WoW Factor: Breaking up is surprisingly easy to do

The classic break-up line is “it’s not you, it’s me.” It is, of course, usually a lie, and it often gets followed up shortly afterward with a line that makes it clear that it is really you. But it’s still a not-terrible way to ease into a breakup, to convey the idea that you want to move forward without bad blood between you.

So I’m sorry, World of Warcraft, but it’s not me. It’s you. It’s really on you. And a little bit on me, perhaps, but the parts that are on me have more to do with the fact that I’m aware I have better options open to me. It’s like declaring that you won’t go to Dunkin’ Donuts any more when the store in your area is constantly on fire; a bit of that is on you, but you could put out the fire.

Wait, I already did that fire joke, didn’t I? Let’s move on.

It just can't all be this.Some of my desire to leave has certainly been spurred by recent events. The whole “scale to item level” nonsense was not the deciding factor which made me say that I was out, but it sure did join the chain gang of reasons I had to step away from the game again. Similarly, the expectation (not yet realized) of upcoming content droughts is in the back of my mind, but at this point that’s entirely speculative. It’s not fair to blame the game for something I expect to happen which has not, in fact, actually happened yet.

If it does happen, I might give myself a satisfied little nod for leaving early to avoid the rush, but who knows? At that point I might be back in the game for whatever reason, even if it seems increasingly unlikely. The point is, I’m happy to put both of those issues down right away and move on.

No, I think the decision really came to me months ago, when Blizzard gave an interview that said, in no uncertain terms, that people just… leave the game every so often, and then they come back, and there’s absolutely nothing that can be done about it. So the game is now being designed according to that principle. And the problem is that it shows.

Randomness is a terrible long-term design. If you want people playing consistently for a long period of time, the less randomness you include, the better. If you have a chance to get a thing, people will stick around for a few repetitions, but each flub on that chance makes it less appealing to stick around. If you have to keep playing for five weeks to get a thing, by contrast, you have a pretty clear picture of what you have to do; you might have to wait five weeks, but after five weeks you’re in the clear.

Legendaries sent up some pretty big red flags right from the start, and I’ve complained about them before. But the game has doubled down on that same randomness everywhere. Random rewards. Random upgrades to random rewards. Random chances to get random quests for rewards which, in time past, would have just been earned through reputation. It’s all chance-based.

Irritating enough on its own, but then Blizzard has done its level best to make it as annoying as possible to actually get through non-luck-based content. And… some luck-based content, even.

The Mythic Keystone system, for example, is an interesting idea. It combines modifiers to dungeons that you’re already doing over and over, so you can have new kinds of fun in the dungeon and earn new rewards! Except you have to manually form a group (you’ll never be allowed in a Mythic group as DPS without enough gear to not need it) and wait for people to show up, at which point it slots squarely into the level of content irritation that makes it just not worth bothering.

“Oh, but those dungeons have complex mechanics!” If your point of comparison is no mechanics, sure, but the last fight of Vault of the Wardens Mythic is literally the final boss of a leveling dungeon in another game. A leveling dungeon you absolutely have to get through that people manage just fine, on the regular. Not to mention that the Keystone system mostly just adds more numbers and a race element, porting over the most obnoxious elements of WildStar’s dungeons while adding nothing positive on besides.

I really do enjoy Demon Hunters, but their DPS rotation always feels... not position-based, preciesly, but just clunky. Your actions don't logically flow.

Combine that with the randomness, and it seems as if Blizzard has collectively listened to exactly the wrong lessons. People have talked about how much they like dungeons and they like doing dungeons, but instead of hearing the message, the goal seems to be “make progressing in dungeons like progression raiding.” I’m sure there are a couple of people who wanted this. Maybe it’s even the majority.

But for me, the things I liked about dungeons were how they were not like raiding. They were fun, light, and quick ways to bang through content for a steady process of rewards. I could jump into a dungeon, have fun, and then jump out, and I worked toward rewards. That’s why when I talk about loving Wrath of the Lich King’s dungeon model, I make a point of talking about loving the dungeons. It wasn’t just having smaller parties, it was the very nature of the content and reward structure.

Putting more focus on dungeons while gutting the parts that I liked about them just makes me not want to do dungeons, either.

There’s also some notable issues with the expansion’s general storytelling ethos. The game seems to take place in some bizarre universe where story quests show you Illidan Stormrage being a whiny pissbaby right before the game tells you that he’s totally right for being a whiny pissbaby, and it also spends a lot of time talking up the Burning Legion before not actually having them do a whole lot. Which is a shame, since there are so many bright points to the story, lots of characters with interesting arcs or unusual viewpoints who I enjoy running around with.

And this is all without the problems around artifacts. It’s bad enough that the added levels are entirely meaningless; you gain no new abilities and really could just have started and stayed at 100 while leveling your artifact with no adverse effect. But artifacts have gotten kind of… bad with the most recent patch. Adding new traits is kind of gratuitous anyway, but adding new traits with even more insane requirements and Artifact Knowledge levels to render those insane requirements irrelevant? It’s a counterbalance to a counterbalance to a counterbalance, a fix that ignores a base-level problem.

This matters to me, and sometimes I wonder if it matters to the designers at all.The shame is that this comes at a time when a lot of things are being done correctly. The class design in this expansion is really great, for example. But there are just so many troubles that shoot through the whole game, so many indications of design that seems built to make people get upset and leave before they notice the next year-long drought of content.

