My PC game collection is comprised of both physical copies and digital downloads via Steam. Among my twenty physical boxes are two fairly large collector’s editions. One of the boxes is black, the other a dark red, and they’re faded, though that’s merely a cosmetic design. On both boxes’ spines, a familiar title is noticeable: World of Warcraft.
I don’t regret purchasing the last two WoW expansions. Cataclysm started out exceptionally well before becoming a gigantic disaster in terms of stale content and a severe lack of things to do. Mists of Pandaria started out strong in attempts to fix these issues; we’re already on the heel of the second major patch, and the expansion’s launch was filled with an obscene amount of things to do. I remember my first moments as a freshly dinged level 90 character; one thought raced through my mind: “How do I possibly choose what to do next?&
When you’re faced with such a question while playing an MMO, it’s usually a fantastic sign. More content means more play time, less repeated quests and dungeons, and a happier population. But despite the amount of content, a problem quickly arose, and that problem is one of the reasons I stopped playing.
There’s Not a Lot of Worthwhile Content
When you hit level 90, you can do the following:
- Fight through max-level dungeons and heroics.
- Participate in raids.
- PVP in arenas and battlegrounds.
- Live the dreams of a Pokémon MMO with the pet battle system.
- Complete scenarios with a party of three players.
- Get your ass kicked by challenge mode dungeons.
- Do dailies to grind for reputation.
I’m leaving off trivial things from this list, too. You can always play the auction house, obsess over crafting professions, fill your achievement list, complete all the available quests in Pandaria, try out a Monk, and so on. But there’s a gigantic problem here: There’s not enough content if you want to participate in endgame content.
If you’re a raider, there’s only going to be three legitimate things to do on your chore list: heroics, raids, and dailies. If you want to tinker with pet battles, mess around in scenarios, or kill some Alliance scum (Horde for life), you won’t be doing anything to increase your chances of success in raids. Unless you’re messing around with the Looking For Raid difficulty, but the downside there is the complete lack of challenge and lack of organization that comes with a 25-man pick-up group.
Credit needs to be given where credit is due: Blizzard listened and gave us more content. Even the dailies for reputation grinding are varied to an extent; the chosen quests are random and differ from day to day, but they repeat fairly quickly. But it would have been nice to get some sort of usable reward for completing scenarios or challenge modes to help with raiding aspirations.
There Have Been a Lot of Good Games Released Recently
The thing about MMOs—and not just World of Warcraft—is that they require a lot of time. It’s an investment you have to make: Generally, between two to four nights a week must be set aside just to play one game. It’s not just your commitment, but the commitment of nine or twenty-four other people. If one person doesn’t show, is underprepared, or messes up, everyone loses out. So if you’re spending most of your time playing World of Warcraft, you might have missed out on the following:
- Halo 4
- Assassin’s Creed III
- Call of Duty: Black Ops II
- The entire launch lineup of the Wii U
- Fire Emblem Awakening
- Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch
- Dead Space 3
- Far Cry 3
- LEGO The Lord of the Rings
- Forza Horizon
- Need for Speed Most Wanted
- StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm beta
- Persona 4 Golden
Now, I’m not saying that it’s impossible to play both an MMO and still devote time to some of these games. But here’s the interesting thing: I stopped playing WoW back in November, which has undoubtedly helped me get plenty of hands-on time with most of the games on this list. Time I normally may not have had.
Far Cry 3 is a deep and engaging game. Forza Horizon routinely gets my attention. Fire Emblem Awakening is beyond challenging. I could play Halo 4’s multiplayer for hours upon hours every night until the sun comes up. Yet, I could have missed some of these titles because I’d be too busy with WoW to get in the time to devote any real attention the marquee games of the past few months. Plus, it’s not like 2013’s game lineup is letting up any time soon.
I Lost My Core Group
One of the best aspects of World of Warcraft is the friendships made between guildmates, raiders, and PVPers. Over time, they become the reason you keep playing; the content is second fiddle.
I lost that when Mists of Pandaria hit.
People went their separate ways for various reasons. Attention was needed elsewhere, jobs became more time-consuming, families needed to be raised. For the first time in my WoW history, I wasn’t comfortable in a guild. I didn’t have a place I could call my in-game home.
Sure, Real ID helps alleviate this feeling to some extent, but it’s just not the same. It had gotten to the point where 90% of my reason for logging in was to play with friends. With that gone, I lost the motivation to play. And while I enjoyed the game and still wonder what’s new, I’m afraid to go at it alone.
Maybe I’ll pop back in to see what’s new with Patch 5.2. Maybe I’ll check up on old friends to see how they’re doing in their new homes. Maybe once the calm before the storm of the next gaming generation hits I’ll pop back into World of Warcraft to help kill some time.
Do I miss WoW? Sure. But there are plenty of reasons why I’m no longer playing. They heavily outweigh any reason to go back into the game.
Now, this doesn’t make World of Warcraft bad. It’s still, in my mind, the best MMO on the market. But I’m happy playing plenty of other games. I’m happy not putting the timesink into it, and I wouldn’t be coming back to a group of people that would make me feel welcome. In the end, that’s enough to keep me away from a game I enjoyed for seven years.
Date: February 26, 2013