Thursday, May 05, 2005

Trashed World of Warcraft

I trashed my World of Warcraft account today. I only had it for three weeks and before I actually had to pay for the first subscription month, I went in and trashed the account.

I can't tell you how dissapointed I am with World of Warcraft. It is, the most dissapointing game I've ever played. There are some fantastic elements to World of Warcraft. It has beautiful graphics, it is easy to play and it is widly popular with a large player base.

It also took all the mistakes Everquest made and corrected them. In fact the resentment most gamers had towards Everquest and its design flaws was highly under estimated by Everquest and heavily exploited by World of Warcraft when it released.

EQ2 on the other hand, totally miscalculated. They marketed EQ2 with the idea that the EQ brand was its strongest asset. That its previous frenzy was the key reason people would return to it and generally marketed their game and their brand as the "best".

In fact, the EQ brand had been tarnished significantly and had built a strong resentment with gamers by the time WoW released. EQ's marketing failed to communicate effectively that "your gripes had been answered with EQ2", instead seem to reflect "EQ2: same old EQ you know and love only with better graphics".

In fact, in hindsight, EQ2 shouldn't have branded itself with EQ at all and instead established a new identity, but I digress.

The bottom line is, that people jumped on WoW's free trial in droves and once they found they could level fast, with a minimum of grief and that all their previous EQ beefs had been solved, they raved about the game and killed EQ2's launch.

WOW game exploded in popularity and WOW's only initial problems were they did not anticipate demand and a lack of servers and server stability was a key issue.

It didn't matter though, fans tolerated the outages, because it was better than EQ and even more than that, they felt they finally had the last laugh on EQ, a game they perceived did not care about them or their concerns.

But to me, now that the hysteria of "hey its better than EQ2" has worn off with World of Warcraft, all that remains is the game itself. And the game itself is relatively weak in mechanics/class design, extremely weak in character customization and is endlessly, endlessly repetitive with no real significant outcome/consequence to your player's actions.

My beefs with WOW include but are not limited to:

1. The music is derivative and weak.

2. Ambient sound, is extremely weak.

3. The look and feel is cartoonish, you spend more time lauging at the monsters and creatures than being inspired or awestruck by them.

4. Everyone looks the same, the lack of customization, especially early in the game, is extremely annoying. You feel and look, just like everyone else.

5. The story and NPC character development is non-existant. I am never involved in any of the communities I visit, except to do quests which are never anything more than 'fetch, grab and kill' missions.

6. None of the missions are unique, hardly any of them develop in story and none involve any thought or skill. It's all about investing time and knowing where to go.

7. The mapping system is terrible and in fact, the game forces you to read web sites, blogs and the like to find out where things are, where to go and what is worthwhile exploring or doing.

People who are engrossed in WOW, have largely been engrossed since its release. 'New' players are harder and harder to find on WOW servers.

What that tells me is I give the game about a year before the entrenched players have exhausted the game's playabilty and begin to gripe about it, much like everyone griped about EQ when its player base began to withered and atrophied.

And hopefully what ever comes along to replace WOW next year, will be a lot more compelling to play and won't look and feel so much like a dumb Saturday cartoon.

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