A few thoughts on the movie

Though I have paid little attention to any of the rumors and/or hype that have been going on for years now, it seems that there will in fact be a Warcraft movie hitting the screens next summer. I don’t know if I will rush out to see it or not, honestly. I usually like to wait for the DVD or the pay per view versions to come out. The experience is less grand than it is in the theater, but it is also less annoying without the popcorn munching, tweeting and texting, phones ringing, people talking and putting their smelly feet up on your seat back, etc.

I have never been overly interested in WoW lore, and I don’t know if the movie will therefore turn out to be a big yawner for me, of if it will get me more interested in the lore. Remains to be seen.

I also don’t have a feel for how good the movie will be, on its own. Quite a bit of recent hype hints that it will border on spectacular, but that is hype and who really knows. But let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that it is a real blockbuster — great CGI, absorbing story line, terrific dialogue, and hunks and hotties galore. What might that mean for the game?

It will almost certainly make a lot of money for Activision Blizzard. And since the money will be made on the back of the WoW franchise, it should mean that the game itself will get some much-needed corporate interest and resources for a newly energized continuation. Should. That doesn’t mean it will. I still think ATVI is in the process of abandoning the WoW model, and there is a good chance that money from a WoW movie will be seen as a windfall for all their new games.

A successful movie will bring in new players to the game, possibly a LOT of new players. If — and only if — Blizz is prepared for this influx, it will be good for the game. By “prepared” I mean quite a few things:

  1. Servers are ready for the new load. You would think this is a no-brainer, but I give you as People’s Exhibits 1 and 2 launch of Mists and launch of WoD. ‘Nuff said.
  2. The game itself is welcoming, fun, and absorbing for new players who have never seen it before. This means it is self-contained, not so confusing that it requires an outside source such as Wowhead to make sense of it. It means the low-level experience is rich and varied enough to permit a wide range of play styles. It means there are mechanics in place to allow new players to easily meet up with and play with friends (for example, the game is more guild-friendly than it is now). It means a non-toxic social environment, where new players are not ridiculed and scorned for asking reasonable questions, where they are not seen as easy prey and entertainment for more experienced players. (And yes, I do think Blizz can help with this, it is not totally dependent  on the player base. There are plenty of actions they can take to greatly discourage toxic behavior.)
  3. Devs are prepared for a more or less continuous stream of small patches, designed to introduce fun tweaks and options rather than tons of new content.
  4. Classes and specs are stabilized and well-balanced (that is, fun to play) at every level, not designed only for end game max gear.
  5. There are rewarding group activities at low levels.

The specter of a looming successful movie is likely to have an effect on the game even before the movie comes out. Take a look at the timeline. Almost the earliest we will get an initial announcement of a new expansion is at Blizzcon. That means that –even being very optimistic — we would not get a beta before early 2016, and a PTR in spring of 2016 at best. Which would put the new expansion launch in synch with the movie premiere. This makes business sense, as it would combine movie revenues with a rash of new players PLUS the rash of returning players and game sales always associated with a new expansion. A banner year for Blizz. (Although I shudder at the almost certain technical chaos it will cause, given their track record.)

What does that mean for the current game? It means we are a year out — in the best case — from a new expansion. Another year of WoD, another year of garrisons and shipyards and apexis crystals and broken professions and horrible class imbalances.

I think it also means — in spite of Blizz’s reluctance to do it — at least one more patch, 6.3, before we get 7.0. In fact, if we are a year out from the xpac, we could conceivably see a 6.4. And, since I do not think we will get another raid tier, indications are that we will be basically in the same situation we were in Mists towards the end. I could be wrong, and I hope I am wrong, but the realities of time are pretty compelling.

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.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: