Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Wrath of the Lich King; the end of new WoW players?

Should this game be called “World of Warcraft: Now You Have No Life!”? With this content expansion, they are essentially barring new players from starting. The focus of the game up to this point was accessibility and ease of play, but this new expansion is doing the exact opposite. Leveling to 80 is a very daunting task. From 70, its only 10 levels and for the experienced 70s, its 10 levels of refreshment. They have had lots of time at level 70 to play around not having to level up. They got to raid and reputation grind and all. But now, they have are anxious to return to what initially drew them to the game: leveling up.

But what about the new guys? Everyone started out at one point and leveled up. But now we run into a barrier to entry. Most people playing the game now have been playing for a while and they have built up a social structure while playing. The vast majority of players are in a guild and have friends in the game. The newbies have none of this. If the entrees can bring themselves to level to 80, who are the guilds going to take on a raid: the guy who has been there for several months, or the new guy who just leveled up? They will take the veteran and the newbie will get discouraged, quit, and not encourage his friends to join. Word of mouth is the most effective form of advertisement. I think in this case though, its called word of ventrillo.

How do we judge the successfulness of a MMO? I can't be how fun the game is because we all know that MMOs are boring as shit. We judge a MMO based on subscription numbers and WoW has been no different except the quantity of subscribers. At the peak of WoW, the numbers were at about 11 million people playing. Those numbers have dipped since then, with many people defecting to Warhammer Online, Age of Conan or simply getting bored. With this release, Blizzard is expecting to pick up lots of subscribers. But who is really making up that increase? Chances are, it is veterans coming back to the game, wanting to see the new content and experience the process of going through Northrend. How many people are going to join this game because they see an advertisement on their TV? I'll admit, I played up to 70 because of a Mr. T commercial I saw about a night elf Mohawk, but I was a veteran. I didn't have a 70,60,50 or even a 40, but I started out a long time ago. I started playing based on a friend's recommendation in 2005, a year after the game came out. I didn't see Mr. T saying, “I pity the fool who doesn't play WoW” and run out and buy World of Warcraft, its expansion and a time card.

The bottom line is that Blizzard is now catering to the hardcore and experienced players. All the people in the game will be vets and very few new players will be coming to the game. The game that started out as a very user friendly and accessible game is now turning into the exact opposite. The connotation of a WoW player is very present in the video game community and even in the main stream world. It is viewed as a overweight person, sitting in a basement who has no life. This is actually contrary to reality, for studies have shown that MMO players are actually just under the national obesity average. Now, the time commitment to really make the game fun is climbing ever higher and now the stereotype might have to be true for the entry level players. They will have to move into the basement, become obese, eat mounds of Cheetos, Hotpockets, and Rockstars. Unfortunately, since nerds have no social skills, they will not be able to convince their parents that living in the basement is a good career move, at which point they will be kicked out and there is no internet o the street. This game is becoming school: you have to have started reading early or else you're so overwhelmed by the quantity of work, you just don't bother.

  1. World of Warcraft

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You basically said it all man. MMO's are hitting a new level and the future could be good or bad.