Vague Patch Notes: When ex-World of Warcraft fans become Final Fantasy XIV partisans

Where does the need for a feud come from, and why?

    
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Laser needles.

There is a certain stripe of Final Fantasy XIV fan that is exceedingly prevalent at this point, and that type is the rigid partisan… against World of Warcraft. You don’t have to look very far to find them. See a post about how WoW is somehow disappointing people once again, and there she is crowing loudly about how FFXIV is so much better. See a post about how FFXIV is doing something, and he’s in the comments explaining that WoW would never do something this positive. It’s not universal, but it is there, and I think it’s fueled a large portion of sentiment among WoW fans that FFXIV fandom as a whole has it out for their game.

If you’re actively involved in the fandom, of course, this is of course nonsense. Most long-term FFXIV players don’t actually care about WoW in any particular capacity beyond possibly being aware of Blizzard’s ongoing sexual harassment scandals, or if they do, they’re actively fans of WoW in the first place and want it to be good. Even Naoki Yoshida himself has said on multiple occasions that he doesn’t consider the two games to be at odds with one another. But I think it’s valuable to examine where this comes from because at its core this isn’t really a case of FFXIV fans vs. WoW fans. This is WoW fans vs. former WoW fans.

First and foremost, I want to make it clear that I’m confining this particular topic to these two games because, well, these are the fandoms I’m part of. I don’t see this happening among Guild Wars 2 fans, for example, but it is eminently possible that the sentiment still bubbles along there under the surface. The root cause, however, is very similar.

What we’re seeing here is anger. And it’s anger that comes from an understandable place.

The overall design of WoW has indisputably changed significantly over the years, but one could argue fairly convincingly that the top-line vision for what WoW is supposed to change has not altered all that significantly. WoW is a game about raiding, where raids (herein defined as “large groups of players taking on structured group content” with no particular restrictions as to absolute group size) are the pinnacle of content and are meant as a point of pride and the apex of achievement. People who have not finished the latest and most difficult raid are meant to look up and envy those who have, people who are two tiers behind should look up and envy those who are one tier behind, and so on and so forth.

At the same time, there is a definite portion of WoW’s population that has, for various reasons, never agreed with this particular top-line vision and has not generally been a participant in same. It’s indisputable that the intent for the original version of the game was to make leveling easier and soloable so people could get to raiding more quickly (heck, there’s a reason that the first event server for WoW Classic specifically tuned up experience rates while making raids harder); raiding was the end of the path. But there were people who flocked to WoW who enjoyed the leveling process, the minimal social friction along the way, and the option to just play the game.

Ending some eternity, at least.

For a while, WoW‘s design embraced the reality of its diverse playerbase. I’ve said before that in many ways the game was an accidental hit: It was trying to make a game catering back to hardcore EverQuest raiders as the friendlier version of EverQuest with less busywork to get to The Fun Part, but it wound up with a lot of players who found the busywork to be The Fun Part. Through Wrath of the Lich King in particular, Blizzard did more and more to ensure that playing the game with a minimum of social friction was actually an expected playstyle thanks to a gradual softening of the barriers between the tiers of hierarchy.

This course has been reversed, and aggressively so, over the past several years of WoW. There has been a distinct and longstanding push back to the proper raiding hierarchy as the designers see it, where Mythic is the apex of achievement, Heroic is what everyone should be doing, Normal is for gearing up alts, and Raid Finder is basically an afterthought. We’ve gone through years of making PvP and even dungeons more like raids, more requiring of fixed social groups, less something you can just casually throw together as a DPS player on an idle Wednesday night.

If you are a WoW player who, at the end of the day, likes running dungeons through group finder and gearing up with a minimum of social friction, you have been subsisting on crumbs for a very long time. And into that field comes… FFXIV, which is more or less built upon that exact gameplay model you liked all along.

There’s a very large portion of players who have been longtime devoted WoW players that are suddenly looking across the pond and seeing that not only does FFXIV deliver the things that the previous game has largely abandoned but does so with aplomb and regularity. New dungeons are rolled out on a regular basis. Crafting is not only celebrated but a fixture in the game. Character customization is viewed as important, to the point that hairstyles are seen as a reward worthy of buying and selling.

If you want to just queue up for content and enjoy the game with a minimum of social friction, playing FFXIV is delivering more or less everything you want on a platter. And there comes that anger. You’ve been served crumbs for years in WoW, and now you see that you didn’t have to subsist on that. And now you’re angry at developers who effectively told you that their way of doing things was necessary for a functioning title, which was never true.

Sunset on original ideas.

