the genius flex system they've implemented in normal and heroic raids, LFR is a turd. They should at least make it not cross realm - make the LFR people sit in a queue longer, but they'll see some of the same people each week, and maybe LFR communities would start forming.

This is a terrific video on how easy and boring LFR is from a few years ago:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GFWh9aY4pas

1
Belimawr Avatar
1224
2 Years ago

I find it funny people still long for vanilla when a raid/dungeon boss consisted of giving them a spell.

vanilla was actually easy as anything compared to modern WoW, the original raids were only seen as hard as people didn't look at all the gating that you had to grind out before you could even attempt a boss, more time was wasted on attunements and gearing up people every time someone left the guild. hell the likes of molten core was entirely gated by resist armour, if you didn't get lucky and get the drops you would just never get through.

the other contributing fact was the lack of information, back then getting information was hard, now people data mine everything before it is even live.

so the fact is WoW has got considerably more complex in mechanics, but it has also got way more coverage and done away with the tedium of having to perform grinds just to actually do content.

yes LFR is a joke, but it is only really intended as a way to show people the content and nothing more.

1
Aever Avatar
615
2 Years ago

No, you're wrong there. Raiding in vanilla was both harder and incredibly unpolished. MC was reasonably easy, but after that things got progressively harder. I wonder how a 6 tanks taunt rotation would work now ...

The nostalgia for the old days is probably driven more by the novelty that WoW enjoyed back then than specific game mechanics. If you think about it, WoW was quite broken at launch. No end-game content, broken specs left and right, broken classes, broken itemization. All it had, and it did very well, was the world and the lore. Those started degrading as expansions came along, at least after WotLK.

For me, Cataclysm was the end of my WoW career. The content was garbage, but that's not what did it. It was actually the non-stop changing of the raid format, which eventually killed my guild. 40 men raids, no ... 25 men raids, no ... 10 men, oh wait .. do both. Here, have some heroics, do the same content again. Without the guild I saw no reason to go on.

WoW popularity is an incredibly complex equation, which I'm fairly sure I can only see from my own perspective, which might be completely different than someone else's.

1
Belimawr Avatar
1224
2 Years ago

but was it really that hard? this is the point, back in the days of thottbot information was scarce and that is why the mechanics were hard, as for multiple tank rotations, you had more people so it makes sense to have more tanks, either that or your just stacking DPS and back then the mechanics didn't exactly give DPS a lot to do, so it would just make more people standing around.

information has made the game easier, despite the complexity rising, if you are watching boss kill videos and reading guides before going into content you are already doing more than was possible back in vanilla and even TBC it wasn't as common, but then they also added a lot of mechanics in TBC over vanilla.

the main reason WoW is failing isn't complexity or difficulty, it is just old age, no matter how much someone loves a game they can never have their first time again, it's why I played WoW and it wasn't till wrath I really started enjoying it as it became something more than just a generic grind fest, but that was because WoW was far from my first MMO, so it didn't hold the same level of "WOW factor" as it did for most, that's why I can see past the rose tinted glasses that most people use when looking at Vanilla, it was nothing more than just an accumulation of what came before it moulded into a single game, hell the PVP system for example was pulled directly out of Star Wars Galaxies.

this is the problem WoW now faces, it became the go to MMO and that is it's curse, as once people have their first time and get over it, there is little to keep them going, it's why the people who call for WoW 2 are comical as no matter what without the attachment a lot of people have they wouldn't play any more.

0
Aever Avatar
615
Aever replied to Belimawr
2 Years ago

Yes, it was hard. Or, at least harder than it is now. The design of the boss fights was usually simpler, but the unpolished game and class mechanics made it harder to keep everything handled. Also, everything was less forgiving. There were a few times when we couldn't figure a fight out and had to "borrow" someone more experienced to come raid with us and explain stuff. But usually we did fine on our own, so information wasn't really a problem.

Tank rotation wasn't done because you had more tanks, it was done because of fight mechanics - e.g. stacking debuffs that reduced armor, which forced a rotation. And then a taunt got resisted and chaos ensued :))

Yeah, I think that WoW has lost its appeal for reasons that are not technical in nature. It's just not original anymore, it re-iterates the same formula again and again, with minor changes here and there. It's a good formula, but after so many years it's hard to keep your players with it.

