Keeping Up With Classic

It's been over four months since BlizzCon, and while we've been hearing plenty about Battle for Azeroth, things have been fairly quiet on the WoW Classic front. (As an aside, I'm always awed by how much free PR Blizzard manages to get out of content that isn't even released yet simply by having an open alpha/beta. The amount of YouTube videos talking about every little thing going on in the BfA alpha from one day to the next is staggering.)

That's not to say that we've learned nothing new at all about Classic; it's just that nothing that's been said has been important enough that it made the wider news. You pretty much have to live in one of the relevant subreddits or at least follow someone else who does to hear about any updates. I've opted for the latter, as I recently found a nice new YouTube channel mostly devoted to WoW Classic, called Tips Out. While the creator's obsession with calling his viewers "boys" and "fellas" all the time is a bit weird to me - I guess part of that "classic" feeling is pretending that women don't play video games - his videos are wonderfully thoughtful, which really helps him stand out in a community that is otherwise all too fond of hysteria and hyperbole.

So what have we learned? There was a Forbes interview with J. Allen Brack, which largely crushed any hopes that we would be seeing Classic any time "soon" as he admitted that they had announced it somewhat earlier than usual to get more community input. It's also been noted that based on open positions listed on Blizzard's job pages, they only filled the last spot on the WoW Classic team in January.

With how desperate people are for any kind of update, there was a bit of a frenzy when the official WoW Twitter account posted a little video for the anniversary of the game's launch in Europe that shows old character models in the old starting zones, which got people to speculate about it being "leaked" Classic footage. You can find a video that analyses this claim in incredible detail here, but the short version is that it's possible, but it could just as well simply be old Wrath-era footage. People are just that desperate for some sign that the project is making progress.

Personally I appreciate that it's early days, but with what little communication we have got, I can't help but get the impression that this is a project that the higher-ups at Blizzard are feeling incredibly meh about. Notice how in the Brack interview he says that there are people at Blizzard who are really interested in Classic WoW... but he doesn't include himself among them. I wonder if the reason this is happening at all isn't actually a mandate from Activision, something along the lines of: "Hey, I know you just wanna keep making new Overwatch characters, but there are people out there on the internet who are making a stink because you don't want to sell them an old product of yours that they used to love... why not do it and take their money? It doesn't sound like a big deal if people are able to privately re-create the experience in their garages. Do you hate money?"

The focus on community input can also be seen in this context - sure, you can simply interpret it as a positive thing, as Blizzard wanting to listen to the players, but from my point of view there's also a darker side to it: that at least as of now, they don't seem to have a big spokesperson for the project, someone with a vision. They are just doing it because someone higher up told them to, and they hope the new hires will figure it out by just listening to what people say on the forums. That's actually kind of concerning if you think about it, but would also explain a couple of somewhat contradictory statements that we've got on the question of the game's direction so far, e.g. Ion Hazzikostas saying "Vanilla means Vanilla" while Brack in the interview linked above seems to consider new character models a possibility for example.

Regardless of what direction they are eventually going to take with Classic, it would be nice if they could get someone to helm the project who is willing to take a strong stance on what exactly it's going to be and who is able to communicate this to the fans.

1 comment:

  1. What I've found is that Blizzard fans --and WoW players in particular-- have earned their reputation as being obsessive about the game down to the last detail. Sure, there's the raiders and all of the focus on what might happen in the alpha/beta that would have an impact on progression raiding, but even the loremasters and crafters can be obsessive about every last detail.

    Blizz has kind of cultivated that sort of fan, because that's their core player base. The more casual fans are the ones that will play a new expac for a few months and then drop out once the shiny wears off.

    More power to them. And really, I guess people could call you and I obsessive, Shintar, as we both have run MMO blogs for years. So I can't really complain, I suppose.