In 2004, Blizzard launched a little game called World of Warcraft. Now it’s 2013, and while it’s technically the same game we’re playing, you almost wouldn’t be able to recognize it.

The name of the game in 2004-2006 was “community.” It was a game where even reaching the level cap was a commendable achievement, and having an epic mount meant that you were either a master of farming Black Lotuses, or a valued member of a guild who pulled together to help you out and pimp your ride (1000g was a lot of coin back then.)

Somewhere along the line, these basic ideals of the game that made it the most popular online game ever shifted significantly. The thirst for adventure has been replaced with a demand for efficiency. While it’s debatable whether the changes made to the game have impacted the game negatively or positively, it’s undeniable that is has impacted the game significantly. If vanilla was the cool indie coffee shop where everybody knew everybody and enjoyed one another’s company, the current game is the crowded street outside, everybody quickly powerwalking to their next destination, face buried in their phones, hoping they don’t have the horrible misfortune of having to speak to somebody else.

Welcome to WoW in 2013: If you’re not pushing within 2% of your classes’ theoretical max DPS, you’re a scrub who doesn’t even deserve the air you breathe and the ever present catch-22 of “can’t get into raids without achievement, can’t get achievement without getting into raids” plagues every PUGer on Azeroth.

“PST iLVL and achiev or no invite.” “But the boss just came out today…”

The whole concept of the Warcraft community going to shit came into the forefront last week with this thread on the official forums, telling the story of an “outcast Warrior” in Korea, where WoW is somehow even less about having fun and more about efficiency than in the US or Europe, which leads us to the thesis of this whole article, and something my fellow adventurers should spend some serious time pondering:

Any WoW player, especially ones who were around for vanilla and TBC, should feel an influx of feels after reading that; after all, we were all noobs once. And despite the wealth of streamlined changes Blizzard has made over the years to the leveling experience, I honestly feel that it would be more difficult to start playing Warcraft now as opposed to how it was in 2004. In 2004, we didn’t have Wowhead (we had to use Thottbot! THE HORROR!), there was no DBM as we know it today and Dungeon Journals, advanced tooltips and alerts didn’t exist. This forced us to lean on something that exists only by technicality by this point instead, the community.

Back in the day, you couldn’t really do much of anything without a guild backing you. you could PUG 5-man instances if you were willing to sit in Ironforge and spam LookingForGroup for about 45 minutes looking for a tank and healer, but raids were a guild-only affair—pugging Molten Core was insanely rare until the later days of Naxx40—raids required a plethora of consumables and materials and this was before the days of guild banks, feasts, cauldrons; hell, even before raid-wide buffs. Every minute facet of the game depended entirely on teamwork, and since there were no cross-realm raids or even server transfers, you had to make do with the folks you had on the server you sort of arbitrarily chose based on how cool it sounded.

These eventually came to be seen as negatives by the community, and soon enough you could transfer servers. Then change your name. Then change your faction. Then do cross-realm battlegrounds, press a button and be teleported into a dungeon with players from all around the world within seconds, even hop on the back of the Destroyer of Worlds himself and bring peace to Azeroth without any knowledge of his abilities or even so much as stepping foot outside of your home city.

Somewhere along the line, these basic ideals of the game that made it the most popular online game ever shifted significantly. The thirst for adventure has been replaced with a demand for efficiency.

Naturally, these isolationist quality-of-life improvements are now seen as detriments to the game, and the angry mob is demanding they get toned down. Blizzard has acquiesced ever-so-slightly, by removing cauldrons and reintroducing outdoor raid bosses, but the shocking lack of communication needed to go about your business in WoW is still there.

Warcraft, at least in the endgame, has morphed into being about doing exactly what is needed to most efficiently complete your task, and now that building a thriving community and getting to know other players on your server is no longer required, it’s no longer desirable. Why sit there and wait for others to finish their quests or shoot the shit in Orgrimmar when I could be 3/4ths of the way done with my dailies by now? Convenience and efficiency has begat elitism from within the community, and it’s severely limiting WoW‘s ability to adapt and offer new experiences for its players.

It’s a horrible conundrum for Blizzard, because at this point, what can they really do? Anything short of a total overhaul of the game as we know it will not do much to strengthen community ties, but outright removing convenient features (that have proven so popular they’re now MMO staples) such as Dungeon Finder and LFR not only seems like a step backward, but it will almost assuredly alienate a large portion of the playerbase who almost seem to play WoW despite the designation “massively multiplayer” instead of because of it.