And there’s the fact that the developers seem to treat this as if it’s a rule of the universe rather than a product of specific actions and decisions taken. The most recent interview Hazzikostas offered, for example, makes it clear that Artifacts are just going to be tossed away after this expansion. “Everything we add contributes to design bloat.” Of course it does, but that doesn’t mean you abandon it after one expansion. You build on things, slowly, make choices about how much you add at one time. You develop. You improve.

By throwing things away constantly, you send the message that there’s no reason to bother right now. Why should I work on leveling my Artifact? It’s only going to be shelved as soon as the next expansion launches. Nothing is even remotely stable. I might be playing the same character, but the philosophy has moved away from creating expansions to creating entirely new games each time around.

Do I hate the game? Of course not. But I’m not having fun. And with this expansion being the big push to revitalize the game, that’s a bad sign. Instead of fixing the problems of the last expansion, this feels like it’s fixing the surface troubles while doubling down on the underlying structural issues that lay at the heart of the matter. It fixes the problem of irrelevant dungeons, but it does so by making them into exactly the sort of content that people who prefer dungeons don’t want to do. It fixes certain hard reward caps, but it does so by adding even more irrelevant random chance to the game. It focuses so heavily on making each new reward feel exciting that it doesn’t make the process fun.

It’s not, as some have suggested, resources being diverted from World of Warcraft to non-MMO titles. It’s a case of treating player dropoff as if it’s not something the developers can control, like these decisions which make for a fun initial rush followed by an unpleasant slog aren’t specific bad choices. And frankly, I’ve got better games to spend my time on right now.

So, yeah. We’re breaking up. It’s not me; it’s you. You were fun, and you did some really great stuff back in the day, but at this point I feel like you’re trying to make me remember the good stuff without actually doing it any more. You’re so insistent on trying to amaze people with something new that you never build on your own foundations. You made a big push with this expansion to apologize for what you did wrong last time.

And yet, in the process, you showed off exactly why you made those mistakes in the first place, and why you’re going to make them all again.

Here, let’s close this out with a song. You guys like William Shatner, right?

War never changes, but World of Warcraft does, with a decade of history and a huge footprint in the MMORPG industry. Join Eliot Lefebvre each week for a new installment of WoW Factor as he examines the enormous MMO, how it interacts with the larger world of online gaming, and what’s new in the worlds of Azeroth and Draenor.
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80 Comments on "WoW Factor: Breaking up is surprisingly easy to do"

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Kala Mona

Heh last two comments:
1. Wow became bad because it forces dungeons and it was better earlier when I was able to solo more
2. Wow became bad because it allows soloing and it was better earlier where it forced groups

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Thomas

I have had a lot of fun playing WoW for the past few months; Legion brought me back to the game in a big way. Basically, however, I start losing interest in an MMO once I max out my character level(s): In Legion this means you will barely get a character through three of the four base zones, before you hit hit 110 and then … it’s all over. Leveling in Legion seems to occur awfully quickly.

The content that used to keep me interested in WoW after hitting the level cap: crafting and completing class and quest story lines has, in Legion, been locked away in the dungeons, so I have scratched all of that off of my usual “to-do” list. (I like MMOs, but I generally do not enjoy dungeon running because I find it tedious and immersion-breaking.) WoW did a better job of balancing solo and group content in previous expansions, in my opinion. (In WoD, for example, one can pretty much complete the zone-based stories without ever setting foot in a dungeon.)

Blizzard, idiotically, locked the very things that keep solo-minded players engaged and subscribed in WoW, behind “group content” walls in the Legion expansion.

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Keir

Yep, you’re not the only one that’s had to make this decision. I left WoW after Cataclysm and have rarely looked back. I did play a little of Mists of Pandaria and honestly I really enjoyed the levelling there, but once I hit 90 there was nothing there for me, so I left the game. I tried out Warlords when it came out but that was just awful so I haven’t checked back since.

A constantly updated game will naturally change over a 10+ year period, but WoW has really gotten a lot worse. Everything is so much more monotonous and dull; the levelling experience is now a solo game, and a lot of the top level content is regularly played with random people you’ll never meet again. The classes have all been “balanced” so that they are all the same, and the game is nowhere near as challenging as it used to be.

I’m currently playing on a vanilla server, and it’s utterly brilliant. Not just nostalgia; the game was a lot better in its original state.

Remove flying, remove a lot of the ease-of-use instant dungeons, cross realm raids, etc. and you find that 1) the world is much bigger, and 2) players are forced to work together. That’s the case from level 5 through 60.

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Josh

Wow…I can’t say I really understand the perspective of this post. I returned to WoW about 5-6 months ago and it’s been a really positive experience. It’s not perfect as no MMO is, but after trying out everything under the sun, it honestly feels like the most robust, well designed, well supported MMO and the changes they’ve made over the years make it much more approachable for a filthy casual like me.
But to each their own I guess. Hopefully you find as much fun elsewhere as I’m currently finding in WoW.

