Why Activision Blizzard’s Latest Situation Is Not the End of WoW
I’ve heard the term “World of Warcraft killer” attached to so many games and situations over the years that I practically have semantic satiation.
When entire listicles of games billed as a “WoW killers” have failed to produce that result, it’s clear the term has lost some meaning.
Once again, media outlets and other alarmists are sounding the digital klaxon, warning us that the end is near for the long-running MMORPG. That has led to some people asking, “Is WoW going to end now?”
To them, a perfect storm is brewing and this time, Blizzard is the WoW-Killer. Except it’s not.
A pending lawsuit against Activision Blizzard has revealed that the company has a horrible, toxic work atmosphere, prompting popular streamers to stop covering the game and players to swear off the game entirely like this was the last, final straw.
Not helping matters is that Activision Blizzard recently managed to isolate major streamers and inadvertently started an exodus to Final Fantasy XIV while new MMOs like Sword of Legends Online and New World wait in the wings to claim more fans.
While this might seem like more than enough to end World of Warcraft, I don’t think it’s gonna happen.
I’m going to evaluate a few dimensions of this perfect storm, and I’ll show you why it won’t be enough to be the end of WoW.
Fans Tend to Separate Products from Their Problematic Creators
For better or worse, people tend to have a short memory when it comes to entertainment providers’ offensive actions. Fans’ tolerance of their favorite entertainers is ridiculously high, so much so that some truly horrific people have had their images smoothed over and continue to profit.
The lawsuit against Activision Blizzard along with the real-life protests that followed and the insider interviews reveal a pretty abhorrent situation at the company.
That story broke less than two weeks ago in late July.
You know what happened this past weekend? The 14th annual Arena World Championships. Major players in the WoW community competed while many other content creators took up the reins from departed commentators to cover the event.
In other words, we saw business as usual. And that’s not even a month out from the first news story.
The initial loss of support from the player base is not be as devastating to the game or brand as some media outlets have indicated. If I was a betting man, I would say that it is more likely that people will continue to support Activision Blizzard by playing WoW. They will also come back to their products (hey, Diablo IV is coming, right?) rather than swear off their games forever.
Individuals and companies alike have managed to do some pretty abhorrent stuff and maintain their fanbase; I don’t see why the most popular MMO is going to be any different.
I’m not saying this is a good thing. It is what it is, though.
WoW Still Has an Upper Hand on the Competition
Another huge reason that people will continue to play World of Warcraft rather than go to their competition is that the game has more to offer.
This is not some game that has one facet to it. WoW has competitive raiding, Mythic dungeon competitions, casual and hardcore PvP, nearly two decades of lore, lands to explore, and even a means to play the game as it was originally released.
Final Fantasy 14 is a gorgeous game with an amazing story and plenty to do. You know what sucks about the game? The PvP. Would serious PvP players leave WoW for that?
A newcomer MMO that is getting some positive hype called Sword of Legends Online has very fun PvP, but it lacks in many other areas like overall content, raids, UI, and effective translation for its story. What if you want a game that has great casual PvP and a (somewhat) comprehensible story? Well, there’s WoW for that.
WoW manages to cover enough bases that players can’t find a single game that offers them as much.
I’m glossing over things, but you get the point. It’s not even the newer games’ fault they can’t knock WoW down for the count. It’s a juggernaut.
World of Warcraft has had nearly 17 years to hone its craft. While other games have come close or surpassed WoW in certain aspects of its gameplay, they can’t match it all, and that means people will stay to get the full experience they desire.
WoW’s Temporary Drop in Quality Won’t Scare Off Too Many People
Since people probably won’t stay mad forever and WoW remains such an attractive game to its player base, we’re left with one major issue. World of Warcraft’s recent drop in quality is significant, and it’s been amplified by the delays that are bound to emerge with worker walkouts and the loss of offending content creators at Activision Blizzard.
Again, not that any of those things shouldn’t happen, only that they will result in a lower quality version of WoW for the near future.
As much as critics want to latch onto the shitshow that is present-day Shadowlands as proof the game is on its last legs, the fact is that the player base has been through worse and come back for more. Let’s take a quick walk down memory lane and peek at the things that didn’t end WoW.
- The introduction of everyone’s least favorite playable race: Pandas (with Vulpera as a close second)
- The Warlords of Draenor Expansion that lingered forever
- The Great Garbage Fire (BFA)
- Disappointing storylines and their lack of meaningful conclusions
- The endless introduction of new resources and powers that are quickly tossed the next expansion
- The length of time between 9.0 and 9.1
Those are just a few things off the top of my head. Fewer and less serious things have entirely killed other MMOs or limited their player base.
This is a good time to remind you that WoW has a monthly subscription; people have passed up games with no subs along with cheaper games to embrace the suck and enjoy the things that WoW does well.
Why? Because WoW can always bounce back. WoW has bounced back from every one of those things.
Even famous streamers have said this could be a moment of reflection that could help Blizzard refocus on their game, clean house, and move forward to release a better project.
Is that going to be the case? I think it’s likely Blizzard will make changes. Whether that results in a better game is….questionable.
Final Thoughts: This is Not the End of World of Warcraft, But It’s Gonna Hurt
World of Warcraft and the rest of the Activision Blizzard games are bound to take a hit here. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s all going to crash and burn. In fact, some people are optimistic that this whole situation could prompt beneficial changes in the company.
Of course, that is just a single possibility. Maybe I’ll end up having to eat my words when Activision Blizzard releases some stats about subscriptions that prove they lost 40% of their players or something. Until then, I can’t imagine that this confluence of events is going to cause the end of WoW. It’s a bump in the road, and it will probably be forgotten disappointingly fast.
It might look like a perfect storm, but I’m willing to bet it’s one of those times when the weatherman calls for 8 inches of snow and you end up with a dusting.
WoW isn’t going anywhere. Yet.