Funny thing is that WoW has the best formula of all the MMO's. It's not the best at everything, but it's at least very good. And if WoW, with this formula, can't keep its players anymore, I wonder what would it take to make another MMO that could come even close to WoW's original success.

2
Dog Pants Avatar
1388
2 Years ago

"Lack of meaningful stuff to do" hit it for me. I peaked at WotLK with my community oversubscribed for 5-man heroics and a rare raid. That was fine by us, as far as our semi-casual play could take us.

Returning recently for WoD I enjoyed the solo levelling content, but without enough friends playing to run dungeons any more none of the end game stuff interested me. There was little point to crafting (as an alchemist at least), so no point in harvesting the farm/mine. The fishing quests were a grind. The pet battles interesting for a while but then became a grind too. The minion quests were dull and gave me raid gear; a double whammy of reasons to not want to log on. The ship missions were long, expensive, and utterly pointless. So I unsubscribed again.

I know I don't fall into the hardcore demographic, but with so many people playing my story must represent at least a portion who just want a co-op challenge with friends.

1
akme Avatar
3
2 Years ago

Soloing was fun until around the end of 2008. I play once in a while now but WoW is just missing something.

1
akme Avatar
3
2 Years ago

fyi - I hated scenarios and different phases (no way to team up with others unless they were doing the same thing as you)

1
ScrapyardBob Avatar
2
2 Years ago

The thing that killed WoW was the introduction of the cross-server LFG tool. Prior to the LFG tool, you were forced to be social, network with people, make friends, and behave reasonably in groups, or you'd find yourself stuck without a group to go into a dungeon with. After the LFG tool hit, you could just queue up, be an arse, get kicked once in a blue moon, be a loot whore, and still manage to get into another group within 30 minutes.

By the time Cataclysm rolled around, people would queue up, and run the instances without ever chatting or talking to each other. And if you didn't pull fast enough, or heal fast enough, or run fast enough, you'd get kicked -- because what did the others care? They'd never see you again in all likelyhood.

1
Recluse Avatar
171
2 Years ago

it was dying long before that.

1
Shriven Avatar
3449
2 Years ago

Be appealing to every player, they satisfy no player. Been doing this since TBC.

1
Grendelwulf Avatar
2
1 Year ago

As an old time WoW player who left a couple years ago right after MoP came out, and who recently returned just to see what has changed, I am very, very disappointed with the current state of the game.

In my personal opinion I can tell you why WoW is slowly bleeding out and will eventually die, and it all boils down to Blizzard catering to the instant gratification playerbase.

1) Leveling is mind numbing easy and fast:

After coming back, I noticed that I can completely skip most leveling quests, zones, and content just by running a few instances, because gaining XP is so easy, it makes majority of the content obsolete. That is why lower level zones are completely barren, devoid of players.

In vanilla WoW and into BC, leveling took time invested which made doing every quest in every zone imperative. I remember it taking me a week to hit level 20, then almost 3 months to hit lvl 40. Due to slower leveling, players wanted to invest their time playing into playing and developing one character.

2) Gold, epics,blues, etc are a dime a dozen:

Just run any instance, and whether a blue dropped that you needed or not, you are guaranteed to get a blue item. I call it the " every player is a special snowflake" system, even if you lose, you still win. This cheapens the rewards of running instances.

Gold was harder to come by, which made crafting very important

3) Instant level cap boost:

It says it all, you can get instantly boosted to level cap by using real money. Why even play lower level content when you can just buy an instant level capped character.

4) Mounts and other rewards no longer require time investment to acquire:

Once you hit level 20, getting the apprentice riding skill and mount is very cheap. I remember playing in vanilla the excitement I had when I finally hit level 40. I saved every single copper coin just to save up 100g for the riding skill, and another 25 for the mount, I had a sense of accomplishment.

Those are just a ew example of why WoW will die, Blizzard is catering to the wrong crowed, the instant gratification crowed, the player that wants it now and does not want to invest time and get it later.