It’s no secret that WoW is losing a lot of its sheen in the eye of both the casual and hardcore gamer. Professional gamers and basement athletes alike are flocking to more attractive games like League of Legends, and in the latest press release, Blizzard announced the playerbase is down to 9.6 million (although “falling” to 9.6 million players in a nine year old game is about as concerning as Apple “only” selling 47 million iPhones last quarter). Blizzard has to act fast.

League of Legends is now more popular than WoW.

Or maybe the problem is that they’ve been acting too fast. It’s an easy criticism to make that Blizzard seems to be bending to demands that in the past seemed ludicrous. Whether it’s changing Arena ranking to gradually go up as a season progresses, or even the fact that there’s a Pandaren-based expansion at all, Blizzard has done their fair share of ‘Pandaren’ to their playerbase (sorry, I couldn’t leave that unpunned) to keep them forking over their $15.00 every month. The addition of flying mounts is something Ghostcrawler has been openly regretting lately, going so far as to say that if they could do it over they would have never introduced the mechanic. But now that we have years of content based around the idea of flying, can it really be thrown away now? This is the proverbial rock and the hard place that Blizzard is stuck between.

The uber-convenient landscape of the game now promotes isolationism and to a lesser extent, the elitism that both sours current players and scares away potential new ones. It’s a path I don’t know that the game can keep up for much longer. Frankly, I’m surprised it’s carried them this far. There are a whole bunch of WoW veterans who have stuck around and have seen some shit, man, and at this point, it’s hard to tell if the game is evolving in direct parallel with my interest and willingness to invest time in the game, or if the way the game is now is encouraging me to become a more antisocial player. Here’s an itinerary of what I used to do, in vanilla, on a near daily basis:

• Log onto my guild’s Ventrilo server, join the lobby channel with most of my guild in it.
• Log into WoW.
• Farm herbs for a few hours to contribute to tonight’s raid.
• Do a few dungeons with guildies to help them better gear up.
• Switch over to the PVP team’s Ventrilo, join their group, and do battlegrounds for a few hours a day to MAINTAIN my ranking (Rank 11, no big deal by the way ::brushes dirt off shoulder::)
• Rejoin my guild’s vent to get ready for the raid.
• Raid for a few hours with the guild.
• Form a Zul’Gurub or UBRS raid after the main raid to keep working on everybody’s gear.
• Fall into a fitful slumber, with visions of Onyxia’s head hung o’er the Valley of Heroes dancing in my head.

Compare that to what I do on a normal basis now:

• Log into WoW.
• Get the Golden Lotus dailies out of the way as quickly as possible. Pray I do not get the obnoxious Ruins of Guo-Lai iteration.
• Harvest a smattering of random vegetables from my makeshift farm to the delight of an anthropomorphic, hillbilly panda bear.
• Join a queue to join a raid where if there is any communication whatsoever, it’ll be of the “OMFG YOUR TRASH” variety.
• Log off, think “well, at least that’s out of the way until tomorrow,” and log back in by rote tomorrow.

When you spend more time with goddamn Farmer Yoon than anyone in your guild, you know there is something very fucking wrong. And this sort of autonomous, “figure it out yourself or get out of my group” style is as disheartening as it is mind-numbing. I don’t know what the solution is, honestly. I don’t even know if there can be a solution; after all, Pandaria is in my mind the best expansion since TBC, where we wouldn’t even be having this conversation. So maybe the only solution is to stop being such a bunch of dicks, ya jerks.

“Do you even play on this server?”

The poor Warrior in the thread mentioned earlier is just looking to escape from the doldrums of his own life and slay some virtual goddamn dragons with some strangers. After all, isn’t that all any of us want?

  • So many nails, and you hit ALL of them right on the head in one perfect motion, Mr. Miyagi style.

    I started playing WoW back in the pre-release beta days and had an on again/off again relationship with the game through all the expansions up until Cataclysm, after which I quit the game for good. I’ve done Horde, Alliance, PvP, PvE, soloing and hardcore raiding. I have seen/done it all. There has always been elitism and players with huge egos and bad attitudes, but nowadays it’s everyone/everywhere with huge egos and bad attitudes getting in each other’s way as they try to check off the same boxes.

    Part of the problem is we have too much damn information at our disposal and as a result everything is too numbers-driven. Skill doesn’t matter anymore, it’s all about your gear score and mods that do all the work for you. Sounds silly to get homesick over a video game, but I genuinely miss those vanilla days of raiding Blackwing Lair with my guild and feeling like a part of the team. Players weren’t so easily replaced back then. You had to work hard at being good at your class whereas now you can roll one of every class and be proficient if not excellent at all of them, easily.

