Is World of Warcraft Reaching Its Potential?

I suppose some context is in order, seeing as World of Warcraft has entirely dwarfed any other MMO (especially in the non-asian markets) with around 10 million subscribers. Yes, Blizzard is incredibly sucessful and WoW has already turned massive profits after 3 1/2 years on the market. However, I am quite sure of one thing: If they had released as many expansions as EverQuest 2 has and in the same fashion (not just end-game content) they would likely have 2-3 million MORE people playing than they do now. Even with Wrath of the Lich King, there is STILL no fresh mid level content. Sure they added a couple new 1-20 areas with Burning Crusade, but what about the part of the game that many players by now dread, the 20-60 areas? Heck, after level 30 or so, even the Alliance and Horde players are funnelled through the same content. I for one have made six characters that I have gotten to level 25 or higher, but only three of those have reached and will ever reach level 70 or higher unless content is added for level 20-60 characters. Don’t get me wrong, I really want to spend more time with these characters, but I can’t keep running through the same zones over and over again.

This is something that EverQuest2 has continuously added to their game, along with many other improvements and additions. They have released four expansions already with a fifth on the way. Holy cow. Granted, a much smaller percentage of their population is max level so they need to focus on the lower and mid-level content, but the sheer volume of content that they release is staggering. Granted, it’s not all going to be as picture perfect as what Blizzard releases, but seriously, four full-blown expansions to one. That’s tough to justify in my book. In any case, I can understand Blizzard wanting to focus more on higher level characters because that’s where a lot of their players are, but not all of them max-level, either.

Seriously Blizzard, how long do you expect people to keep running through the same content before they get tired of the game? A rather small percentage of your customers are raiders, which means that the leveling process is all the rest of the players really have, and after a while (if it hasn’t already happened) they are going to get sick of re-rolling characters that have to run through the same content every single time. The raiders might do it because that’s how badly they want another level 70, but it’s probably not going to be because they enjoy the leveling process, and if the non-raiders have nothing else to look forward to, then they probably won’t do it at all. WAR is supposedly going to have six entirely different paths to max level. SIX. Whether they are going to pull this off, or whether you actually need six at release is uncertain, but it’s much better than having unique content for all races up to about level 25 or 30 and then having them all go through the same set of zones and more or less the same set of quests from that point on.

How many hours of non-raiding content will Wrath of the Lich King offer? It’s tough to say exactly, but you can be sure that it’s not 18-20 months which appears to by WoW’s expansion time-frame. It’s likely half that, so come next September-December, when there are 6-8 new quality MMO’s out, as well as WAR and AoC which have both had time to dust themselves off after a few months, where is that going to leave WoW? Seemingly with more raiding, more upper-level content, and no (significant) improvements or addition to their mid-to low level content. After three or four re-rolls with no new content along the way, there is only one place they are going to find what they are looking for, which is at the end, and that content can only hold their interest for so long, especially with all the new competition on the horizon.

~Kanthalos

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15 comments so far

  1. Frank on

    I completely agree. Blizz has not taken low level content or expansions seriously.

    Wouldn’t it be interesting if WAR, with all of it’s PVP focus, ended up being the better PVE leveling game? Sounds like this is definitely a possibility at this point.

  2. kanthalos on

    That’s completely possible. A lot of the questing elements that I’ve heard about WAR seem like a lot of fun. The idea of public quests is brilliant, as you aren’t forced to do them if you don’t want to, but they offer the possibility of socialization and teamwork with people you don’t know, but in a less formal and forced manner than PuG’s for instances. I am not all that excited about WAR for the PvP aspects, but I will definitely give it a shot based on its PvE elements.

  3. drubear on

    Ahh, but what if the plan is to only require you to have one 55+ character and the rest are hero classes? Do you care about 20-60 if you are only playing your melee hero (DeathKnight), caster hero (TechnoMage?) or healer hero (Oracle?)

    If you have enough hero classes to fill out the trinity, you’d never need to update the sub-55 game ever again as most people would only level up thru them once (or maybe twice to switch faction.)

  4. kanthalos on

    Perhaps, but I can guarantee that it will be at least six months to a year before they have hero classes for every class built into the game. I am also pretty sure of the fact that they don’t want every single character to be turned into a hero class. Why would they want to get rid of all the work that they’ve put into the initial classes in order to have everyone convert to a hero class? I just don’t buy it.

    Also, that still doesn’t resolve the issue that 10 new levels of content is not going to keep people satisfied for long, even with new classes. Just because you are leveling a new hero class instead of a regular class doesn’t mean that the content itself is going to be any better or newer. It’s still going to be the same content no matter which class you are playing.

