I’ve played a lot of MMORPGs over the years. Some became my virtual home for long stretches of time, others…didn’t. That’s just the way things go. Yet I’ve never even tried out this juggernaut of the industry, the one MMO basically everyone and their grandma have played.
I do not think that it’s a bad game. On the contrary, I’m sure it’s a highly polished experience that plays very well and is lots of fun. You know, like pretty much every game Blizzard have ever made.
So why not play it?
One reason is timing. WoW and Everquest II were released within a month (on November 23rd and November 8th 2004, respectively), and a friend of mine had convinced me to play Everquest II, which turned out to be, for me, one of the greatest MMORPGs ever and would become my main MMO for about seven years (with breaks in between).
Another reason is that the Warcraft-franchise doesn’t interest me at all lorewise. While I quite like many places’ names – Alterac, Lordaeron, Khaz Modan all sound pretty badass to me – I didn’t care for any of the races and characters in Warcraft II and III. I didn’t have the slightest emotional connection to their stories and fates. Which is strange because with Starcraft it’s the polar opposite.
The by far biggest reason though is…let’s call it defiance on my part. I don’t like what Blizzard has done (or not done) with the game during these almost 14 years, and I don’t want to give them my support. Simple as that.
I know this might be rather difficult to comprehend for big fans of the game, but I can only shake my head in sadness when I think about what they could have done with this behemoth but didn’t, or what they shouldn’t have done but did anyway.
I mean, they made pretty much all the money with their smash hit of a game. And how much of that went back into expanding and improving it? 20%? 10%? Even less? Of course I don’t actually know. But when I compare some numbers (6, soon 7 expansions to EQII’s 14, soon 15) or features (no player housing to EQII’s, which is as good as they come; 13 races and 11 classes to EQII’s 20 races and 26 classes…), I can’t help but be underwhelmed by WoW’s content- and gameplay-options.
I have to admit that it’s a bit unfair to compare any other game to Everquest II because the crew behind that game has pumped out boatloads of content from day one and didn’t ever slow down. I’ve got no idea how they did it with the comparably low funds they must have had during all that time.
On the other hand, why not hold all game developers to the highest of standards? Especially when they make so much money with their game?
I also don’t like that every expansion seems to drastically tinker with classes, gear, zones, pretty much everything. I’m a creature of habit, and while I’m of course fine with a class I play getting more options or just becoming stronger, I can’t stand a character I’ve played for dozens or hundreds of hours and whose playstyle I really like being completely turned on it’s head. I mean, if I didn’t like the playstyle just the way it was I wouldn’t have spent so many hours playing it, would I?
Finally, there’s Blizzard’s arrogance that rubs me the wrong way. The you think you do, but you don’t-speech by WoW’s executive producer when asked by a fan about classic servers is infamous by now, and rightly so. While I don’t think that he’s completely wrong with that assessment when applied to the majority of the playerbase, it’s still incredibly arrogant and condescending to say something like that right to a player’s (and now probably ex-fan’s) face. Just now pretty much everybody is up in arms about the recent story events, and Blizzard’s reaction is, again, the political correct version of we know, you don’t, stfu already.
The gist of statements like that (and most of my other complaints as well I guess) is this: they can pretty much do whatever the hell they want with this game and still make a fortune, and they know it damn well.
It’s their game, of course they can do whatever they want with it, right? Yeah, sure. Meanwhile I’ll do whatever I want with my own time and money, which is to give them to someone else.