In old news, the Activision-Blizzard investor call has revealed that World of Warcraft lost 1.3 million subs since February. Then there is the Newbie Blogger Initiative Anniversary round up. Depending on the blog and the way they determined which blogs are active (Many round up posts included Healing Mains as active, for example, but the latest post is in fact a closing down notice), roughly 25% of the 111 blogs that officially registered this time last year are still active. That means 83 people who loved MMO’s enough to write about them have either quit blogging or, more likely, have quit playing. Even this blog has been affected by how little I play. Looking back at my annual report, I wrote 71 posts between May and December last year. This year? I have only managed 15 posts, and lately they have mostly been about my future in WoW.
The Good Ol’ Days
World of Warcraft is old. I can see that every time I log into a different game. I was sick last week and I didn’t have the mental fortitude for TERA or Neverwinter. Leveling in those games requires some degree of attention span, since you need to dodge and aim attacks. So I played some RIFT instead. I lasted one level before even that was too much for me. Next thing I know I was creating a Blood Elf Hunter on Dath’remar.
The very first thing that struck me as I was running through the beautiful area pew-pewing Mana Wyrms and gathering research tools was that this zone has not changed since I rolled my very first Horde character back in The Burning Crusade. A wave of nostalgia washed over me as I remembered my excitement at finally having the expansion, how gorgeous the zone was, how amazing the
chocobo Hawkstrider mounts looked and the friends I made in that zone (/greet Bullet). Symbolically, this zone represents how happy I was about a fresh start both in-game and in my personal life at that time, and revisiting it brought all those feelings back.
For the first time in a long time I was happy to be playing World of Warcraft.
There must have been something in the air last week, because a few days later the lovely Navimie wrote about World of Warcraft nostalgia and then my good friend Beaves asked me to help him create an Alliance version of Concur back on my original server. I found myself rolling another Hunter, this time a human, to sign the charter (Massive thank you to Navi and Prinnie for helping out!). I was back in Northshire on the server where my love of WoW really started back in Vanilla. However, there was no nostalgia this time…
The Human starting area is one that got a revamp during Cataclysm. There is no denying that World of Warcraft desperately needed that update; but by changing the starting zone it has, in my opinion, lost the magic that it had all those years ago. The location may have been exactly the same as when I rolled my Rogue back when I was 19, but the story is so different to what it was back then that my Human Hunter didn’t have anywhere near the same impact on me that my Blood Elf did. The thing is, I know that it will take more than nostalgia to keep me interested in my Blood Elf. Once I am out of the starting zones and levels take a little more time to gain, I will sink right back into the monotony that has me logging in less and less these days. Revamped or not, leveling characters is something that I have done a thousand times before, and the thought of getting the ding ninety times is quite a daunting one, regardless of how quickly most of them can be smashed out.
Perhaps that is the reason why people are leaving World of Warcraft. In the current incantation of end-game as I left it, reaching level cap is a fair amount of work, and gearing that character is still more again. If for whatever reason you decide to change class, role or play style, you are faced with a mountain of tedious, repetitive chores that you have possibly done a thousand times before all in the name of getting yourself back to that point. All MMO’s have that element, true, but with so many new titles on the market, perhaps players feel that if they’re going to start fresh, they may as well do so in a different world where everything is new again?
For me, that is certainly the case. While I am in no rush to get to end game in any of the other titles I am currently playing, I am greatly enjoying the fact that the journey to level cap is not a chore. Neverwinter offers a different combat system, various ways to level and rich lore derived from its Dungeons and Dragons roots. Every quest I accept offers something that I have never experienced before; it offers a new piece to a story that I don’t know the end of. And yet, none of these games I have been flirting with feel like a replacement. None of them feel like home.
That leaves me in a gaming no-man’s land. I still have a subscription to World of Warcraft and I log in once a day to list auctions so I can continue to be my husband’s in-game sugar-mama, but I don’t really play. I have handed off all responsibility of running Concur to my officers and they have been incredibly supportive and understanding of the fact that burn out happens and sometimes we just need a break. I have had a great time playing Neverwinter, but I made the mistake of only playing with my husband, whose schedule is insane and leaves very little time for us to actually play together. TERA is great, but the going is slow when you’re playing solo and I am still working through content that I have already done before with Disconcur (I’m sensing a theme here!). RIFT is great, but the combat is very similar to World of Warcraft and I enjoy the newer action combat systems more. I even tried playing Bioshock: Infinite on the PS3 but it turns out I get Simulation Sickness. Ugh.
I can understand now why 83 people called it a day on their blogs. It is hard to write something — anything! — when you can’t even figure out what game to launch. Personally, I find myself spending more time watching television, writing for Mama Needs Mana or learning new things like how to knit and sew. However, I still really, really love MMO’s and I know that the passion I have for writing about them is still there. It is just very hard to write when I haven’t found my new home yet.
If you are a blogger who also happens to be one of the 1.3 million people that have quit World of Warcraft since February, I strongly urge you not to delete your blog. You never know when nostalgia will hit you and your blog is a great way to remind you of the good ol’ days without having to re-roll. Besides, there is no rule saying that because you started as a WoW blog that you can never change the blog’s theme! Chances are, your readers like you as a person just as much as they liked reading about your adventures in Azeroth