Tuesday, November 11, 2008

How could you not have enjoyed BC?

I meant to respond to Tobold's post from yesterday regarding his continuing negativity on the Burning Crusade, but got wrapped up playing WoW instead. So today I wanted to comment on his post, which I feel is off base and out of touch. On the 3rd I had chance to comment on his attitude towards BC, but wanted to take this opportunity to go much further in my responses. While Tobold might not have been excited about BC, I think the numbers of players speak for themselves. Not only did WoW crest at BCs launch, but its player base has increased to over 11 million as of last month, and I would fully expect that to grow further once WotLK is launched later in the week. 11 million players is completely unheard of in the MMORPG market. And the significance of that number simply can't be ignored.

Take for instance another large company's offering -- WAR. EA/Mythic (not exactly tiny companies) designed and marketed WAR to be the WoW killer and yet the had to accept in very short order the reality of the situation they found themselves in. EA/Mythic has recently stated they have 800,000 players; a number that will undeniably decline with the launch of WotLK, if it hasn't already. It may increase again in the coming months, but the point is that not even the mammoth EA can unseat Blizzard from it's perch in the market. And that is saying quite a bit. I take issue with Tobold because many of his postings, while based on his own personal opinions, at times almost indicate he speaks for the wider population. If he did I think we would not have seen the growth of WoW that we've been treated to over the last 18 months.

Tobold goes on to say that WotLK is "too late". I'm not sure I understand what that means really. BC took two years to come to market, while WotLK took 19 months. If he is basing his opinion on the lateness of an expansion on the fact that power raiding guilds blew through content in months then again I think he is somewhat out of touch. Most guilds never stepped foot in Mout Hyjal or Black Temple before the recent 30% nerfs implemented with patch 3.0.2. It was only those nerfs that enabled a greater proportion of raiding guilds to complete Mount Hyjal and Black Temple. Something I think they very much appreciated. And if you look at WoWJutsu you will see that a very small proportion of raiding guilds are now in the Sunwell. I would argue that 18 months is a very good period of time between expansions--especially if you are an alt-a-holic as I am.

In WotLK I will be playing two characters initially--my Elemental Shaman and my Death Knight. And I will probably go back and pick up playing my first true love in WoW (my Druid) in a few months after I've gotten some progression on the Shaman and Death Knight. 18 months is enough time, I believe, to do pretty much everything you could want to do with two or even three characters. But even if you only had one, there still is a tremendous amount of things you could do in that time, and perhaps not even complete them all.

While Tobold might not have been excited by BC, I think the numbers indicate that most people were. I absolutely loved it. BC addressed many of the core issues that people had issue with in vanilla WoW. BC opened up raiding to a much greater proportion of the player base, and also increased accessibility to PVP by creating multiple paths to PVP gear. And in many cases PVP gear was useful in raiding as well.

BC also addressed another issue that people had great problems with in vanilla WoW--gold. In vanilla WoW many people had a very hard time making gold. Some people didn't, but it was a complaint heard often enough on the forums that I think it would be hard to deny. BC changed that. Gold flowed like honey in the Outlands, and if you weren't able to make a few thousand gold leveling from 60-70 then you were doing something dreadfully wrong. Then Blizzard went further and brought about daily quests. I'm still convinced the main reason for doing so was to combat gold selling and buying, and I'm fine with that. The gold selling and buying market was thriving pre-BC, and even in early BC when people wanted to buy epic flying mounts. But we've all seen a drop off in gold buying since the inception of dailies. And we can take the increased "marketing" of gold sellers through spam in the major cities as anecdotal evidence of how much harder it's become for them. I also do not see bots with great regularity any more; something I am keenly thankful for.

Yes, I greatly enjoyed BC, and I will miss it. Yet I am looking forward to WotLK and I'm sure mourn its passing in another 18 months as well. That feeling alone tells me that Blizzard hit the proverbial nail right on the head. And I'm very happy to express that while others express their disappointment.