    You make an excellent point about efficiency trumping adventure, or in other words, FUN. I’m all for making games better, but you cannot dismiss all the things that make a game so great to begin with. In WoW’s case, so many of the “improvements” have been needless or sacrificial. At what point does it end? Soon all anyone will have to do is log in and press a single button and the game will do the rest. They’ve taken one of the best, challenging MMORPGs of all time and turned it into a casual game.


    • Dammit Shez, I was coming down here to tell him he hit the nail on the head but you did it first, well, upvote for you (does this thing have upvotes?) and a comment to let you all know that this guy knows what he’s talking about.

      I still get aggravated when my WoW friends are assholes in LFR/LFG to noobs. I ask them “Don’t you remember when you were a noob? Wouldn’t it be nice if we helped this guy instead of talked shit and told him how bad he is?” Their response is usually “The game has been out for 9 years, they should know how to play by now.” REALLY? So people can’t have just started playing this week? Weird, I didn’t know they stopped selling WoW and you had to have been playing this game for all that time to be in the game now. Must have missed that patch…..

    • Charles Dillon

      I too miss the old days. I was a hunter and I was trying to get the bow stave combo from quests. A fellow guild mate who already had it went out of his way to help me do the quests and coach me through doing them. After it was done, he would duel with me and teach me a good rotation for dps using a hunter. This was GiantStalker/DragonStalker days.

      Good ole days, I might start a hunter just so I can transmog that stuff and feel like that again…maybe.

  • Keres

    Do you realize that League of Legends has one of if not THE worst gaming communities in existence right now? You’re also comparing a F2P game to a game that requires you to buy all of the expacs AND pay a monthly subscription fee. I don’t think that’s a fair comparison.

  • Keuric

    I’ve been playing since mid-TBC and I can tell you right now, I have heard this exact same sentiment the entire time. It’s tiresome, it’s old and I’m frankly no longer interested in hearing the points.

    I get tired of hearing how good things were back when I was your age-style. There were still douchebags then, there were still expectations, there were still stupid decisions made. Ghostcralwer can lament the advent of flight all he wants but it was a bridge Blizzard went down with no fire behind them.

    And Blizzard has made things such as flight more and more accessible, without fail. Lowering riding levels, lowering flight levels, making alts capable of flight before reaching certain levels using a BoA scroll — even the BoA idea itself is to appeal to more people, yet rewards those not driven enough to give a complete second run-through of the content.

    I have 10 85+s, I got my Monk to.. something around 30 before throwing in the towel.

    All I heard during TBC was that vanilla was the real game–during Wrath, it was TBC and vanila that really had it going on. Cataclysm was so painful, I’m amazed I stayed through to Mists.

    It has been an ever-woresening decline in attitude, behavior and execution on behalf of both Blizzard and its fanbase, both those that agree with it and those that disagree with changes made. But at the times these changes are made, there is a chorus of people shouting “OH, FINALLY!” just as loud or louder than the people saying “Was it so damn hard to just find four people on LFR?”

    We went from grinding herbs to grinding badges. When it first happened, it was a godsend, and then people realized that running Hall of Stone 40 times in a week wasn’t quite so fun or challenging as they thought, especially since they knew a grand total of two people amongst all the groups. Blizzard gave the people what they wanted because they wanted to stay the most subscribed game in the world.

    Well, you have it.

    I remember leveling my Dranei Hunter up in Stranglethorn, when levels 30-35 had taken me six weeks because I hadn’t even understood what questing was and was just grinding wildlife. I also had no real concept of how to use a pet well, so I dual-wielded for when I was inevitably charged by my target and then sicced my pet on them.

    Well, we came out of the cave to find fire and it turns out there was a lightswitch on the wall the entire time.

    The fanbase is complicit in the implementation of these changes. No period of game, frankly, is better than any other, because that period has a kind of temporary permanence. It only lasts as long as it takes to make the next bad decision.

    • I think everything you say is true, and the only reason I personally miss vanilla is because I knew everyone on Horde and Alliance going into a bg. I miss being able to say “Oh shit, there’s ____ again, we’re about to have a good fight!” Now it’s like “Oh there’s 40 bots in here, again …..” The community is lacking, but what can we do about it now? There were assholes in vanilla, and now that we have cross realm everything we just get to see everyone else’s assholes. Gross.

