Is Blizzard in a Panic?

Syp over at Waaagh! has an interesting piece on Blizzard’s recent decision to allow players to transfer from PvE Realms to PvP Realms. There is widespread rage in the WoW community over this, and Syp raises some very interesting points ans questions.

Is Blizzard doing this in response to the release of Warhammer? If so, does that sound… maybe a little desperate? More desperate than Blizzard has good reason to be?

But the most interesting point in the article for me was:

I truly feel bad for current Warcraft players, because in trying to retain subscribers by throwing them everything but the kitchen sink, Blizzard continues to alienate the population by creating an environment of uncertainty and massive change.

There’s a dirty secret of the MMO audience right there. We in the blogosphere like to chant about ‘change’ and ‘innovation’. But what the garden-variety MMO player wants is stability. Rapid, radical changes to an MMO is a sign of certain doom, whether it’s the overhaul done to Asheron’s Call 2 before its demise, or the whuppin’ that was laid on Star Wars Galaxies with its new game experience. No matter how flawed it is, and no matter how much they bitch about it, people develop a comfort level, and big changes take them out of that zone.

I’m not saying that this is such a radical change – I don’t think it is, and I doubt I would personally be particularly upset by it, were I a hardcore WoW player, but people will leave the game over it. And the huge changes made to leveling in recent months are pretty radical. You’ll upset more people with radical alterations that you will in incremental ones. The trick is to push, but not try too hard, and a careful development pace is best – something Blizzard is known for. I wonder what changed there that makes them want to make a bunch of big changes? Are they really that scared of Warhammer?

There’s no question in my mind that the only company that can kill World of Warcraft is Blizzard themselves. Is this the sound of the inmate being strapped down?

6 responses to “Is Blizzard in a Panic?

  1. I was actually really shocked by this change. It came out of no where and I can’t really think ‘why’ unless it’s an attempt to make (keep) players happy, although with the way Blizzard has kept a constant ‘NO’ answer to everytime this was brought up, it’s a bit of a suprise.

    I honestly think though that this will have a big impact on PvE servers. I know a few servers are already struggling to keep afloat and they’ll probably become graveyards even more so now.

    Combine that with the experience change with a friend account (which by the way, it’s a huge change) and you’re probably going to alienate more players in the short term. No doubt they’ll come back at some point for WotLK if other games don’t keep them going, but I wouldn’t say now is the right time to be annoying players… although maybe it is? I mean, if you’re going to bring these changes in, better now than in the middle of WotLK.

  2. After WAR launches, I still believe that PvE based MMO’s will fall by the wayside. Not total failure, but will all be relegated to the niche territory.

    If your PvP implementation is not strong (LOTRO, AoC, Tabula Rasa) then be prepared to leak players to more prominent PvP based games.

    WAR will also prove players do NOT want a strong solo component in their MMO. The grouping is key.

    I say this as I see no other reason to play WAR. I see no reason to play WoW anymore either unless you raid continually. This Blizzard announcement proves this theory of PvE being stagnant.
    I mean how many times can we kill the same 10 foozles (you know, I wonder who started this whole “foozle” wording?).

    PvE based games need to move to a pay once, play often system, and PvP is where the monthly’s are at.

    Hmmm…now, the wheels are turning..

  3. I’m in line with you openedge.

    I think the LOTRO content release system is awesome (i’ve stopped before the first one but whatever, it is good to see a company trying to give content faster the every 2 years).

    And every people thinking that blizzard make nothing to try to counter war is a blibli fanboy😉

  4. The regular free updates are one of the great things about Turbine – they’re why I tried as hard as I did to like LotRO, and why I’ll give DDO another shot at some point.

    I should clarify, though, that I hope Blizzard is in a panic more than I think they might be. I see WoW as a very fine game mired in stagnation, and a shakeup in the marketplace – WAR taking a third to half of WoW’s North American subscribers, for example – will help to jostle them into activity instead of allowing them to continue sitting on their 11 million or whatever it is now. An expansion every 22 months is a joke for a blockbuster property like WoW, and for a company with resources like Blizzard has. But to this point, there have been no serious challengers – AoC looked like it might mount an effort, but that began to evaporate in mere weeks.

    The big loser will be Funcom. While I don’t think that WAR will do enough damage to kill AoC, the example of a game being done right and seizing a million or two subs from WoW’s clutches (assuming for the sake of argument that WAR will do that) should be a bitter brew poured down their throats. This could have been them.

    Funnily enough, I’m anrgrier with Funcom for their squandered opportunity than I was with any of the issues in AoC.

  5. Funcom is the perfect exemple of a bad planned release. My opinion would be that they release too earlier because they were in fear of the release of WAR, WOTLK and the other comming (AION, …)

    It is really the time for Blizzard to have a lot of challenger, it could give them the will to invest cash and effort ! investments is not what they have done in the past, they had a lot of Retun on investment with wow.

    There is exemple of marketing step from blizzard against war :
    – The cinematique released almost at the same time that WAR one
    – Lots of communication on WOTLK features
    – Transfert from PVE to PVP
    – Date for WOTLK announced so early and with the community saying that it is far from finished

    oh and excuse my probably crappy english, not my mother’s tongue😉

  6. And i’m angry with funcom too. Level 1 to 20 was perfect in AoC, after that….

    Devs should know that we are not as compliant with bugs than we were some years ago.