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News & Features Discussion  » General: Casual Play: What Makes WoW Dumb?

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Novice Member

Joined: 1/07/04
Posts: 2425

OP  12/07/06 1:30:26 PM#1

Steve Wilson's second column looks at the simplication of World of Warcraft. "Casual Play" is a weekly column by Wilson on that looks at MMOs from the eyes of someone less than hardcore.

For many hardcore MMO fanatics simply asking this question is enough to launch them into a torrent of bitterness. Seriously though, what is it about WoW that earns it such a bad rep among those 'in the know' players and amateur ludologists?

Right off the bat WoW has attracted more new players than all other MMOs previously. It has also proven that the casual market is willing to pay ongoing subscription fees, something many were sceptical of prior to its release. These millions of new players have proven that the MMO genre is one that can be profitable, insanely so for the games that get it right. For the hardcore this is a double edged sword. On one hand it means that there will be a lot of new MMOs developed, but most of them will be directed at capturing that casual market. However an increase in development over all means more independent and niche games, more opportunities that there be something out there that appeals to everyone, just not all at once.

The full article is here.

Dana Massey
Formerly of
Currently Lead Designer for Bit Trap Studios


Novice Member

Joined: 1/13/05
Posts: 46

12/07/06 1:53:32 PM#2
6 million flies would loves to dig into a pile of dung, does that mean its tasty?

Reality is for people who lack imagination


Bitter Vet™

Joined: 9/13/06
Posts: 20051

Fools find no pleasure in understanding, but delight in airing their own opinions. Pvbs 18:2, NIV

12/07/06 1:54:31 PM#3
An excellent article with several valid points.  I'm sure its about to be torn into pieces by those who disagree... but its hard to argue with the appeal of WOW to the casual gamer....who makes up a substantial portion of the market.

Arrogant, Condescending, Dismissive, Elitist, "Meany", you speak as if these are bad things?
Still currently "subscribed" to EVE, and only EVE!!!
"This is the most intelligent, well qualified and articulate response to a post I have ever seen on these forums. It's a shame most people here won't have the attention span to read past the second line." - Anon


Novice Member

Joined: 2/06/06
Posts: 33

12/07/06 1:59:51 PM#4
Well if all 6 million people said that the dung was tasty, and none of them were brainwashed or anything, i would have to run a few tests on "Is dung tasty".

Ahh I think i missed nailing the dilbert reference.

Novice Member

Joined: 7/17/04
Posts: 403

12/07/06 2:10:53 PM#5
OK, so the guy is a WOW fanboy,  YES WOW is Dumb,  Very easy.  However Most people are Dumb as Well,  SO it explains why it seels so much


Advanced Member

Joined: 3/09/05
Posts: 287

12/07/06 2:11:22 PM#6
What we are seeing is MMOs becoming mass media.  When fiction was the pursuit of the elite -- before public schooling made reading a universal -- "literature" was less accessible in general.  After the advent of greater literacy and the rise of the middle class in Britain, folks such as Charles Dickens and Arthur Conan Doyle appalled the upper classes with their "penny dreadful" serialized novels with their soap opera plots and tawdry adventures.

Of course, today, David Copperfield and the Sherlock Holmes stories *are* counted as literature...

But WOW broke through that wall, and brought the MMO to the masses.  And those of us who care about sophistication and quality will be like folks who have to spend an extra $25/mo on cable to get decent original drama from HBO.

It's too bad.  It *IS* dumb (unless you're making money *off* of it). 

And that's the muddy point here, isn't it.  The editorial author thinks WOW is smart because they have market share.  Toots, there are programs on TV that have market share that I wouldn't want to admit I watched, as a thinking adult -- but damn, they make money.

Dumb can be fun.

Sophisticated entertainment always pulls a smaller market share.

But it'll be sad if the mass market appeal of WOW makes it more expensive for those of us who like those *other* games...


Novice Member

Joined: 4/19/06
Posts: 185

12/07/06 2:12:32 PM#7
The points in the article are fine as long as you're maintaining that WoW is just an MMO and not an MMORPG.

Every point the author made was simply indicating that he feels WoW is good because it removes the RPG elements (evidenced by statements like " I'm not my character." and "Most players do not have their ego tied up in achievement, in games at least.")


Novice Member

Joined: 5/27/05
Posts: 5

12/07/06 2:15:21 PM#8

Yeah, except all of the 6 million people have never tested anything else but dung, so how would they know what sweetness should taste like? And if you try to point out the errors to them, they will never believe you and will blindly continue to eat the dung while being absolutely convinced it's the best thing in the world. Those few of us who realize that this dung is bad could never convince them otherwise. We are like dogs that have seen a rainbow and trying to tell the other dogs about it, but due to them being colorblind they can not even imagine :(


On more serious note, The only reason WOW has this many subscribers, nothing else out there to play this year, and so we wait with anticipation for the upcoming q1 2007.