    • Many of your points are valid, but with all due respect, you said yourself you weren’t around in the vanilla days, so how can you have as good a basis for comparison?

      • Keuric

        Because the same pedestal Vanilla was put on during BC is the same pedestal both were put on during Wrath. Even Wrath was idealized during Cataclysm (and that’s because Cataclysm made almost anything else look good).

        What it comes out as to anyone not around during Vanilla (which at this point, is the vast, enormous majority of players) is that they’re what broke paradise. Well, Blizzard partly comes up with changes to certain systems, usability and platform ideas proactively, but a great deal also comes up with it reactively — due to player response, complaints and demands.

        Things are broken not just because Blizzard made bad decisions, but because players (during Vanilla, TBC, Wrath or Cata–and still) pushed them to make them.

        I can say I’m weary of the Vanilla was better mantra, because it’s now the Vanilla and TBC… and well, sometimes Wrath were better mantra. I can only believe that the inaccuracies of the former are also true of the former.

        • I don’t think anyone here is saying “vanilla is better” or “TBC is better”, etc, etc. The point is that over time Blizzard has instituted a multitude of changes that have gradually eroded the sense of community and teamwork that once made the game so great.

          • Tony

            I don’t necessarily think any expansion was better or worse. My friend just started playing WoW for the first time, and I can see the same magic and wonder in his play that we all had 8 years ago. Talking to him about vanilla makes me feel like an old man who walked to school “up hill both ways, in the snow.”

            I believe there are two issues this article can be divided into: one is the game changing too rapidly and drastically, and the other is the sense of elitism towards less-skilled players. One of these feeds into the other. In vanilla, few people reached the level cap without mastering their class. These days, RAF bonuses let you START at level 80. Now we have a game that puts unskilled players right into endgame with the skilled players, and an elitist community not willing to accept said players.

            One of these is an issue for Blizzard to work on, the other is our responsibility and ours alone.

  • And certainly one of the reasons why I just recently let my subscription lapse. the things i remember most, are the fun I had with friends on as weekly basis, now its very basis seems to enforce the not needing to connect. The things like LFR, and others which are great also seem to drive us apart. I enjoyed the content in MOP but after running a few times through the raid, what was the point, my guild was not running them, and with only an hour or two most nights really could not commit to anything anyways.

  • Arc

    It’s saddening to see yet another treatise on the “good ‘ol days”. While I’m a bit jealous, I don’t really begrudge you for the obvious high-quality guild that you were a member of back in vanilla. It’s plain from your writing. Your “itinerary” of what you did, if it is correct, points to an obviously high-functioning and well-oiled vanilla guild; perhaps one of the best on that server at the time. My itinerary of what I would have done back in vanilla would have consisted of logging into Vent and WoW, and possibly getting into a UBRS pug. When we did raid MC (which took more than half a year for us to clear, by the way), it was a painful slog for numerous hours each night, numerous nights a week, with little to no gear (warlock stuff kept dropping, and we never saw 2Hers), and the entire affair was costly in terms of repair bills. Money was hard to come by, much like you stated yourself in regards to the epic mount. I wish folks like you would realize that you were in the “1%” back in vanilla. Countless others did not have your experience. It wasn’t the “good ‘ol days” for many of us.

    While LFR may dumb things down, while dailies may seem a grind to you (the entire game is a grind, come on), nowadays I can actually *see* the content, have a *chance* at getting gear that might allow me to be an attractive applicant to a really good guild, and actually get to *play* the game without constantly being gold-starved. These “efficiency” changes are actually “fun” changes for the vast majority of people, and a number of them (like justice points and dailies) have been around since BC. The hardcore still have the challenge they crave with normal and heroic raids (and better gear from said raids) as well as the new challenge mode dungeons.

    If the game has become more accessible as a result of these changes, and if lazier and/or dumber players have rushed into WoW because of that, then that’s fine with me. I’d rather be able to enjoy the game and still have my shot at being hardcore while being surrounded by newbies than be back in vanilla with a much smaller playerbase of clique-y elitists, not enjoying the game, not have a chance at being hardcore at all.

    • Patrick Ross

      I see your point, and I totally agree. My guild in vanilla, while not the best on the server, was definitely top 5 on the server and were one of I think five guilds total downing bosses in Naxx40. So in vanilla, I was definitely more of a “have” than a “have not” by virtue of my guild. But I feel, and it’s a point I tried to make in the article, that I got that far in vanilla because I was A) willing to put that much effort in back then, and B) I was surrounded by people willing to help.