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birini

I haven’t played Legion and only played the first few weeks of Draenor. At the time I thought flying was the problem and, honestly, it’s a bit of the problem. But I think the game really started to lose me at Cata. (I haven’t played “regularly” since WotLK.) And I think Eliot nails the reason. That was the point where they started rebuilding the game every expansion. The character building mechanics got thrown out the window. Instead of changing professions to deal with the fact that people raced through lower zones and didn’t spend as much time in areas gathering high-level materials, they gutted professions. Then change them every expansion again. Everything has become about raiding and not about the characters and exploring the world. The flying fiasco just emphasized how they had to force people to explore the boring world they built.

Sometimes I feel bitter and betrayed that Blizzard took the game I love away from me. But maybe it was just time that took it away from me. The Gen Xers I used to play literally all day with have jobs and families now. And the millennials like the simple, free games like Hearthstone much better.

So, while I’ve been turned off and will never be back, I’m pretty sure Blizzard won’t miss me. If they ever did get a vanilla server going, though, I’d be there day 1.

Phone_Guy
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Phone_Guy

I have found myself responding to the Sirens call and returning to WoW more than once. I can’t say exactly what pulls me back as it always is a bit different. For example my current visit was sponsored by the Children’s Week holiday which I had missed in all its previous incarnations. Now I am one holiday away from the “Long Strange Trip” Achievement which I had been working on since its addition. Legion has been a pretty good expansion from my view point. I am not a raider beyond Raid Finder nor am I on the cutting edge of Dungeon running. I play mostly for achievements, story, and collecting.

One thing I felt Legion did right was level scaling for players. It was fun being able to run multiple characters through the new content choosing different leveling paths, it made the experience easier to deal with. I don’t mind the achievement gating for flying on current content as you level up you will unlock most of the requirements pretty easy. What does bother me though is that the flying for Draenor is still gated behind a grind wall. When you look at all the previous expansions they opened up flying after the expansion passed for a simple gold fee. For some reason with WoD they still hold on to flying being a privilege. It wouldn’t be too bad but leveling through the WoD content without flying just feels annoying.

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GiantsBane

for me it’s usually an expansion and shiney new things, but after warlords I can definitely say I’m done. I can’t deal with the increasingly dumbed down game play direction they seem to be going in, which ironically has helped me finally turn around and get into playing GW2 lol, so thanks for for helping me dust of that old dog and give it a real go.

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Rottenrotny

The ilvl/level scaling thing, just like in ESO and other games that force it on you, is one of the things I truly hate about Legion.
Also, I haaaaaaate artifact weapons and AP grind, so I’m actually glad they’re going away.
Maybe next expansion my Shadow Priest will be able to wield a staff again…

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Pedge Jameson

There throwing away arti…this is why I don’t bother to keep up. I was behind on my Garrison, and guess what, it’s useless now. Why should I even bother with the artifact now, nothing carries over. It’s becoming different games all together stacked on top another.

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Jeff

Very well written and poignant article…..WoW lost meright at the take end of Draenor, I tried Legions but meh.

ESO pretty much owns me these days, despite having group of pissbabys on the forums, the in game community is top notch and unlike WoW I have fun there.

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agemyth 😩

I don’t agree with a lot of the criticisms here, but that is fine. As someone who reads this column often it seemed clear to me that Eliot, in his heart, had moved on to different games. And that is totally fine. Maybe there is an issue with you being the person who writes this column every week, but the work only suffers when you feel forced into the role of being “the WoW guy” on staff.

Be free Eliot! Go prepare your body and mind for Stormblood next month!

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smuggler-in-a-yt

You did a good job explaining why you’re leaving. I’m surprised that you didn’t mention the proposed 7.2.5 “Ken doll dress-up time” event. Or the railroading on class mounts (why not make all the mounts available via token, why lock specific mounts to specific classes?). Or the fact that the Artifact revamp just kicked the can down the line a bit and feels like someone realizing they over simplified the talent trees and so they needed to put something more complicated back in.

That doesn’t even touch on the weird decisions around flying, the core integration of RNG (I *still* can’t figure that one out), the way they redesigned crafting and wove it into the dungeons, and the rather bizarre way that they chose to implement the *-finders. There are a lot of reasons to leave.

There are also a lot of reasons to stay. For example, I’ve been spending the last few weeks getting around to rounding out my drake collection. That’s been fun to see old dungeons and raids again, and frankly it worries me a lot that they might apply scaling world-wide. That really would drive me off once and for all. It’s been fun to see some of the boss-lite modes through Night Hold via RF. It’s been fun to chase people around Dalaran trying to tag them during Noblegarden (although Children’s week almost prompted me to throw my laptop through a window last night).

At the end of the day, I imagine a lot of players don’t stick around for the “core” game. As you’ve said, the game developers themselves have pointed out that’s a bit of a red herring. They do it for all the other pieces that come with the game. And more than a content drought, I’m concerned that the next expansion could impact those things to such a degree that whatever has been left (like what little remains of the community, for example) will finally just…go.

So when you DO move onto whatever is next. Here’s a question. What are you looking for? And what do you think that MMO will do better than WoW? I’ve spent a lot of time looking, and unfortunately for fit, finish and polish, Blizzard is the top of the food chain.

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Gadgets-4G

I left WoW right after crusades, fully slotted top level characters and I was still having fun. However, it was becoming apparent that Blizz was never going to stop “Balancing” and with every round of nerf/buff, every decision they made drove me further from what I found fun in the game. I saw that at some point I was going to be 500 bucks in and quitting in a rage at some point in the future and decided to cut my losses.

