An Idiot In Azeroth: Part Two

An Idiot In Azeroth: Part Two

I think I am starting to enjoy World of Warcraft.

That was unexpected.

When I decided to play World of Warcraft for a month I thought of it a task that would require fortitude and discipline. As someone whose knowledge of MMOs was scarce and mostly limited to memes, jokes and the first-hand accounts of others, I thought of this experience as a chore I would have to endure. At no point did I imagine syphoning any amount of pleasure from the task.

Can you blame me?

Former World of Warcraft players use the language of addicts or – worse — war veterans. They speak about habits they left behind. They beg me not to tempt them. They prod at my wife: “say goodbye to your husband”.

They prod at me: “say goodbye to your life”.

People rarely use positive language when they discuss World of Warcraft. The ones who remain seem willing to praise anything but the game itself. “I mainly stay for the community.” “It’s not what it used to be.” “I can’t stop playing.”

But every now and then someone will cut through the mimetic bluster and noise with a shrink wrapped grain of truth: World of Warcraft is/was and forever shall be a very good video game. It would have to be. Why else would everyone be here? Why would they have come here in the first place?

I remember one conversation I had with a friend. At the mere mention of World of Warcraft his face snapped into profile, his gaze a thousand yard stare. He had seen things, of that I was sure.

“There’s something about that game,” he said, eyes blazing into the distance. “So many MMOs, they’ve come and gone. Knights of the Old Republic, Conan…

“But WoW is still there. It’s always been there.”

I am still a pathetic level 8, even though I estimate I’ve put about four hours into the game.

The tasks given to me are banal, grindy. Kill 8 of these things. Search for 10 of this thing. My last mission entailed entering a mine, killing ten miner guys and searching their broken corpses for Gold Dust.

Something I keep hearing from WoW vets is “the game doesn’t properly start until [insert level here]. That level can be anything from 10 through to 90, but I think it completely negates what is compelling about World of Warcraft: it’s fundamentally fun to just click on things and attack enemies. It’s fun to get new gear and it’s fun to level up. At its most basic, the World of Warcraft gameplay loop is as compelling as swinging a sword in Dark Souls, lobbing a grenade in Halo or jumping in Mario.

The terrifying thing is: I can’t really explain why.

In Dark Souls there is weight and timing. In Halo it’s all about weapon balance and feel. Mario is about traction and ‘stickyness’. World of Warcraft? Its appeal is far more intangible – I’m using the word ‘fun’ – that useless catch-all term – because I can’t think of another way to describe it.

I think that unquantifiable appeal, that ‘Blizzard Magic’, is part of the reason why people are so unwilling to discuss World of Warcraft in terms of how good it actually is. People find it difficult to verbalise what makes it so good to begin with, so they stick to the narrative they can verbalise.

World of Warcraft is addictive. World of Warcraft is a fun way to socialise. World of Warcraft had an awesome South Park episode dedicated to it. Etc, etc, etc.

World of Warcraft is a really well made video game and I want to play it because I enjoy it.

People forget to say that.

I forgot to say that. In fact, I approached this World of Warcraft experiment with all those preconceptions and started using that language to describe my early experiences. But even now — a week into my time with World of Warcraft, five hours of game time later — I’m starting to realise how wrong I was.

World of Warcraft is more than a compulsion, even though it’s compelling. It’s more than an addiction, despite being addictive.

I scramble in the mines. I kill monsters for gold dust. Dozens of other low level players have the same idea as me and we’re racing each other to spawn points like toddlers chasing down pigeons. Stumbling over one another, clicking the wrong things – being the complete noobs that we are, basically.

I realise I should be racing towards some arbitrary goal and, in a sense, I am. But I’m also happy just to be here, clicking on the bad guys, clicking on attacks. Collecting the new gear and adding it to my person.

Like I said: I think I am starting to enjoy World of Warcraft.

You can read part one of Idiot in Azeroth here


  • I think you would enjoy guild wars 2 more. No subscriptions and brilliant graphics.
    wow was a bit too deep for me.

    • I hated the idea you had to use the same skills the entire game.. yes you can change some of the talents but like 4 weapon attacks from start – end game wtf??

        • Not if you actually have enough money that enjoying your time matters more to you than how much you pay for it. 🙂

          • 100% this. Also gw2 kinda tries to force u to buy gems/gold, makes farming impossible due to anti-farming procedures.

          • Even without that, I really got kinda bored once I’d unlocked and experimented to find a rotation that worked best by like… level 10 or something. Knowing that nothing would change for the next 40 levels was kinda depressing.

          • That too, and the realm pvp isnt done that well, they should look at planetside 2 for 3 way mechanics. Walking for like 15min to die, then have to walk back is stupid.

          • I have only played casual, so i have no idea avout farming. But i did love it to bits.

