World of Warcraft Isn’t a Social Game Anymore
That’s right; I’m going to say something bad about World of Warcraft. Shoot me! Many people think that WoW is the be-all end-all game of the last decade and that all new releases are clones. In a sense, that’s true because Blizzard paved the way for other games and it would be very hard to come up with entirely new concepts in terms of mechanics, user interface and general utilities. In short, Blizzard made MMO’s popular and accessible for the masses.
That’s all fine and dandy, but it seems to me that they’re taking it one step to far. I’m talking about the Looking For Group-system (LFG) and the Looking For Raid-system (LFR). LFG and LFR allow a player to queue up and specify their role in the group (Damage, tank or healer); they end up in the queue and wait until a group has formed for a normal instance, a heroic instance or a raid encounter. In my eyes, there are several flaws in these systems that are related to population and the amount of tanks and healers in relation to the amount of DPS. Players with a damage specialization (DPS) will always have to wait far longer than healers or tanks for their group to be formed. This is due to the fact that there are far less healers and tanks than there is DPS. I’ll pull a number out of my hat and say that there’s at least 10 times more DPS than healer or tanks.
That’s a first problem with those mechanics. The second one, and this is the main point of this post, is that this mechanic makes people act like assholes. That’s harsh and very sad, but also the truth I’m afraid. There have been numerous times when my group fell apart before the first boss of an instance was downed. There’s basically one main reason for this: It’s too easy to get another group. What I mean is that if this group doesn’t go fast enough or isn’t good enough for someone’s taste they’ll just leave the group and queue up again rather than try again. Or, even worse is when a group falls apart because they just don’t like the instance. It usually goes something like this: “Oh god, not this place again!! /leave group”. That’s just extremely unpleasant, especially for DPS who have to wait 10-30 minutes before they get a group.
Also, just as a side note: the LFG system is a Blizzard conspiracy! I swear the queue always pops up when I’m on the toilet!
Furthermore, people don’t know boss strategies anymore, and this is especially apparent in LFR. LFR is just too easy. People just stand in fire because they can’t be bothered to move, or don’t even know that they should move. Of course, this puts extra strain on healers (and they usually aren’t the best kind of players … birds of a feather you know) which often results in a wipe even in LFR! And then the shitstorm begins: “Fucking DPS! You all fucking suck, kick the slackers!”. Suffice to say, many more colorful words often follow. Then, after waiting another 10 minutes for a new tank and a couple of healers you finally get that boss down (let’s say it’s Spine of Deathwing, wipes often happen there it seems) and the looting can begin. There are people needing for all kinds of things they don’t need. Needing for off-spec, needing for downgrades (what?!), needing for Tier tokens they already have, etc. This results in another shit storm of “FUCKING NINJA OMG! KICK!).
And then finally, perhaps the biggest issue I have with this is that complete absence of the social aspect. Doing heroics used to be fun, you’d meet new people, have a chat, etc. and perhaps even add them to your friends list, but since the dawn of the LFG system the social contact with your group doesn’t go any further than “Hey” and “Thanks for the run, bye”. Well, I’m lying … there’s more chatting (read: name-calling) if you wipe on something). With almost every group member being from a different server there’s virtually no chance of meeting the same people twice. As a comparison, it would be the same as saying “hi” to a random stranger on the street and following them around for half an hour and then leave. This only promotes anonymity and in turn has the adverse effects I mentioned earlier in this post.
The LFG and LFR system can be a thing of beauty and could help stabilize the decline in subscriptions, but it needs some polishing. Perhaps some sort of penalty for leaving a group before completing the instance? I don’t know, I’m not a developer and I have no idea what would work. All I know is that I miss the social aspect of the game more than anything, and Blizzard would do well to attempt to bring it back in some form.
That’s my ranting done; let me know what your thoughts are in the comment section below!
PS: is it me, or is the player base exclusively casual these days? On my server at least there’s very little actual real or ‘hardcore’ PvP or PvE going on :S