WoW is a money-making juggernaut, and there’s no arguing it. It has been an incredible financial success. Much like American Idol, however, WoW is popular but terribly bad. And the blame here lies on most of YOU (the playerbase) as well as the developers.
Let me explain a little here (if your IQ is less than 83, discontinue reading and /flame… if not, read on)…
How WoW fails because of the developers:
There are two clearly identifiable stages of play in an MMORPG (although they can be broken down separately further than this): the character building and the end-game. Both of these stages are necessary to the development and maintenance of a “good” game. A strong character building stage, although it can be time-consuming and boring at times, is necessary to give the game world and the characters within it meaning. This ‘character building’ stage is what makes you feel connected to your character, what helps you build initial relationships with other people in the game, and what gives you a reason to CARE when something happens to you.
The end-game is an equally (if not more) crucial part of the game because, theoretically, at some point the majority of the playerbase will be at this stage. This is the stage where, at least temporarily, you have all of your skills. You have all of your equipment. You have all of your enchantsments/enhancements/etc. Sure, you may change around your character a little in the future… but for the most part, you are DONE playing the game for the sole reason of numerically advancing your character.
WoW attempts to completely avoid this stage of the game by forcing players to engage in “grinds” to create their characters. As soon as the leveling grind is finished, a reputation grind is introduced. As soon as the “rep grind” is over, you need to grind honor, arena points, etc. This is a cheap, stalling tactic that is meant to do nothing but cover the fact that there IS NO END-GAME play. By the time you have “maxed out” your character with everything you NEED to be fully competitive with other players, there is a new expansion or a new set of items or something else that becomes a requirement.
In a GOOD MMORPG, there is no need for eternal character development. In a good game, there are fun activities to enjoy end-game. Meaningful PvP, sieges, city-building, and other activities have been utilized in other games in the past to provide activities for players beyond grinding for new equipment. After all… what is really the point for grinding for new equipment? In WoW, you run the same raid for the 500th time in hopes that your last piece of armor will drop… and what do you do when it has?
An easier example of this is the following: picture that right now, today, a GM came to you in-game and created a character of every race/class combination, insta-leveled them all to 70, and equipped them all with all of the best armor and weapons and such in the game (with the best enchants/gems/etc). I honestly think that most players, at this point, would realize there was NOTHING LEFT FOR THEM TO DO and quit WoW. Isn’t this a sign that there is something fundamentally flawed with the approach to the game?
A truly entertaining and well designed game would still be fun to play and have CONTENT outside of grinding additional gear or items. WoW needs to realize this at some point, or it will be its eventual downfall.
The developers of the game, however, aren’t the only ones who are the problem here…
How the playerbase fails:
That’s right, most of the people who are reading this post are actively contributing to the failure of this game.
I’m an active forum reader (although fairly infrequent poster) and the attitude of most of the people in the WoW community disgusts me. Someone makes a post about arena or honor gear, and is instantly flamed with 10 responses of “OMG THIS IZ FREE EPIX YOU SHOULD HAVE TO WORK FOR THEM BY RAIDING!”
You people do realize that “raiding” is a WoW/EQ ideology that really has very small place in future MMOs? You do realize that raiding is a GRIND activity where the most difficult part is coordinating enough people to actually show up and participate? I did some raiding prior to BC, and I have no idea how you people can all think that you somehow “earned” the right to be able to PvP (because you have gear in a gear-based game) simply because you joined a group of 39 other people who repeat the same exact sequence of events 3 nights a week.
The playerbase needs to realize that getting equipment is a means to an end and stop clamoring for things like new dungeons and more items which don’t actually add ANY CONTENT to the game. A new dungeon with new-looking monsters and a different map isn’t new CONTENT, it’s just existing content slightly morphed and increased in its level requirement. Rather, START clamoring for new real new content in the form of END-GAME CONTENT… city building, player housing, sieges, meaningful PvP, or anything else that makes an MMO an MMO.
Start making this feel more like a virtual world and less like a bunch of instanced, scripted encounters (which even BGs and arena feel like most of the time). A real game has player interaction to the point that you can become infamous for your deceit and rampant slaughter or famous for your defense of the innocent and upholding of values; gameplay that MEANS something besides making sure you get your 30% of your games so you can get your points and get something shiny to play with.