Was J. Allen Brack right about fans not wanting WoW Classic?

    
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It was back in 2013 that now-Blizzard President J. Allen Brack issued his infamously condescending line of “You think you do, but you don’t” in response to fan requests for a World of Warcraft vanilla server. Six years later, Brack had to eat crow as Blizz rolled out World of Warcraft Classic to great acclaim.

But… was Brack right about WoW Classic? While WoW subscriptions spiked during its release month and made up the only bright spot in Blizzard’s portion of Activision’s recent financial report, last week we reported on SuperData’s more specific metrics, which show these subs have fallen significantly since then. This has prompted more than one fan to ponder whether WoW Classic was a novelty or a lasting trend.

YouTuber WillE recently posted a 10-minute video essay in which he examined whether or not Brack was right all along. Did fans really want WoW Classic… or did they just think that they wanted it? Check out the video below and let us know what you think in the comments!

Source: YouTube

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Kero Kero

Imagine a gimmicky fad not having longevity :thinking:

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psytic

What they want is progression servers that end at MOP. The game was fun until that point. Having just straight vanilla will get old not everyone wants to do the same handful of bosses over and over. Some classes are also gimp and dont blossom until BC such as Druids.

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GuileMike

I will be honest. Loved coming back to classic and play it nearly everyday. But with New World,PSO 2, and Mount Blade 2 on the horizon, March might be the last I play classic.

Plus, just my personal taste, I would give the game up if they introduce Hellfire Peninsula and beyond. Just not as fun as these two original continents.

GM
Aguado on Thunderfury

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Zeph

Obviously not, because plenty of folks are enjoying Classic. I think the important part about that quote is the “we know what you want better than you do” logic behind it, which is clearly wrong given how fraught retail WoW has been. That said, both games are still making them lots of money so whatevs.

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Marty Woods

I would say given that most of the servers are at high or full population ( in the EU at least ) then the answer should be self explanatory . How long that will remain for though is another question . It really depends what they do next . Some people seem to favor Burning Crusade servers but from what I have seen from in game the majority want classic +.

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Robert Andle

I’d be fine with either, but part of me wonders what Classic+ would actually be like. The Blizzard that created Vanilla and TBC are long gone. The Blizzard of today have just given us BfA so I wouldn’t expect anything amazing out of them.

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Sarah Cushaway

We always knew there’d be a huge influx for Classic and then a niche, core audience.

What fans REALLY didn’t want was a shitty BFA and Hong Kong fiasco. Most servers during BFA have been ghost towns. Why? because it’s trash.

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Anthony Clark

No he was not.

I’m still in Classic and love it.

Techno Wizard
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Techno Wizard

Obviously not right, as WoW Classic is more popular than WoW BFA. Will WoW Classic be more popular than Shadowlands..? It’s looking like a yes at this point in time. The reduced subs over time is normal and I think WoW Classic has cult status and is here to stay.

Free Hong Kong might also have had an impact.

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Fenrir Wolf

It’s because it’s not actually classic.

Anyone who has any strong memories of the original World of Warcraft will know this. I mean, I hate operant conditioning chambers but I enjoyed coding addons for it and wall-walking.

The physics are way off, nothing feels right in that regard. The API isn’t correct, it’s—of course—much more restrictive than it ever was. A lot of this is because Blizzard isn’t really an entertainment company any more but rather a hive of corporate suits, lawyers, and marketing drones looking ot make the easiest quick cash-in at the expense of long-term sustainability.

What is it with sociopaths and favouring quick cash grabs over sustainability?

The thing is? The whole experience is much more restrictive and locked down, it’s the kind of Blizzard play-pen that the game quickly became shortly after launch, which they doubled down upon with each and every single patch following it.

I mean, consider the viability of druids in early WoW. There’s a reason they chose to start from the patch number they did, it was AFTER a number of hard restrictions had already been put in place. They were very tactical with that patch choice, otherwise they would’ve had people asking about why classes weren’t more versatile, why the physics feel so tight and restrictive, and why the addon coding API is so locked down.

