In part one, I discussed the many mistakes from Blizzard’s game, World of Warcraft. Your reactions were definitely colorful, and I will admit it is very easy to sit back and talk about what mistakes someone is making without giving any solutions or ideas for change. I decided from the start to make this a two part article because of the length, and it is also very difficult to write something positive while talking about the negative. Now, in part two, I will discuss the changes Blizzard needs to make to retain their player base through the release of some upcoming MMO’s.
The first thing Blizzard needs to do is to stop releasing new content faster than the players can enjoy it. Some could argue that even the level 60 content was cut off too soon. Naxxramas was barely scratched by guilds before the level 70 expansion was released. And now, with level 80 fast approaching, Black Temple and Sunwell will be placed on a shelf to collect dust. One example of how World of Warcraft developers can fix their endgame content is by utilizing a system already in place, the heroic instances. A simple questline to take a player through a five man instance and gain items would grant a key to access the heroic instance. The heroic instance, with different encounters and loot, would drop items that could be combined to form a larger key. This larger key could grant access to the ten man instance, with larger encounters and better loot, leading onto the ten man heroic. The quests would eventually lead to a 25 man heroic endgame raiding instance. These instances could also be time released or released by server participation, much like the Sunwell Isle coming in patch 2.4. This is a great example on how to keep the ingame content fresh and new for existing players, while still offering a fun challenge to newer players.
You have now seen how easy it is to add depth to something by just doing something as simple as zoning into an instance and gathering loot. Blizzard needs to do more things to add depth to their game to keep their players’ attention. The crafting, player versus player, and leveling systems all need to be rehashed. The crafting in World of Warcraft is very shallow in terms of what you can do. There is no type of wood work or lumberjacking, no tinkerer or small metal worker, and no form of cultivating or farming. While the crafting and gathering systems in WoW play a small role in the game itself, they are some of my favorite elements in MMO’s. My suggestion is to go through the professions and add detailed specializations. For example, a miner could specialize in masonry and craft stone pieces for crafting and player housing decorations. Having a very detailed crafting system can be tedious, but it is also very rewarding and gives the players a sense of ownership to their character. I have no feeling of pride in my 375 mining, should I?
The player versus player (PvP) system in World of Warcraft is in need of change. The focus should not be gear and the journey to obtain that gear. The only war in WARcraft is in the name. Blizzard has another attempt at World PvP coming in the expansion, but it’s just more of the herding of players into specific areas to do their battles. The game needs large scale battles outside of the instanced battlegrounds. Give the players goals and purpose to attack the other faction’s cities and villages and allow players to temporarily destroy or capture flight paths. Blizzard’s attempt at world pvp in the Outlands crashed before it got off the runway. Allowing players to fight over a measly 5% buff to damage is not going to coax anyone into fighting over towers. A quick fix would be to give the opposing faction a 10% debuff to their damage, no one likes a debuff. Basically, there needs to be more cause and effect in WoW’s PvP. Capture a village and the flight paths are unavailable there for an hour or until recaptured, and should I dare say it, earn experience, gold and loot from destroying and capturing villages.
I discussed the woes of leveling in World of Warcraft in the previous article. Leveling has seen some vast improvements recently, but these help the solo player more than the groups. My suggestion to Blizzard is to remove the loss of experience in groups and replace it with a large bonus. Reward those players who quest and level together; do not punish them. When fighting the creatures in WoW, sometimes they are too difficult at levels above your own. Two level 40 characters should be able to kill a level 50 creature, instead of having their attacks dodged and their spells resisted. With the level cap moving to 80, Blizzard will need to release another cut in experience needed or find new ways players can earn experience.
I have two new suggestions for World of Warcraft that will come as nothing new to most, but they are very important to keeping this game as big as it is now. As soon as they can get it in the game, player housing needs to make an appearance. Player owned housing gives MMO’s huge depth. Players could choose to buy a house in a variety of sizes and shapes. Once that the player has chosen their house, the crafting system plays an important role with providing thousands of items to customize the house. Maybe you want that thorium slate table inlaid with azurite diamonds or nice wooden wall hangings carved by your favorite wood worker… the possibilities are truly endless. I am not quite sure what Blizzard is waiting for to add this great (promised) feature to WoW.
My other suggestion is to change the loot system. Currently you fight through a dungeon and loot the final boss only to find it dropped 3 items that no one in your party can even use. This system should be replaced with a token loot system. This would give players the choice on what piece of loot to use their tokens on. In addition to the tokens, bosses could drop rare patterns, crafting items and some gear or weapons. This change would benefit all players and give more freedom to the players on what loot they want to save up for first. A good example of how this can be applied is the current badge system used in heroic instances.
World of Warcraft is a great game and has only done great things for the MMORPG community. It has literally brought the MMO players out of the closet and into the living room. There are millions of players logging into WoW each and every day. Blizzard has made it very easy to play their game and get involved and addicted. The ability to sell MMO’s used to be based on how well you could market your game to the players at gaming conventions. Right now, all that a new company needs to do to be convincing a portion of the World of Warcraft population to try their game. If only 10% of current WoW players purchase a new MMO, that’s roughly 600,000 copies of their game sold. Blizzard cannot stop their players from trying out other games, and they should not try to. Their goal in the next year should be to provide a more detailed and in-depth game without sacrificing the ease of play of World of Warcraft. While this would be impossible to some, I have a feeling Blizzard is up for the challenge.
Source World of Warcraft, The Sinking Ship (Part 2) by The Game Reviews