    • I enjoyed the leveling experience in gw2, I wouldnt say it is as good as wow though.
      I’d also say wildstar is more fun than gw2.

  • One of us. One of us. One of us.

    Edit: Also worth noting, I hope you’re logging out in Inns (gives you rest xp while you’re logged off) and keep in mind the early game content is a few expansions behind and even with the refresh in quests after the Cata expac the Human early game areas are pretty dull… I believe Night Elves and Dwarves got a much more exciting and fast paced early game region! Be warned of time disappearing once you can do Battlegrounds and Dungeons.

    • Given the accent, I initially expected a dwarf but if you think about it, imagine playing a race that was essentially Australian, voiced exclusively by Americans whose idea of an Aussie accent lies somewhere between South Africa and New Zealand.

      Can’t believe he’s not playing Horde. A serious indictment of taste.

      • Indeed. The fact Mark chose Alliance throws into question everything he says about WoW now =P

        • I guess it can be forgiven though really, I mean having never played wow before he doesn’t know how much cooler the Horde is.

        • Yes. As is Mark. But they sound like Hollywood Scottish instead of actual Scottish, which – to a Scotsman – would probably be about as intolerable and nerve-grating as the typical Hollywood Australian would be to any Aussie.

  • Well you’ve got to remember that the stuff you’re playing now is the stuff veterans and current players exhausted years ago. You won’t notice the game swing but eventually you’ll look back at these early entries and realise that’s not the game you’re currently playing.

    • Not true, vanilla was updated in Cataclysm, massively, updated.

      Like I’d say most zones are 70-100% different.

      • I’ve said a few times that Mark is lucky to be playing post-Cataclysm, the content is better in almost every way, but I don’t think Cataclysm’s Azeroth rebuild really paid off for people who had already reached level cap at least once (especially if they were burned out). It was interesting going around and seeing the changes but it wasn’t the same as when you first start playing. Even if you don’t participate in end-game reaching level cap pulls the curtain back to a degree.
        When you’re first leveling, especially when you’re new to MMORPGs, you’re know that in ten levels you’ll be able to one shot everything you’re fighting, but it doesn’t really sink in. However once you’ve started to walk through zones where literally nothing can hurt you it sort of snaps you out of the game enough to really see the guts of the ‘get XP to get to new zones to get XP’ treadmill.
        You can still enjoy it, you might even enjoy it more, but you can’t make it to Darkshire for the first time twice.

        • Man, my first time stepping into Darkshire was terrifying. Funnily enough I assumed I was going the right way to Redridge and then ended up in Darkshire (was so sure of myself I didn’t even check the map). I can remember running away from countless wolves and ghosts, all with a skull instead of their level….


          My undoubtedly best experience was when I was in mid-20s and found out how to get to Kalimdor via Wetlands. Thus began my epic journey, first trip on the Deeprun Tram, ran all the way up to Wetlands, took the boat to Darkshore and then just explored everywhere.

          Didn’t do any quests, but I easily wasted days wandering the region, even made my way to the barrens.

          No way of replicating that experience twice, you certainly see the game in a different light when its your first play through, especially someone who is quite knowledgeable about Warcraft and its lore. Fantastic!

  • Mark you should type /played into the chat window and it will tell you exactly how long you’ve been playing for (Although this will count any time you’ve remained logged in with your character remaining idle)

  • I envy your WoW naivety, I’d love to be able to play the game again for the first time.

    • Yeah. It’d be nice to view the zones as places to explore again rather than just obstacles in the way.

      • Totally. For me it’s like I go on auto-pilot and scream from hub to hub. My most recent 1-90 (Pandaren Monk) was so fast It was all a blur.

        • “OK, so that was Vash’jir, Mt Hyjal, Stonecore, Twilight Highlands… did I miss something? Nah fuckit I’ll do some mat-gathering for that last ding to get to Pandaria. OK, so that’s Jade Forest, straight to Valley…”

  • Four hours to get to level 8 sounds frighteningly slow, but thinking back I think when I first played WoW it took me about that to make similar progress, and I wasn’t coming in completely cold to MMOs either, having played many before it back as far as MUDs in my early teens.

    @markserrels: I noticed you look like you’re playing a Warrior but using a spear? It probably makes no difference at this point in the game, but unless things changed dramatically since I played the game (4.0), polearms tended to be itemized with agility. As a warrior your primary damage stat is strength and for the early game you really want to prioritize stacking strength up. It’s not a game where you want to diversify your stats, you want to focus on one core damage stat and stamina for extra HP, but the stamina basically comes for free as long as you’re using appropriate-level gear. When you’re low-level even a couple of points in your primary stat will make a massive difference to the amount of damage you deal, and with more damage you’ll knock stuff down faster which in turn will mean you’ve taken less damage and can move to the next enemy faster as well. Less downtime means you can get into a sort of zen-like state where you just zone out completely and mechanically hit the buttons, a lot like being in the Diablo trance.