Novice Member

Joined: 4/23/05
Posts: 170

12/07/06 2:18:43 PM#9

Good read. Wish more people would try a a game before saying it is dumb. Example-  Lineage 2 players tend to hate their own game yet think any other game just blows. You then ask them what game they played before L2 and they say "this was my first". You then ask if they have tried any other game they say "yea i did beta in that game and it sucked because there was so many bugs". Ask them to try Wow,EvE, Everquest,UO,Hero or any other and they say "them are kids games".   As seen above.


Novice Member

Joined: 3/23/05
Posts: 42

12/07/06 2:20:31 PM#10

Well I am in a guild that has been in WoW from beta until... today.  Most if not all of us have taken several months off during that time but we still play mainly because it is the only real game that we CAN play to enjoy a little PvP and teamwork.  Of course we still think many things about WoW are... DUMB.  Strange thing is, you conveniently glanced over those... and I will just focus on two issues that are actually quite linked.

1) Levels

2) Gear

This game is almost completely dependant on these two things.  And, in the end it hurts the CASUAL gamer who happens to have Hardcore friends.  Our guild has the whole spectrum, from the first dwarf to hit 60 on a server to people who probably took 9-12 months before they got their first 60.  You know how often the 9-month player could group with the early 60?  Well... never in a way that interacted with WoW's world, because level 20s just dont BELONG in a level 60 world according to Blizzard, and I consider that Dumb.  A person should be able to go anywhere their friends are.  Will they be as impactful on the experience?  Nah, but if the game is about FUN as you say, then why should they be required to sit out until the GRIND away the experience to get that shiny little number next to their head?

Gear is a similar problem in that even NOW after 2 years+ in the game some of our casual guildies have rather... outdated gear to put it nicely.  We still want them to PvP with us, but it is quite frustrating for them to be COMPLETELY out-gunned in EVERY PvP encounter they face.  It becomes less, you know... FUN.

I guess I qualify as a hardcore gamer who now only gets to play a few hours a week due to RL, but I find that the things that make WoW less tham optimal are the things that actually hurt the CASUAL gamers not the hardcore.

That all said, Blizzard knows how to make money, and they are actually changing almost ALL of the above for the current patch and the coming X-pack.  They are making it even easier for casual types to aquire competitive gear and HOPEFULLY levels 60 and 70 will be able to quest alongside each other.  When game mechanics make it so that a group of friends cannot play alongside each other and have fun... yea I call that dumb.


Apprentice Member

Joined: 7/24/03
Posts: 1428

12/07/06 2:21:21 PM#11
Pretty awful article.  The writer has no understanding of why many hardcore people find WoW to easy.  Rather he spends his entire article defending casual players and putting down and atacking hardcore players.

WoW is a great game but many people think it is to easy and flawed. SOme of the reasons are:

1.  There is no meaningful death penalty.
2.  The game is to easy.  Because everything is solable all quests are simply to easy.  The margin of error in dungeons is also far to easy.  Groups can continually make mistake after mistake and it is alsmost impossible for a group to wipe.  Mages can run around without a care in the world peek around corners, not follow the group and draw extra aggro.  Big deal it doesn't matter almost all fights are to easy there are little to no consequences for poor play.
3.  Quest based promoteds linearity.  While I think WoW's questy based system is its buiggest innovation many hardcore players hate and claim they feel they are being handhalked and being led around.  This feeling of being led around and handheld is hated by many players.
4.  Leveling is siimply to fast.  My last character reached level 60 in 8 days played all solo withyout grouping at all.  If I was more careful it could have been 6 days played.  I am sure there are much better players than me that could do this much faster.  The problem with fast leveling is two fold one is makes characters dispoablke and it is hard to bond with a character than one invests such little time in.  Second WoW's world has some beautiful fantastic areas but because leveling is so fast players rocket through each area and never get ,much of a chance to spend more than a few hours in each area.
5.  The game doies not require players to become mroe skilled or play better.  The encounters are not difficult enough to force players to become better.  There is no reason to group.  There is no reason for a player to have to learn his class or push herself to her lomits as it doesn't matter.
6.  Lack of socializationa nd community  People commonly say WoW has the worst community.  It is not suprising because there is no reason to group.  There is no player interdependence.  People can act as poorly as they want because there are no consequences.  Reputation does not matter and a player can progbress without ever joining a group.

