Patches and Classic and a wild theory

(Scattered thoughts today — plumber is here installing new water heater and landscaper installing additional stone path to studio, so I am a bit distracted. Plus getting ready for semi-annual visit of my sister-in-law aka the hell bitch…)

Patches. Some of you may have noticed that the sidebar widget on this site was recently edited. My original thought on putting it there at all was it might be an interesting little hype-builder, counting down the days and hours until the next major event in the game. This has not worked out as well as I thought it would, in that there has been very little to anticipate thus far in BFA (other than the expansion release itself). The current countdown — until Patch 8.2 — is pretty difficult to get excited about anyway, but I have to work with what I have.

In Legion we saw what was touted as a new release discipline for the Blizz team — patches every 11 weeks, come hell or high water. Now, we can debate whether or not that was a good plan (remember the disaster that was Patch 7.3.5), but wherever you come down on the subject, you have to admire the fact that they stuck with the schedule for the entire expansion. But then, of course, Legion was Blizz’s mea culpa for Warlords of Draenor. They were so stung by the “no content” charge levied about WoD that they were going to by god prove they could not only design content but indeed shove it at players faster than they could handle. So there!

BFA is a different situation — Blizz seems to think they can rest on their Legion laurels, issuing patches and new content on a strict whenever-the-hell-we’re-ready basis. This might not be a bad thing, but it assumes the releases will then actually be finished and polished when they go live. Given Blizz’s apologies/backtracking on major things like azerite gear and islands, it’s an open question as to how “polished” things are in this expansion.

A couple of days ago, I mentioned Cata’s Patch 4.3. Not that I am the nostalgic type, but it’s interesting to note that was back when patches were all about adding things to the game, not taking them away. Many patch items starting in WoD seem to have been as much about removing things as adding them. Blizz lately seems determined to undo player perks and quality of life mechanisms that they gave out in earlier expansions. Their design philosophy seems to have become making players start over from scratch at the beginning of every expansion — nothing allowed that would make leveling or end game content more readily accessible. And if they are sloppy and forget a couple of things they meant to take away, they figure out how to do it eventually.

This is the case for the water strider — everything we know about it indicates they intended to have it apply only in Mists, that they did not mean it to carry forward into new zones. But there was such an outcry over it that they gave in. And having given in on it once, they for some reason figured they couldn’t remove the ability until they could figure out a way to lie about what a good thing removal would be. (By the way, expect the “mount equipment” slot to only become available next expansion after some number of leveling and rep and quest requirements have been met, along the lines of the now-interminable Pathfinder drudge.)

Classic. As most of you know, Blizz finally announced the release date for Classic — end of August. (Any students out there planning to spend much of their summer break playing Classic, oops. Though probably most of the people longing for it have not been students for many years…) One hopes that the years this has been in the making means an August 2019 release will be polished and near-perfect. One hopes, but one is not especially optimistic…

Blizz has put a lot of resources into developing a palatable Classic game redux. It seems like it is a pretty big gamble for them, but I suppose their bean counters have crunched all the numbers and have a few tricks up their sleeves. Still, they are walking a very thin line regarding its success/failure — on the one hand the troglodytes who want nothing changed, to the more reasonable types who understand that the good old days were not necessarily all that good all the time. Blizz also is aware that just doing a static Classic pick-a-patch-and-stick-to-it will never work, that people will get bored and want progress. So Classic will not remain the same Classic, it sounds like it will basically be a sort of hamster wheel of early patch followed by subsequent patches up to a certain point, then — ?? I don’t know, start all over again? Or recreate the entire WoW experience up to just shy of whatever the current expansion is?

Whatever the plan, count me out. I don’t disparage those who think they can recapture their lost youth/wonder/freedom by going back in the game — good luck, I hope you find whatever you are looking for. But I played the demo Classic, and let me tell you it was nothing but continual frustration and annoyance. Certainly the actual live version will be better (we all hope), but it seems unlikely I could ever have fun turning back the tech clock. I like my mount and pet and transmog collections, I like not having to feed and care for my trusty hunter pet, I like not having to clutter up my very small bag with arrows and bullets to match whatever level my weapon is, I like not having to compete with every other player to tag a mob first or race to an ore node. I don’t want to have to level my pet separately, nor my fists. I don’t want to go back to the magic circle of hunter effectiveness where my weapon won’t work. (On the other hand, if they gave us a Classic Mists of Pandaria, I would probably be all over that!)

While I am not personally interested in Classic, I am kind of interested in how it turns out. It would seem like it cannot possibly have much future as a standard Blizz franchise, but again I feel like they must have figured out a way for it to stay relevant to some significant group of players. Given Activision-Blizzard’s strategic goals of monetization, esports, and mobile apps, I feel certain they must have figure out how to fit Classic into that pattern, else why expend the considerable resources they have devoted to it? I just haven’t yet deduced how they will do it.

Wild theory. The one thing I do feel sure of is that Blizz would  not have gone into Classic redesign without a relative certainty of making it a success. My tinfoil hat theory of the day is that they are going to use Classic as a fallback game for when the current one finally bites the dust. That way, WoW will always remain one of their games, but they will not have to put much effort (if any) into design and development — they will merely keep recycling it, going from Vanilla up through all the various expansions, then starting all over again.

3 thoughts on “Patches and Classic and a wild theory

  1. If they start with Classic at day 1 and go through the entire expansion over 1 year, then advance to BC for a year, Wrath, Cata, MoP, all one year durations, they would have 8 years of content, not counting future expansions that they could continue adding. They could stretch the franchise out 12 years or more just recycling old content.

    1. My bet is that the real draw to Nostralius was its price, not the “nostalgia”, and if they have to pay a Blizz subscription suddenly they will become far less sentimental. But then I am very cynical.

Comments are closed.