I’ve been keeping a gratitude journal for the first time in my life this month, and it turns out that it’s freaking hard. Why? Because it’s humbling beyond belief. The list of things I need to be grateful for is endless. Even if I limit it to just Massively OP, I could go on thanking the writers all day. Instead of doing that again, this year I want to thank the spouses and roommates and SOs and other familial enablers of our writers, without whom this site probably would not exist. The reality is that in many cases, their love, support, financial maneuvering, and childcare behind the scenes allows us to keep writing. So thank you, to all of them – Paul, Joy, and Elaine especially – for helping us live this weird dream.
Now let’s turn it to the genre itself. What are you grateful for in the MMORPG genre?
Stately resting between the gaudy purple and orange of Halloween and merry red and green of Christmas is the earth tone-saturated Thanksgiving. While no one’s favorite color scheme, Thanksgiving does give us a nice in-between holiday with family meals, an awkward dance around politics, a work day for football teams, and the occasional MMORPG holiday event.
While not every online game has decided to embrace the American holiday, enough pop up every year that need corralling. And since we just got turkey certified here at Massively OP, we’re going to lay out all of this week’s event options for you on a platter. So enjoy the festivities and dressing up like a Pilgrim for two days maximum before deeply questioning that fashion sense. Now jingly sleigh bells, size XXXL red suits, and reindeer antlers, that’s a smart look indeed!
Today is Thanksgiving in the United States, but unlike many such years, it’s not “just another Thursday” to everyone else. No, this marks the actual 13 year anniversary of World of Warcraft, as the game was released on November 23rd, 2004. It proceeded to shatter pretty much every conception of what MMOs could achieve in terms of financial success, redefining the genre, the company that birthed it, and the career of Chuck Norris in one fell swoop.
Explaining that last one would take a long time, but trust us on that one.
The truth is that I wasn’t there quite on launch, but I was there a couple of days later, and I only later found out that the game was hard to find elsewhere. (I worked at Target at the time and we had a wall full of copies.) And while the game has had bright points and low points, good and bad, it’s still been running for a really long while now. So are you celebrating the anniversary today, dear readers? Or are you too busy with holiday plans and/or otherwise disinterested?
It’s kind of hard to be thankful this year. Sure, some good things have happened this year, but we also have some things that, to put it politely, are unqualified messes. There’s everything around Star Wars: Battlefront II. There’s the shuttering of Master x Master and Marvel Heroes (the latter I actually flagged a year ago as being robust and healthy). There are titles like Lord of the Rings Online and ARK: Survival Evolved that have doubled down on methods to enrage players. And last but certainly not least, there’s still no sign of a sequel to the Warcraft film.
That one might be a grey area, actually.
But the year hasn’t been devoid of light, and there’s still stuff to be thankful for. So rather than being bitter and cranky about it, I want to focus on what we do have to be thankful for even while I hope for better in the future. Let’s talk about some stuff that’s good to be thankful for, even if it doesn’t tickle your particular fancy, and be a little more hopeful.
With the new expansion, official vanilla servers, and all of the other news from BlizzCon this year, it’s a great time to be a World of Warcraft fan. But Blizzard has other games too!
This year, our sales team has once again put together a couple of gift guides pertinent to our MMO readers. Please note that Amazon links are affiliate links and may grant a small commission to us, which is very much appreciated. Read to see some of the fun stuff you can get for the Blizzard-lover in your life!
Next week, players can start entering the raid that closes out the first storyline ever explored in the World of Warcraft universe. The raid on Antorus, the Burning Throne, is a strike against the heart of the Burning Legion, a chance to fight the forces of Sargeras that have been assaulting Azeroth ever since the first Warcraft. So it seems only right that there will be a couple of familiar faces within the raid, as pointed out within the new raid preview. This is the big drag-out battle, and it’s going to be a big one.
While you wait for a little while longer for the fight to start, of course, you can enjoy a few quick hotfixes that address set bonus issues for every class and spec and make sure anniversary world bosses offer you more artifact power instead of gold. There’s also a minor fix to the Siege of Orgrimmar raid, useful for those farming old appearances. Hey, not everything needs to be the next world-ending conflict, right?
Here’s the good news: World of Warcraft has turned on Pilgrim’s Bounty once again, which means that you can jump through some holiday achievement hoops and get yourself a title and pet. If that’s something you urgently require, it’s here! This event is more helpful than most as a way to powerlevel your cooking, so if you need to do that, your ship has come in. Or if you really love flinging food at people, that’s on the table as well. (Literally on the table in major cities.)
Here’s the dumb news: World of Warcraft’s developers have revealed at this point that the Bronze-Tinted Sunglasses, the big new cosmetic item that was released with the anniversary event, can only be used for transmog during the anniversary. If you bought them so that you could finally be wearing something approaching glasses on your character, sorry about the 200 badges you spent on them.
