Thursday, June 18, 2009

Have you noticed?

Have you noticed that Blizzard is introducing a lot of "casual" content in the next patch? Not just that, but they're introducing game changes to mounts, most of the professions, some class changes, new heirlooms that stack with the heirloom shoulder's +10% xp bonus and a host of other things that seem to address a lot of the complaints that have been percolating for the past several months?

Players wanted easier leveling, or more accurately had been petitioning Blizzard to enable starting of all new characters at level 55 as is the case with Death Knights. What did Blizzard do instead? They created new heirloom items, of which the chest pieces will also have the +10% bonus to XP. And that bonus will stack with the shoulders bonus for a total of +20%. That doesn't fix in any way the big holes in quest brackets in vanilla WoW but it will help get you through them a little faster. And will have a much bigger impact in those brackets where there aren't any holes.

Blizzard also is making changes to the mount system (also) which casual players should find very appealing. I have to admit that since I'm an alt-a-holic I like this change quite a bit too. Lord knows that the travel required for questing beginning around level 30 in vanilla WoW is really absurd so I was very happy when Blizzard reduced the level requirement for mounts to level 30 in Burning Crusade. Lowering it to level 20, and then making flying mounts available at level 60 will just make things all the better. Best of all they finally made the non-epic flying mount 150%, and increase from the abysmally slow 60% flight speed it has been up until this point. That alone is something to look forward to, even if nothing else were to be changed in 3.2.

One has to wonder why all of these changes are being made now however. Calls for fixing the leveling problem have been going on for months, and people have been complaining about the ridiculously slow non-epic flying mount since Burning Crusade. Why all of a sudden is Blizzard making these changes now when they had refused to do so previously?

Could it be that anecdotal evidence indicating WoW has been losing players are closer to the truth than we'd thought? Because we all know the greatest impetus to make a company like Blizzard make changes to a game like WoW than the community has been requesting is the bottom line. A few months back Blizzard announced they still had around 11.5 million subscribers, but I wonder what that figure is now. Perhaps I'm simply reading too much into all this, but I have a very hard time believing that Blizzard is giving us all this out of the goodness of their hearts.