My point here is not to position FFXIV as an indisputably better game here; it absolutely has several problems, frequently significant ones in a direct comparison to WoW. The lack of any class customization, while it has benefits, is also a distinct negative and means that any two players of the same job will be functionally identical. Although housing has the advantage of being present, it’s open-world and subject to strictly limited plots, making it inaccessible for a large number of players including newcomers. The game’s gearing systems, while not terribly complex, are also not well-explained within the game itself, and getting a new weapon requires running two different forms of content and three different forms of currency. I could go on. It’s not a perfect MMO.

But of course, the fact that you can get a weapon through that reliable and predictable method in and of itself is going to be a positive for many people. It might be complex and insufficiently explained, but the option is present. And that’s something you can’t say about WoW.

And thus you can kind of understand why some fans of the game might feel, justifiably, as if they’ve been left behind by the developers and the game as a whole. You can see the genesis of that anger and why it would, eventually, overwhelm to the point of becoming a vicious partisan in favor of your new game because at the end of the day these are former fans angry that they are not being heard.

Can anything be done? Of course. But a lot of that comes down to the developers over at WoW recognizing that this is a problem of their own creation and then actually comprehending and internalizing why gamers are so dissatisfied in the first place. Based on current evidence, I think we’re we’re at least a couple years away from seeing any real movement on that front.

But if I could speak a word to the people who are rabidly partisan in this fashion… well… maybe it’s all right to let it go. Yes, I understand where you’re coming from. But making this into a feud doesn’t make anyone look better. You don’t need to kick WoW fans in the shins to make the point about why it’s doing things wrong, and doing so is more likely to make others angry about the shin-kicking than produce any material changes.

Sometimes you know exactly what’s going on with the MMO genre, and sometimes all you have are Vague Patch Notes informing you that something, somewhere, has probably been changed. Senior Reporter Eliot Lefebvre enjoys analyzing these sorts of notes and also vague elements of the genre as a whole. The potency of this analysis may be adjusted under certain circumstances.
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Khrome

I vehemently disagree with WoW being a game about raiding.

If it was, why does it lock *all* progress down to only *one single raid* per 4-6 months?

If it was about raiding, it would make more raids viable to progress in. Please note: I’m not saying that “they should make more raids”, i’m saying that raids from previous patches should not be immediately, completely and uttely ignored the moment the new patch hits.

It baffles me that there’s literally no point *whatsoever* right now to ever step foot again in Castle Nathria for example.

It’s beyond mystifying that during BfA, Uldir, Daz’Alor and Eternal Palace were basically deleted the moment the respective subsequent patch hit.

WoW would have been in a much better place if Blizzard didn’t actively try and make the playerbase ignore and forget about *all* content from before the current patch, not just raiding.

If we’re talking about WoW vs FF14, this is exactly what’s happening. Borrowed power systems are another part of the puzzle: They’re inextricably tied in to the raid tier they’re introduced with. I’m fairly convinced this is intentional by Blizzard, as they seem to operate with the mindset that if they make older content worthwhile doing, no one bothers with the current patch content anymore, which looks bad on their engagement metrics. A fear which has grown massively ever since the original Naxxramas.

Meanwhile, FF14 actively encourages engaging with *all* of its content, and not just the latest patch.

Given the wealth of raiding options in FF14, i honestly have to say that that game is currently the game to play if you want raiding. WoW is so oppressively limiting in what it allows you to do – Or rather, more precisely, in what it allows you to find a challenge in – That it’s become far too narrow to find any mechanical satisfaction in with regards to raiding. People in WoW raid because of their guild or because they’re chasing a world first, raiding because ‘the encounters are better designed’ doesn’t even appear in the top 10 reasons i bet.

Sorry for the rant. I simply don’t believe that ‘WoW is a game about raiding’ is accurate, nor has it been for a long time. I believe Blizzard has no idea what they want the game to be about.

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OPUno

Because is a seasonal game, and it has been for a long time.

The way you are expected to play WoW these days is to get on the season, do your goals for the season, and then either play alts or play something else. Is the game that Blizzard chose to develop, since is designed for people playing in difficulties where killing a boss takes a lot of effort.

Part of it is yes, wanting people to do the new stuff, since it costs money to make it. Part of it is that WoW is a vertical progression game where gear matters a lot, but the only way to make that work is both soft and hard resets on player power. And part of it is that having to clear a bunch of old raids like in most of Legion for legendary chances was exhausting.

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OPUno

Even taking out everything else, even with the promising 9.2 fixes, at the end, Blizzard is an e-sports company. It has always been an e-sports company, and it always will be an e-sports company.

So, the three pillars (Raids, M+ and rated PvP) will always be the main focus. It is what it is. I’m fine with it, I find questing boring and tedious and think that the point of MMOs is organized group content, but is my opinion.

