Where EVERYBODY knows your name ^^

Before I start this, please do me the courtesy of going to read this Blog Post first.

Right, now you’re back, let us begin.

This game is approaching a significant crossroads. In just under a year from now, a project that Blizzard itself has more than a vested interest in comes to final fruition. An awful lot of work and effort has gone into making a vision of Warcraft for the big screen, and you have to suppose that this was done not simply because it was possible, but also because of the potential such an endeavour could have for the long-term creative possibilities the ‘franchise’ has to offer. Except, there is a problem. The game itself has become unwieldy, unpredictable and difficult to control. However, one could argue the ‘majority’ of the playerbase is actually quite happy currently, or else they wouldn’t be posting Selfies and buying Tokens in the way in which they undoubtedly are.

So, how do Blizzard keep everyone happy in this situation? We’ve spoken about a Reboot here in the last few weeks: possibly via mobile gaming platforms, a way to bring in a new generation to the game whilst at the same time allowing the ‘older’ generation to continue basking in the nostalgia they clearly enjoy. Except inevitably that has its drawbacks, because it doesn’t actually fix the core of the issues that the game possesses: the ageing UI, problems with gear scaling that haven’t been solved by the reset of numbers, the need to have the game front and centre with eSports becoming a key factor in long-term development. So there is one alternative that I discussed back in February that we should probably return to at this point: the complete game reboot for EVERYBODY. Something monumental takes place and BANG we’re downloading a completely new client.

I AM YR MOM. Well, to one player at least ^^

Except how does this work? 

Well first, we’re gonna need a whole truckload of Tinfoil.

My kids are used to this :D

This discussion is as a result of me and my 14 year old sitting down and debating what it would take for two ends of the gaming spectrum to leave the existing content behind for good. It’s quite a complicated equation too, but it isn’t impossible. A lot of it would depend on Blizzard’s own goodwill in allowing people to transition in their own time, and to allow them to grasp that actually, things change. It’s clear that you can’t keep everyone happy. We think we have an answer to this however, and it will require a diagram to explain what we’re getting at:

A little bit Minecraft, a little bit Disney Infinity…

The basic concept is simple: a ‘core’ UI with all the maths in it, and then players get to bolt what they like on top. You don’t get a Creative Mode on the servers though, it’s Survival for everybody (which is where this needs to be clearly delineated from Minecraft in the design.) We’d offer everyone with an existing Subscription a free copy of the basic layout, and some ‘skins’ on top, which would be playable out of the box and would as closely resemble the original game as possible. No learning new shizzle, it all looks like the old stuff in principle, but then you’d look to UI innovators to be making the add-ons as they have for many years… except this time they could design the NPC outfits too, the terrain look but crucially not the basic architecture in pre-set areas. There’s be no altering the restraints of the Core UI progression and storylines, but nothing to stop you taking a pre-created template and designing your own take on events. It would not nearly be as flexible or ‘creative’ as a true Open World platform, but crucially it would afford payers at least some abilities to make their own World of Warcraft.

RP players could design their own quests in special ‘instanced’ areas, the same places where PvP people make special arenas for tournaments. You’d have special provision for Warcraft Machinima or Twitch people to design their own ‘virtual’ Warcraft Studio. The possibilities could be totally endless.

All too strong a pull.

The biggest single problem however with any change is the players themselves. Many are simply too afraid of the C-word to allow even the possibility to enter into their minds. Whatever solution is suggested, there will inevitably be those who feel that there is no need to alter anything and that Azeroth is absolutely fine exactly as it is. Except really, it isn’t. Change has to come eventually, and it keeps doing so. This is just slightly more radical than I think even Blizzard might consider as safe.

My son and I however think this is something we’d both really like to experience.

3 thoughts on “I Can See for Miles

  1. Don't blame you for coming up with something as radical and interesting as this, but frankly, I don't think the current Blizzard has the “balls” to pull something as bold as this. I see more Overwatch, Hearthstone tie-ins, and store stuff (service tokens? more mounts, pets and vanity stuff) in WoWs future, and then, it will go F2P, and that'd be it :)

    Somehow, I hope your vision is closer to reality, but I don't really have the capacity to picture it.

    Have a nice day!

  2. Firstly there is evidently a problem with retention of players. A 3 million drop in subs can't be ignored.

    The reason those 3 million decided not to continue their subscription is key.

    IMHO this occurred because the leveling process immersed us in a “new” land and gave us solid story and a sense of involvement. However once level 100 had been achieved there was a definite sense of “Now what?” for those who did not step on the gear/raid path it was pretty hard to find things to do. The introduction of Garrisons didn't really help because folks soon saw that as just busy work.

    Given the above it would seem somewhat foolish for Blizzard to completely redesign the game from a theme park MMO to some sort of sand box mutant. Instead they need to give us more story driven content, more not less immersion in a persistent world and a sense of being involved in the world THEY create.

    It isn't a question of will or balls but an intelligent non tin foil approach to the issues.

    Saying all this, however, they could make better use of the garrisons by making a true instance piece of land that we can truly mold. Inviting players to a garrison where we can add elements of challenge to others sounds like a great idea.

    As I mentioned on Twitter it would be cool if you could show your son Landmark as this is moving towards many of the things you “designed” above.

    You also constantly mention the player bases fear of change. WoW has changed constantly for the past 10 years and yet still retains 7 million subscribers who seem happy.

  3. I respectully disagree with you on the importance of Story. SWTOR tried to make Story really important (“the 4th Pillar!”) and it didn't stop them from losing so many players they had to F2P to save the game.

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