Before we begin, allow me to state clearly: This is not post meant to hate on peoples systems or circumstances surrounding. I don’t want people getting elitist about their, or desired systems… And I don’t people who read or reply to this thread to feel like they have to defend themselves. This is meant to be an calm discussion about the give and take of system requirements, investment in your entertainment, and the wants/needs of innovation.
Now, to begin.
World of Warcraft launched in 2004. It launched with a rather paltry set of system requirements. To shorten this section, here is a handy bullet-point list of the differences between World of Warcraft (2004) and Warlords of Draenor (2014):
it took 10yrs for the game to require GB’s worth of ram, double digit gb’s of storage, and discrete/powered GPUs. That is long time. And anyone who has played through the years that each expack, blizz find a way to fine tune and otherwise improve the visuals of this behemoth.
The changes have been there, but have incremental. It is inevitable that change needs to happen. Blizzard needs to innovate the game, and they want to make it available to the largest segment of players possible. The meme of the potato PC draws laughs and jeers… but the fact is, WoW has been (traditionally) playable on the quintessential potato.
Fast forward to BfA. While it wasn’t specifically listed as a requirement… I think most players discovered the benefit/difference between using HDD to load into Boralus or Dalaran… vs SSD. The amount of resources (by neccessity) that the game needs to load are not getting any smaller or simpler. With that being the case. Blizzard obviously knows what the range of systems is that play their game. They try as they can to ride that line… But at some point, Blizzard needs to stop being the one to give ground.
Which is where we get to the more controversial part of this conversation. I am going to say something that might seem fairly controversial: If you have something that you enjoy doing, and want to keep doing it… You need to be willing to invest a bit into it.
It can be hard to determine where the line is between modest and justifiable investment and bleeding edge, expensive tech… Especially for those who are not tech savvy. That being said, looking at the recent updates to the SL minimum system requirements… I am not seeing anything that should be really raising heckles.
-SSD as a requirement. This was added after the release date announcement. I can understand the frustration regarding not just the decision… But also the tardiness of it. But let’s look at what it is.
It is entirely possible that as the development cycle continued, that load requirements were becoming more and more burdensome than they could manage without ruining developed resources. Shadowlands is VAST, and has a massive color pallette and landscape. And there are lots of resources at play. I think in many ways, the change to SSD had to be one of the most anticipated moves for WoW to make. It is also, arguably, one of the cheapest. SATA is standard on every motherboard produced after 2009. You can get a functional 2.5" or 3.5" 240gb SSD for under $50. It doesn’t require any crazy system upgrades… it is basically plug and play. It also represents one of the most dramatic improvements you can make to your gaming experience today. That said… If the game does not require a SSD on loading (as in, it does not decline to install to a HDD) then having that requirement seems frivolous. If, however, they have decided that when SL launches, it will actually require it… I think this is something that they should have AT LEAST indicated when SL was announced. I think it would have prevented the volume of confusion and frustration that is become prevalent.
-GPU requirement increase. This goes without saying, but: incremental increases in GPU requirement is not something new to gaming… Or ANY application really. That said, considering what Blizzard has been able to do with the engine, and presumably with the required hardware is quite commendable really. Shadowlands lists GeForce GTX 870 as the minimum required. It is a laptop gpu from 2014. Heck, you can get a 1050ti for 160 bucks, or for 100 more you can get a GTX 1660ti and be WELL OVER the minimum for a decent number of games.
It is my opinion that for those who are struggling to justify making a single or multi-part upgrade, with a system old enough as to not meet the min specs (of which components themselves are all ready 5 to 7yrs old), I have to ask the question: How long should an application be beholden to ancient equipment while still needing to innovate and be competitive from a product stand point?
no real TL;DR here other than: I don’t think it is too much to ask for a person to invest some amount into a hobby they enjoy. And blizzard really does, overall, do an amazing job of minimizing that investment requirement.
I am sorry if some of the points aren’t written perfectly. Tried to word it as best I could.
Blizzard has responded, in another thread, and updated both players and the website regarding storage requirements. Here is the blue post: