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.

My Shadowlands main – a mage. I bounced him between Frost and Fire, but ended up coming back to Frost.

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.

Asheron’s Call from my last visit, somewhere in Glendon Wood Prison.

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?


Naithin

Gamer, reader, writer, husband and father of two boys. Former WoW and Gaming blogger, making a return to the fold to share my love of all things looty.

4 Comments

bhagpuss · January 26, 2022 at 10:24 pm

I only just realised, reading your post, that I never actually addressed the question of whether I would ever go back to WoW. That wasn’t really the thrust of my post but everything you say about the change of ownership, the inevitable change of leadership that will follow and the possible change of culture following that, has indeed been making me think aabout “when” I might go back rather then “if”.

Of course, WoW isn’t one of my big games. I’ve played it a fair bit (I’m sure I have more than the requisite 500 hours – I probably racked that up in Classic alone) and I like it quite a lot but it’s always been a second-tier mmorpg for me. I can manage very well without it.

The other question I didn’t address (Because I never even thought of it) is what I meant by “obligated” in that sentence you quote. It’s complicated. I play GW2 every day and the thing but for several years about al I do are the dailies. The thing is… I like doing the dailies and I like, even better, only doing the dailies.

Mrs Bhagpuss only plays GW2 now and she only does dailies and WvW. We talk about our dailies, we sometimes meet up in game while we’re doing them. We often meet up in WvW, where sometimes we’re on the same team and sometimes on opposite sides. GW2 is one of the things we talk about, have running jokes about and generally share an experience of.

The issue with End of Dragons for me is that it will disrupt my GW2 gameplay, with which I am largely satisfied. I would, in a way, prefer GW2 to be in something like FFXII’s active maintenance mode, still getting small tweaks and definitely not forgotten but no longer in any danger of major changes of direction.

EoD is an entirely unknown prospect. It could be HoT, which I love, or PoF, which I loathe. It will probably be something different again. I’m dreading it as much as I’m curious about it but ideally, even though I have been saying for years the game desperately needs more expansions, I’d be happier if it wasn’t getting one.

The other, more metaphysical way in which I feel an obligation is to my characters. I know a lot of people say their ties to mmorpgs are the friends or guildmates they have there. My ties are to my characters. One reason I keep going back to all those mmorpgs is that I get a nagging feeling my characters need to be attended to. It’s like having pets or plants – you have a responsibility to look after them.

It sounds like a mental health issue but it’s really a conceit, in direct and pretty much unbroken line from childhood, when stuffed toys had names and personalities. It’s fun to pretend they’re alive and there are metaphysical layers to what “being alive” means, as anyone whose studied literature knows all too well.

It would feel churlish, even selfish, of me not to let my GW2 characters at least take a look at what’s changed in their world. My WoW characters, however, I’m entirely comfortable leaving to their own devices whenever a new expansion appears. I’ve never felt the least obligation to buy a WoW expansion and I’m pretty sure I never will!

    bhagpuss · January 26, 2022 at 10:32 pm

    Geez… typos, much? I won’t correct them all but I thought I ought to make it clear I meant FFXI. I have no idea what FFXII is like, although I’m sure there is Final Fantasy game with that roman numeral.

      Naithin · January 26, 2022 at 10:35 pm

      FFXII does indeed exist! It isn’t an MMO though, so I suspected you meant XI. :)

      Full reply to the rest in progress!

    Naithin · January 26, 2022 at 10:46 pm

    I think after reading through your comment, all I can really say is that you and I (generally) approach our MMOs/Games very differently which at this point I think is hardly a surprise! :)

    For all that, I think I understand what you’re saying. And I did sort of suspect that your use of ‘obligated’ wasn’t intended to sit at the hardest end of the meaning spectrum of the world. Without your commentary here, I had thought it to sit much closer to the British politeness end of the scale. … Hopefully that makes sense. Hah.

    Either way, it was a good jumping-off point for the comment turned post and a vehicle by which to tie it back to the WoW discussion and the dissatisfaction with Blizzard’s entrapment by design rather than simply trusting that they have (or could have) a fun enough product that people aren’t going to just immediately leave if they don’t force temporary mechanics and artificial grinds down peoples throats.

    EoD is going to be an interesting expansion. I’m not sure that I’ve really seen anyone express much excitement for it. I’ll, without a doubt, end up getting it and (probably) enjoying it — but I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’m ‘excited’ for it.

    I think from seeing some of the staffing changes over recent years, I’ve had it placed in my head that GW2 is itself mostly in a maintenance mode — so my expectations for this expansion are not exactly sky-high.

    I didn’t have the same issues with PoF as you did, but then, I only engage with GW2 dailies when I’m playing otherwise, rather than playing to specifically do (and enjoy) the dailies in their own right.

    On the characters as living entities — I get it, although isn’t something I’ve done. Although I think with my formative years being more enabled by technology I didn’t have nearly the same span of time of bringing toys to life, or assigning names, ranks and extended mission biographies to my toy soldiers.

    Certainly there was a bit of all that! But it’s a very distant memory, and then the characters I played in video games were entities in their own rights — Alex the Kidd, Sonic the Hedgehog, etc. :)

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