It helped that accounts were selling at a premium right after the expansion I cashed in.

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Doubleplusgood

11 months WoW free!
After many years of having my characters face changed, spells removed and pruned, talents exploded and ruined, flight taken away, regained then taken away again, and other endless changes I didn’t want it really wasn’t that hard a break up. It doesn’t feel like my characters are my own and they are nothing like they were when I first created them. I guess we’ve just grown apart.

The other change in design that turned me off from buying legion is that in previous expacs all you had to do was level your character up 5 or 10 levels to level cap. Then at level cap there were many options of things you could grind, such as reputation, tokens, heroics and dailies. But the key thing is that all of this grind was optional if you wanted to further progress after level cap. This allowed you to have multiple alts and experience the game in different ways which is how I like to play. This changed. The optional level cap grind at the end was moved down to the beginning of the expac. Now from the moment you start the expac the grind begins and your character has to reputation grind, artifact power grind, world quests grind, garrison/class hall grind, flight achievement grind, ect. And all of this grind is mandatory to level your character up following a linear grind gated story line. Which made alts and everything else a chore. This was great for those players that rush to level cap and then complain that there is nothing to do, but I am not one of those players. So all this extra grind is not needed, wanted and I don’t have the time for it. Whenever I think of trying out Legion, all I think about is how much work I will have to do to level up all 12 of my characters then just think nahhh and go play something else more fun.

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Kevin

I uh…can’t really say that I agree with article, nor do I feel like it was very well researched, written, or otherwise well made, no offence. While yes, I do know and understand that it’s an opinion article, that doesn’t really excuse the sheer amount of misinformation posted here.

I mean, ignoring the ilvl scaling thing, which Blizzard has nerfed into the ground to the point where it’s not even noticable, and was done so that you literally are not one shotting enemies, and destroying the experience for anyone else near by (no, this is not conjecture, there was a few bugs early in 7.2 where some enemies were not scaling. my 885 PROT paladin was one shotting them with a single Avenger’s Shield, that’s not okay,) but there are other problems here too.

Mythic Keystone dungeons, for instance, being thrown into a Dungeon Finder. Why? Why is this necessary? The Premade Group finder already makes it easy enough to get into a group, and if a group won’t invite you because of your ilvl, just throw your own group up and wait to fill. God knows if you have a Maw Keystone, people would jump to join you in a heart beat. And if you’re trying to compare Cordona to the fifnal boss in the Sunken Temple, it’s not a close comparison, at all. While Cordona isn’t a difficult fight, the fight in the Sunken Temple of Quarn can have pretty much all of it’s mechanics ignored, has no one shot mechanics, and is quite a bit easier.

As for the rest, such as the Legendary RNG – that’s already been adressed by Blizzard, and it’s a good deal easier now to get one (crafting), or focus on one you want from the Broken Shore so…that’s just misinformation or ignoring a fix that Blizzard has made to the problem…So there’s that.

All in all, it sounds more like Legion became a game the AUTHORdidn’t want to play, and the problem lies firmly with the author, not it.. The article really makes it sound like the author no longer wants to play an MMO that requires time and dedication, and would rather play one where content is quick and easy, requires very little in the way of orginzation, and has a checklist of things a person can do before saying “Yay, I “Beat” the game, I can stop playing now.”

And that’s fine. That’s why very casual MMO experiences like FFXIV exist. But to try and make it sound like Blizzard and Legion failed because they tried to bring the MMO back into their game by requiring premade groups, coordinated dungeons and raids, and giving players things to do without really running out of them so they can have bang for their buck each month…that’s not really something they should be faulted for. Legion has problems, yes, but none of them are what the author has mentioned in this article, and that’s why it rubs me the wrong way.

Especially when FFXIV is being praised to high heavens, and it has some of the most egregious problems in any MMO to date. But that’s a can of worms that I’m not touching.

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Leviathonlx

To me it’s just clear Eliot is more into FF14 at the moment (a game with it’s fair amount of issues as well) so maybe someone else should do WoW articles.

bereman99
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bereman99

I believe they were talking about The Vault, not the Sunken Temple, as the Sunken Temple that is required doesn’t have the marching line of enemies to dodge.

That said, it honestly looks like this article hit a nerve, given how much effort you go toward speculation regarding the author’s motivation/desires when it comes to an MMO…speculation that borders on ad hominem.

Sorry, your precious WoW has problems – lots of them. They may not bother you, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

Also…FFXIV being “very casual.” If anything, there is one thing the two games share – they have casual elements and hardcore elements. Of course, only one has the potential to reward you with high level gear for showing up to a “world event” and hitting the objective a few times, enough to get counted…

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Ben Stone

Public event loot has been redundant since Nighthold opened. The gear they drop is entry level, not high end game level.

flatline4400
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flatline4400

the philosophy has moved away from creating expansions to creating entirely new games each time around.

Soooo true, been that way for a couple expansions now… and is a huge reason why I just don’t care about progressing in that game at all.

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Giannis Papadopoulos

My experience with legion lasted for 1 month and few more days… my basic problem is time gated content..

I am ok if raids are time gated once per week. I know the reason for it and i understand.

But the basic game shouldnt be. Class campaign, world quests (dailies) artifact knowledge…

I always found myself either waiting for time to pass (class campaign mission…) or run stressfull to do a world quest that was about to expire in some minutes..

