If Blizzard Does It…

I’ve got a bit of a rant today.  As y’alls (see I’m becoming a Texan!) know, ranting tends to be a crazy amount of information that might make sense somewhere. Onward!

First off – my own disclaimer.  Blizzard has made some awesome games and will continue to do so. They are a powerhouse to reckon with, whether you like their games or not, who owns them now or not. Whether you love or hate their policies, they have done some pretty cool things for the gaming industry.  What is the expression?  With great actions comes a greater responsibility – I think that’s what it is.  So I’m not bashing Blizzard, just analyzing how they are changing things.

I’ve been around the games industry once or thrice (Who am I kidding? I’ve been around a long time.) and I’ve seen a growing trend of people in the industry that say “Well, if Blizzard can do it, so can we.”

This irritates me to no end.  It does.

Lets face it World of Warcraft is an awesomely successful game, with 10 million strong players, expansions, revamps, you name it.  This is where I will become unpopular – World of Warcraft was NOT the first MMO.  That’s right, it might of been many – their first online RPG, but in fact it wasn’t the first one.  It seems that folks forget that.  Of course it is easy to forget though, since usually most of us remember those fond moments of our first MMO where we fell in love and got totally addicted to the game.  It is the nature of games, where you think back to that special time when you ran home to play a game you loved so.  Much like real love, those first memories are usually very deep ingrained into your psyche.  (Of course some of those end with hate either game or love interests but that is a rant for another time.)

Blizzard did things right when World of Warcraft came out, they took the best features of games out during that time, expanded upon them, added their own unique quality and made sure it was playable on your little brother’s hand me down PC that was lucky to boot up.  Smart move and it caught on like gangbusters.

Fast forward to modern day – World of Warcraft remains in the top levels of MMOs even after many years and expansions – and troubles.

Why is it that World of Warcraft is what upcoming games are based off of? Have they perfected MMOs so much that there isn’t anywhere to go?

The problem is the perception that so many people have played WoW and that the elements in WoW need to be included in all present and future games.  I disagree.  I think those elements that work need to be in the games but improved upon just like Blizzard did back in the day.  Just because World of Warcraft has it, doesn’t mean it has to be in your game.

Does this apply merely to the game design/development process?  Of course not.

I was talking to a friend the other day about Community and how the Community Managers are starting a new trend – they are making their roles about them, not the players that they are supposed to be representing, supporting and informing.  While I’m not crazy enough to use any examples here, I’m not on a witch hunt.  But when I mentioned examples of the trends I’ve been seeing from Developers and Community folks alike on how they treat their communities, I was told – “Well if Blizzard can treat their players that way…then it makes it okay for everyone else.”

That is incorrect.

It’s time to break free from what we know and what we know is acceptable because that’s what a certain company does.  It’s time to take what we’ve learned from World of Warcraft and everything involved with the upkeep of our MMOs and strive to make it better.  Otherwise everything will simply be a cookie cutter over and over again.

I like cookies, but sometimes too many chocolate chip cookies get boring, time to spice it up, with some chilli peppers or crazy ingredients, maybe some eggplant or evil broccoli, whatever it takes to take what we know and push the boundaries and break out of being generic.

We can do it Games Industry, it’s time to break free from what we know and are used to.  We need to re-analyze how we click buttons, do quests, explore the world and most of all have fun and be innovative.

It’s also up to gamers to welcome change instead of playing the same things because it is easy.

Easy mode has it’s place and time, but I don’t see the appeal of buying a new game because it seems familiar with a little twist.

And that ends this rant, with many little rants that might be sparked by this.

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