We may earn a commission when you buy through links in our articles. Learn more.

Blizzard “won’t stop experimenting” despite WoW Plunderstom backlash

The response to World of Warcraft's battle royale mode Plunderstorm, was, on paper, negative, but WoW's executive producer isn't worried.

Blizzard "won't stop experimenting" despite WoW Plunderstom backlash: A minotaur with long braided hair wearing a white pirate shirt, blue pants, and a red sash waistband conjures purple magic in its hands, a huge pirate ship behind him

I’ve always been an outlier in the World of Warcraft community. I maintain that Sylvanas Windrunner is, actually, a really awesome character, and that Zandalar is one of the most beautiful zones ever made. My opinions cause fights and get me kicked out of raids, and at this point, I’m very okay with it. So, as I’m sure you’ve likely guessed, I was one of the seemingly few players that enjoyed Plunderstorm, WoW’s bizarre pirate-themed battle royale mode. As the forums were set ablaze and subscriptions canceled and cast to the wind, I was having an amazing time darting around trying to take down enemy players – and I absolutely detest PvP.

As Plunderstorm winds down and the remixed Mists of Pandaria enters the fray, I ask World of Warcraft‘s executive producer Holly Longdale about how the MMORPG‘s most divisive mode so far actually performed, and how the team deals with overwhelmingly negative feedback.

“We kind of expected it; it’s PvP” she tells me with a chuckle. “But then we look at the behavior itself and Plunderstorm outperformed all of our expectations, which was great.”

YouTube Thumbnail

The backlash, however, was intense, with one WoW streamer calling the game’s community “horrible” as hate began to flood the official forums. “What we’re trying to do is service different communities,” Longdale tells me. “The team has learned through experience that the shoutiness of the people that are the shoutiest of the shouty could be a groundswell.

“To be fair to them, people who love collecting are like ‘well I’m going to do the grind to 40 because I want mount,’ so we want to be mindful of that,” she continues. “But it’s not going to stop us from experimenting with various ways to play because there is a PvP audience.

“I’m glad a lot of people gave it a shot. We’re just going to keep experimenting. Plunderstorm is not a failure, but we want to keep trying stuff.”

A World of Warcraft character with a treasure chest on their back chasing another character through green fields

Speaking of experimentation, we’ve seen three completely new events across WoW and WoW Classic with Season of Discovery, Plunderstorm, and now WoW Remix. I ask Longdale if the team is testing out a bunch of new modes to see which stick, and whether or not that could mean spinoff, standalone mini-games going forward.

Blizzard doesn’t want to “overinvest” in specific game modes, she tells me, but if the team finds one that “quote unquote, is a ‘banger,’ then we probably would invest in it because the players are telling us that’s what we want. We’re allowing player behavior to lead us into what they actually want to do.

“Would we potentially launch Plunderstorm with some variation? Sure. Right now we’re so deep in the learning phase that we’re just soaking up everything that we’ve learned. But, I think we see potential in more mode variations, like Remixes and other kinds of variation, and what do those mean when they aren’t events and [instead] are options and ways to play.

“It’s very open, fertile ground right now,” she says with a smile – and it’s one that’s contagious.

YouTube Thumbnail

Over the past few months, I’ve noticed so much more innovation with WoW, and Plunderstorm is very much at the forefront of that. As someone who firmly believes that WoW has been stagnant since Battle for Azeroth, I’m actually excited for the WoW The War Within release date. I’ve been chasing that feeling of wonder for the past few years; I love Warcraft, and I love Azeroth, and finally it feels like there’s something there that’s calling me home.

If you’re looking for some insight into what The War Within looks like, I checked out the Isle of Dorn at an exclusive WoW The War Within preview in London. Or, if it’s the all-new Delves that have your attention, we asked Longdale about how TWW is planning to service solo players.

You can also follow us on Google News for daily PC games news, reviews, and guides, or grab our PCGN deals tracker to net yourself some bargains.