That was not fun at all..

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Leviathonlx

I couldn’t take posts on WoW seriously here anymore after a post made several weeks ago about how Blizzard was going to delay 7.2 till Stormblood the same day 7.2 was announced to be coming out the next week. Then going on about the content drought we might get a year and a half from now that’s mentioned several times (even in that post weeks ago) even when Blizzard has been quite consistent with patches. I mean half the issues mentioned in this post can be found in just about every MMO. Every MMO is basically you doing stuff that is meaningless come next expac with gear and even FF14 has said the same exact thing about people quitting the game and coming back over and over.

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Giannis Papadopoulos

http://www.mmo-champion.com/threads/2020760-PrePatch-date-soon?p=41411972#post41411972

Check the post #1250 and see the screenshots… guess what happened?

A guy predicted that legion pre-patch will come alomg a major ffxiv patch (ffxiv patch anounced long before). The fanboys insulted him but at the end he was right.. and this was not a coincidence.. it is blizzard tactic.

I dont blame blizzard for doing this cause its business and they compete with other MMOs in a free market. I just dont understand the deniers/defenders.

My example is not the only one. I have lot of years of experience with MMOs and Blizzard always did that with their competitors

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Leviathonlx

I mean yea you’re going to do that but anyone not living under a rock (which I’d expect of a gaming fansite) could tell 7.2 was going to be before Stormblood and that they’d instead like 7.2.5 and Tomb with Stormblood. Just like 7.3 will line up with Stormbloods first patch probably.

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Giannis Papadopoulos

I agree 7.2 line up with stormblood was a bit too over exaggerate, but the fact is that Blizzard do this for years ;)

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Giannis Papadopoulos

Seriously, just check the recent past and you will see that Blizzard have lined many major patches the same day as ffxiv major releases..

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Bannex

This site has an unhealthy addiction with trying to drag wow down. They are championing all their readers that no longer play mmos and have some sad need to keep telling people why they stopped playing wow.

Grats elliot you’re in good company now

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Bruno Brito

Believe me, Blizzard needs no help doing that. WoW is the biggest MMO, it’ll be commented and talked about when someone stops playing, specially in a place where you have first person viewpoints.

You’re whiteknighting too much, bro.

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Bannex

I’m not defending wow, it’s ok to dislike or quit the game. I just never thought I’d see a rage quit post as an article on massively.

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Ashfyn Ninegold

Jeez, do we have to debase the language we speak into utter meaninglessness?

Depending on whether you like Oxford or Urban, rage quitting is either angrily quitting because of a particular event or angrily quitting out of frustration. I read the whole article, twice. While expressing the frustration with the game, I don’t really see anything approaching any definition of “angry” in Eliot’s blog

This was a thoughtful examination of why he was motivated to leave WoW. Not a rage quit rant.

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drownoble .

Although the fanboys will firmly disagree, I think Eliot was (for once) spot on in his commentary.

Whoever at Blizzard thought that the RNG was a good idea for boss loot needs to be slapped. It’s very disappointing to run an entire dungeon and get 12-16g total off all bosses. What’s the point of running one then? LFR isn’t much better either.

All the hype to get your shiney artifact weapon, then we’re going to replace it with a green that drops off a level 111 mob in the new expansion probably. They could just continue, and improve, the existing system but knowing Blizzard they won’t put that much effort into it.

bereman99
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bereman99

Is Jay Wilson still with the WoW team?

It may be pure coincidence, but the shift to RNG stats on gear happened after/right around the time he was shifted from Diablo to WoW.

possum440 .
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possum440 .

MMO’s today have complex game mechanics!? Bahahahah. Thanks, I needed a good laugh.

The only thing any MMO has today is automation and rote action and the devs constantly grooming weak minded gamer’s to play the way they dictate.

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drownoble .

Haven’t played many MMOs I take? They vary widely in mechanics, WoW is just one of the simpler ones. CoH and Rift are examples of MMOs with different mechanics where the players helped shape the game as the devs actually listened to players (unlike Blizzard).

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Bruno Brito

I’ll be honest with you. Never saw that in Rift. What i saw was a chockful of macros in every character.

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Tony McSherry

Don’t worry Eliot, it’s really you, not WoW. She realises you’re the type of control freak partner that wants everything his way and I think she’s finally moved on. Taking you back last time was a serious mistake, but you praised and flattered her and she forgot the nasty things you said before and your unfaithfulness with Wildstar ;-) Perhaps you’ll realise one day that she has a depth and complexity missing in your latest soon to be thrown away partner. Wow has changed, you haven’t – it’s as simple as that.

It may surprise you that WoW is different things to different people and my relationship is still going strong. Not the passion of our early days, but we still catch up regularly.

Dropping the rather painful analogy, I presume this means the death of WoW Factor. I hope we can have a new writer who has a less tortured relationship with WoW and maybe even likes it?

bereman99
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bereman99

Depth…is that what we’re calling RNG layered on top of nearly everything these days?

WoW is in some ways the same game – Raids are king, you do dungeons to gear up for raids.

In others, it has changed – stats are simpler, instead of talent trees where you’re locked into one of a couple specs based on what you’re doing you have talent choices for passives/active abilities where you’re locked into your choices based on what you’re doing (oh…wait), and daily quests that have been in the game since BC have been dressed up in a different presentation. Oh, and now you’ve got multiple layers of RNG on top of it all.