      • If you’re tanking get a stamina shield and 1H mace or sword, if you’re going dps depending on the talent specialization you’ll want either 2 handed strength weapons (Arms) or dual wielding 1h weapons (Fury you can dual wield 2h weapons around Level 40).

      • You can mouseover most of the stats in the character window and it’ll tell you how they’re derived (for secondary stats) and what they do for you.

      • The fantastic thing about choosing gear based on stats over aesthetics is you’ll get to experience the sartorial shame that is colloquially known as ‘the BC clown suit’. (AKA: Rainbow pimp gear.)
        It’s a condition where the best and most readily-available gear for your stats based on typical quest progression is horrifically mis-matched visually. The result is an ensemble with all the elegance and grace of a Jackson Pollock.

        • ah the many clown suits of WoW. Vanilla wasn’t much better for int users around the 40s, my mage looked like an acrobat

        • On the upside, this is only really a problem in the Burning Crusade content. They fixed it in WotLK onward and that included making the stuff not look stupid in the re-done 1-60 areas for Cataclysm.

          • And some of the Pandarian sets are straight-up gorgeous. To the point that even though they’re common-as-muck greens that everyone will have, some sets you’ll actually want to transmog your endgame gear to.

          • I stopped playing before the transmog system was in, but just before I quit I was in the process of assembling the BC recolor of the T2 Paladin set for my DK. I can’t see myself ever using anything else once I got that together.

        • Dear god the BC questing rewards were horrible 0,0 It’s like the base color palette purple, yellow and turquoise >.

    • He’s using a staff. I seem to recall the lowest level polearm in the game is available at something like level 15. There are a few strength polearms in the game, but unfortunately not many.

    • Wow has changed a lot, if you played in vanilla the leveling was about 500% slower 1-60 than it is now.

      • Man, I remember early days a few months after launch when there was maybe only a couple dozen level 60s for our faction on the server, and only a couple of them had epic mounts. They’d stand around outside the AH and all the newbies would come up to stare at how damn pretty they were.

      • Yeah, and not just because they boosted the XP rate. The stuff they’ve done to streamline everything in the lower-level areas should make it much faster, but maybe not if the whole experience is brand new for you.

  • Great article Mark, keep these coming. Reminds me of when I first discovered WoW all those years ago..

    I never stopped enjoying WoW, 5 man dungeon runs with friends is one of the best co-op experiences you can have in my opinion, I will admit it has lost some of its flavor over the years but still enjoyable nonetheless.

  • I’m looking forward to reading about the Hogger experience. Unless he got nerfed somewhere along the line. I haven’t played for quite a long time.

    • Hogger is more “roleplayed” then he used to be due to being included in the Stockades Dungeon. However he has 666HP which makes him a bit of trouble for some characters.

  • As someone who still plays this I envy you so much, I still remember the feeling of awe I had when i first started playing the game very close to 10 years ago, it doesn’t feel the same but at the same time even though I’ve “been there, done that” the game still pulls me in and shows me some fun. What I would do too feel that sense of awe though finishing my first quest, doing my first dungeon, killing my first raid boss. I am incredibly jealous.

  • I think I can explain what is compelling that you cant explain.

    The game pushes the button in your brain marked “Achievement”. You get drip fed a steady stream of that feeling while you are playing.

    New piece of gear? ping!
    Level up? ping!
    Quest complete? ping!

    It’s compounded with the actual achievements you can earn while playing too.

    They are all accompanied by little sound effects, and sometimes graphical effects. It’s a small enough trigger to hook you on the drip feed.

    And because you feel like you are accomplishing something, you get the whole “Just One More” state of mind, and then you look at the clock and it’s 5am

    It’s a slippery slope you are on. I wish you luck.

    • It’s exactly this. It’s the same reason that Diablo is so addictive for so many people. Simple inputs and constant steady stream of reward.

    • WoW is a skinner box, one of the largest and most effective of its kind, and it has had many, many years to perfect that psychological manipulation. Even KNOWING this and going in well-aware, in advance, you can still find those buttons pushing away in your hindbrain.
      Stupid game. How dare you trick me into feeling good about something pointless!

    • What you’ve described is an essential mechanic in nearly all games and sports, computer-based or otherwise. Humans enjoy accomplishments and overcoming challenges, it’s hardly insidious. This type of thing is only a problem for people with addictive personalities, but in that respect MMOs like WoW are some of the least harmful things to become addicted to.

      • Games and sports all have the sense of accomplishment, yes, but they don’t have anywhere near the constant stream of accomplishment that an MMO provides.

        This is why MMOs seem to be more of a problem to people with addictive personalities than other games. Because it feeds the addiction so much and so easily.