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RangerCoder

Blizzard forgot they not making the world of ESports or the World of RaidCraft or the World of Afterlife… but, the World Of WARCRAFT they forget players exist that play for the story elements and RPG parts… So happy that FFXIV exists and I got away from that toxic game and community!

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Utakata

I dunno, FFXIV is not a bad thing to get all partisan behind though, and for whatever reasons. /shrug :)

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Rolan Storm

Yeah, WoW their ex and they are bitter.

Robert
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Robert

I think it’s undeniable that, although it is not perfect by any means, FF XIV is objectively a better game than WoW at this point, and SE is unquestionably a better company than Activision-Blizzard.

That being said, I am what you’d have to call a former hardcore raider. I played WoW as pretty much a second job from 2004-2010 before I had to step back from the game due to RL concerns. When I reactivated my account in December of 2020, I quickly realized that I now can’t stand the “endgame” of M+ and raiding. I’m not sure how much of that is due to the game and how much of it is due to the fact that I’m 10 years older now but that’s a conversation for another time.

I still play WoW but very casually. In the current season I’ve done the raid exactly one time in LFR just because I wanted to see it. I only do dungeons very occasionally. But I do have fun doing all the casual content in the game – chasing world treasures, achievements, transmogs, leveling alts, etc. You’re absolutely correct that I’m living on crumbs in WoW. But at least I’m enjoying the crumbs.

But I’m still playing FF XIV as well. It’s definitely geared much more towards me and my playstyle. But there’s room in my life for both games, I enjoy both games, and I’m happy playing both games as I enjoy. No need for feuds as far as I’m concerned.

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Munchmeat2

Modern WoW has way too much focus on the competitive aspects of the game. Systems like M+ are both lazy content and create an extremely toxic environment in the game for all players except the very tippy top of hardcore players.

Mythic raiding has issues as well, but that could largely be avoided by the bulk of the player base. M+ on the other hand is pretty much is heavily pushed on the player base by how the game is developed these days.

I personally think this system along with a huge lack of interesting and meaningful non instance content is why WoW just isn’t appealing to the casual MMO player anymore.

I guess it really hasn’t affected their bottom line though since the game is still raking in money from the cash shop and the people buying tokens. Time will tell if they can sustain the game without a casual player base though. The game is legit bleeding casual players in droves.

Robert
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Robert

Couldn’t agree more about M+. It’s horribly lazy design.

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RangerCoder

SE is not a better company by far, it’s really the DEV team that makes the game the better option. SE released this game in its horrible 1.0 state. The only reason they allowed the new director to fix it, was that it was a huge black mark on the main Final Fantasy series… from there the FXIV is one of the best comebacks in gaming history.

But sadly SE didn’t learn its lesson from that… case in point: Marvel’s Avengers

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tyyriz tyyric

this is the thing that i dont get – and we all forget.

wow is an unplayable game. it is literally unplayable out-of-the-box.

1. the HUD is incapable of displaying all the buttons and moving the buttons to more convenient locations. you need an addon for this (swtor allows me to move everything). i wouldnt know how to play without bartender.

2. the game is totally reliant on add-ons for dungeons and raids. now blizz add-ons. third party – whoknows what from whom – addons. you literally cant play the game without Deadly Boss Mod. in an age of massive viruses and security breaches you have a game totally reliant on its millions of players downloading an unproven game code onto their PCs. thats insane from a web-security aspect.

3. idk how many more quest, bag, aura addons one needs (ive played with them for so long they i dont know how to play without them.

what kind of game relies on third party programmers for ESSENTIAL parts of their game experience (DBM – which doesnt even do a good job of telling the player what to do). and then telling new players “go to curseforge” or another website to make your life easier just strikes me as 2004 prudent and 2021 lazy. of all the problems with wow, its toxic player base, its dev-bros, its corporate culture, its git-gud forums – there’s something to be said that the new-game is a mess made better not by the company but by outsiders working mostly for free.

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aYates

If I had a group of WoW friends or guildies wanting to jump over to FFXIV, I could see forcing myself to play, but it’s just very different and not the right fit for me.

Ultimately, even if there’s a better community & company culture there, I have to enjoy playing the game and have a connection with the game world for it to work for me.

I’m not currently playing WoW and I’m not sure if I’ll go back. NW is fun for now, but still hoping something new that’s in the WoW/Rift/LotRO/EQ2 vein comes around someday.

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RangerCoder

Try again, most WoW players start out like you but the world hooks you in, and unlike WoW you know the world and care about the characters at that point!

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aYates

Well, I’ve tried FFXIV about 6 or 7 times. I really admire the game. I think it’s a work of art, but it’s just not to my taste at the end of the day.
I do have a connection to the world/characters of WoW but mostly from pre-Cataclysm.

