Unfocused focus

Some days when I sit down to write this blog I have to really scrape to come up with a topic. Other days there is so much to write about that the problem is choosing and limiting the blog’s topic scope. Then there are days like today, which seems to be a witch’s sour mash of both situations.

On the one hand, the game itself seems to be shrinking. My life in Azeroth has pretty much devolved into emissary quests, leveling alts, raiding twice a week, and doing the odd Warfront if the gear reward is enticing enough. None of it is particularly absorbing. My activity over the weekend was mostly catching up on Warfronts on all my alts, along with getting my rogue to 120 and gearing him up a bit. Ho-hum. Oh, and out of sheer boredom, trying my hand at druid healing in LFR.

On the other hand, there is a fair bit of external news about the game, though I confess I have no idea what significance — if any — it holds for normal players. The most recent news was — and continues to be in my opinion — the evolution of BM hunters into something of a DPS joke. But there has been other interesting news, including last week’s World First Jaina (by Method, big surprise, in the same way the Patriots winning the Super Bowl was a shocker), and Friday’s Bloomberg announcement that Activision Blizzard is preparing to restructure and do “hundreds” of layoffs.

Thus, since my brain is unable to sense the “real” story among all this, here are a few thoughts about all that:

Leveling alts. I generally kind of like leveling my alts, mainly just to experience the different ways the same old quests can be done by different classes/specs. But after the second or third one, it gets pretty old, and I reached that point about 2 alts ago in BFA. And of course, getting to level 120 is just the first half of leveling these days — just like when you reach max profession level you have not really mixed out your professions because you still have to get level 3 proficiency on each aspect of them, in the same way when you get an alt to 120 you still have to do some additional end game leveling to be able to do almost any of the end game activities.

The speed with which I am able to level alts now means that, even without xp boosters, it only takes two BFA zones to get to 120. This of course means there is one zone that remains initially undiscovered, possibly phased in some parts, and a major faction that you have zero rep with. I leveled my rogue in Drustvar and Tiragarde Sound, ignoring Stormsong Valley, but other alts have leveled different patterns. Transportation is a bit easier with the BoA flight point cheat you can buy, but the lack of appreciable starter rep on one faction dogs your alt for months it seems. It really is time for Blizz to make most rep gains BoA.

And not flying is really starting to annoy me. It is starting to get to the point where I am considering just leaving the game except for raid nights until flying is in place. Enough is freaking enough.

Activision Blizzard layoffs. I have zero idea what if anything this may mean for WoW. I don’t think it presages the game’s demise. If indeed the company has something like 9800 employees as they did at the end of 2017, “a few hundred” is not such a big deal (unless you happen to be one of the ones laid off that is). Still, it seems the restructuring is definitely in response to sharp changes in player gaming habits as well as to very strong competition from games like Fortnite. Viewed that way, we all have to admit that WoW is a bit of a dinosaur in gaming, try though Blizz might to force it into the corporate goals of esports and mobile games.

Whether the end is nigh for WoW or not, I think it is clear the game is in its waning days, just a matter of how long the death throes last — months or years. I honestly do not anticipate more than one or at most two more expansions in the franchise, and I think there is at least a 50-50 chance that the game will undergo a drastic cutback in development immediately after BFA.

Method wins World First Mythic Jaina. Who saw that coming? 🙄 (Check out Marathal’s post for one take on this.) (Oh, and they also won World Second, apparently just to prove some kind of point.) To me, one of the most eye-opening revelations (from the Red Bull post-race interview) was Method’s statement that they are 40-100 million gold in debt because of the race. I don’t even know how you go into gold debt in WoW. Borrow from fans? Get your sponsor to help you buy hundreds of WoW tokens? And how do you even buy that many tokens without gaming the system by forcing your guild members to buy their max number and turn the gold over to the guild bank? Does the 10 million gold limit even apply to the pros — or do they have their CFO manage it so they always spend enough to not go over that in the bank coffers?

Method stated that they cleaned out the auction houses on three servers to get all the mats, high level BoE gear, and raid supplies they needed. They also exploited the heck out of Titan Residuum farming, in some cases running entire lower level raids with just one Method member and all the rest stream viewers with the targeted armor type. They also gamed profession leveling by forcing members to level 4 professions just to be able to meet the threshold for trading gear in these Residuum farming runs. Seriously, is that anywhere near the “fantasy” of the game Mr. Game Director Hazzikostas loves to lecture us about?  But hey, it’s for the pros so I guess anything goes.

Oh, also almost the entire raid team race changed to troll. If that doesn’t say something about racial characteristic imbalances, I don’t know what does.

In contrast to previous races, Method streamed their entire attempt, a move that apparently was a huge success. Red Bull is ecstatic, as I presume is one of their other sponsors, Wowhead, along with Activision Blizzard — though they eschew any official support for the race. There was a significant real world $$ expense to this entire race, too, Red Bull promoting it through advertising and hosting the team at their gaming facility, and almost certainly there were some payments to the streamcasters to stay with the team and provide contextual commentary. I should mention that Method also raised several thousand dollars for the Save the Children Fund — this in my opinion should be touted more and become the norm for the pro guilds. I guess they may use shady tactics to win the title, but they do give some money to charity — kind of like Tony Soprano donating to the church….

In sum, I don’t know what to think about all this — it is at once interesting and disturbing. Perhaps as a minimum we should no longer allow ourselves to believe the fairy tale that the pro guilds have the same rules as the rest of us Great Unwashed, though.

BM hunters still stink. For some words more refined than my rant last Friday on the state of BM hunters in BFA, check out this post from Bendak. Wise and restrained. And spot on.

End of my scattered focus for today.

8 thoughts on “Unfocused focus

  1. I heard they can make about 50 million in gold easily on Mythic carry runs. Someone I know on A52 said Limit was buying up and paying 2 million a pop for BoE gear off the auction house. This is what the game has become. If you have the financial resources and corporate backing, you can make a career out of playing a game. I will be very curious what plans all of these players, employees of WoWhead, Icy Veins, dozens of web sites will do if Activision ever just said that’s it, Game Over. Ask any former employee of Atari, nothing lasts forever.

      1. I did some quick napkin math and figure I’ve made about 6-7 million gold in fifteen years, with most of that coming in WoD and beyond.

        Two hours…

      2. Did a fast search, full Mythic clears we’re going for 25-35 million as posted on a reddit thread which seems crazy. But I could see people paying 10 million.

    1. This is all so insane as to be almost not registering with me! I think we can see that game gold actually does easily translate into real world currency, yet Blizz maintains that flimsy cover that the game is not pay to play. Baloney — Exhibit A is Method basically buying the advantage for the World First title.

      1. During the Oprah, I mean Legion, you get gold, you get gold, everybody gets gold continuation of Warlords Garrison churning, gold was so available that the prices for everything expanded to levels unheard of. Now that the amounts have been nerfed from missions, and it’s obvious enough to me that they are attempting to get the gold out of the economy, it won’t be long before multi million dollar runs dry up. I know I’ve heard mention from people, if you want to get your AoTC Heroic, just go buy a hundred dollars worth of gold off the shop. It’s a sad state of the game. A lot of people predicted it, I’m sure I mentioned it years ago, but bottom line is they won’t do anything about it. The people they design the game for are buying, the people they sell runs to are buying, Activision is offsetting losses from subs with cash shop transactions. It’s their version of a loot box

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