The Gorilla Flushes Itself
Mar 21, 2008 02:11:08

Warcraft laptopIf you haven't read the article at Wolfshead Online entitled "Wow: The Battle for the Future of Azeroth" you should - go read it and come back. It's a fantastic article that I would like to weigh in on. After all, who could resist commenting on an article that espouses the idea that Blizzard is taking WoW in the direction of e-sports? The article included a quote from the 2008 Game Developer's Conference (GDC) by Rob Pardo, and it is a bomb to say the least.
"We didn't design WoW up front to be an E-sport game. We're trying to retrofit this in - I hope to one day implement some sort of spectator mode." - Rob Pardo

All I can say to this point is that I hope either Rob Pardo was drunk when he said this or there was a ventriloquist back stage who worked for Sony Online Entertainment (SOE).

Why?

Simple - right now PvP in WoW, whether battlegrounds or arena, is about as balanced a fight as one where someone brings an armed thermonuclear warhead to a knife fight.

Who knows?

Maybe Blizzard will surprise us. Maybe they will be the first company to "retrofit" PvP into a game and have it be worth a damn. At this point I ask myself if this is the same company that starts the best armed, highest rated arena teams in the world against the poorest armed teams in the world without any experience at all at the beginning of each seaon? Is this the same company that has given us such stellar performances as that when they thrust the world arena championships upon us in such an unintelligible manner? If Activision/Blizzard really is trying to turn a PvE game like WoW into an e-sport (the likes of which has already been tried and failed) they may as well retrofit the bank account from whence comes the WoW profits with a toilet flush handle.

Am I wrong?

I sure hope so. Blizzard gave us some of the best PvE content in the industry. However, consider the track record here. This is the same company that was, by the admission of both Rob Pardo and Jeff Kaplin, willing to dedicate the majority of resources on PvE content that at one point 1% of their clients were ever likely to see. These are the same developers that were willing to feed the delusion that is held by "high end" raiding guilds that they set a standard by which the rest of us measure ourselves.

When Wolfshead discussed how PvP USED to be saying "People engaged PvP for one reason: it was fun" the nail was hit right on the head. By turning "honor" earned in PvP into currency used to buy better gear Blizzard has thrust their PvP into the same "inventory management" (as Richard Garriott once described it) cesspool in which WoW end game now sits.

Ask anyone who plays WoW why they continue to raid or do PvP and you will get some version of the same answer: "for better gear". PvP in Blizzard is not about skill - it is about who has managed to get themselves the best "uber sword of uberness". Battlegrounds and Arena in WoW have long ago ceased to be about talent and ability. As the Wolfshead article so aptly put it, there is no emotional involvement in PvP where WoW is concerned. There is no way to affect the game in any substantial way. Well, except of course I can take some towers in "world PvP" to give my side a buff - be still my impatient heart. There is no way to influence the virtual world as there is with Eve Online and which there will be in Warhammer Online in a very big way; both games that have been designed with PvP in mind from the "get go".

In the end, odds are (if Rob Pardo really did make this statement) one of two things will happen. First, and hopefully, Activision/Blizzard will continue to give us some of the best PvE in the industry.

Or...

...or they can start to believe their own hype. At that point no one will have to design a game that is a "WoW killer" - the 800 pound Blizzard Gorilla will simply flush itself down the toilet.

- Julie Whitefeather

Submitted by Brent on Mar 21, 2008 02:11:08 CST (comments: 5)


Comments:


'[Citation Needed]' by CaptainAngry
Submitted on 2008-03-21 09:34:09 CST
Blizzard gave us some of the best PvE content in the industry. [Citation Needed]

Be careful flinging around statements like that. At the end of the day Blizzard built a 7/10 MMO with an already well established gaming intellectual property which allowed it to snowball into the walmart of MMOs it is today. If valve made world of half-life or nintendo made world of super mario tomorrow they would be just as big if not bigger than wow.

The PVE content is adequate but there is nothing particularly great about it. There is a step by step instruction book for every boss in the game: put on enough gear, stand here, attack now, fight over. Every non-boss has no AI at all. Dungeons are for the most part static with nothing interesting going on inside beyond a door opening or a battle event automatically starting. This is not great PvE.

Most people play WOW because its what everybody else plays, but its obvious to me that Blizzard is only doing as well as I'd expect any company to do while holding the chain of the giant beast that this MMO has become. I think its just grown to big for them to keep control of it.



'Who said it?' by Julie
Submitted on 2008-03-21 17:51:07 CST
"Blizzard gave us some of the best PvE content in the industry." - Julie Whitefeather

"...if you have ever played WoW and found the design of the infrastructure and the culture of that virtual world enjoyable, it isn’t the developers at Activision/Blizzard you have to thank - It is the developers at Games Design Workshop." - Julie Whitefeather

I said it.

The interesting thing about writing an article that has anything to do with Blizzard and World of Warcraft (WoW) is this: love it or hate it, no one ever seems to have an opinion. Actually my articles tend to fall on both sides of the love/hate WoW fence. Yes, I know there are those who will debate the issue, but the fact is that WoW created a bigger market for MMOs than ever existed before. As far as Blizzard's PvE content is concerned, yes I realize that the similarities between the WoW ip and Games Design Workshop's IP is...*ahem*...a considence of epic proportions. But in the end, to me PvE is what Blizzard does best and PvP ("organized" PvP as in Battlegrounds and Arena's) were an afterthought and one of the things they do worst.

I have the utmost respect of people like Rob Pardo, but these days the 800 pound gorilla seems to be swagering a bit too much for me. If you boast long enough you will start to believe your own "p.r." and that also is what seem to be happening here.



'Grrr...' by Julie
Submitted on 2008-03-21 17:52:59 CST
I hate not being able to go back and correct a mistake. correction to the above.

"The interesting thing about writing an article that has anything to do with Blizzard and World of Warcraft (WoW) is this: love it or hate it, no one ever seems to have NO opinion"



'E-sport, money' by Sente
Submitted on 2008-03-22 05:17:13 CST
If they are going for an E-sport experience they are probably trying to repeat what happened with Starcraft in South Korea, where you have real life E-sport arenas, TV channels sending Starcraft games etc. Another path for some more money.

The creative side of Blizzard in terms of content is probably mainly focused on the next game to build. For World of Warcraft the creativity may be more in revenue exploration, which perhaps works out well from a business perspective.




'What's Wrong With Spectating?' by Grugio
Submitted on 2008-04-08 22:36:08 CST
This is a bit of a stretch, but Guild Wars has a spectation mode that allows you to watch top players play against each other, or people go 1v1 with Henchman. "Observation Mode" as it is called in Guild Wars is a huge success. Plus, it's fun to watch yourself after you play a match... more creepy, actually.

A long time ago in one of the first Guild vs Guild Championships, there was a Professional Team, War Machine that went against an amateur team... on Television! There have also been live tournaments more recently that have been huge successes. These have taken place in Korea and Germany.

I know Guild Wars is way more a PvP game than WoW, but recent expansions ( /cough Eye of the North /cough ) that have been purely PvE have been calling this into question, not to mention the state of PvP in Guild Wars itself.

I like your post, though.




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