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[Review] Why WoW is hemorrhaging subscriptions – a former hardcore raider’s view

Gamingtodaynews1f - [Review] Why WoW is hemorrhaging subscriptions - a former hardcore raider's view
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To put it bluntly, I'm not just some casual complaining about not being good enough to tackle WoW's endgame. At various points through my WoW career, I have raided in really competitive guilds. I cleared every raid since the game's release on the highest difficulty right up until I quit raiding with the new expansion's release. I played PvP to a decently high level. I have earned more than 95% of the game's achievements.

There's one reason and one reason only why people aren't sticking around. The game becomes prohibitively difficult the moment you try to tackle any content that's beyond the most casual level. In fact, it's so prohibitively difficult that instead of achieving an MMO's core purpose – bringing people together for shared adventures – it is accomplishing the opposite by pushing them apart and segregating them into closed communities that are unwilling to play with others. The game is so difficult that other people, rather than being your allies, are becoming an obstacle to your progression with their less than perfect play – fostering resentment and anger in the community.

The community is pretty much segregated into two layers. There's the "elite" consisting of top-end raiders, boosters and streamers. And then there's the "trash" consisting of everyone else. If you don't have the gear or the skill, you will never get to play with the "elite" simply because there is zero incentive for people of various skill levels to play together. A newbie grouping with an "elite" is nothing more than an obstacle to the "elite" player rather than an adventuring buddy.

All it took for me to fall off WoW's insane gear treadmill was taking one week off when the new raid was released. My guild no longer wanted to play with me because I was behind. Pickup groups didn't want to play with me because I was behind. I tried making my own groups and ended up sitting alone in the game's looking for group interface for hours with little to zero interest.

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Quite frankly, a game that requires you to keep running on an endless treadmill that takes seconds to fall off is no longer a game. It's a cruel parody of a real-life job. And perhaps all the people cheering on the developers for continuing to increase the game's difficulty are looking for exactly that – a second job. It's hard not to think that something is fundamentally broken in the community when half the people on official forums are constantly clamoring about "filthy casuals" not wanting to work for gear.

Since when was "working" for anything in a game a good thing?

Things were not always this way. Back during the first 3 expansions of the game's lifetime, things were infinitely more casual and fun. As an 11 year old that only occasionally looked up tactics, I successfully cleared Naxxramas. As an adult, as little as a year ago I had to put in more work to raid in WoW than I was actually putting in at my real job.

When an adult is struggling to play at the same level that a stupid kid managed to play at almost two decades ago, you know that the game has suffered an insane difficulty creep. WoW classic is proof of that – those old raids were demolished by the game's current subscribers.

The thing is, I'm NOT looking for an e-sport parody that will suck the life out of me when I play an MMO. I'm looking for a fantasy. I want to play a game in which I go on adventures and make friends. Modern WoW does not provide for that experience. You are either in a hardcore alliance of convenience with no real friends that can tackle the game's endgame content, or you are so casual that you rely on automatic group makers where people don't even communicate with each other.

Here's what I want from an MMO. Make a world in which people can have fun and socialize with each other. Don't make a stressful, twitchy e-sport wannabe for Twitch.

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