Non-hardcore reasons:
1.  The endgame makes no sense.  The entire game from 1-60 is soloable and quest driven once one reaches level 60 it becomes a grind fest for either reputation.  The switch in the style of play from quest driven solo to group and raid driven grinding is quite the extreme.
2.  WoW is all abnout raiding.  Raiding rewards greatly outweigh any solo/group rewards.  To advance after 60 one has to raid grind.  There is only oine endgame style of play.

WolW is a great game but it has flaws and it is what it is.  It is fun, detailed, extremely well made game.  It is enteratining.  But it lacks challenge, does not promnotes good play, does not encourage socialization or grouping and does not help teach players how to play to better.  Further its endgame is terrible and completely out of whack witht eh type of play style expected from 1-60.

Advanced Member

Joined: 1/30/05
Posts: 135

12/07/06 2:21:43 PM#12

Originally posted by shava
What we are seeing is MMOs becoming mass media.  When fiction was the pursuit of the elite -- before public schooling made reading a universal -- "literature" was less accessible in general.  After the advent of greater literacy and the rise of the middle class in Britain, folks such as Charles Dickens and Arthur Conan Doyle appalled the upper classes with their "penny dreadful" serialized novels with their soap opera plots and tawdry adventures.

Of course, today, David Copperfield and the Sherlock Holmes stories *are* counted as literature...

But WOW broke through that wall, and brought the MMO to the masses.  And those of us who care about sophistication and quality will be like folks who have to spend an extra $25/mo on cable to get decent original drama from HBO.

It's too bad.  It *IS* dumb (unless you're making money *off* of it). 

And that's the muddy point here, isn't it.  The editorial author thinks WOW is smart because they have market share.  Toots, there are programs on TV that have market share that I wouldn't want to admit I watched, as a thinking adult -- but damn, they make money.

Dumb can be fun.

Sophisticated entertainment always pulls a smaller market share.

But it'll be sad if the mass market appeal of WOW makes it more expensive for those of us who like those *other* games...


Just wait until they make a movie out of it ...or better yet WoW the Musical...LOL.  
drakonus777 Xfire Miniprofile

Advanced Member

Joined: 4/23/06
Posts: 15

12/07/06 2:34:18 PM#13
The author makes a point that players shouldn't worry about putting away a level 60 character because theres nothing to do.  That the pc does not represent you, and you should have no problem making a new one.

But he misses one point.  Its just not fun to do that.  max level characters are simply more fun to play as.  They have a wider range of abilities that take more skill to use, both in pve and pvp.  Low levels are basic characters with basic abilities.  Yes, that is to help you learn how to use abilities effectively as you get them, but its less fun to do all the same content again slightly differently.

Not to m ention, if I sink the time and effort into a character to get im to max level, i'd like to at least pretend it was for something.  Yeah, mmorpgs don't have much a point, but at least i can pretend it does.  SImply throwing away all my effort and starting over again means I can't even do that.  That it really was all for nothing.

Novice Member

Joined: 8/10/04
Posts: 1532

12/07/06 2:38:33 PM#14
Dumb?  Not necessarily, dumbed down on the other hand?  Most assuredly.

Some of those things that are mentioned in the article as having no importance to Mr. Wilson have quite a bit of importance to other gamers.  Just because Mr. Wilson does not find them important doesn't mean that the issues themselves aren't important.

Customizability, for one, seems to be of quite a bit of importance to gamers especially in the western world.  Otherwise a good number of quality asian mmo's would be a greater success than they are.  If it wasn't of importance why would City of Heroes/City of Villains received exceptionally high marks for the vastness that they offer in their customizability?  Obviously Mr. Wilson is not a roleplayer as he does not even endeavor to get behind the character he has created and views them as nothing but tools.  This is the mmoRPG genre after all and in case he doesn't know... RPG = Role Playing Game.  I also think he is trying to label himself a casual player when it is more often than not the more Hardcore that can toss a character to the side to reroll another one and power level it to max level as well.  The more casual players are those that will, in the case of wow, have explored and done all the quests they can on the first run through.. it is more likely that the hardcore will do what quests give them experience and move on to the next area leaving wide swaths of the game world untouched because it does not get them to their goal.

I think Mr Wilson is also far from the mark concerning crafting.  Several of the best crafters I know in a number of games are very casual players.  Having the random chance of failure or success adds to the value of an item.  The best encounters in a game are not those that guarantee success but that have an element of failure tied to them.  Is it Mr. Wilsons assertion that non combatants should have less of a play experience than those who do go out and fight all the time?  Sounds that way to me.  A deep and engaging crafting system allows for people who do not want to go fight everyday the opportunity to do something different.  In games where a deep crafting system is present those craftables are useable and necessary all the way through the end game.  Wow though, only allows for 2 or 3 of their crafts to be of any viability and the amount of power that they can give to a player often times is inappropriate compared to the work it takes to make said items.

