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Nostalgia and its Impact on Blizzard

By Robert Lashley on May 28, 2015 | Columns | Comments

Nostalgia and its Impact on Blizzard

Greetings from sunny Orlando, Florida. I’m on vacation this week with my family visiting the house that mouse built. I had planned on doing a first impressions piece on Satellite Reign but unfortunately that won’t be the case. Satellite Reign is a tactical RPG that is currently in alpha on steam that features turn based combat and is set in a cyberpunk future. While I spent a few hours with it on my PC before I headed south it constantly crashes on my laptop at start up and I haven’t been able to work with it this week. Since those are pretty weak first impressions I’ll circle back to Satellite Reign next week and talk about a few Blizzard related topics instead.

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First up I would like to stump for Blizzard to take a page from Daybreak’s playbook and release a progression server or 10. Nostalgia is one of the most powerful marketing tools. There is no better time to tap into it than the expansion cycle slump that World of Warcraft is currently in. While I do not have access to a verified source of data I think the following is a solid assumption. If you took a survey of World of Warcraft players that had lapsed subscriptions and asked them when their favorite time to play the game was they would probably have answers varied across Vanilla, the Burning Crusade, and Wrath of the Lich King. In order to tap into this sense of nostalgia Blizzard should have progression servers that start off with World of Warcraft version 1.0. From their they could release successive patches based upon triggers. These triggers could be time spent at a certain version or based upon progression made by the players on the server. In fact they could have servers where they do it differently. One server could be driven by the progression that players make through certain raid content and therefore pushing the story to drive change in the world. Other servers could take a formal survey on whether or not their server progresses to the next patch or expansion. If players continue to vote to leave the server at a certain version the server could stay there in perpetuity.

Unfortunately that is not a foolproof system. There were bugs in code along the way and introducing past patches that still have the bugs inherent to them could create issues. If Blizzard doesn’t have airtight documentation dating all the way back to the beginning on issues that arose from certain patches and the hotfixes or subsequent patches required to fix them they could end up spending extra resources to fix problems a second time. While I believe this could be kept to a minimum this is something they would need to address that costs resources so firing up these progression servers isn’t just as simple as placing a few new racks and loading up WoW v 1.0.

In another nostalgia laced morsel we’ve had about a month now to digest the Timewalking feature that Blizzard is introducing with patch 6.2. The reaction seems to generally point to people are excited about the feature but disappointed in its implementation. For those of you unfamiliar with Timewalking Blizzard plans on making a number of old dungeon’s relevant again. The Arcatraz, Black Morass, Mana-Tombs, The Shattered Halls, The Slave Pens, Ahn’Kahet: The Old Kingdom, Gundrak, Halls of Lightning, The Nexus, and Utgarde Pinnacle will all be featured at the beginning. Players will scale down in level and power appropriate to the dungeon they are participating in; however, once complete the rewards players receive from the dungeon will scale up in level appropriate to the player’s original level.

This seems like a can’t lose proposition. Blizzard spends time creating a system that allows players to go back through dungeons that are sitting unused but are perfectly functional. Blizzard adds a new level of challenge to the dungeons and then rewards players with items that are appropriate for them to use during the course of regular play. The problem as some people see it is Blizzard has limited access to Timewalking to weekends only. The only real justification I can find for this is if Blizzard is concerned that not enough players will want to take part in Timewalking and feel the need to concentrate play times to get enough players together to prevent queue times from becoming too excessive. This poses the question then, if Blizzard believes not enough players are really that interested in Timewalking to begin with why waste the resources on implementing the system? Blizzard can justify it anyway they want but I’m pretty skeptical of their answer. As a person that has become a very casual WoW player limiting Timewalking to weekends only will not have a large impact on me. I also suspect this is in large part the reason they have limited Timewalking. To cater to the casual fan and give them a reason to sub again and play on the weekends. Regardless I sympathize for the daily player that would like to tackle these challenges on a Wednesday but will have to end up waiting until a Friday to get it done.

That’s it for this week. Once I get back to Saint Louis this weekend I’ll hop back into Satellite Reign and have some legitimate first impressions for you next week. I’d also like to toss my two cents in here about the Witcher 3: It really is good. The reviews are coming in with universal praise and the game has earned it. If you haven’t tried it out you may want to consider it. So far it is my personal game of the year. However we still have six months left and that could change...

Robert Lashley / Rob is a Staff Writer and jack of all trades for MMORPG.com. When he isn’t blinding people with the glare from his head in front of a camera you can chase him down on Twitter, PSN, XBL, and Nintendo @rant_on_rob.
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