It’s the casuals world

Blizzard is the best game developer in the world in my eyes. With titles such as Diablo 2, Diablo 3, World of Warcraft, Warcraft 3, and Starcraft 2, it’s hard to not give them that very top spot. They earned it. However, Blizzard are known for “ruining” their games after approximately one-year or so. Why’s that?

I used to hate Blizzard for that fact. I couldn’t grasp the logic of ruining your own game, or at least that’s what I thought it was they were doing. Let me give you a few examples. In Diablo 2, a year or so after the Lord of Destruction expansion pack was released, they released a patch that included an armor called Enigma. This armor allowed for teleportation and had great stats. This immediately rendered Sorceress’ worthless as any class could now teleport to the boss and make a portal for the rest of the group to join. It also included weapons that gave the Barbarian’s battle orders buff to all classes, even further ruining the balance and class system of the game. This caused complete imbalance and domination by paladins. We had paladins with teleport and battle orders that dominated. They were unstoppable. Nothing was better. And that’s how the game died immediately to me. A design choice made by Blizzard. To attract more casual players who didn’t want to limit themselves to one class. They wanted to have teleport regardless of what characters they picked and Blizzard gave it to them.

Another great example is World of Warcraft. This game when launched used to be pretty hardcore. You had to invest at least six hours per day in a 40-people raid group to have great gear and be able to dominate. To have that long, hard cybercock that all gamers dream of. It took time and skill to be some one back then. If you wanted high level PvP gear you had to PvP for 6-10 hours per day for a whole month in impressive fashion to get that High Warlord gear that was the best PvP gear available. Not like it is today, where you can get it within 24 hours. You actually had to have 40 people raiding together and working together to take down bosses. This game was unforgiving and hard. It was rewarding and challenging. My sense of accomplishment was never higher than it was in WoW when my guild killed Onyxia, Ragnaros, and Nefarian for the first time. Now, World of Warcraft is tailored to all the casual 12-year-olds that complained that they didn’t get epic loot because they couldn’t find a guild with 40 people because they sucked too hard. They complained that “They weren’t getting content they were paying for” when in fact nothing was stopping them but themselves. In real life, do you get a promotion if you cry and complain or when you work hard? Blizzard was losing subscribers and something had to be done. And it was done. Roughly 5% of the total 5-6 million players that World of Warcraft had then were hardcore raiders enjoying those fat epic items. That’s a very small percentage, so what was the logical choice? Yup, fuck the hardcore players over.

World of Warcraft now has raids lowered to 10 and 20 people maximum. Instead of the 40 minimum back in the days. They also allow for “pug raids” which means that random people can enjoy raiding now without an organized guild and can get the loots as it becomes easier to kill the bosses if you join a raid in this manner. Because let’s face it, why should you have to work to get good items, right? Instead of getting a mount 40 you get it at 20. The cost is significantly reduced. You level much faster now. The average time back in the days for lvl 60 (max level back then) was 350 hours. I bet you that it takes less than one week to get to 60 now.  There are more graveyards in case you die, and the raid difficulty is downscaled and everything is just a big fat epic fest for everyone. There are no longer people running around with shitty green/blue items, everyone has epics and the sense of accomplishment is completely gone. You can no longer show that you are skillful player in WoW, because everyone has your gear. It’s worthless. What was the result of making WoW such a casualfest for 12-year-olds? Well, they lost a massive amount of those 5% hardcore raiders. Massive. But in turn they doubled in casual numbers reaching the world record of over 13 million active subscribers at its peak. An insane and unprecedented number that only Blizzard themselves will break. Compare this to other MMO’s that reach maybe 1-2 millions at their best for a month or so and that’s a monstrous success. 13 millions is beyond comprehension. Beyond. Blizzard did the right move financially no doubt. However, it fucked many hardcore players in the ass.

This has lead me to realize one thing: it’s the casuals world. They will always be a majority, by far. All games will be tailored for them. Even quicker than before. Just look at Diablo 3, it will not have a player kill option like Diablo 2 in order to protect casual players, and the game isn’t even out yet and it’s already being dumbed down. And this in turn has made me realize: if I don’t accept these changes and adapt, I will always be complaining. And that’s no way to play games. I have to accept these changes and the fact that my style of gaming and my preferences are in the minority and not financially beneficial for developers to listen to. We can see this philosophy in new games such as Star Wars: The Old Republic and Guild Wars 2. They are making these games more accessible for everyone. The old days are gone, dead. Forever. It’s time to move the fuck on and just have fun. Diablo 3 maybe never will be as hardcore as Diablo 2 was in terms of player killing and hardcore mode. But maybe they are making up for it with the new Inferno difficulty that has been said to be insanely difficult and makes Hell difficulty look like easy? I believe in Blizzard. Starcraft 2 was a masterpiece through and through. A solid 10. And I am certain that they will continue to deliver 10:s like they always do. Even if they continue to update their games with changes to benefit the casual market. That’s a change I am finally ready for. Something I am prepared for. When that major update hits Diablo 3, I will stay through it and embrace it, rather than just cry foul and quit the game. Because Blizzard’s games will always be the best ones on the market and that’s by a long shot.

I am a changed man. I have accepted the casual storm and defeat for the hardcore market. And when I think about it, it’s not necessarily a bad thing entirely. I mean, why would I complain that I have to invest less time to get the fat cool epic loots in games? When you think about it, it’s actually a good thing. I don’t have the same amount of time like I used to before in high school, so I guess it’s just a good thing. I would never invest 350 hours again in WoW just to get to level 60 and then another 6 hours / day to get good items. Never. It was a once-in-a-lifetime-thing. I don’t have that time anymore. I guess according to my own definitions from 2005-2006, I’ve somewhat become casual in the sense that I don’t have the energy to put in all that time to get the loot. Well, I guess it’s a good thing I won’t ever need to in games anymore. Because times have changed.

What do you think? Are all these new more casual-friendly MMORPG:s and games better now or were they better before when you had to dedicated your entire life to be someone in them?

I am prepared for anything Blizzard will throw at me with the coming expansion packs for Diablo III.

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