        • I would argue that non-MMO games often have an even greater stream of accomplishment and reward semaphores than MMOs do. Just look at the mobile gaming space with garbage like Candy Crush, or games like XCOM where every other successful shot or kill gives a satisfying animated mini-cutscene.

          • I would disagree with Candy Crush as I find that aims more for a short burst of accomplishment, followed up with a withholding of more as an incentive to spend money. Subscription MMOs already have your money so they will just give you that steady stream, theres no reason to stop it.

            Free to Play MMOs on the other hand are a different story

  • You think its fun now, but wait until you’re slightly higher level and it takes 2 weeks of playing to go up one level. That’s where I think it falls apart for me. But I think I also attacked it in a solo way and it is a MMO afterall

    • The only way it’s possible for you to take 2 weeks to go up one level is if you’re playing 10 minutes a day or something.

    • Since Cata a lot of the areas have boosted quest rewards meaning you should hit 85 within 2 weeks of playing a few hours a day (1-2). Once you hit 85 the levelling slows down a bit but that’s because you’ve just hit current expac content and Blizz want you to learn all the ropes and lore of the current expansion.

  • WoW is a good game, no matter what any one says past or present, I just don’t think it is worth it any more. It is too much to pay $15 for an experience that has barely changed in the last 2 xpacs and definitely not worth the man hours it sucks up.

    • That’s a contradiction “It is too much to pay $15 for an experience…definitely not worth the man hours it sucks up”, for the amount of gameplay you get, 15 beans a month is one of the better options for gaming out there.
      Some of the triple A titles that you pay top dollar for wouldn’t be anywhere near on par with WoW’s $15 a month/life suck.

      • Unless he means ‘it’s not worth it’ in the same way that robbing a bank isn’t worth it. Yeah, the dollar per hour value for your work is amazing, but the ruin it brings to the rest of your life, not so much. 🙂

      • I agree with piat. It’s like how Terminator 2 is a great movie and you MAY have spent $20 to see it in the day. Would you still want to spend that much to see it now? $15/month = $180/year x how many years… 5? Plus paying for the game and expansions. $900+? How many Steam games can you get for that price? Diablo 3 is free after you buy it. Same with Dota. Most games are free after you buy them. You could subscribe to PSN/Xbox Live and get new games all the time… or you could keep paying off your copy of Terminator 2 that you’ll never actually pay off. Still a great movie.

    • Like everything in life, you mean? I work, I get paid intermittently, it encourages me to work better. Quick, call the psychologists, there’s some manipulation going on here.

  • Lets see how you go after 6 years. While I’ll resub just prior to an expansion and order the collectors edition, the game hasn’t really changed in many years.

  • I think the reason behind the “the game doesn’t REALLY start until level X” is that people, having played the game all the way through, realise that it’s a bit slow to start, but they don’t want you to be deterred from playing. “The game doesn’t REALLY start” is a way of saying “it gets fun at this point, keep at it!” but if you’re already having fun well then you’re set.

    Warrior’s a hell of a choice you’ve made though. I would’ve recommended Hunter to start with, it is the easy-mode of the game. Warrior being a melee DPS (or godforbid a tank) is comparatively less easy, in my experience at least.

    I love that your warrior has red hair though. Important detail!

  • It’s all “Kill ten kobold’s” now, but wait ’till you get to Westfall!

      • It may be one of the most blatant kill-ten-X quest chains, but I honestly love the Nesingwary questlines. All of them. And seeing them return with developments in every camp character’s personal story in every expansion was wonderful.

        (Also, D.E.T.A. had me in stitches. Oh the druids.)

        • I actually dont mind them either, doing STV’s one for the millionth time wasn’t so fun and the quests for BC camp were just god damn ridiculous

        • I only started enjoying the Nesingwary quests from the BC areas onwards! Especially loved the Wotlk chain!

  • I’ve been playing for many years, on and off since it began. I still consider the game fun – and there is certainly plenty to do. Remember to keep the tutorials on, they are a big help. At such a low level you still can’t purchase mounts or even use talents and glyphs, so there is still a great deal to discover.

    The website has a guide page here:

    which should really help you on your journey. It has breakdowns of all the classes, races and gameplay mechanics. It even has the main story of the game (it’s highly condensed), as well as a quick start guide for you.

    Blizzard recently added short 30 second class based videos on how best to attack, so check youtube for those. They offer a simple hint to how best to use your attacks.

    Hope all this helps.

  • To be fair, TOR is still very much alive. It doesn’t have the same numbers as WoW (of course) but since going F2P it’s reinvigorated itself and proven to be a steady ship in the land of MMO. It still has drawbacks, but it’s far from dead.