Maybe, someday I’ll try FFXIV again and end up loving it. We’ll see. It’s just some games aren’t the right fit for whatever reason despite being great games.

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Ben Stone

Both games have their issues. My life has gotten too busy to do high end WoW raiding or PvP, and if you aren’t doing that you are a second class citizen – with huge drops in power. FF14 seems pretty casual so far, lots to do and pretty chill while doing it. It suits my current gaming plans.

The lack of customisation does suck, but I understand why they do it. In WoW its just an illusion of customisation, there are good and bad choices. And even more annoying, when a class gets stuck with an significant power gap between an AoE build and a ST build, so they have to choose which to suck on. Using respecs between every raid boss – so much fun.

I don’t hate WoW, I am just clearly not its intended market based on the current leadership. I really enjoyed Legion where world quests, dungeons, PvP and lower tier raids were all worth doing, but apparently making all content relevant through titanforging really triggered the elitists, so now there’s a game where 95% of the content is basically worthless and there’s nothing of value to do outside of raiding or high level PvP once youve completed the obligatory weekly grinds.

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tyyriz tyyric

“clearly not its intended market”

this.

i cant help but think it is tied to the rise of twitch/esports/world first. world first used to be a quirky thing you’d check a website on. now its sponsored capitalist event. esports wasnt a part of blizzcon and now it take up significant real estate in the main hall.

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Dick Johnson

Here is a take from someone who has played both games.

1. Developers of WoW have created players that are Elitest Jerks. Go to SW or ORG and ask for help! Running a dungeon, that the game forces you to do, and not pulling your weight in DPS or Healing or mechanics. Well if you did not know why WOW players are elitest jerks, you do now!

2. Developers of FFXIV have created the ‘Minnesota Nice’ of the MMO world. Just go ask for help! First time running content and you are with players that have run it possibly 100’s of times, well never fear they will wait for you to finish that cut scene.

3. Both have huge learning curves and nither does well in adjusting for new players. But I guess that is what google and youtube is for.

4. Both games player base “fan people” just cannot take constructive critism regarding the game they love.

But as a player of both games and to answer your question regarding this supposed feud. It all starts and ends with WoW players. Blizzard created a toxic enviornment that marganlized players, it has always, and still is, do it our way or the highway, because we are the best MMO. These FFXIV players that are toxic and like to jab about how thier game is better, I bet you a dollar, are long term wow players. Because the only time I have ever seen wow either negative or positive being talked about is from former wow players who are current ffxiv players. If you want this shin kicking to end, wow players (including myself) need to stop it.

Because they are the ones who are kicking their own shins. FFXIV players are too concern with glamming it up, and getting a house if they dont have one, to be worried about what is happening in that other game, you know the one that is named WoW but does anything but “WoW”. See only a person who has played wow would say something like that!

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Ben Stone

Who isn’t a former WoW player at this point? That’s basically a blanket statement about MMO players.

EmberStar
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EmberStar

Depends on how you want to define it, I guess. Many people have played WoW. I have. I don’t consider myself a “former WoW player.” I quit playing it when they tried to force RealID down everyone’s gullets. At a guess, I’ve been NOT playing WoW for about six times as long as I ever played it to begin with. I think I even comment on PVP games more than I do about WoW and I NEVER play PVP.

So, for what little it’s worth, I don’t consider myself to be a “former WoW player.” In much the same way, and for the same reasons, I don’t consider myself to be a “former High School Marching Band member.” It’s something I did once, for a little while, a long time ago. And that I have no desire to do again.

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Ben Stone

That still makes you a former WoW player and High School Marching Band member. If there’s more criteria that need to be met to be a ‘toxic former WoW player’ or ‘die hard marching fan’ then you probably need to elaborate.

I have played pretty much every major MMO since Everquest, and the same toxic people and jerks are in every game, even FF14. In my FF discord channel I see lots of people asking for help after groups ditched them or berated them.

Just saying ex-WoW player is kind of meaningless at this point. Most of the nice people you were playing FF with were also jerks in WoW, or other games. The big difference between WoW and FF is that WoW punishes you for playing with ‘bad players’ who will cause you to get less loot. While FF encourages helping newbies with extra rewards that makes it worth the effort. So overall it feels more friendly.

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drivendawn

That and FFXIV is a game where unity is the main factor as WoW is not. Very faction us and them with a bigger pvp scene. Incouragement and atmosphere to be nice goes a long way.

EmberStar
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EmberStar

“That still makes you a former WoW player and High School Marching Band member.”

No, it really doesn’t.

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Josh

So long as Ion is the driving force behind WoW literally nothing will change.

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