Early on in all the WoW Classic hoopla, I’d been thinking of World of Warcraft legacy servers as the sort of gimmick servers that a lot of older games put up. Ultima Online, EverQuest, RuneScape – their hardcore servers, progression servers, old-school servers are sort of sideshows, literally, to the “real” game in the center ring.
But the day the Classic WoW subreddit went up and I watched the playerbase neatly conduct its semi-orderly self-partition, my thinking changed, such that I don’t really think it’s just a gimmick anymore. WoW Classic is going to be a whole new game. I’m not even sure Blizzard realizes it yet, given how weird and slapdash the BlizzCon announcement was, but if WoW Classic releases in the next couple of years, it’ll easily be one of the largest and most successful “new” AAA MMORPGs to come out in quite a while. It’ll be up there with AIR and New World. That’s a sobering thought – but maybe not all that surprising.
Are you thinking of WoW Classic as a totally new MMO? How will you be approaching it?
I do think that we, as a culture, have become disturbingly obsessed with selfies, but I will always make an exception for anyone who finds himself standing in front of an enormous gas giant.
“I wanted to share my screenshot for One Shots for the first time,” sent in Stormheim. “The screenshot is from Destiny 2. I don’t still have cool stuff and gear, but its kinda awesome to take a selfie with Jupiter behind you.”
If nothing else, Jupiter has the effect of making the subject look thin and light in comparison. Kind of like standing next to Jabba the Hutt or a YouTube content creator’s ego.
Right out of the gate in the recent World of Warcraft Q&A, Game Director Ion Hazzikostas said that WoW Classic wasn’t going to be the focal point of discussion, as the team is only “at the beginnings of this process.” However, he did confirm that Blizzard isn’t looking to monkey around with too many changes.
“We know Vanilla means Vanilla,” Hazzikostas said. “We know that it’s about community and that means some inconveniences, that means some of the rough edges. That’s not something we’re looking to move away from. It’s more which version of that experience… is it the 2005 version? The 2006 version?”
The rest of the Q&A session primarily focused on the upcoming Patch 7.3.5 and next year’s Battle for Azeroth expansion. If you’re curious what’s going to be in the next patch, the highlights include a preview of the Seething Shore battleground, zone level scaling, Legion epilogue quest content, and Ulduar Timewalking.
Icy Veins has a great roundup of the main points form the hour-long talk, although you could settle in to watch the whole thing yourself after the break.
This week’s Massively Overthinking topic is a submission from reader and commenter camelotcrusade, who takes the industry’s current fight over monetization in a different direction from lockboxes. “Are modern games too cheap?” he asks, probably slowly reaching into a can of worms with a wicked gleam in his eye.
“When you think about it, many other things we buy have increased in price over the last decade but AAA games are still expected to be a maximum of $60, with many of us waiting for sales (or for free-to-play). Meanwhile, games everywhere are adding shops, post-release content, and DLC galore with increasingly aggressive pricing models. How much of this is to make-up margins they can’t capture up-front? How much should an AA game cost in 2017? $75? $90? Is there a price point where lockboxes, gambling, and in-game stores could focus on value-add instead of survival? And how did we get here? Whose fault is it? And how do we get out of this, or is ‘would you like a game with your store’ the future as we know it?”
Let’s talk money!
If you weren’t convinced that Blizzard defeated Bossland in its string of lawsuits already, you will be today. As The Nosy Gamer noticed, Bossland announced today that it’s ending sales for multiple hack, bot, and cheat programs that affected Blizzard games, including Honorbuddy (for World of Warcraft) and Hearthbuddy (for Hearthstone), though it looks as if Demonbuddy (Diablo III) will remain intact. Support for the discontinued cheats ends on December 31st.
The Bossland announcement is super classy, and by super classy, I mean not at all classy, as you might expect. The developers insist their paid cheat programs “provide no edge” and were intended to help time-starved players. They also claim Blizzard is winning only because of its supposed “decision to compromise the privacy of their players” by using checks that any studio that cares about cheating uses.
Do you have fond memories of fighting the Dragons of Nightmare in World of Warcraft back when they were relevant? Or even when they were no longer relevant, but still present? Because it appears that for the game’s 13th anniversary, you’ll have a chance to do that all over again, taking on the old bosses to pick up some level 900 loot. The trivia questions of last year have also returned, giving you a chance to earn a corgi pup as a pet as well as a new pair of sunglasses.
In other good news that’s unrelated to the anniversary celebration, Blizzard announced today that it’s going to start doing local currency conversion for Canada, New Zealand, and Japan. No need to convert currency just to subscribe to World of Warcraft! Which is going to feel rather intangible to the game’s US user base, but it’s good news for people living in the rest of the world. (Or a larger portion of the world, anyway.)