    • TOR is a pretty solid MMO in its own right, what keeps driving me away from it is what they’ve done to the cosmetics of gear.. when you clear the current PvE content you should get gear that looks as good as the stuff you can buy, instead you get gear that looks epic for money but get clown suits for clearing content… Pre F2P the raid gear looked absolutely amazing though. I still go back from time to time just to experience the story lines of a particular class =]

  • @markserrels I think the main thing you’re experiencing right now is how well WoW deals with new players. It’s super fun and easy to jump in and play, you don’t get overloaded with stuff, the interface is pretty clean, the pointers and tips are clear.

    Plenty other games fail at this. I just started wildstar a few weeks ago, and as a seasoned 7 year WoW veteran, I was able to jump in without any problems but even then, holy crap there’s a lot of menus, options, multiple quests and choices fight from the start. Picking paths and professions without knowing anything about them etc…. It was almost overwhelming and I couldn’t imagine a new player without MMO experience picking it up. I even had to install a few mods before the interface was remotely usable.

    Also as a side note. You’re not far in. The “grind” does get worse throughout the middle part of the game and does feel like a chore. That’s something that wildstar has done rather well. WoW drops the ball not because of a lack of content, but rather there is so much content that it’s almost impossible to introduce different types of quests or event. That being said, it’s roughly 1000x better than it used to be

  • After my last depressing post (basically being “that guy” that your intro talks about) I also should clarify that it is in fact a good game. You get out what you put in and that is where the time sink aspect comes in but you will have fun doing so the first time around. The quests that are designed to be funny (I know I know…back in the bucket. anyone?) are genuinely funny. the CSI quest you hit when you get to the next area the quest flow sends you is pretty great and any chain that plays homage to a particular source almost always does it justice.
    When you get jumped by a devilsaur in un’goro you will wonder how something so large got the jump on you. when you first get to outland you will feel like you are on an alien plane. when you ride on top of a dragon to save the world you will feel awesome.
    There is tons to like in the game but 9 characters in (hell, 3 characters)? that’s when you start to hear about the horrors of WoW.

  • I’m also happy just to be here, clicking on the bad guys, clicking on attacks.
    Hi Mark! Please don’t click on attacks! 🙂
    The correct (ie: my) way to play WoW is with WASD and mouse. You use left and right mouse buttons for turning and selecting game-world things, WASD for forward/back/strafing (S/D while holding right mouse down), and bind all those nifty attacks and other UI things to the nearest numerical keys to WASD and some of the neighbouring keys like QERTFY etc. Or to keys on your fancy gaming mouse if you have one. You’ll notice your game improve dramatically!

  • Oh, also… that unquantifiable sense of ‘fun’ you’re trying to put your finger on? It’s reward-based psychological manipulation. After you feel you might be done with this experiment (and preferably not during, lest you ruin the fun), I strongly recommend you look up some in-depth articles on skinner boxes. (Psychological experiments.) actually has a pretty good one which directly explains the correlation between WoW and skinner boxes. Once you’re a veteran, you’ll be able to readily identify how the techniques have been implemented in WoW.

      • Hey, just because you know what goes into the psychology of fun doesn’t always necessarily stop it being fun! I’m totally going to play Warlords of Draenor OK seriously auto-correct? Apple needs to sell a geek autocorrect dictionary with all the popular geek brands. They’ll make a mint.

  • Why else would everyone be here? Why would they have come here in the first place?

    Because Warcraft 3. WoW is a/the “sequel” to Warcraft 3. You could see Matrix Revolutions without seeing The Matrix and Matrix Reloaded… and maybe think it was an okay movie and not get why ppl don’t like it. I’m being a bit harsh though.

    But really it’s a great rpg, and one of the best open-world games. If you take simple pleasure from killing kobolds, then that’s wonderful. The problems really arise when you try to have personal or competitive accomplishments. Any gear that you get from a kobold will easily get replaced for something better… you could spend 2 hours killing them, or you could kill creatures that have a chance to drop a pirate hat, or pet, or give reputation to get an awesome mount for you to ride around on. The fun gives way to clicking thousands of fishing bobbers, killing hundreds/thousands of creatures&players, and investing hundreds/thousands of hours to get better loot. It may take years, but it stops being fun… and it becomes a chore… a chore that you pay for.

    • It’s unfortunate that you’re not having fun in the game any more, but it’s hardly an inevitability that everything stops being fun after an indeterminate amount of time. I’ve played since beta, I still play and I still have fun. It’s very cheap entertainment at $15/month and there’s plenty to do through the base game and 4 expansions worth of content.

      Naturally if you’re not having fun then you should stop playing – it’s a game, after all – but that’s a personal matter that everyone should be assessing individually, and not based on what other people think.

