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Upcoming Content in World of WarCraft and the Recent NY Times Article

An editorial by Garrett Fuller

Recently, the New York Times ran an article about the content in World of Warcraft. Basically, the article focused on the difference in player base and game play for the casual and hardcore gamer. Around the time of Halloween, I wrote a similar editorial trying to hash out the differences between casual and hardcore play. This debate is still raging among the Warcraft community. With 5.5 million players, not all of them can be hardcore. The article brings up some excellent points, which I will get to later. Although the real issue of casual vs. hardcore was spoken about by the reporter and Jeff Kaplan (Lead Game Designer for Blizzard), it certainly was not enough. I wanted to highlight a few things in the article and add what I think the player reaction might be. Being an avid player myself I certainly want to try to understand where Blizzard caused this huge divide of casual and hardcore players.

The biggest surprise in the article points out the next forty-man raid dungeon expected to come out this spring. It will be Naxxramas, the Undead Scourge dungeon in the Eastern Plague Lands. Yes folks, another forty-man raid dungeon. Blizzard hyped this as “the most difficult thing in the game until the expansion comes out,” said Kaplan in the January 28th edition of the New York Times. Many of us thought that Black Wing Lair was supposedly the most difficult dungeon in the game. Few servers have even opened up Ahn’Qiraj to see how difficult of a raid dungeon that might be. I think having another raid dungeon in the game will only separate the community in Warcraft further. Hardcore players and guilds will continue to push the raid dungeon exploration as much as possible. When will it be enough?

I admit as a player I eventually gave into the raid mentality. My guild runs ZG and MC every week and we have been very successful. I put PvP on hold for a while, primarily because I was sick of waiting in queues to play. Now I log in and raid with people three to four nights a week. That is a lot in my opinion. For some players however that is not enough. Do I consider myself hardcore? Not by any means. Do I think I play too much? Yes, definitely. Warcraft’s high end content for players requires even more time to complete than leveling a character to sixty. Faction grinding was the biggest time sink tactic ever put into a game. It is frustrating and just plain boring. I can do Molten Core four to five times and happily walk out with one or two epic items. Why should I have to grind Zul’Gurub over and over to reach a Revered status so I can wear my epic item? Yet Blizzard says that Zul’Gurub was the casual alternative for players. Sure, it casually added lots more hours of play to gain faction so you could purchase an epic item.

With all this raid content the New York Times article does address some causal content coming up for players. Blizzard hopes to answer casual players with “the resolution we are all hoping for is the expansion, which will give those players more of WOW as they know it,” said Kaplan in the January 28th edition of the New York Times. Right now WOW as we know it forces all the level sixty players to grind for either faction or through raids. Some of my favorite zones in the game like Stone Talon Mountains or Swamp of Sorrows are places that I will never visit again. The main reason is because Blizzard is driving the game away from world content. By releasing more high end raid content, fewer players will be likely to interact with the Horde or Alliance as a whole and more likely to stay within their elite guilds.

I know they have mentioned several times on their forums that they are going to add things to enhance world PvP. My question is what? Give the players something, anything, a short summary of a new zone, or some of the ideas that developers are working on for end game PvP. What will it hurt? The Public Relations that Blizzard has with its community are horrible. It is no wonder poor Caydiem gets slammed on the Blizzard forums every day. It seems like their representatives constantly have to defend the game from attacks with no content to give players. This breeds anger in the community. Even the debate that Frank Mignone and I had about instanced dungeons made it to the Blizzard forums and forced a nineteen page debate in which Caydiem had to respond several times. My point is, stop hiding, and give the players more information about the growth of the game, especially when the majority of your player base has reached the end-game content which is very limiting.

Currently, the most fun I am having in Warcraft is playing my new warlock and oddly enough leveling up. I do play on my PvP server and am really enjoying all the zones I can explore again, even if I am being hunted by the Alliance at times. The best part is I do not feel forced into any raids or instance dungeons. I can simply do as I please and only group with my wife or close friends when doing some quests. What will I do when my warlock reaches sixty? Hardcore raid so he gets some great looking tier one (Felheart) or two (Nemesis) warlock gear. I know it may sound bad, but that is the nature of the game. Open up PvP to have world zones instead of instances and do something about the faction grind fest and I think you will see a lot more happy players on Warcraft. Here is a link to the New York Times article by Seth Schiesel. Great read Seth, I just wish Jeff Kaplan gave us more on things to come besides highlighting another forty man raid dungeon.

You can respond to Garrett's article here.