Sorry, not buying the depth and complexity bit.

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Simon Clarke

Bravo. It’s the same with the podcast; badly researched, dated and missing information about content or systems in their ‘news’ updates and a general ‘we’re too good for WoW on this site’ ethos that leaves a bad taste in the mouth. Yes I’m all for the development and innovation in my favourite genre that massively champions and that’s why I still read it but writing like this, this assumption that WoW *will* have a content drought and is broken when, despite a few flaws, legion is the most content-packed, innovative and polished expac yet released [yep, eat nerd-tears, Wrath babies!] is just sloppy journalism.

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Kawaii Five-O

…when Blizzard gave an interview that said, in no uncertain terms, that people just… leave the game every so often, and then they come back, and there’s absolutely nothing that can be done about it.

Just to play devil’s advocate (and I haven’t played WoW since early Cataclysm), Yoshi-P has said the exact same thing more than once in regards to FFXIV. I think that’s just the reality when designing for a theme park MMO–or at least that a good number of players only focus on certain types of content and it simply isn’t feasible to provide them with that particular content unabated.

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bereman99

He has (though the context was more “If you feel bored or like you have nothing to do, then you shouldn’t feel like you have to stay”)…but they also design the game around the idea that people will stay if they want.

Long term goals, rewards for continuing to run old dungeons (even low level dungeons), a pacing of gear designed in such a way that you generally need to stick around for a while to get it all. That being said, you can finish everything you need to (story quests) pretty quickly, so you’re not as behind when you come back.

The difference, imo, is that WoW is designing itself in such a way that it tries to force people to stay through the overuse of randomness.

ceder
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ceder

Looking forward to the next expansion lauding write ups from you Eliot. :P

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Bree Royce

We all need breaks sometimes. :D Blizzard has lots of time to change minds and plenty of money to spend on the next patch, and the next patch, and the next patch…

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ichi sakari

spot on, I left during panda for similar reasons; like to go back but I fear they’ll not realize how much of a mess they’ve made of a great thing

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Utakata

The consistence of tying a lot of things to Mythics and then not adding Mythic to the Dungeon Finder has left me looking in from the outside.

Partly this anecdotal, as my main guild of 4 players has no interest in doing Mythics. Leaving me the choice of barking LFG like an idiot in the some troll chat in the vain hopes a PuG may form magically, old skool style. Quit my guild and go back to the guild which was my main and hope they run Mythics from time to time. Or simply put the Mythic stuff on /ignore. I’ve chosen the latter, even if it’s a shitty choice…but the others seem more shittier. As this seems to be the choice for players who are shy and reclusive and have social anxiety issues, in a game surrounded with epeen meter mentalities. And this is what my pigtails have been running up against.

The thing is that Blizz doesn’t get, is that is should never gate content behind playstyles that some players are never comfortable with. In Legion, they’ve been doing that in droves. The MMO that gets it, is the MMO that allows players to pace at their own style. So that Mythic dungeons should only be for players who are interested in doing Mythics. Same goes for raiding or PvP. Nothing should ever be locked behind it. It’s the kind of the wilful ignorance on the developer part that you’d think they get after 12 years being in business with this game. As Mr. Eliot pointed out…they almost got it in Wrath. And why Wrath was so great. It’s just they stopped moving forward after that, and kept finding ways to make sure every player its in their raidcore/arena ways of doing things…or hit the highway. Thusly, Mythics became away for them to bring raiding to a 5 persons, as opposed to encouraging players who are interested in dungeons to participate. So Blizz’s tail is wagging that dog also. /sigh

That all said…and more importantly, so who is going to write for WoW Factor when Mr. Eliot’s divorce papers have gone through? o.O

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Jeff Risu Dailey

That’s why I left for good finally. Hated that some of the dungeons you had to do were tied behind the mythic wall. PLus no dungeon finder for Mythics insane.

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thalendor

The thing is that Blizz doesn’t get, is that is should never gate content behind playstyles that some players are never comfortable with.

As long as that extends to not gating dungeons and such behind irritating story content like Suramar, I’m right there with you. :-) Gating story and other things behind dungeons and raids gets most of the hate, but for some of us it works the other way around. Definitely agree in principle though.

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Utakata

I got the feeling that the story gating idea came from the FF XIV box of tricks. :(

bereman99
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bereman99

Quite possibly, though in my opinion it wasn’t implemented with the same consideration FFXIV gives toward the same feature (not an uncommon thing with WoW).

Story is gated by dungeons, but all dungeons required for story are found in the duty finder. Low level/lower gear ilevel rewarding dungeons are required, but there is sufficient reason for players to revisit those locations for currency/glamour/triple triad cards/mini-pets or through rewards given via the roulette systems (up to and including the Mentor one).

And, most importantly, it was built with this in mind from day one, not a tonal shift in approach 12 years in.

It can still be rough for those that find grouping with others they don’t know to be stressful, but it also feels like they take steps to make it as accommodating as possible…whereas Blizzard seems to just slap these things on and try and make them work after the fact.

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Schmidt.Capela

I might be playing the same character, but the philosophy has moved away from creating expansions to creating entirely new games each time around.

Was it ever different, though?

