I simply love Carbot animations – even if he’s always been more about Starcraft and HotS, he did a number of spot-on videos about WoW (and Diablo). As he usually hits the nail on the head, I would disagree with the latest video nevertheless. Approach with care, cause it’s a tear jerker:
I do not want to devalue or cancel his or commenters feelings and experience, but I don’t think it’s the game’s fault in what he describes, and problems he addresses are not the actual reason – or rather, not a reason for all of us. My experience is quite different, so I actually felt the urge to argue with the whole thing.
1. Initial excitement as you purchase the game. For everyone it’s different expansions, different entry points where everything feels new, fun and exciting. My entry point was WotLK leveling, and then Cata account from scratch which remains until now, same main. I did not see Vanilla/TBC/WotLK content otherwise than leveling through it. I acknowledge the continents, raids, dungeons and stories, but god forbid I play classic versions. I leveled as far as Loch Modan and level 12 in Classic, and it was so painful and uninspiring that I dropped it for good. TBCC – couldn’t even create a character. Likewise, other expansions are a thing of the past for me: it was good, but I played enough and moved on.
2. Lack of Socialization. Dungeon finder joke appears in the end, and that’s not correct – as if it were the problem of a current game. We had LFG since what, Cataclysm? Then, I’ve experienced collecting groups to Deadmines and alike in my time – and no, it was not good. The choice here is simple: would you rather play and consume content, or build up bonds? I’d rather not risk a whole evening spent for finding a group and having one (1) very pleasant run with great chatting people – I have my goals and my path, and hi / ty gg would quite suffice. Btw, FFXIV which is often advertised as a socialization king has the very same dungeon finder and the very same hi / gg silent parties.
3. Reducing player numbers. True, but is it always the game’s fault? People tend to grow up, gain responsibilities, and younger generations would rather pick up games with less commitment – faster titles and even genres. If you had a bubbling, happy guild, and then some got kids, jobs, married, saw the W3 lore resolved (in WotLK and later Legion), simply grew out of gaming – in short, many reasons – it’s not the game’s fault maybe?
Let me tell you something: this sort of thing happens in EVERY sphere of human life. You had your classmates and neighbour kids, then college/university mates, job teams that had great parties after work, and subculture meetings/festivals/concerts/groups-by-interest. You’re so lucky if you’re still bonding – and kept at least 1 person from every social group you still deal with, meet over a beer and spend bithdays and holidays together.
I had a bustling time as we played TMNT on NES, Mortal Kombat on SMD, watched and discussed Disney Afternoon and roleplayed the 80s/90s action movies with my neighbour kids. I had a best friend in school as we bonded over punk rock bands. I had a punk rock band of my own in the university and a great university community of 10+ boys and girls who drank together, walked all the city top to bottom – and in the nights too, explored the urban and forest wilds and spent some amazing time together. I had several job friends and even communities who’d rather a beer or a dozen after work together than go home, because we liked each other so much that we couldn’t just split up.
Finally, as a leader of a metal band I was one of local metal community stars in the vibrant club life of late 2000s-early 2010s. As in you barely enter any local metal show and immediately find a party to socialize – and often even moving overnight from a club to somebody’s place with a group of 10 or so, to meet the next morning with hangover and in an unknown part of the city :)
It is interesting, huh: 150+ people at a local metal gig with local bands were a given in the end of 2000s. Today? 20-30 is a great success. Most bands split up due to it’s always been an expensive hobby for a local scene, not a job – and with responsibilities growing, marriage, kids… you can’t just spend every night and weekend at the clubs drinking and socializing. Does that remind you of anything? Anything?
So yes, it’s a normal process when people change – their lives change, their responsibilities change, their interests change – and they go apart. And if other people are the only thing that holds you with a hobby or any activity – well, I’ve got bad news for you. Of course, you may appreciate it exactly for the people involved and community you had… But video games, metal music, crochet, rock climbing and whatnot don’t become worse because of this on their own. I consider myself lucky I never had a guild I felt deeply attached to or friends to play with, because it saves me from any frustration of the sort.
Speaking of player numbers in general: WoW should be barren now, but it’s actually not. Even on Monday night, in this stage of content drought I went for a bit of emissary world questing yesterday – first time in a month, and I had a competition on a grindy, unpopular world quest. I found a group for group quest in a matter of 15 seconds. There was a dozen people on Maw souls quest. Oribos is bustling, and there are more people than in some FFXIV Gridania, it seemed so. Let me remind you: it’s Monday, content drought at its peak.
4. In-Game Shop & Services. That’s just hypocritical, let me tell you that. The game has never made an emphasis to selling anything apart from unnecessary cosmetics, character services tendency is migration to barbershop if anything, and boosts address exactly the aging player base that has not so much time playing anymore, but earns enough to pay for a boost (which is also not a new thing, btw). Purists are welcome NOT to pay and have a genuine leveling experience – after all, isn’t what classic reboots are all about?
In conclusion, Carbot and follower feelings concerning the video are genuine, but:
1. It doesn’t hit the game’s actual problems on the head, which are: complex borrowed power systems we’re tired of, miscalculation of anima amounts & grind, and content drought due to patch and expansion development delays.
2. If you see people losing interest, friends leaving and numbers dwindling, it’s not always the game’s fault – in fact, it’s a normal process, and I dare you to find a community or an activity in your life which persists through decades. It’s the rarest luck if you have one.
3. Frankly, I dismiss the “two decades ago my penis was harder” sentiments :)
So: I think the nail was hit on the head, but it’s not the game’s head, but rather certain players’ head. And not all players, mind you. Some of us manage to carry this sense of wonder and excitement throughout expansions, and still have fun playing – while acknowledging the problems, sure, but WoW is still better than its “killers” in comparison :) And if your perception changes, and your community disbands – it’s not the end of the world in any case.
P.S.: Comments starting with “I stopped playing WoW in WotLK… [insert expansion name]” don’t have a say in this discussion.