All Roads Return to WoW: The first 48 hours

Tauren Druid.When I started my little WoW experiment I knew the first 48 (not playtime, just the first two days after resubbing) hours were likely to be the litmus test of my enjoyment of the game. If I got bored or lost interest or just generally wasn’t enjoying myself, I wasn’t going to spend any more time trying to rekindle the flame. Despite a whole slew of problems, I actually enjoyed the first couple days back.

When I first resubbed I jumped around my characters just to see what was new. Most of them had reset talents, so I didn’t screw with them too much. Since I was going to be playing with friends on a new server, I fired up a brand new druid, thinking I’d level him for kicks alongside my only 80, my hunter. I had somehow forgotten along the way that leveling a druid prior to level 20 is about the worst thing in the game. Why they still won’t give you cat form at 10, bear form at 20 is totally beyond me.

I started thinking about other classes, but then I went back and looked at the class previews for Cataclysm and realized my best best for leveling will be then, when the original world has changed and classes like the hunter have received their respective mechanic revamps. Lucky for me I had a 66 druid sitting on my old server and quickly transferred him to my friend’s server.

By day two I was having fun blowing through some quick quests in Nagrand. The buff to normal flight speed helped a lot. I was 68 in just a couple hours and on my way to Northrend.


All Roads Return to WoW: The decision

WotLK loading screen.

As you all know, I play a ton of League of Legends. The game has a lot of what I’m looking for in my ideal gaming experience – complexity, challenge, variety, frequent updates, and on and on. I still find myself craving something different from time to time, though, and most recently I’ve been wanting to play an MMO.

The obvious solution was to resub to WoW – I had played Warcraft at the same immersion level as I played LoL between my 600th and 900th win, which is to say every day, a couple hours a day. But I left WoW for a reason, a lot of them actually, so I did a bit of research and decided to give a couple other games a chance.

A friend from LoL recommended I try Global Agenda, a futuristic dystopian MMO. It’s had some decent reviews and I liked the idea behind a couple of the classes. Unfortunately, the magic wasn’t there. For me to put in the time it takes to learn all the new mechanics and intricacies an MMO brings (I can’t do it casually – moderation just isn’t my strong suit) I need to be hooked and hooked early. Global Agenda couldn’t do that. The first five levels are a scripted intro in which you don’t see any other players. You get dumped into a small city at the end, from which you can queue for battleground-style missions with other players. That’s pretty much it. I know there are a few more options as you level up, but for the most part you end up standing around a city, staring at other characters who, for the most part, look exactly alike. Not worth my $50.

There wasn’t much else out there. I had tried Dungeons and Dragons Online some time back and never really gotten into it. I picked up Age of Conan and Warhammer back when I was falling out of love with WoW and they both just made me go back to Warcraft. Reading over their current news, patches, and forums, I realized they were probably the same drab graphical and mechanical experiences that turned me away in the first place (seriously, can anyone actually tell what is happening in your typical Warhammer fight? Fix your spell animations, Mythic).

There was really only one option left, and it was the first one I had thought up. Go back to WoW. Oh, those dreaded words. It felt almost immediately like I was giving in to a habit I had managed to kick. I felt beaten, my resolve trumped by Blizzard’s finely-tuned skinner box. In truth, though, I had a lot of fun with WoW, and I still have faith that WoW can be an enjoyable game for casuals and hardcore players alike.

With that in mind, I’ll be mixing this column in with the usual League of Legends posts, covering my impressions on a return to WoW after more than a year away from the game (even a year ago I only played for a couple months, returning from a short hiatus). So far it’s been a lot of fun. Stick around to see if that can continue.


Activision gets almost 70% of its revenue from three franchises

Tauren dance, baby.Activision’s fiscal report for 2009 contained some seriously juicy news. First, there’s the scandal at Infinity Ward. Second, there’s this. The report included statistics regarding the company’s revenue sources, revealing that a large majority, like 68%, come from just three franchises: World of Warcraft, Call of Duty, and Guitar Hero. The report also noted that WoW accounts for a whopping 98% of Blizzard’s revenue.

The obvious concern is for one of those franchises to flop. One bad Call of Duty and suddenly Activision doesn’t look so stable. As the company puts things, “Due to this dependence on a limited number of franchises, the failure to achieve anticipated results by one or more products based on these franchises may significantly harm our business and financial results.” I would say so, fellas.

We already know that rhythm games are on the decline and WoW hasn’t grown in more than a year. No wonder Blizzard’s trying to push Starcraft 2 out the door by mid-year.

Source: Kotaku


WoW hasn’t grown since 2008

The Lich King.The latest word from Blizzard is that World of Warcraft remains stable. So stable that it actually hasn’t grown in more than a year. Subscription numbers for the game are right where they were back in 2008.

In case you aren’t paying attention or find yourself too tired to bother with the math, that’s prior to the Wrath of the Lich King expansion. You know, that huge release that introduced a new class and a whole new starting zone for those players. The expansion that should have given WoW the same kind of revival and explosive growth we saw from Burning Crusade. Chances are there was a pretty big spike, but those numbers have leveled off.

The only shaky part of this numbers game is that the totals include China, where WoW is currently experiencing some serious turmoil. That situation could easily account for lackluster numbers if enough players have decided to back off until the mess is sorted out.

Source: Kotaku


Activision could have had Blizzard for 1/1000th the price

Blizzard logo. Blizzard is about as hot a property as you can have these days. The World of Warcraft developer makes $100 million a month off its MMO alone. That’s why Activision had to pay $7 billion to acquire the company.

Back in 1995, though, Blizzard was just a minnow in the video game pond. It had just put out a little title called Warcraft that would become the basis for a development empire. Davidson & Associates saw the potential and decided to go for it, purchasing the company for a mere $7 million. Bob Kotick spoke with Game Informer about the purchase.

“That year Activision probably had $60 million in revenues. They said they paid $7 million dollars for Blizzard. I’m like ‘Are you out of your minds? They’re like a contract developer! They have Warcraft but what else do they have? You paid SEVEN million! That’s insane!”

“I was talking to [Blizzard founder] Mike Morhaime the other day and I said, ‘You know, I could have bought you for $7 million and instead it was $7 billion.’ He said, ‘Yeah, could you imagine if I had just held out for the $7 billion instead of the $7 million?’”

Kotick sounds like his usual, dickish self. Then again, he did end up paying the $7 billion price tag.

Source: Game Informer


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