An Open Letter to Blizzard Entertainment

Courtesy WoWHead and sorronia
*sniff*

Dear Blizzard Entertainment,

I’ve been a fan of your work since the days of Warcraft 2. I’ve played games in all three of your major IPs and enjoyed every one. I’ve begun playing StarCraft 2 in a competitive sense (even though I suck) and I’ve watched the development of Diablo 3 with interest. However, I have let my World of Warcraft subscription lapse, and in light of the latest major patch, I doubt I’ll be re-subscribing any time soon.

When I pay for World of Warcraft every month, my expectation is not that the game will be exactly what I want. My expectation is that the game will allow me to explore the extensive world you’ve created, interact with like-minded players and face challenges in the form of dungeons and raids. It’s that last part that’s been lacking for some time now. Cataclysm began with some promising steps in the right direction, but in light of many, many complaints from some of the more vocal members of the community, you have taken World of Warcraft down a path I can no longer follow.

I’m reminded of a scene from the movie The 13th Warrior. Antonio Banderas is traveling with a band of Vikings looking to protect their homes from vicious savages, and one of the Vikings gives him a large sword. “I cannot lift this,” says Banderas’ character. The Viking shrugs and says with a smirk, “Grow stronger.” The solution to the problem is not handed to Banderas; instead he must find the solution for himself. Granted, he eventually has the sword shaved down to a scimitar-like size and balance, allowing him to use speed he possesses instead of strength he does not, but it was still a solution he developed on his own.

Instead of letting your players grow stronger or adapt to face the challenges you present on their own terms, you’ve swapped the big heavy sword for a butter knife.

By lowering the difficulty of encounters, you do several things that I feel will be to the ultimate detriment of the game. You remove the challenge that is part of the appeal of dungeon and raid encounters. You encourage players to be lazy and not improve their skills. Most importantly, you foster the notion that a player or group of players who complain loudly enough about something they feel is unfair or to which they feel entitled will gain them what they want, without them having to expend any real effort. Get a bunch of like-minded friends together, post on the forums about how unfair or overpowered or unbalanced something is, and next thing you know stuff is less difficult and it’s easier for you play. It’s magic!

I’ve been frustrated by encounters before. I’ve gotten into absolute fits over not being able to clear a particular boss. I’ve been short with guildmates, yelled at my wife, startled pets. But not once did I think any of my difficulties needed to be fixed with a wave of Blizzard’s magic wand. No, my frustration came from the idea that my skills were not good enough, so I would need to improve them. I can be impatient, and crave my shinies just as much as any other adventurer in Azeroth, but I want to earn them, not have them handed to me. Developing the skills to earn something is difficult and time-consuming, not to mention carrying the possibility of failure.

Rather than letting players fail more often, you lower the requirements for success to near insignificance. I know I’m not the only player who feels this way, but as I don’t complain regularly my voice is one of the many that goes unheard. These concerns and worries go unspoken, because we’d rather work on our problems within our own reach rather than wave our arms in hysteria and grab attention, screaming as soon as we have it until we get what we want.

I was hoping to come back to World of Warcraft soon. I met my wife there, after all. But I’ve realized you can’t hope for things to go back to the way they were. I met my wife during The Burning Crusade, long before this sense of entitlement crept into the player base and the development team was producing multiple raid dungeons for every tier of progressive content. We had a great guild that worked well together, from role-playing to raiding, and it was a great time we’ve thoroughly enjoyed.

But those days are gone. And no matter how fondly I might recall them, wishing for a thing does not make it so. You have decided that a vocal minority demanding you change is more important than the majority of the player base who want to progress, improve and succeed on their own merits. I feel this is an incorrect decision, and all I can do is call attention to the whys and wherefores of my own decision not to return to World of Warcraft. I hope I have done so and that this criticism is taken in the spirit with which it’s written.

I will continue to play StarCraft 2, but I must admit to being wary of doing so. I am aware that many of the official forums for that game are also full of complaints about balance issues and how one unit is more overpowered than another, how this matchup is unwinnable or that one needs a nerf. I’m also now nervous about Diablo 3. While I still look forward to playing it when it launches, I fear that within a month of its release players will complain that a boss is too hard and your response will be to lower its difficulty until all challenge and excitement from the encounter is lost, reducing the experience to the repetative process of “click enemy once, recieve loot.”

I’m certain that Blizzard Entertainment is not overly concerned with the complaints of a single customer who will no longer be using a particular service of theirs. It’s entirely possible that this rather verbose dissertation on the state of the game will fall on deaf ears and go largely unread by anyone in a position to correct the course World of Warcraft has taken. I accept that, yet I could not let my feelings go unvoiced. It is my hope that as I and others of a like mind try to bring this very real and unfortunate situation to light, you might understand the position we are in and look into ways to make World of Warcraft great again. I guarantee you’ll see players coming back if you make the right decisions for the sake of the game, rather than pandering to players who feel entitled to their loot instead of being willing to work for it.

Thank you for the years of entertainment. I wish you nothing but success.

Yours very sincerely,
Josh Loomis

3 Comments

  1. See, I got this feeling after Burning Crusade was released. I was one of the few who spent the hours and hours farming in order to run Naxxrammus (I think I spelled it right, it’s been forever). While we didn’t actually finish it completely until a large percentage of our guild was over level 60, we did finish it and we were proud of it.

    BC, at least the first few dungeons, was made up of Naxx encounters with new skins. It completely turned me off and I realized it wasn’t going to change. Gearing up was so much easier, and it wasn’t worth the hours any more.

    Playing the game on easy mode is boring after you already beat it on hard, amirite?

  2. Can’t be any worse than EVE Online.

    *troll face*

  3. “You have decided that a vocal minority demanding you change is more important than the majority of the player base who want to progress, improve and succeed on their own merits.”

    I find this an unsubstantiated statement. You assume that we all want to struggle for hours on end to improve ourselves. While it may indeed make the victory that much sweeter after so much effort, I believe it is becoming less possible as the playerbase gets older.

    I had to quit WoW because of real life getting in the way (wife, kids, job, etc), and if I were ever able to play again I would not have the time commitment to be a useful raider in current tier content. Does that mean I should not be allowed to down any bosses, even if it is a tier or two below the current tier?

    I see the nerfing of raids that are not likely to be played as a good way to get the people who have time constraints to get to see all the content that was made for this game. In the end, it allows more people access to all of the game, and that is good for business and for keeping people busy.

    I have no problem with keep current content difficult, and for you to be able to have your challenge and earn your merit. What I do have a problem with is once your done to say “You can’t have it unless you struggle like I had to”. Casual players like myself have the challenge of finding time to play, and I would not play long if I spent my entire 4-5 hours a week just dying to a boss.

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