Will I Ever Return to WoW?
With Kotick at the reigns, this had a very simple answer. No.
Kotick, the man who threatened to have his former assistant killed. The man who when faced with allegations of sexual assault of his private jet’s pilot against a flight attendant… Fired the attendant. And not least of all, the man who knew for years of the sexual harassment issues at his company and at least in one case event intervened to have a perpetrator not be fired…
Well, to say the least — whether or not I would ever return to WoW was hardly a question I had to even contemplate. While I sympathise with the argument that refusing to play, buy or subscribe to their products has the potential to impact those already most harmed by such incidents, I just can’t get behind it. No judgement to those who do- it just wasn’t for me. Pete did a good job of expressing much of how I felt in his post, Moral Outrage and Collateral Damage.
But with Microsoft acquiring ActiBlizz and it all but a sure thing that Kotick will be shown the exit as part of the proceedings, it becomes something of a point to ponder again.
Particularly in light of Kaylriene’s recent post wondering the same and Bhagpuss’ follow-up to it.
First — it’s worth addressing that I find it difficult to say with any certainty that I’m ever truly done, once and for all, with WoW. I’ve quit many times over the years, some of which I thought to be ‘for good’, before inevitably being dragged back by friends for the next expansion.
But even putting everything Kotick and Blizzard culture-related aside — I’ve never before been so exasperated with the game. It has long been travelling a path I just simply don’t enjoy. Kaylriene spoke of his guild, historically, being made up of a lot of ‘raid-loggers’. That’s me! That’s 100% me. I was more than happy to login for a raid, do said raid, and log out again until next time.
My subscription was never at risk despite probably a lower than average number of hours logged into the game. I enjoyed this. I certainly played more hours when I was gearing up at the start of an expansion or playing an alt but once ‘established’ the flexibility of being able to play other things and still raid on demand was fantastic.
More and more over the years, Blizzard has decided that isn’t enough. Thou shalt do dailies. Thou shalt rep grind if thy desire flight. Again. Thou shalt engage in xyz mechanic which will mean nothing in the next
expansion patch. Just stop it.
It’s probably telling, too, that I’ve given up any hope of WoW actually being good or heading down a truly healthy path of longer-term systems development. At this point, I’d be pleasantly surprised if it managed to abandon the philosophy of holding its players hostage. Because that’s how even thinking about playing WoW again makes me feel- that I’m a prisoner, beholden to do exactly as prescribed if I want to participate in the systems I do actually enjoy.
But this is perhaps where I do diverge from Bhagpuss’ thinking.
“When End of Dragons drops, though, I’m going to feel obligated to give it some serious attention, even though right now I can honestly say I’ve rarely been less interested in an expansion for any game I was actually playing.”Bhagpuss (2022), ‘Blowing Up‘
Emphasis entirely mine.
Unlike Bhagpuss, there aren’t any games I would consider myself beholden to. Nothing that really sits as my ‘main’ games. No ‘forever’ games. On the flip side — this also means there is no game I consider to be ‘home’.
I haven’t really had a game that felt like ‘home’ to me since my very first MMO — Asheron’s Call.
And I can’t deny, returning to it gave me a special… something… that I never would have predicted. After I got over the shock of seeing how much it had changed, at least.
Be that as it may, in my day-to-day, I can’t say that I feel I’m missing anything by not having a game to call my own forever. Certainly, nothing that would give me any desire to place a game in a position to create ‘obligations’ on me — no matter how lightly the word may have been intended.
Circling back to WoW itself and the question posed in the title — Will I ever return?
Never say never — but I can’t see it. The mere thought of how WoW’s design process aims to entrap rather than to provide player enjoyment makes me angry.
That doesn’t seem a particularly conducive starting off point to resume a relationship now, does it? So without significant change to this philosophy of throwaway, borrowed power, play entrapping antics they’ve had going on for a while now I don’t see myself returning. Ever. Final Fantasy XIV has Oceanic servers going live as we speak, with transfers opening this evening. My old WoW guild is already talking seriously about testing the waters here now that this is the case.
Lost Ark goes live in a little over a week.
Even putting MMOs aside, there’s plenty else out there. Why give any game the power to create in you an obligation to play when your desire lies elsewhere?