BlizzCon 2018 took place last weekend and now that I’ve had a few days to digest the news, I wanted to share some thoughts about the future of the Warcraft franchise.
For those who may not know, I’m a huge Warcraft fan having invested nine years of my life into World of Warcraft. It was a huge part of my teenage years and in some ways an escape from the real word when I faced tough times. I’ve made so many friends and memories – it’s so much more than just a game for me. I love the lore, the characters but most of all I love the community. And I’m not an anomaly, there are many more just like me who are so passionate about Warcraft. That’s why when the tides start to turn and we disagree with the direction the game is going, you will always hear our voices.
At the recent BlizzCon, there was a noticeable focus on Classic World of Warcraft, which is due next summer and promises to whisk veteran players back to the “good old days” of 2004. Having only been playing since 2009 myself, Classic WoW doesn’t particularly interest me quite as much as others in the community. However I understand the excitement around the re-release of Classic era WoW, with so many wanting to experience the nostalgia.
At BlizzCon, Blizzard announced that those with an active WoW subscription would be able to play Classic. This opens up Classic to a lot of new players, some who, like myself, may not have actually been around in 2004. I believe by including Classic in the main WoW subscription, Blizzard are really pushing players towards the re-release and in some ways, I wonder if maybe they think this is a suitable solution to the current problems faced in the community.
It is clear to see in the gaming media that the latest World of Warcraft expansion Battle for Azeroth has not been very well received. Released in August 2018 following the successfully Legion expansion, Battle for Azeroth had a lot to live up to. Although the expansion includes gorgeous new landscapes, new allied races to play and a selection of brand new features such as Warfronts and Island Expeditions, it just isn’t up to player’s expectations.
Many have pinned this down to the lack of response to feedback during beta testing. Thousands of players descended into the closed beta ahead of the release and spent a lot of time reporting bugs and issues to the developers. However it seems that community feedback was somewhat glossed over, much to players’ disappointment. After all we are the ones putting so much of our precious time and money into this game. We are passionate and want the game to be as perfect as we can possibly imagine.
BlizzCon 2018 also brought the news of Warcraft 3: Reforged, the re-release of one of the most acclaimed games in the original RTS Warcraft series, an announcement the community has dreamed of for many years. Similarly to the re-release of Classic WoW, it seems as though Blizzard are trying to pull older players back in and provide distractions from the current negativity in Battle for Azeroth.
I believe the announcement of Warcraft 3: Reforged hints at the possibly worrying direction Blizzard are taking the Warcraft franchise. It seems the Warcraft team are shifting focus to the past, and starting to neglect the present and possibly the future. So many players were hoping the development team would use this year’s BlizzCon to address issues and concerns players have been raising over the last few months.
The team did preview some of the Patch 8.2 content at BlizzCon, however this did very little to change player’s attitudes to Battle for Azeroth. Despite how fantastic the shiny new content looked, most players are likely to still have issues with how the content plays out when the patches is released and the current climate of negativity will continue.
I do not believe the re-releases of Classic and Warcraft 3 have the power to retain players. They will certain pull players back into the franchise but so many already lived these experiences many years ago. They may enjoy the nostalgia for a little while but they’ll eventually tire of the old games and want something fresh and exciting.
Maybe it’s not the game itself. Perhaps it’s us – the players. Maybe we are outgrowing the game and after investing so many hours over the years, it has lost its spark. Battle for Azeroth is the first expansion I’m not regularly logging in to play. After enjoying the first few weeks, I soon became less interested and logging in to complete my world quests and mission table these days feels more like a chore than a fun experience. Of course the game is not entirely to blame and perhaps I would benefit from a lengthy break, or perhaps I should try to reconnect with old friends or try to make new friends and experiences. I should make more of an effort to play the game from a different, more positive perspective.
Despite all of this, I believe Blizzard should be doing more to retain the current loyal player base. Yes, we have our critiques and we often express them through anger but this is down to our fiery passion for this game and its fantastic reputation. Older, retired players are also important to consider however Blizzard should not forget about the main game and its following. If the right decisions and changes are made in the upcoming patches, Battle for Azeroth still has the potential to be a great expansion and the future of Warcraft may look a lot more positive.