Imagine you have a business model that has made you rich beyond your wildest expectations.  This business model is five years old and shows no real signs of slowing down, and even if it did slow down by so much as 75%, you’d still be rich.  Out of the blue, you announce that you will be destroying your cash cow, changing stuff up, remodeling, revamping and redesigning.

You know what that takes? Balls of fucking steel, man… balls of steel…

Blizzard could easily milk the World of Warcraft franchise for many years to come without making any substantial changes.  Release an expansion every year / year and a half, keep bumping the level cap, throw out huge loot increases…  and I doubt there would be a substantial drop in subscriptions. 

WoW has something going for it that very few games have:  stability.  The world is there as you knew it when you first saw it, up to 5 years ago, and you knew it was going to be the same when you came back from a break.  You might be bored with it, but you are used to it.  It is familiar, it is comfortable, it is safe.  I use safe in the sense that it does not destabilize our expectations.  It is simply not possible to log on today, go to Southshore and stand with our jaws on the floor because it isn’t there.  The town is there, the guards are there, the flight master is in that same spot as she has been for years, the innkeeper sells booze, the children are running around, the Horde is killing lowbies… it’s the same any time you sign on!  Other games have come and gone, and yet Azeroth and Kalimdor are still there, mostly unchanged.

Granted, there have been modifications here and there.  New additions, some things removed, but they are always as part of the whole world.  (no, I don’t need to be given examples of whole zones being added, revamped, or whatever compared to the very first release of WoW…  the general point of the argument is what matters).

Instead of settling comfortably for the future, Blizzard comes out with the biggest gamble since their investment in producing WoW in the first place: they’re breaking your game:

-continents shattered
-zones destroyed
-areas redesigned/changed completely

Familiarity, comfort and safety are being thrown out the window.  Blizzard is giving a proverbial middle finger to all the challengers in the MMO world and making a bold statement: “This is our market and we will do whatever it takes to keep it that way.” 

Once again, they are DESTROYING their business model that was such a hit.  They have absolutely no guarantee that people will come back to this game once it is changed.  They don’t know if the redesigned areas will have the same charm and appeal to players.  Maybe they will, maybe they won’t.

That childish innocent cartoonish feel to the starting zones… maybe Blizzard had struck some sort of perfect gaming balance between graphics, gameplay and impact on the player.  Maybe tinkering with it will finally end WoW.  Maybe it will catapult it to heights of popularity unimagined even today.

The truth of the matter is that nobody knows how the gaming world will respond to Cataclysm and what it will bring.  The only certainty is that Blizzard proves it will never shy away from a challenge and from controversy.  They’re putting their whole franchise on the line with this expansion, and I applaud them mightily, even if I wonder whether I would have the guts to do the same were I in their position.



4 Responses to “¡Cajones!”

  1. 1 shopx3 August 27, 2009 at 7:27 pm

    I don’t think what they’re doing is as extreme as you make it out to be. I believe the playerbase is attracted to WoW more because of the gameplay than for the many opportunities we get to kill boars and take their organs in lowbie zones. It’s not as though they are saying “now you will only be able to level through battlegrounds” or “there will be no more raiding.” They’re just changing the graphics and the storyline, everything else stays the same.

  2. 2 Emily August 27, 2009 at 10:27 pm

    I can’t really tell if you are or are not excited for Cataclysm. It was only just announced and I already feel a mighty large amount of nostalgia. 😦 I would really miss Goldshire if it were wiped from the map.

    I have “stumbled upon” a few blogs about WoW and the expansion. Most of the people who play tons of alts seem to be really excited and happy that Blizzard is stepping up to the plate and shaking things up a lot. Haven’t really read any blogs that are against it entirely, but some people sort of have a, ‘Omfgwtf, why?’ thing on their lips.

    For me personally, I think it’s cool, but since I am very not interested in leveling up multiple alts, I am not sure I could care less. I just hope that an AH gets put in Northrend or Outland so I don’t have to trek my human ass back to SW or IF just to sell some junk.

    I also feel very pressured to hurry up and get all the Classic achieves done! Also, WORGEN WOO WOO!

  3. 3 latusthegoat August 27, 2009 at 10:34 pm

    I’m very excited about it 😀 I think it looks absolutely awesome.

    I will miss some of the old things purely out of nostalgia, though. No more southshore… Org destroye… Undercity changed up. 1k needles flooded. Ashenvale post-war… purely out of a sense of nostalgia, of course, not because I don’t accept change.

  4. 4 Emily August 29, 2009 at 4:07 am

    Yes yes, it shall be marvelous. Take screenshots like you can.

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