IMHO it only worked well for BC and WotLK because with only two expansions the pattern of the game completely changing whenever you got to the next expansion didn’t yet have time to become irritating. And because WotLK and BC were, IMHO, by far the best two expansions ever released for WoW.

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Brix50 .

I didn’t even make it to level 110 before I pulled the plug. Too much RNG,on top of the annoying terrain design and not liking the direction they took profs. What they did to flying also had a hand in why I left, that whole debacle just mystified me.

Anyhoo I’ve been free and clear for 6 months now. Scary part is I still find myself missing the game it used to be. I haven’t found anything to take it’s place so I guess breaking up wasn’t as easy for me as it was for you Eliot

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April-Rain

I was done with legion 3 months after launch, I just hate the mob auto level to your level mechanic, that really broke the game I loved for me and then reading that flying was going to be another grind like wod that was enough for me to delete it from hard drive for the first time in 12 years.

For me legion has been the worst expansion yet.

Add to that recent events I have read about I wont be a returning player for the next expansion, its taken a long time but blizzard killed my addiction for me and I really cant see me ever going back unless they release vanilla servers.

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Grim🎃 Darhk

I have enough fun with it, But I’m not losing my life to it, like I used to. WoD (As terrible as it was) Was there for me during a really bad part of my life. Like, Really bad. So it was nice to have something familiar again. Legion is amazing compared to WoD. So I’m enjoying it.

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Brother Maynard

Oh yes, mythic keystone runs. What originally looked to be a system giving you tougher and more interesting challenges is in Activision’s view better done as a dumb race against the timer.

You don’t fight increasingly difficult bosses with new mechanics, more variety, forcing you to use different skills and tactics or anything like that – no, you fight the timer.

An interesting idea with awful implementation. So unlike Blizzard of 15 years ago; so like Activision of today.

The only positive thing I see about Legion is that they finally managed to pull people away from capital cities and into the open world (Legion areas only, though). And even that is turned into a grind and feels like a single step on what could be a long and interesting journey, before Activision wall of complete lack of imagination, creativity and effort hits you in the face and you realise that this first step really is all there is.

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Ashfyn Ninegold

Blizz is so empty of creative ideas, they are stealing from themselves. That is straight up the same mechanic for Diablo 3’s greater rifts.

bereman99
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bereman99

It feels like there are several elements of the current design that are from Diablo 3 (to the detriment of WoW)…

Is Jay Wilson still with the WoW team?

/tinfoil hat

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Danny Smith

You either stick with a game you aren’t enjoying becoming “that guy” thats bitter as fuck and ruins everyone elses good times or “that guy” that goes full brand loyalty douchebag just to defence his time/money investment because they feel dropping the game makes it all worthless somehow OR just play something you enjoy and have fun.

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Sally Bowls

“Randomness is a terrible long-term design.”
Did you read the article here on the 24th?

“A lot of research shows that fixed rewards are not as effective for getting people to change behaviours[sic], learn a new behaviour[sic], or form a habit as random rewards are. Our brains are wired to try to make sense of unexpected things. When you have a random number determining what loot you get, by definition, you’re going to get an unexpected result, or an unexpected predictable result every time. Whether you get that by playing the game for so many hours or winning so many matches,”

Unfortunately, I would say that “Randomness is quite unpopular on fansites but academics and game designers know it is effective and works well.” is far more accurate than “terrible long-term design.”

Gafney said about 10-15% of subscribers leave a MMO every month and about half return. Someone leaves WoW about once every 4 seconds and someone [re]starts every 4.? seconds.

Koster:

Take a look at this curve. This is how Open Big MMOs all go. A big rush, peaking a little bit after the launch. Then a plateau for a while, then a tailing off.

This curve is so regular that you can predict the peak from just a handful of datapoints. Assuming that the title is equally available everywhere, you can predict the peak from literally three data points, which you can get literally in the first few hours of launch. The question is the slope of the curve, not its shape. The tail of the curve will go on forever as long as there is availability — it slows down to a bare trickle, but it does keep going for ages and ages…

This curve also makes a typical shape for usage. What you hope for is a truly long and stretched out curve, if you have great retention. The tail, by the way, goes on forever here too, which is why MMOs don’t die on their own, but pretty much have to be killed.

Assuming no major changes in availability, and no new markets being tapped, this is it: the entire shape of acquisition for your game, forever.

The ebb & flow of MMO – not just WoW – subscribers is inevitable, measurable and even somewhat predictable. The difference between good and bad MMOs changes the scale but does not change the shape of the curve. Why should Ian have to pretend otherwise for the non-business types in his audience?

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Brother Maynard

You always have a certain amount of randomness in any MMO. But when literally everything in the game is built on randomness(*), it stops being fun very fast.

There’s a difference between eating a carefully crafted meal with just the right amount of seasoning and eating nothing but seasoning with minimal amounts of food.

(*) To the point where irrelevant minor tier upgrades in individual profession recipes (with professions themselves almost completely irrelevant in Legion) are also subject to a never-ending RNG-based grind. Of course, it doesn’t mean you have to do any of it. But it shows how much RNG governs even the most ridiculously irrelevant step you take in this game.

