Friday, June 03, 2011

WoW's magic winding down

An article from The Motley Fool wonders why Activision/Blizzard stocks are remaining flat, and the author points out that "it's the games." Activision/Blizzard games tend to be concept games, which is hard to sell to a public that likes character games, like Mario Brothers, Tomb Raider, Witcher, Dragon Age and so on.

The best-selling Activision game Call of Duty: Black Ops is the sixth in a series of concept games that is wearing thin.

World of Warcraft is slipping after losing 600,000 subscribers between 2010 and 2011, according to The Motley Fool. That loss shows the latest expansion, Cataclysm, was not well received by subscribers. It also shows the number of subscribers has peaked and will never grow beyond what it is. The number of hours needed to play the game is a deterrent to casual play. A player should be able to pick a game up and just play for an hour or two, then go back to it on a casual basis. World of Warcraft is much more demanding than that, requiring hour after hour of character development, crafting and raiding. Blizzard then makes huge changes in how characters are played for every expansion, leaving players to wonder how to play characters they have been developing since game launch. Blizzard seems to want to encourage new players, rather than keep old players.

The way Blizzard develops a game is also illustrated by how Diablo has changed drastically every time it is upgraded. Diablo I was launched with three character types: Rogue, Warrior and Mage. The non-Blizzard expansion added a couple of characters. Diablo II was launched with five entirely different characters: Amazon, Paladin, Barbarian, Sorceress and Necromancer. The Lord of Destruction expansion added two characters: Assassin and Druid. Diablo III is taking an entirely different direction with characters, except for one: Barbarian, Witch Doctor, Wizard, Demon Hunter and Monk. It is hard to guess what an expansion will have for characters, and Blizzard likes it that way. The concept again encourages new players, rather than keeping old players.

Blizzard is working on a new concept for an MMO, and it must make that game a reality soon or risk losing audience as its current lineup grows old.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Back to the free games

I am going back to the free games, ones without a monthly fee. I have always felt that the monthly fee is something that gets in the way of playing. If I pay a monthly fee, somehow I feel obligated to play that game, so I can get as many hours as I can on that game. I certainly can't see playing more than one game with a monthly fee, like many of the bloggers I read. Monthly fees are time-based. If you are paying a fee for two games, while you play one game, you are paying for the one you are not playing. It is a little like cable TV, where you pay for hundreds of stations while you can only watch one at a time.

I was reading in one blog a debate about two audiences in WoW: the questers and the raiders. The questers tend to play alone, enjoying the leveling experience by doing quests and crafting. The raiders like to play in groups by leveling in instances, then going on to the end-game raids, using crafting, I suppose, only for boosting the character's raiding ability.

I am more of a quester, because I have been disappointed so often by the instances and raiding. The unevenness of pugs is one thing I dislike. So many times members of pugs are not only rude and unmannerly but they tend to push their own priorities on others, rather than be understanding of the needs of others. Members of pugs can be either all braves and no chief or all chiefs and no braves. I have had members of pugs leave because the group was not fast enough, or members constantly say, "hurry up," like they don't have time for an instance unless it goes fast. As a tank, I bailed from one group that was particularly pushy and caused me to make a fatal mistake that caused a wipe. I am too sensitive to what others are typing in the chat box, but if I ignore it that causes more problems.

Ideally, members of a guild should quest together, but that doesn't always happen because of raid schedules or instance runs. Not all agree that questing is fun, and I have to admit that quests get boring after the third or fourth time, and not many agree that instances get boring after the same number of times.

Raiding is terribly boring to me, like banging my head against a wall night after night. I can never figure out what exactly is needed to complete some raids, although I have tried over and over to do what I am supposed to. I have completed some complicated instances with my guild, but some have taken months to figure out, so I fail to see where the fun is.