Is wow a dumb game? No.  It has oversimplified many of the core mechanics of the mmo genre (which is about all that blizzard does in any genre) leading to a dumbed down game.  Is this bad?  Not necessarily as it serves as a good tutorial for most any other game.  Wow introduces people to the basic mechanics of mmo gaming such as party roles etc.  The genre as a whole is probably better served because of wow as their will be less total noobs in other games coming down the pike in the near future.  Many players, even a goodly amount of those that currently play wow, yearn for greater depth in their gaming hours.  Once the wow clones hit and fail companies may bring about the depth of gameplay that classics such as the pre-cu SWG once offered. 


Novice Member

Joined: 8/12/06
Posts: 47

12/07/06 2:41:33 PM#15
I just love when WoW bashers get going.

WoW has proved so many things that other mmorpgs are just wondering how they couldn't do that. WoW is great game. It may not be what hardcore mmorpg fans would like. But it's still great.

It has done many things right and many things wrong. As every other game. But still it is by far most successful mmorpg ever. You say it's players are flies. Maybe, but what's wrong with that.

99% of all entertaintment industry is dung. And so 99% of entertaintment consumers are flies. Each in his/her own dung pile. Want hardcore roleplay? Go perform some live rp and not pitiful graphical world.


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Joined: 10/12/05
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Pain is just weakness leaving your body!

12/07/06 2:46:53 PM#16
Very interesting read, not just the article but all the comments.    I liked a lot of aspects of WoW and still think it is a pretty good game.  Just not at all an RPG..  Lack of endgame, lack of character customization, and a good PvP system with desent rewards are what mostly did the game in for me. 

War does not determine who is right!, war determines who is left!


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Joined: 7/06/04
Posts: 429

MMO session a day keeps doctor at bay.

12/07/06 2:56:50 PM#17

At a time when most arcade games were getting progressively more complex a little gem called Tetris came along. Its mechanics were simple and elegant and players overwhelmingly found the game fun. Does that make Tetris a dumb game?

Yeah, it most certainly does. Just as pop culture is an embodiment of stupidity and shallowness eventhough it's popular.

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Joined: 10/06/06
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12/07/06 3:00:33 PM#18

One thing that many people overlook is that with all of its faults, WoW has done something that NO other MMO has been able to remove the stigma of the pasty, overweight, Cheetos-encrusted, living in the basement of your Mom's house gamer by bringing online PC Gaming into the forefront of mainstream entertainment.  Why?  They make a crap-ton of money for one, but even moreso, they have introduced a vast number of previous non-gamers to the MMO genre.  I can't see how this is a bad thing for the games that we all admittedly love to play.

Is it a bit simplistic?  Sure.  Does that make it utter and complete crap?  Not to 7 million people actively paying $15 bucks a month for it.

Granted, I'm a disgruntled former SWG player...I really miss the player-driven economy and crafting, but I'm not so much of a "sandbox" player.  It's been hard to find another MMO in the last 2 years that provides the same ease of gameplay in a relatively non-glitchy interface.  So for now, I'll still play WoW.  At least until Q2 2007.

hodgestallon Xfire Miniprofile

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12/07/06 3:00:38 PM#19

Originally posted by acmtalk
OK, so the guy is a WOW fanboy,  YES WOW is Dumb,  Very easy.  However Most people are Dumb as Well,  SO it explains why it seels so much

Self fufilling statement if I ever saw one.

Personally I found the game fun. No other excuses, or trying to say it's anything else. Yeah end game is just like every other boring game (god, it's worse than EQ1 and I never thought that was possible) and the rep grind is again, worse than EQ1. However, overall 1-60 was fun time. I could solo or group depending on my time.

Fun is fun and that's all that matters.


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Joined: 1/05/05
Posts: 268

12/07/06 3:03:02 PM#20

Originally posted by Kyleran
An excellent article with several valid points.  I'm sure its about to be torn into pieces by those who disagree... but its hard to argue with the appeal of WOW to the casual gamer....who makes up a substantial portion of the market.

    Except that the casual gamer is exactly who gets exluded from a majority of the end game content. I wonder if the editorial writer has actually played WoW since he seems to expect casuals when they reach 60 to simply reroll and start again. And while that may be fun a couple of times to do it just to acheive something in game is redundant.

 WoW has too little depth superficially it is fun to play but if you want to spend time actually developi ng your character in wow unless you raid/pvp or buy gold you have a LOT of grinding ahead of you.

Regardless of the authors opinion i believe everyone one benefit from enhanced character customization/housing and totally reworked tradeskills.

    Thats just my opinion of course, but I will be voting with my dollars if WAR/AOC or COS turn out to be as good as they promise to be.
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