  5. Thallian on

    Its amazing what you can do when you don’t waste time developing for the niche as WOW has done (raids, raids, raids!) but instead develop for the masses as WAR is doing (RVR, city sieges and small dungeons). 🙂

  6. Thallian on

    I am an alt-o-holic so 6 paths to max level sounds pretty darn good to me.

  7. kanthalos on

    I wouldn’t call myself an altoholic, but once I get my first character leveled up pretty high or to max level, I want to make a new character, and if that means going through the same content then I’m not going to be very excited about it. If I know that I won’t be forced through the same content (but I can use it if I want to) then I’m going to have a much more positive attitude about it than if it’s my only option.

  8. Thallian on

    Yeah I guess I should qualify that statement huh? I think I feel the same way.. I really enjoyed doing both the Alliance and Horde quest lines until they became the same mush at lvl 40-60 in wow for example, then once or twice was enough. I do enjoy seeing how the game plays different with different classes though. The more branches the better, yeah. Definitely true.

  9. Machineman on

    The author doesn’t really have a clue about what makes a fun successful game. He talks about what HE wants and what HE thinks would be fun, or make it more successful. But it’s not fact. It’s not even good journalism.

    Laughable commentary.

  10. Machineman on

    Just to add… there is ONE starting area for every character in AoC.

    Have fun grinding alts.

  11. Robert on

    Kanthalos hit the nail on the head. Blizzard’s WoW is starting to show it’s age, and Blizzard thinks that it’s success thus far is because what they are doing (Raids, End Game) is what people want. They fail to realize that they are in the same spot other games were a few years ago before WoW came out. Every day more and more people are dying to leave WoW for something else. Once that something else comes out that is awesome, people will leave and WoW numbers will plummet.

    @Machineman:
    This is a blog with opinions. If you think blogs are just all about facts and strict journalism your in the wrong spot. In fact, what are you even doing on the internet? *removed*

  12. Machineman on

    This blog post was reported on a NEWS site.

    If you’re his dad, stop defending him and let him fight his own battles.

  13. kanthalos on

    I’m glad that you agree Robert, but please don’t say things like the last part of your comment. I wasn’t aware that this was posted at Massively until just a minute ago (which I’m fine with,) but in any case, Robert is correct. This isn’t exactly journalism in the strictest sense. More than anything, it’s my opinion and what I think about certain topics based on nearly ten years of experience playing MMO’s. Does this make me an expert? Not really. Does this mean that I think some of my ideas are worth writing about and recieving feedback on? Yes, otherwise I wouldn’t be writing this blog. No one is forcing you to read this, or to comment on it, so if you are going to be critical the least you could do is explain why I’m incorrect, instead of just saying that I don’t have a clue.

    Also, I don’t recall making any statements about AoC’s leveling process, just WAR’s and even then I said that it might not work out the greatest. I’m the first to admit that I know very little about AoC, but please don’t criticize me for claims that I haven’t even made.

  14. br3ntbr0 on

    Funcom: Thank you Blizzard and Mythic!

    http://textwall.blogspot.com/2008/05/funcom-thank-you-mythic-and-blizzard.html

    I wrote that article just before AoC’s launch, wondering some of these exact same things. I think a large influx of players to AoC right now are part of WoW’s subscriber base that are tired of the same old battlegrounds, classes and mid level content that you mention.

    Good read, got ya in my blogroll!

  15. sqrr3l on

    Expanding on br3ntbr0’s comment, I hear that there’s a large amount of installer issues and if browsing the larger sites like IGN and etc, I’m starting to get the feel that AoC is making a play for Blizzard’s spot about as hard as Vanguard was, and we can probably agree that Vanguard is a pretty big flop.
    I don’t think AoC will play a big threatening role in WoW’s “King of the Hill” title.

    Commenting on the original blog, I agree that some things were done to cater to the casual player, but these were issues addressing mostly casual ‘max level’ players. Heroics, daily quests, and some end game items being made available for badges (and also the new badge gear) were good touches for the non-raiding crowd, but the experience boon from lvls 20-60 seemed like a way to cover up the fact you already stated.

    It’s the same zones and quests, again and again, I don’t care if there’s a small boost to the speed at which I progress through the area, it’s the fact that it’s the only option that grinds on my patience or zest to level. I would like to see more 5 man content and small 10 man things. I d like the prospect of the new PvP zones with buildings and siege weapons, we’ll see how that pans out.

    Overall, interesting read, thanks for posting your concerns and opinions 🙂


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