      If you take a look at my current itinerary, you’ll see that I’m a much more casual player now. Much like you, the only way I see current raid tiers now is through LFR and the only organized PVP I do is 2v2 with a real-life buddy. I’m not condemning the more casual-friendly features that we have now because I use them on a daily basis. I just wish there were some way to merge the convenience of today with the community of yesteryear, but sadly I just don’t think it’s possible.

      • Zayll

        I was in a guild that never downed Rag and even had trouble getting a full group for MC, but I would do anything I can to get back to those days. I enjoyed actually raiding with my guild, with people that I knew and enjoyed spending time with. I enjoyed doing giant labyrinthesque dungeons like BRD, UBRS, or LBRS. As outlined in the article the game is too much about brutal unforgiving efficiency, not the fun or community it had back then…

  • No no no

    Did you purposely write “OMFG YOUR TRASH” using “your” on purpose to make fun of LFR people, or was that your horrible grammar mistake. Also, I think you meant to write GUILD, not BUILD, in the sentence “When you spend more time with goddamn Farmer Yoon than anyone in your build, you know there is something very fucking wrong.” As a writer/blogger, I’d hope you proofread your articles.

    • Why should he when you’ve got nothing better to do than do it for him?

    • Patrick Ross

      The “your” was on purpose, poking fun at the grammatical ineptitude of the stereotypical WoW tough guy. “Build/Guild” was a gaffe though, and one that I thank you for spotting with your watchful eye.

      While we’re constructively criticizing each other, since your first sentence was a question, as denoted from your opening phrase “Did you…”, that sentence should probably end with a question mark.

      High five teamwork!

    • Scumbag commenter/grammar Nazi: Tries to flaunt his grammatical superiority; uses incorrect punctuation marks.

  • Jones

    well the things you do now in wow makes you antisocial. what you did in vanilla is what me and just about anyone i know playing wow does now.

    you are just whining to whine take off your rose colored classes and start playing the game.

  • Vixsin

    While I appreciate that your experience in game these days might not be as varied as it was back in your chosen heyday, I’m going to dare to suggest that that’s something *you* control, and not the game. As another commenter pointed out, the community didn’t go anywhere, it’s simply dispersed in the sheer number of potential in-game options/adventures now (instead of being forced into the limited options that were available in the good ol’ days of Vanilla).

    I interact with a good amount of people in game on a daily basis (through my guild, my friends list, LFR’s, LFD’s, scenarios, questing, lowbie adventures). And outside of that, via my blog, twitter, and forums, I get my geek on with countless more. So, while your stance may be that the community is dead, that’s simply a matter of perspective. To me, the community is alive and happy to be engaged. Sure, some times you may happen on the overzealous DPS guy or critical jerk, but that comes with the territory of interacting with strangers–sometimes you come across a bad egg.

    Personal experiences vary, and maybe all you were shooting here was to give an example of that. But, I think it would have been a much stronger position to argue that in developing the single-player endgame, Blizzard might have undermined the MMO aspect of the game, than it is to trot out your own experience, from raider to solo-player as being an example of the downfall of community.

    • Hydlide

      I really agree with this. Nobody is forcing you to do LFR. You can do other things for VP which is better than LFR gear anyway. The vanilla game was different, insanely limited and of course the community seemed better at the time because it was just your server. There was notoriety.

      Now you can jump in with random people from different servers that are jerks. I’ve joined LFG PUGs with people who need on stuff they don’t actually need and just say LOL when you say you needed it. In Wrath I had an experience where the healer and tank said our DPS was awful so he wasn’t going to tank, yet they stayed in the group just jumping around while we had three-man Violet Hold. At the end he just stayed there and kept acting like a douch saying we were noobs and wouldn’t roll on gear so we were forced to wait until the timer was up to loot and leave. That right there is probably my worst experience with LFG.

      The only vanilla experience I had was playing on a private server because I wanted to see what the game was like, having never played WoW before and not wanting to spend money on it. I agree, the community was much more tight-knit and seeing people talking in Org and how they all knew each other was nice, but I’ve also read all the “good ol’ days” stories about people running content over and over to get attuned, people leaving because “they already had this part done” and having to wait an hour to get another group started, raiding for 10 hours. “Ain’t nobody got time for that” for better or worse.

      You take the good with the bad. I’m not saying you’re playing the game wrong, but perhaps you should take a step back and focus on doing different things then pushing yourself through dailies and not talking to anyone.