I daresay that fans do want WoW Classic but it’s my belief that what they actually want is the beta, or the period very shortly after the initial release. When druids could do anything, we could wall-walk anywhere, and addons could automate any part of the game we didn’t feel like grinding through. It was a very different time.

I mean, the game has moved more towards being casual but if you understood the game’s mechanics and knew what you were doing, the earliest period of WoW was actually the game at its most casual. Play a druid, have the right addons, master wall-walking and lo, you’re now playing a surprisingly casual game.

If you were smart about it, you could easily solo raid bosses. That’s what people miss. It’s that that ArenaNet are only now beginning to fully realise is there core demographic. They started to twig when Heart of Thorns—their most group-focused and hardcore content—was a humongous flop. What Guild Wars 2 is heading towards is that feeling of looseness, versatility, and letting the player choose their own level of difficulty that early WoW had.

Allowing each player to choose their own level of difficulty rather than forcing soul-sucking grind, enforced grouping, and other nastiness on players while reinforcing it with “git gud” is kind of the key to a successful MMO. Even the most foolhardy people can only be hacked for so long. I remember around the time of Burning Crusade that anyone who brought up social engineering and the amount of psychology students Blizzard was hiring were mocked. That was a fairly shitty time for anyone of actual intellect, yet it’s also a stark contrast to today where I feel the vast majority of MMO players are now aware of these tactics.

So when many people think of WoW Classic, they’re thinking of the characters they cheesed to solo raid bosses, the mechanics they fucked around with to do otherwise impossible things, and how welcoming the game was to letting players automate the tedium away.

WoW Classic has none of that.

Guild Wars 2 is now that. Honestly, The Elder Scrolls Online’s early days looked like it was going to be that but then they decided that they wanted to be more like modern WoW. There’s much more forced grouping and shady operant conditioning chamber elements within ESO now than there is in Guild Wars 2, by a humongous margin.

If Blizzard’s WoW Classic were actually the same as classic WoW, it would’ve been a truly resounding success. The thing is? They don’t understand that people are happy to pay for fun, that those same people might be tired of being manipulated for subscription money.

This is something that I’ve tried to explain to so many multiplayer developers right before they made the bad choices that resulted in their game dying. The biggest frustration for me being Champions Online.

In the Champions Online beta they courted such a huge cadre of roleplayers and altaholics, a veritable cavalcade of appreciably profitable demographics who’d have kept Cryptic very comfortably afloat with Champions Online alone. The reason Champs was so huge in beta was because it was FUN.

The problem is—and this is why the MMO genre died—is that MMO publishers don’t really get the difference between PAYing customers and PLAYing customers.

Now, PLAYing customers want the game to be their job. They want the game to reward THEM for it. So they’ll see grinding as something that THEY should be getting something for, rather than percieving it as a form of leisurely entertainment.

They’ll resentfully pay a subscription but the moment they don’t feel catered to they’ll move onto another game like a swarm, like the worst kind of pestilence, almost sinking that game by devouring bandwidth and barely offering even a scant thank you in return. They’re the very definition of the spoiled white child who had too many toys to choose from.

If your monetary income is a subscription model alone then focusing on that demo can be profitable. However, you have to be HUGE to pull it off. WoW huge. And the greedy sociopaths wanted to be WoW huge, of course, rather than looking for more sustainable options. This is why the only survivor of the MMO genre will be Guild Wars 2 as ArenaNet is the only developer that seems able to adapt to what’s actually sustainable.

Honestly, I’m glad they switched to sagas. That’s the best for them and it’s the kind of content that most of their players want anyway.

See, a paying customer doesn’t stick around because they’re being tricked to grind. They do it because they’re just having fun. There’ll be some element your game offers them that they can’t find elsewhere. Perhaps it’ll be the exploration, the unusual mechanics, or even the race choices (because furries are an underserved demographic of bankers, chemists, and other high-paying jobs with a value for money and no one to be generous toward).

Guild Wars 2 is so perfect in this regard. The players who want fun enjoy collections, unusual mechanics, and all that. I mean, it’s just genius to have something like vistas in Guild Wars. Volatile magic and how you collect it in LS4 was GENIUS. It’s like the data biscuits (and yes, I will call them that) in Saints Row IV, which was a big part of why that game was so incredibly popular.

