Bozzley

WoWcraft

No doubt this will be one of many posts about World of Warcraft.

World of Warcraft. It’s a fucker. It’s the elephant in the boardroom of any other MMOG publisher. It’s the blatant exception to the “PC gaming is dying” argument (and possibly to the Mac gaming one too). It’s the game that gamers love to hate, and yet it makes a metric fuckton of cash every second of every day. It’s the game you can mention to non-gamers where they won’t necessarily immediately assume you’re a killer in waiting like them Columbine boys. It does tons of things that make (for want of a better phrase) the “hardcore” gamers recoil in horror, and yet it’s got an audience that any FPS game will never see. It’s a game which inspires co-operation and competition, and sometimes both at the same time. And it rarely takes itself too seriously.

If World of Warcraft was a film (and I know it’s going to be one, but it isn’t yet, and so my simile or metaphor should work for a while), it would be a Pixar film. Pixar make films that appeal to a very very broad spread of people of all ages and types. Their films are all distinct, with their own separate art styles, and yet they all share, for want of a better word, a “look” which is instantly recognisable as theirs. Their films are clearly labours of love, and have been honed to perfection.

Blizzard seem to have stolen Pixar’s play book and copied it verbatim. Where they differ is the styles of content. Pixar just make films. Blizzard make outdoor areas (lots of huge ones), instances (or dungeons, separated from the outdoor areas), raids (instances for up to 40 people at a time), arenas (areas for 2, 3 or 5 man or woman teams to do battle in) and battlegrounds (areas for players to do battle in, can be the size of instances or outdoor areas). If you can’t tell from this list, Blizzard have made tons of content for their players. Tons and tons. And the genius of the way they’ve made their game is that you don’t have to do it all. They’re not precious with their creations. You can pick and choose what parts of the game you want to do. You can concentrate on one type of content and ignore all the others if you like. To a certain extent, you can shape the experience you want to have in the game.

The game will even let you ignore the first two “M”s of “MMOG” if you like. You don’t have to play with other people. You can do most of it on your own. It’ll be boring as watching shit drying, but you can do it. And a lot of people do.  But if you do that, you’re really truly missing out.

Because I’ve met some fucking wonderful people online through Warcraft. And most of them aren’t your typical (or stereotypical) people. The one thing that Blizzard probably doesn’t get enough credit for is that they’ve made a game which not only appeals to a broad spread of people, but it also has the appeal to keep them playing. And if you play the game for any length of time, you’re bound to meet some of them and chat.

Also, note the word “people”. Not “men”. Or even “women”. I doubt it’s an even spread, but there’s representation from both sexes in there. Sure, you get women playing Bejeweled on Facebook or whatever, but this is a massively multiplayer online game. This is traditionally the realm of the male of the species, and yet there’s bajillions of women playing it every day, taking the game just as seriously (or not) as the men.

Blizzard have also brought something traditionally “hardcore” to the table, too. Modding. This is usually the realm of the ultra-fan, the hardest of the hardcore, and usually someone with ambitions to get paid to make games eventually. Blizzard have enabled all sorts of fucking mental creativity by allowing people to create LUA scripting or whatever it is that adds to the game. And because the barriers to entry are so low (you got Notepad and Paint? You can probably make a mod), there’s tons of people doing it, doing it, and doing it well (thanks LL Cool J).

Love or hate the game, if you look at the game properly, you gotta admit that World of Warcraft does lots of things very very well. Things that other developers can’t or won’t do. Things that bring Blizzard untold riches via the £10 a month subscriptions, and the £30 starting price (and the £15 expansion packs too, of course).

It’s a stunning achievement. It’s nearly 5 years old, and it’s still getting bigger, and better, and it’s still pulling in new customers (and getting old ones back).

2 Comments

    If only I were as eloquent as you, this is what I would have said when you were harping on about that shite Warhammer and that other shite LOTR and all the other shite that tried to be as good as wow and didn’t even come close.. ;o) I mean, this is exactly what I meant ! Bliz got it right, at the right time and the rest (although they may have had some of the original ideas that have probably been pinched by blizz) jumped on the bandwagon and did so maybe a little too late. Nice post anyway bro.

  • I could talk about WoW for fucking years, and no doubt I’m gonna post about it again and again, but one of the main points I’ll be covering is what you’ve just said right up there – “Bliz got it right, at the right time”.

    To be fair, Blizzard stole a lot from Warhammer (the tabletop game), and a lot from Everquest, and subsequently a bit from Warhammer (the MMOG), but most if not all MMOGs after WoW stole tons from Blizzard, and yet WoW is still the biggest of them all. There’s no other game in history that has had the effect that WoW has.

    I’m intending to do a post on where Blizzard have dropped the ball over the years (cos you know me, can’t be too nice about anything without sticking a knife in somewhere :D), but I know already it’ll be fairly fucking small compared to what they got right.

    Which is ironic really, cos what they got right most of all is fairly fucking small – gnomes 😉

    Nice comment, bud. Thanks for reading.

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