Loving To Hate WoW (Or Hating To Love It)
Every time I write a blog post about my amateur MMO design “theories” or commentaries about the industry, I usually find myself being quite negative towards World of Warcraft. I don’t insult it directly per se but I do find I usually talk about the “good ol’ days” of Everquest or about how much I love the sandbox nature of EVE Online more or even how Everquest 2 is just a plain better themepark MMORPG. I never gave that much of a second thought until now.
Recently I was starting to feel a little guilty about having a go at WoW all of the time and either poking it as an example of the things I don’t like about the industry or prodding it as an example of how it’s easy and casual nature offends my intellect. I’m not the only person to do this either. Plenty of bloggers deride WoW for not being challenging or being too simplistic and it only takes hinting at it’s name in a forum or global chat channel to spark off the mother of all of arguments. It’s almost as if liking the game somehow upsets the sensibilities of “real” MMO gamers.
WoW is by no means perfect and does have some genuine problems but, for the most part, it is actually a bloody good game and I haven’t come to that conclusion lightly. When it was released in 2004, I was an avid SOE fanboy and I a converted new recruit into the buggy EQ2 army. Even though I had played WoW in it’s beta, I was annoyed at how it got so much more attention and critical success that my beloved Everquest and it’s successor. I then spent the next four years harping on about how much better EQ2 was than WoW and how Blizzard just played it safe all of the time and never took a risk while the SOE boys were knocking their pans out daily to craft the amazing game they always envisaged.
And I was right. EQ2 is better than WoW. At least for me anyway (I won’t go into all of the details now as to why I think so). WoW is also too easy and too casual and pretty vacuous and lacking in the depth that I want from my perfect virtual world but that doesn’t matter one iota because it’s still a heck of a lot of fun.
I’ve realised that WoW doesn’t need to give me everything. It doesn’t need to fill me with, um, fulfillment or be the last MMO I ever play. I can just enjoy it for what it is and, considering I’ve been playing it for over a year now, it seems to be working. Other MMOs will come along that I like more or give me what I’m looking for but that’s OK, there’s no written rule saying I can’t like more than one for different reasons or change the games I play.
So is this me apologising for having the odd dig at World of Warcraft? Heck no. And is it going to stop me using it as an example of how things are declining in the industry? No way. I guess this is just a confession, my confession about how I love to hate WoW (and hate to love it).