      • I had been playing the game since release up until earlier this year. I have 12 90’s. It remains “fun” in areas, yet as I mentioned; “The problems really arise when you try to have personal or competitive accomplishments”. A lot of the game is built upon that. I’d farmed Aeonaxx, Mysterious Camel Figurine, have well over 100 mounts, Insane in the Membrane and the Winterspring Frostsaber when it was hard, spent 2 weeks collecting crates on foot to get exalted with Stormwind on a gnome, and almost finished farming all the rare drops from the rares on Timeless Isle(5 left?). You could easily say “don’t do that then”… but as I mentioned; it’s built into the game and is often the only way to get certain rewards. Thousands of fireflies in Zangarmarsh, thousands of bobber clicks… spin it however you want, but the grinds and hours/days camping and farming are not fun unless you’re after that hamster level/reward thing. I won’t even get started on the fairness aspect with bots and team ganking. Before I played WoW, I was a gamer. I’m still a gamer. I play other games. I enjoy other games, usually for different reasons than I enjoy WoW. I’ve played UMvC3 and MvC2 all day, and Dota (2) all day… and these games continue to have their appeal, just like WoW does. What’s missing is the tedious grinding, and the obligation to look after an investment that you’ve WORKED so hard towards.

        And as I mentioned above, it’s not cheap entertainment. You could say it is compared to going out drinking or something, but it’s really a lot like trying to pay off a copy of Terminator 2. You’ll never do it. You pay for the game, and you’ll probably pay full price for the expansions if you like to stay current, and then you’ll pay your $15/month > $180/yr > over $900 if you play for over 5 years just for the subscription. Compare Diablo 3, which is free to play after you’ve bought the game. Most games are. How many games could you get during the Steam sales for $900? I spent many hundreds of dollars getting a Swift Spectral Tiger. How cheap exactly is this game? How much has the subscription price declined by after all these years since it is an old game? Is it 80% off now? Or are they still being Nintendo where you pay full price for an old game?

        WoW: it’s good and it’s bad.

        • Again, if you’re not having fun, don’t play. But that’s your personal matter and no one elses. Don’t try to spin you personally being burned out or tired of the game as some sort of inherent or universal thing, it isn’t. If you’re treating the game as an investment to be protected instead of a good time for your money, that’s your problem.

          And yes, it is cheap entertainment. Over the nearly 10 years I’ve been playing, I’ve spent $60 on the base game, $40 on each expansion ($220 box sales total), plus on average $14/month on subscriptions, which over 10 years is $1680, for a grand total of $1900, or $190 a year, or $15.83 a month. That’s less than the cost of one movie a month, less than the cost of three new games a year, less than the cost of three beers a month, less than the cost of a membership in a sports club, less than most other hobbies out there. In exchange for thousands of hours of fun and entertainment. You compare the cost against other games, tell me, are only three new games a year enough to keep you entertained? Or six half-price games a year? How many games did you buy in the last 12 months to keep you entertained? How long does one normal game last, in comparison with how long something like WoW lasts?

          Comparing WoW to Diablo 3 is pointless. Aside from the fact the games provide fundamentally different experiences, very few people have spent the same number of hours having fun in Diablo 3 as they have in WoW or other MMOs. Diablo 3 doesn’t have even close to the depth of content WoW had at launch, let alone now.

          You bought a trading card loot card from ebay for hundreds of dollars and you blame the game and its design why? You chose to spend the money on an item you didn’t need, that was purely cosmetic and gave you no in-game benefits at all. If you regret that purchase, again, that’s your problem and yours alone.

          The subscription fee has remained the same for the last 10 years, despite the amount of content it grants access to increasing more than threefold, despite the fact inflation over the past 10 years means it should have gone up. What distortion of logic leads you to think the price should have gone down even though you get more now than you did before?

          You haven’t paid ‘full price’ for the game since the end of Burning Crusade. The game has included all expansions but the most recent in the battlechest (the only version of the game you can buy other than old retail copies) for the whole life of the game. The current version includes the base game, Burning Crusade, Wrath of the Lich King and Cataclysm expansions for $20 ($25 AUD).

          • The thing is that it’s not JUST my opinion. Many, many, many people have quit over the years due to the reasons that I have mentioned; the money sink, the time sink, the bleeding-eye monotony… of which you didn’t acknowledge thousands of clicking fishing bobbers or camping for hours for a rare spawn, or killing thousands of flies in Zangarmarsh. It’s TRUE. WoW is simply good and bad. If you don’t want to acknowledge that, I really can’t do anything. It doesn’t stop it from being true though.

            I’m glad that you can justify the expense. However, $2k on ONE game is not cheap. D3 and WoW are both MORPG’s, and while I would say WoW is of higher quality… $2k can get you an insane amount of wonderfully awesome game experiences.

