I was watching a recent Bellular video on the topic about the declining interest in 8.2 content, and he asked some interesting questions to the effect of, “Has the camel’s back of WoW finally broken?”
I’m a Blizzard sympathizer. I appreciate all the work they do. I love WoW and have played it for 14 years. I’ve read the John Staats book and I have a good idea of how much time, effort, and money has gone into developing and maintaining this game. Furthermore, I genuinely like the content and themes for BfA. I love the pirates, and the trolls, and the art, and all that!
That having been said, BfA thus far has been a failure in the eyes of many players. Why?
It’s something that players have been trying to tell Blizzard since BfA alpha first went live. The game systems and class mechanics are less fun than previous expansions.
The content is great, but it doesn’t matter if your class isn’t as fun to play as it used to be. Game mechanics and your class is the window through which you view the world of content. If it’s all scratched and busted, then your experience is subpar regardless of the view.
This isn’t just me being salty as a former arcane mage (although I am and there’s that), this is about post-Legion changes that happened for everybody which didn’t feel good. Let’s enumerate some of them:
- Losing artifact weapon traits.
- Rearranging talent trees to add abilities we previously had on our artifact.
- No additional character abilities or traits beyond level 100.
- A second stats crunch on top of an item level crunch after just having added scaling while leveling, thus breaking a great deal of it.
- Adding offensive cooldowns to the GCD caused significant clunkiness for many specs.
- Very little Blizzard communication during alpha and beta explaining the reasons for various changes.
- Perception that BfA development was rushed (poor QA and unpopular game systems changes).
To add fuel to this fire of unhappy players, Ion has focussed the Q/A sessions on content, which furthers the perception that Blizzard has washed their hands of class design in this expansion. Blizzard has essentially told players that classes cannot be redesigned mid-expansion, which on the surface makes sense, but then you realize your favorite class/spec is in a terrible spot and… well… better luck in 9.0?
This is a terrible state of perception. Blizzard needs to address this, soon. All the best content in the world (and I believe it’s still great) won’t fix these problems.
The fix is to spend the time and effort to go through (as in Legion) each and every spec and work with their respective communities to give players the game systems they want. If that isn’t feasible, then there are too many specs and the entire class system needs redesigned, because it’s unmaintainable.
I just want throw these types of rhetorical questions at the devs (which we did throughout alpha and beta), for any given spec: Do you actually play this spec? Is it fun? Is it more fun than Legion?
Ion gets credit for being honest in the Q/A sessions. He’s actually said that they agree with the feedback. Leveling doesn’t feel great. The GCD doesn’t feel great. Losing abilities doesn’t feel great.
All these things don’t feel great. Great. So, is there any mystery as to why the game has been hemorrhaging subs throughout BfA? Is there any question as to why people are disinterested in 8.2 content?
I don’t believe the game is beyond repair, and I remain optimistic that 9.0 will respond to a great deal of these problems. It’s just frustrating that it’s going to take two years to see the problems that we saw in BfA alpha fixed.