1
Bluntmaster Avatar
1
1 Year ago

Now only if WoW could clip off the remaining dead fruits (Elitists) and let the tree grow.

1
derple Avatar
2
11 Months ago

The game is still dying. They killed PvP and tried to resurrect it and in doing so ruined so much more. It's truly sad. I went into Legion thinking I'd stick to PvP and not get caught up in the PvE aspect this time around. Nope. All garbage. RnG on top of RnG on top of Quests and more RnG.

1
Hydra Lord Avatar
1
1 Year ago

A question like this has no easy answers. All you can do is equate what made it exciting and thrilling for you the first place. There is one drawback we can never get over and that is us! Ourselves. Most people here are long time players. I started with TBC. WOTLK was the pinnacle and Catacalysm the pits. It was the pits because the raids and dungeons seemed boring to me, the new area were fine and I loved Uldum, but something was definitely missing, and it was around this time saw the decline start, and the big killer for me- the lack community spirit.

It was around this time trade chat trolls appeared in droves, attention seeking children who killed a useful tool. And raids became less friendly and BG's the same. Once there was a time you would actually talk in raids and Dungeons, and BG's to a certain extent, make friends and maybe get them to join your guild. Now-that has gone. As someone has said, no one cares who are anymore, they may never see you again, and worse, there is no tolerance for the newbie or learner, one of my main joys nowadays is helping or boosting a wide eyed learner-takes you back.

That's what I mean by a lack in ourselves, when you get so experienced you can do ICC or Naxx in your sleep or every zone likewise, where is the magic? Before it existed in teaching newbie players and guild members of which there seemed to be a lot. Now when you visit a capitol there seem to be wall to wall lvl 100's hanging about. I remember when a top level, high geared 80 was a rare sight, even in Stormwind.

I know I will never the thrill of exploring new (hard) places, likely ever again! Like the thrill of danger I tried to explore Duskwood as a wide eyed newbie lvl 8. Starting zones are too easy also, there needs to be a thrill of danger. Look at Hogger, easily soloable now, when I started if you caught him on your own you was toast!

I cant say about LFR, most of the raiding comments seem to take no account of people learning or wanting learn to raid. For those its very unforgiving. Oh 0.000001% drop in DPS-kicked! Run the wrong way in a new dungeon-kicked, join a group with 3-4 from same guild (lots with cross realm)-kicked if you offer advice or your face doesn't fit. Lets be honest, for the casual raider-its not worth the hassle. I was always a casual raider until SoO then raided hard-then new expansion and then its rinse and repeat so speak. Your gears crap and you got to do it all again.

All very well if raiding was enjoyable. Its not. Kicks out the blue, recriminations and bitching. Elitists, foul language and nerd ragers, whats not to like? Hmmmmm. AND, as I say, you're a casual raider or newbie-good luck with that, and God help you if your gear is below standard. But you cant get on decent raids as there are so many prerequisites to satisfy, Jeez ;P

The stale formula needs a boost for sure, but the community? Is that gone for good I wonder? Used to be so easy to make friends, now no one seems to bother, I mean-apply online to join a guild???!! Good God its a GAME not a job! But maybe therein lies the hidden cancer for WoW, for many its no longer a game to enjoy, and these usually dictate gameplay in many ways :(

I enjoy the solo challenge and co-op with friends. But there seems little stimulus in that area. Most of my guild are the same, casual players. A lot of us love to raid, but I find it disheartening when your guildies get kicked if their DPS is too low even though you're achieving what you set out to do grrrr.

What's needed is the fun back in the game, with less of the seemingly prevalent elitism and nerd rage seriousness. Even a casual player can be passionate about the game after all and grow into a great player. I wouldn't say im a great player but a damn good one, knows what they're doing. It wasn't always like that, we all have to learn. But no one seems to care about bringing people on anymore/.

If raiding is the be all and end all of Wow, it will kill the casual base as raiding now is too unforgiving and downright soulless, no chat, fun or patience. Maybe there should be a new class of Game Masters, who run raids, and teach people tactics etc, and at a leisurely pace and informative. I'd happily play to do that, and bring the fun and community back into WoW

A long ramble, but I have loved WoW it feels now like im doing last rites over a beloved friend :(

-1