It’s just fun. It’s not grindy, it’s just fun. You’re challenging yourself to understand your environs so you can get all of those data biscuits. It’s more skill-focused rather than just being another soulless grind.

See, Champions Online was fun. You had so much to explore with costumes and powers. All they had to do was make EVERY concept build at least viable. That’s all. They didn’t, they focused upon the hardcore PLAYing customers at the expense of the smaller demographic of PAYing customers because they wanted to be WoW. Idiocy.

In the early days of WoW you only had those PAYing customers, the game was fun. Blizzard pulled some dark magic though and switched over to netting the biggest number of PLAYing customers in order to make a subscription model tied to a powerful operant conditioning chamber work for them. The thing is? That black magic is only going to happen once.

Those who played early WoW were the aforementioned PAYing customers, they left when they no longer felt valued by WoW and tried to find another home.

This lead to a weird situation where word of mouth would lead to a pestilence-like influx of WoW players who were between content. And when a developer saw this, they thought they would be the new WoW. I could forgive this being the case before the first WoW expansion, but for every other case after that? That short-sightedness was just sociopathic idiocy.

See, the PAYing customers would be having fun in the beta of a new game. They’d be having their fun and the pestilence would be looking for new content. “Well, all of THOSE people seem to be having fun. And the only kind of fun out there is the kind of fun that I personally like because I’m shallow, so I’ll go over there and have fun with them instead of missing out.”

So, yeah. The pestilence would arive and demand that the game become more like WoW. The developer, being starstruck by this influx would quickly acquiesce. They would sacrifice the fun game they created to try and keep this influx, sadly as soon as another game arived or WoW had another expansion, the pestilence would move on.

And they’d leave devastated games in their wake. Games they’d devastated by making such massive demands of without being willing to stay and sustain that game and without any willingness to pour money into that game as an investment. The only people who understand the value of money are the aforementioned PAYing customers.

We pay for fun because we understand that games are leisure, not a job. That’s why we pay. We pay for a product. A product that gives us fun in exchange for money. We get that.

The pestilence does not. The pestilence just wants a reskinned operant conditioning chamber that can addict them even more than they’ve ever been addicted before. The problem with addictions, though? You need a bigger hit the more you engage in it, so the pestilence became increasingly more antsy over the course of time since the pestilence itself was a pestilence of addiction.

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Hex: Papa John's

Gonna need to condense some of your info. Way too long.

But, I kind of see your point. It seems like youre arguing for MMO’s to be sandboxes. Rather than “theme parks” which it seems most MMO’s that are sandboxes are anti-casual. They have a knowledge of burden, off the rails, no one telling you what to do and how to do it. Runescape was sort of like this? But it was during an era where most MMOs were like this and it did well. But not as good as WoW which was “on” the rails. And became more and more so on the rails and theme park with every patch.

I think sandbox MMO’s are great. But we also see that theme park MMO’s aren’t that great. I think majority of MMOs players like the idea of the genre. But do not like the current games themselves. For example, I can tell you I like shooters, but I think Call of Duty is average. So out there is a possibility of a great shooter. For me that shooter was Apex Legends. Though I never played it till it released, I knew shooters can be better than what I currently had at that time, just we had not developed a great shooter.

I think we are in the same phase with MMO’s currently. Most of them are theme parks, on the rails, controlled(Especially Blizzard that time gates, and wants to psychologically manipulate player behavior, we saw how that ended in BFA), over-monetized, rehashed content, etc. I know out there, we will get great MMO’s. We just live in the darkest timeline.

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Tom De Laet

To be honest some of us are still boycotting Blizz. I stopped my 3 month sub for classic in October. We all know what happened then. And since I’m not seeing any improvement from Blizz I won’t resub for a while. There are lot’s of other MMO’s on the market now which are at least as interesting as WoW.

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Andy McAdams

I wouldn’t say I’m still boycotting exclusively because of blitzchung – but it’s definitely a major factor for me not playing a Blizzard title right now.