This could be my WoW killer

Well, now we know. No more flying in this or any subsequent WoW patches or expansions. Thus saith Watcher the Great and the infallible Blizz dev team. In what can only be described as breathtaking hubris, in a May 22 interview with Polygon, WtG explained how much better for us is his way of playing and bygod we can like it or lump it.

“The world feels larger, feels more dangerous,” he says. “There’s more room for exploration, for secrets, for discovery and overall immersion in the world. At this point, we feel that outdoor gameplay in World of Warcraft is ultimately better without flying. We’re not going to be reintroducing the ability to fly in Draenor, and that’s kind of where we’re at going forward.”

Hazziokostas confirms that this direction includes future expansions, though he doesn’t discount the possibility of adding flight options in to specific expansion ideas or zones that would benefit from it. In general, though, he believes that exploration in Blizzard’s massive world “works better and feels better in our view when you’re doing it from the ground.”

Blizz wants the world to feel larger.

Blizz wants us to think there’s more room.

Blizz thinks that our gameplay is better without flying.

Blizz feels better when we remain on the ground.

These are not reasons for keeping us from flying, they are sugar-coated lies designed to distract us from the fact that Blizz is pulling resources away from WoW, and they can stretch out the WoW money machine by forcing us to consume already-thin content as slowly as possible.

They have already stretched out the process for close to a year by coyly refusing to say if there would ever be flying in Draenor, possibly realizing that combining such an announcement with the debacle called WoD would be disastrous.

Step 1 of the squeeze-blood-from-the-turnip plan having been “stall,” they have now gone on to Step 2: explain to the mindless ditzes that are our customers that they will be much happier playing the game the way we tell them to. That should be good for several more months, especially if we hint that we may allow very limited flying in very limited places at some unspecified time in the future. Maybe.

And, just in case there are still some skeptics, trot out the never-fail fuzzy “fact” that unspecified people prefer to not fly.

Originally, Blizzard took out flying in Warlords of Draenor as an experiment, and Hazzikostas says he would have bet “slightly better than even money at the time” that they were going to bring it back eventually. But as they played the expansion and watched others play it, they discovered that they liked the game better without flying.

Of course, what this says is that Blizzard liked the game better without flying. Not the players. (And no, I don’t count that bogus forum “poll” everyone likes to cite. Even if it had been a legitimate reflection of the entire player base, which it most certainly was not, it still showed over 30% of players were in favor of flying. Blizz is the only business I ever heard of that could blithely ignore 30% of its customers and get away with it.)

I don’t know about you, but I am insulted that Blizz thinks I am stupid enough to believe that their concern for my game enjoyment is why they are no longer going to permit flying. And I am incensed that they have the [genital units] to tell me how I must play the game and what parts of it I must consider fun.

Here is the bottom line as far as I am concerned: Blizz has cut its WoW resources to the bone, and making three-dimensional play is just too resource-intensive for the final few patches and expansions. They are going to do them on the cheap, and are you sure you wouldn’t rather play Hearthstone anyway, or watch someone else play Heroes of the Storm?

By disallowing flying, Blizz can get by with creating much smaller spaces. They can ensure that players spend a lot of time just getting to their quest locations by making the taxi drop them off far away and by loading the final path up with mobs. So players go through content more slowly, hopefully making them think there is more content than there is. And holy moly they get to have this experience over and over and over again as they try to level and gear up alts. Really, by staying on the ground the fun never stops!

Not having to design three dimensionally — except for a few highly controlled areas where you can fall and jump — saves artistic and programming resources, resources that can be better used for developing Activision Blizzard “year round” games. (In the same vein, we can expect to see more and more “rerun WoW”, passed off to us as new content and “exciting” new innovations, such as time tunnels to existing areas and getting to running old instances in old gear.)

I might be able to cope with no flying ever again if I thought Blizz was telling the truth about why.

Look, we all know this ten year old game is on its last legs, and the reality is that we can no longer support extensive new content for an outdated game model. The development complexity added by flying is too much, but we’ll do whatever can to give you a couple more fun expansions.

That would be a Blizz comment I would respect, and it would show respect for the player base. But when they try to tell me a bald-faced lie and pass it off as being for my own good, that just makes me mad. I think it is getting very close to the final straw.

About Fiannor
I have a day job but escape by playing WoW. I love playing a hunter, and my Lake Wobegonian goal is to become "above average" at it.

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