Gamer Louis is a weekly Blast column written by Louis Schuler. It cover all types of video game news and opinions.
“World of Warcraft” (“WoW”), one of the most renowned MMORPGs of its time, has undergone a troubling change in gameplay that seems to neglect its fanbase. For a game that has pioneered changes to the MMO genre, “WoW” has seen a recent decline in its subscriber count. According to a MMO-Champion earlier this year, “WoW” is seeing its lowest subscriber count since late 2014, towards the end of the “Mists of Pandaria” expansion, as well as late 2006, which was during the latter stages of ‘vanilla’ “WoW”.
I have been playing “WoW” since the end of “The Burning Crusade” (TBC), a time when I thought the game was in its prime stages: seemingly perfect PvP (player vs player) play, balanced classes, a fun PvE (player vs environment) system and beautiful scenery. There were many things that Blizzard got right during “TBC”, and these concepts should be used in its otherwise dying formula for the new expansions.
“WoW”’s legacy may still have a chance.
In spite of being the most dominant and successful MMO of all time, “WoW” is in trouble. However, I only want to see it relive its success of the past. Here are some tips that I think can save the fledgling franchise.
As gamers, we like to save money whenever possible – this trait certainly applies to me.
“WoW” has undergone many facelifts since the release of the “Cataclysm” expansion in December, 2010. In a span of just four years, “WoW” has seen three expansions, all which, in my opinion, exhibit little quality or additional changes to the game itself. Some of the changes, if at all relevant, only served to hinder the game, rather than help it.
The worst expansion I ever encountered was “Mists of Pandaria” (“MoP”).”MoP” expansion brought plenty of change to the game, most notably an entirely new talent system that only hindered “WoW”’s PvP aspect. These changes eventually hurt what I thought made the PvP great in the first place: more detail oriented and provided the player with more control. With the new generic system, the game has been made friendlier to casual gamers.
The hardcore PVP gamers left “WoW” en masse as a result.
I was one of these people because I could not stand the unbalanced talent system. This is the problem with releasing many expansions in a short amount of time: introducing new changes that hurt the game rather than benefitting its long-time fans.
The new talent system resulted in the biggest decline of subscribers “WoW” has seen in a long time. In a span of less than a year, the famous MMO has seen a drop of more than 2.5 million subscriptions. This was during the “MoP” expansion, which arguably introduced the most changes to the game. “WoW” may have lost many of its hardcore gamers during this time as a result of these changes.
Bring back the hardcore elements
In order to retain its success dating back to vanilla and “TBC”, Blizzard must strategize ways to garner its loyal hardcore gamers—both PvE and PvP.
I think that one way to do this would be to retract many of the changes that were introduced post-Cataclysm. I always found myself annoyed and amazed at the same time that pandas were running around Azeroth. Is this race really needed in the game? I understand that this allures many casual gamers to “WoW”, but it defeats the purpose of attempting to bring back players from the vanilla and “TBC” expansions.
Another improvement that needs to be made is the balancing of the class systems. Granted, player whining about unfair classes has been going on for a while, but, to me, it looks like this problem has truly reached its height in “Warlords of Draenor”. After I played hundreds of arena matches with my cousin after reaching the level 100 barrier, I found that almost every single team we played was composed of at least one Druid.
There is something to be said about an unbalanced class system when you encounter teams that have the same class in virtually every match. Needless to say, this needs to be altered; otherwise “WoW” may continue to risk losing its PvP community.
Lastly, I found the user interface to be confusing in the most recent expansion. Granted, players can always use different mods and add-ons to rid themselves of these cumbersome problems, but it should, at the very least, be addressed. The new additions to PvP and PvE, most notably with increased dungeon finder options and battlegrounds, have only served to make the game more annoying to navigate.
In the end, Blizzard must recognize that this is a new age. They must bring back their hardcore fan base, improve the user interface, return “WoW” to its vanilla roots by eliminating many of the new additions to the game and allow for a longer time to lapse between expansions.
We are gamers, after all – we don’t have all the money in the world.