            Yep I chose to buy that card, much like I chose to subscribe to WoW. It was a high price and yet a justifiable expense at the time to me. The blame if anything is directed at milking money from the player base. According to some quick research, Blizzard have made over $8-$18.5Billion from WoW. Think about that. REALLY think about that please. I have paid full price for the game, as well as each of the expansions, as well as the subscription. If you look at your financial breakdown above… how much more money has Blizzard made from you for the subscription rather than the game itself? Almost 8 times as much. Buying the game itself is really trivial.

            I enjoy WoW, I’ll be resubscribing at least for awhile for Warlords of Draenor. I still don’t think it’s worth the subscription… but I’ll choose to get fleeced because I can’t play it unless I don’t. It’s like only having two options; watching Game of Thrones on Foxtel or not watching it at all. You can like GoT, you can hate Foxtel… and wanting to watch GoT doesn’t mean that you support Foxtel.

          • I’m curious, do you realise how much server hardware is needed to run an MMO? Or how much it costs to pay just the maintenance staff to look after server farms of the scale that Blizzard needs for WoW? Or the support and community management staff? You can’t seriously think they’re pocketing the $15/month and sitting back saying ‘lol suckers’.

            Since Diablo 3 shut down its auction houses, it’s a loss maker – the cost of box sales doesn’t even remotely cover the cost of the equipment needed to run it. Starcraft 2 is lucky in that it requires very little processing power server-side and the average player spends less time playing SC2 than D3 or WoW, and ongoing box sales help offset server costs.

            There’s no such thing as free. Diablo 3 isn’t free, it’s being paid for by other parts of Blizzard’s business. Guild Wars 2 isn’t free, it relies on people spending money in the microtransaction store and if that income drops below a certain level, that game shuts down. In fact, GW2 was Arenanet’s last hoorah, if it wasn’t commercially successful their company was facing bankruptcy, because their business model is highly volatile and unsustainable.

            At the end of the day, if you want the experience of a game with thousands of simultaneous players that costs a lot of money to operate, you need to pay money to help it operate. If you don’t, there are plenty of offline games that can fill the gap, but very few of those games hold people’s attention for longer than a year or two. Sure, plenty of people have stopped playing WoW for various reasons, but there are more people playing now in the non-Chinese regions than have quit the game. It’s pretty reasonable to believe that most of them play because they enjoy the game and find it worth their time and money, not because they’re ‘slaves to the machine’.

          • I know it costs a lot less than billions of dollars. I know that if the subscription were $10/month or even $5/month, Blizzard would still survive and thrive. At this point, it could probably even go free and the interest alone would pay for its upkeep. Justifying expenditure is fine. But you’re not… you’re justifying profit. If you look at PSN or Xbox Live, you not only get your servers and all that jazz, but you get “free” games as long as you subscribe… for a fraction of the subscription cost. At the end of the day, if you see that other games have dedicated servers, millions of dollars in prize money, etc and don’t charge a fraction of what WoW does, you might realize that there’s BILLIONS of dollars going to profit. Don’t forget that Blizzard also has the online store, as well as services such as paid character transfers, and paying for Blizzcon just for the stream and access to cosmetic stuff.

          • For World of Warcraft, there are 903 servers in 45 datacentres worldwide. According to financial statements, operating expenses for World of Warcraft are around $1.9B annually (FY13), with net income at $0.8B in the same year, including all service and store sales. That’s only a 29% margin – I don’t have video game industry figures specifically but the average American company profit margin in 2013 was 63%. It also doesn’t include the cost of development of new expansions. If subscription costs dropped below $10.64, the game would be unprofitable.

            I think you have a grossly unreasonable view of how much money Blizzard makes and how much is fair for them to make. It’s fine if you think it’s not worth your $15, but you’re a fool if you think what Blizzard charges is unreasonable.

          • An article by Luke Plunkett with no source, vs the official financial statements made by Blizzard to the US government that are legally required to be accurate. You’re not only the fool here, you’re more foolish than I thought you were.

            Here, try a valid source:

          • Sorry you really don’t help your case at all. I’ve worked as a payroll tax investigator so I have seen my fair share of financial records… and the records here include consolidated income from many sources of its portfolio including Call of Duty. Nothing purely WoW for expenses or income. You also quote random figures. Qualitatively and quantitatively, the truth is that they make a LOT of money compared to their upkeep. Wages, rent, server upkeep… it’s still millions vs billions, with the most conservative estimates still being many hundreds of millions of dollars as profit. It’s widely understood and accepted and you seem to be the lone voice arguing that it’s not… that the most successful and profitable MMORPG in history would be unprofitable if their subscription price dropped at all… while even their competitors are profitable without the premium online subscription price and services. If you think about how there is no subscription fee for any of Blizzard’s other games, the logical conclusion is that the associated costs must be factored into the price of the box games, or being held up the only other franchise that has an online subscription; WoW. I guess you just don’t want to admit it or are trolling.