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Sally Bowls

I do not like the randomness. It is not that fun for me. But the thesis is not that it is fun, merely that it is good and effective game design. Do I like it? no. If I were a game designer, do I think I would owe it to my employer to include it in my MMO? Unfortunately.
—-
As a complete aside, I see the random stuff in professions as positive. In real life, there is something called the experience curve; the more you make, the cheaper you can make it. Doubling volume increases yield by some %. What I would prefer is that the game recorded the amount of each item I have made and productivity was 1.1^log2(numbermade) but that would require a database field for each item. Random is a simple way to achieve the IMO very desirable goal of someone who has made 2000 flasks can do it better than someone making their first one.

I have made a few million gold in WoW from professions, which was less trivial when it was 100 instead of 30 $20 tokens; stupid inflation. I found it rarely worth making something that was not at the max rank recipe.

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kelvar

I wonder why the non-American spelling of behaviour deserves a [sic]?

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Sally Bowls

:-) Because it is not American :-)

Besides now that English is losing its importance in Europe, might as well float along the tides of history.

https://news.slashdot.org/story/17/05/05/1359215/eu-leader-says-english-is-losing-importance

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kelvar

Oooooh so that’s how it is, is it? :)

Can’t speak to the relevance of English in Europe but it’s very relevant here in Canada and we spell it the same :D

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Fenryr Grey

Don’t worry English is still relevant in Europe…. We may not be as proficient with this language, but it’s still easier than learning all European languages… :P and bonus insight: Irish English is the funniest close second is Australian English …

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Nordavind

*we-have-all-broken-up-with-a-game-fistbump*

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Robert Mann

ROFL

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Dread Quixadhal

I quite enjoyed the beginning of the Legion expansion. However, once your character reaches a certain point in your storyline, you are FORCED to run “mythic” dungeons to continue the story.

I don’t like being forced to play in a way I don’t enjoy playing. I don’t mind not getting gear drops or whatever by skipping “endgame” content. I don’t even mind not being able to craft things that would require materials from “endgame” content. But not being able to finish the basic story, nor level the crafting professions, without playing in a way you don’t enjoy is silly.

If Blizzard wants to pay ME, I’ll be happy to do it their way… but if they want me to pay THEM, it has to be enjoyable for me. It no longer is, and that won’t change in this expansion.

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Ashfyn Ninegold

Yup. My breakup was some months back when I realized that every single direction of progress was gated by dungeons or raids. I could no longer happily skip forced-group stuff and still make progress. I did a few dungeons to finish unlocking slots on my artifact, but when I realized I’d have to do the same content for all my alts, content I hate doing, I thought, you’re screwing me, Blizz, and I’m not enjoying it.

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thirtymil

Agreed completely. I ended up dropping all my crafting professions, because I didn’t want to drop the game the same way I dropped FFXIV after discovering it wouldn’t let me even unlock the rest of the map without grouping up.

Then I got through that only to discover I had to do a raid just to get flying, because that makes no sense whatsoever. But I stuck with it and did that, and got my flying.

Only to wake up yesterday morning and discover I had no desire to log in anymore because, hey, this relationship is high maintenance and I’m not getting my needs fulfilled in it. Sorry Warcraft, it’s not me, it’s you.

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thalendor

Odd that this should just happen to be posted the day after my GF and I decided to unsub from WoW and migrate to something else. I will say my favorite new idea from this expansion was the Mythic+ dungeons, though I found the implementation left something to be desired. It seems they’re going to start making some changes, though, so hopefully it’ll be a better system if/when I’m back in WoW some time in the future.

Bobuliss
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Bobuliss

I know this is a (surprisingly) unpopular opinion, but my biggest problem with WoW was the removal of flying as default. Or at least, my biggest problems could have been solved with flying. I will never understand the reasoning behind taking away the coolest feature in the game and then dangling it in front of players to force them to slog through unfun content. Looking at you, Tanaan dailies…

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Ashfyn Ninegold

Tanaan was bad, but the gate for flying in Legion is so absurd that it really feels like revenge programming.

Again, like Diablo 3, they give fans what they want, but really stick it to them.

Flying is joyful in WoW and they have made it wholly unfun to get. If that’s their attitude, well, here’s the ring, Buster, and there’s the door.

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Erik Heinze-Milne

Same here. Sometimes I would even be enjoying myself, and then want to get somewhere, be reminded that I used to just be able to fly rather than jump through a bunch of hoops, and just have all the joy sucked out.

Theryl
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Theryl

Good summation. I hadn’t realized it, but the disposable content is really why I stopped playing. Why work on something when it’s not going to be around for the next expansion?

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TheDonDude

Hey… WoW. Heard you broke up with that Lefebvre guy. Yeah, he didn’t deserve you. Totally his loss. So, uh, I happen to have a night free about once a week…

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Brother Maynard

Once a week? Great, me too! Random night, random time and random place, though. Figure it out.
Love,
WoW

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thirtymil

Sure, she seems perfect now – but in a couple of years she’ll change, you’ll stay the same, and you’ll wonder why everything that used to be perfect isn’t anymore :)

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Little Bugbear

These are all the reasons I’m not playing WoW right now.

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Melissa McDonald

Krispy Kreme is vastly superior to Dunkin :)

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Brother Maynard
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Robert Mann

Not bad, if you can’t go with homemade! :)

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Eliandal

While I don’t mind Krispy Kreme . . .the last couple of times I had their donuts…they were…soggy? (best way I can describe it) Give me my Timmies anyday :D! (Oh…guess I should add…on topic…that I’m still playing and still having fun – although no where near like 10 years ago)

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