“…They found you amusing for a little while. … But the one thing they love to see more than a hero, is to see a hero fail. Fall; die trying. In spite of everything you have done for them, eventually they will hate you.
-Green Goblin from Spider-Man (2002)
Everybody loves an underdog. David n’ Goliath. Rebels n’ the Empire. The Chicago Cubs n’ the game of baseball. You name it, people will generally go out of their way to root for the ‘Little Sister’ instead of a ‘Big Daddy.’
Fight the good fight, viva la whatever your slogan happens to be, etc. I get the general appeal. So and so is huge, and the other guy is tiny. If you are going to lend a hand at all, might as well give the tiny guy a boost. He’ll likely lose anyway, but you did your part. And if he wins, hot dog! It doesn’t take a horse-betting fanatic to know how well an upset pays out.
Enter the biggest subscription-based game to date. World of Warcraft has somewhat in the range of over 11,000,000 active subscribers, but you wouldn’t know that based on the current ‘news’ on the web. Every Inky, Blinky, Pinky, and Sue online is not only stating the sky is falling, but that they are rejoicing the ‘fact.’ This ‘fact’ is not only law, which they will repeat constantly as if it really were, but it is also expected to be common knowledge because anyone who still likes that game is clearly behind the times. Nearly all of those comments need to be read with a flared velvet top hat, smoking pipe, and a well-polished monocle accompanied with a drolling, nasal voice for the full effect of smarm and smug.
WoW has been so big for so long that it is now not only fashionable to hate on WoW, but to do so is an almost a right-of-passage-like fad. (Apparently it is guaranteed to make your e-peen huge and your crits even crittier. I haven’t seen the ad for it, but that’s what I gather from the commotion.) Granted, I have raged about the game quite a bit in the past and I always joke that it’s my inner-Warrior burning through. While I disapprove the direction it was headed, I don’t think I’d ever see myself gleefully doing the worm on its casket as it is lowered ceremoniously into its final resting space.
The game has been going on for quite some time now, I am well aware. I also know that if it was not for a two month time card I got for Christmas and the Misses wanting to play the game, my account would have likely remained frozen since a month after Cata came out. Believe me, I understand the problems with the game. (Personally I think this is more of a Powers That Be issue more than Blizzards losing its touch.) While I dislike a lot and can easily see the formulas in place, I will not outright pray to the flying spaghetti monster wriggling in the heavens above for the game to fail, nor will I sadistically cheer it’s death throes for several reasons.
One, you’ve got a long, long time for that to happen. Admitting ‘victory’ now is at best ignorant and a clear sign of your favoritism, be it conscious or not. As everyone was mentioning recently, they are opening markets in Brazil and China and all that. Even if all of the US/EU subs magically disappear into the Nether the game will live on for at least another five years easily without a moment’s pause. They will continue to do what they are doing until it is no longer tangible to generate revenue.
Note: Remember WAR and how that was the next game changer? Remember how terribly fast people flocked back to WoW spouting “it burns us!” ? WAR is still hanging on. It is in a full body cast with an erratic pulse, but the life support is still plugged in. Heck, from what I hear it’s coming out with a DotA mode. Good luck with that but hey, I’m not gonna cheer if/when it does actually die off.
Two, cheering for anything’s demise? Not a silent nod that it’s pain is over, but blatant jubilation? The last time I heard someone do that was Jon Stewart openly admitting he was too biased to cover Bin Laden’s death. Ignoring the admission of bias for the sake of comparison, you have inadvertently placed a man who thought up plans to kill thousands in the same category of an online video game. Bravo.
Not everyone is jumping on the Schadenfreude Express, though. Syp made a very good post two weeks back which didn’t throw a single jab WoW’s way. It was a casual and friendly look at WoW and how it might be the end of an era. Not the end of a game as some read it, but an era. Zee proof:
Just because the WoW era might be over doesn’t mean WoW is, and even after this next year’s worth of releases, it’ll still be alive and strong. I just hope that as it rejoins the MMO crowd, WoW will forgo an ego about its former position and embrace a new, smarter attitude. I think we could see great things if it did.
For better or worse the game will continue as long as it turns a profit. Any diehard anti-WoWers out there know three magical words that can bring even the dead back to life: Free. To. Play. (If it worked on a dreadful, dreeeadful game like DDO, it’ll do far more than just keep WoW afloat.)
As for my thoughts on the game itself, I remain unsubbed. Till the Misses gets back into the game, I will not touch it. The 4.3 changes did pique my interest though, and that alone is a milestone. Since virtually December, nothing has been going on in WoW that interested me in the slightest iota as everything seemed teeming with greedy intentions on the developer(s) part. But, seeing Actiblizzard revoke the charge on Real ID grouping and then follow it up with LFRaid, that did capture my attention.
It is fairly safe to say I’ll give it a go for a month once it arrives, but I am more than happy to play Minecraft and wait for the adventure patch 1.8. Or design symbols and songs in APB. Or shoot it up in Team Fortress 2. Or read up on news for Guild Wars 2, or look forward to playing Twisted Metal in maybe February, or whatever else I’m interested in. Will all of these games make a mistake somewhere? Most already have. But it doesn’t mean I’m going to sign my name with the blood of the innocent just to clamor and cheer at a video game’s funeral. As David Jaffe recently said via twitter:
It’s all so f—ing Win/lose with people. What have we been conditioned into?!? It’s like the gamers and the biz folks have been so trained to only care about who wins and who gets their a– kicked that there is no room to appreciate a game can do well enough to turn a profit and please many fans. But doesn’t have to win awards like ‘most money made in a weekend by an entertainment product’. Sure we all want that success but it’s not the only definition of financial, social, creative, or execution success. There ARE still some shades of gray.