            “Blizzard Entertainment, a division of Vivendi Games, has projected calendar 2007 revenues of $1.1 billion, operating margins of over 40% and approximately $520 million of operating profit. Blizzard owns the #1 multi-player online role-playing game franchise, World of Warcraft, which currently has over 9.3 million subscribers worldwide. Blizzard’s World of Warcraft, Warcraft®, StarCraft® and Diablo® games account for four of the top-five best-selling PC game titles of all time.”


          • You must be bad at your job. If you actually read the reports, you’d see the mention the breakdown percentages of how much of the operating costs come specifically from World of Warcraft. Not wasting any more time on you.

          • Wrong yet again. I have justified and substantiated what I have said while you have not. Even the online sub+ extra’s income which specifically mentions WoW in the footnote also is not pure as it includes CoD Elite, and that is income(which you could extrapolate, and is already roughly known from rudimentary math) not expenditure. When you are the only person in the wilderness making a claim that is contrary to what everyone else knows, the onus is on you to back it up with direct evidence.

            Thank you for bringing those resources to my attention, I did find them fascinating. Good day to you sir.

  • I have played MANY MMO’s since my time with WoW, both Free2Play and retail. And what I am finding is I actually miss the simplicity of Wow. So many MMO’s now try to be more action focused, for instance I am playing Wildstar at the moment, and its a constant job of moving. In WoW you simply stood in place most of the time and used your skill rotation. Thats also something I miss. Almost all MMO’s these days want to limit you to a handful of your talents that you can use at any one time. Wow allowed you to use them all, admittedly your screen was full of toolbars, but everything was available to you once unlocked.

    I said I would never go back to WoW after 4 years with it, but after about the same amount of time not playing now, I am starting to miss it.

    • You’re not going to like WoW in the next expansion then, they’re reducing the number of abilities and skills even more. And if you’ve been away for four years… you won’t recognise the talent trees any more because there aren’t any, they took them out and replaced them with some super simplified “pick one of three” talent options. It makes me wonder if Blizzard have their eye on the console market and are trying to simplify WoW to the point it can be played easily on an xbox/ps controller.

      • Yeah, losing the talent trees kinda shat me at first, since back in the day I really loved my hybrid unholy/frost build that was pretty damn amazing for tanking before blood overtook it unofficially (then officially).

        God knows I logged in after like… six months of not having played when they implemented it, and was wondering where all my cool shit went, but on investigation, it seems like all they really did was take out the no-brainer ‘take this talent or you’re a drooling moron’ talents, and fold them into automatically-granted skills or passives gained at level.

        There was only ever really the illusion of choice if you were even moderately switched on, let alone performing well enough to not get tossed out of any raid you walked into. In any given DK tank build, you’d have maybe two styles, but after that you were really arguing over where you placed the only three non-mandatory points to get whichever utility option.

        In that respect, the talent ‘tree’ (enh) as it stands now probably offers more actual choice than the crowdsourced optimal cookie-cutter that everyone knew as best practice.

        I don’t MIND the illusion of choice – I kinda like it, in fact. But I could go either way. I can see why they did it and it makes sense, but I miss getting points to allocate every level, even if you could predict with 99% certainty where they were going to go, making them effectively a non-choice. I still liked doing it.

        • If you’re trying to maximise raid performance definitely. It did however allow for some interesting hybrids. I had a couple friends playing priests who’d run about halfway down both Disc & holy without getting all the way to the final talents because it worked better for them. Similarly, I ran a boomkin tank for a couple fights where I took a number of the bear (tanking) talents to make an uncrittable caster with more armour than the regular tanks in our raid. And I’m sure there were many more interesting tweaked builds for special occasions.

          • Yeah! I miss the true hybrids, but I guess they just wanted to prevent people from gimping themselves. Hard to say if we’re better off for it. Part of their annoying push to get everyone into raids, because they think we should all really enjoy raiding because it’s the only way to get more shinies or progress your character. Would kill for some challenging, raid-difficulty solo or small-group adventures as an equally viable means of progressing for those who are allergic to large groups.

  • I’ll probably cop some hate here, but I have to say it…

    At level 8 after 4 hours… you can’t really comment on the quality of the game. The banal, grindy tasks you’ve been given… what about 10 quests? Getting to level 8 takes no time at all and requires barely any effort (even in the rubbish gear you get starting the game). It’s all about getting the player used to the controls for movement and the basic mechanisms of gameplay. It has practically nothing to do with story or actual “game”… you’re basically not out of the tutorial yet.

    Does that sound elitist? Probably, and for that I’m sorry. But look at it this way, you’ve experienced about one hundredth of 1 percent of the game and you make comments about quests being banal and grindy? You really need to stop playing now. Why? Because even though there is a ton of amazing stuff in the game there is a lot more grindy, slow stuff as well.

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