      Either that or it’s simply time to move on.

      On a side-note I wouldn’t mind Blizz puttin in a “Legacy” feature where you can run dungeons with server people by actually going to the dungeon for extra loot, re-tuning old raids which level cap you and give you special rewards, etc. LV. 50-80 seems very stagnant right now and I agree the sense of wonder is gone. We’re only lucky during the first 50 levels or so because of Cataclysm switching things up.

      Many aspects of the game are very hit or miss. I dread LFG because nobody talks or goes over a plan. I look forward to my guildies getting online so we can do retro raid achievements, explore or whatever. I’m not a huge fan of the current offering of content but my guildies make it the most fun that I’ve had since WotLK, which I had a lot of fun with because I had a great guild back then as well. How you have fun in this game is purely up to you and not what Blizz “removes” from the game.

  • MikeWoW

    Yeah, but playing on a server like The Underbog, where you are lucky to organize a Pandaria raid. LFR comes in handy, even though I’m not a fan

    • Stéphane Blouin

      Some servers opened Anh’Quiraj months after other servers, that mean no one on their servers could do the raids…. Isn’t that sad ?

  • Popalong

    I read the thread linked last week, and while it hit me right in the feels (and I want to talk about the warrior later), I disagree with a lot of what the author said in this article.

    The real problem I have with these kinds of articles is the painting of Vanilla WoW as a utopia of community and respect. I played through Vanilla and while it was many amazing things, a melting pot of acceptance and tolerance it wasn’t. The gap between the haves and the have-nots was huge. I mean, having one single epic meant that you were quite above the curve of most players. On my original server (Skywall), before every raid, the big guilds would line up in height order, dripping with purples and led by their guild leader parade around Orgrimmar. It was from these kinds of guilds that the first elitist attitude emerged within WoW. So this concept isn’t a new one, it’s not come about since LFD or LFR. It is completely a humanistic one. People want to feel important, they want to feel like they have achieved something others haven’t. It is just how it is demonstrated that is changing within WoW.

    I looked at the writer of this articles check list of things he did in Vanilla. I’m going to have to assume that he’s now in a different guild, I’m not really sure. I think it’s a false comparison. Most guilds still have a vent to log into. Herbs still need to be farmed (and fish caught, and tigers killed and farms maintained for vege’s and soy sauce). We still have guildies who want to run through instances, we can still do PvP…. All the things he’s listed as contributing to his ‘social’ behaviour ARE STILL IN THE GAME. So maybe it’s him that’s changed.

    LFR and LFD have had a significant impact on community. I will grant him that much. No longer do the dickheads need to suppress their dickheadedness in order to not sully their reputation on the server. There are no consequences for bad behaviour. And on that note I agree with him. However, LFR and LFD are not the cesspools of nastiness and degradation that they are painted to be. Sure it gives us access to a much wider range of nasty players, but also a far wider range of really lovely players as well. I’ve met some amazing people through LFR and LFD. I will also give him that LFR and LFD have changed the socialisation of servers, and has changed the sense of community. But it hasn’t eliminated it, and the community is not all bad. Not by a long shot. I do not believe that the sense of community is gone. It’s just changed.

    Something else that has changed is the demographic. These articles never really mention that. The population of WoW has aged. This in itself brings about a couple of issues. Firstly, an older population is generally more likely to be time poor. So efficiency is absolutely of the essence. Personally, two kids, two dogs, a husband, a job and uni studies mean that I simply can not invest the time I could, 9 years ago, when my kids were younger, I had no job and no studies. The second issue is a generational disparity. There are younger players, not as many, and they tend to be louder and more impatient. And we see that all the time as well. From a personal perspective, I can say that as a middle aged woman it can be hard playing with younger people in many ways. Not impossible but it does take a lot more work on both sides. So yeah, the demographic has absolutely changed.

    Coming back to our warrior friend, what the OP of that thread did was a very lovely gesture, and I take my hat off to him. What he did however was nothing unique or special. It happens every day. If we drag out the old Vanilla WoW chestnut, guess what. We can find another change. In Vanilla, if you wanted to play your class well, you either a) were an amazing theory crafter b) you were incredibly patient in working out your optimal rotations c) you knew someone who played their class well, who would talk you through it. But it was mostly trial and error. Now, there is Icy Veins, there is Noxxic, there is Elitist Jerks, there are countless blogs, there are simcraft programs, there are live streams, there are Fat Boss videos, the list goes on. The information is out there, and it is readily available. It is not available only to ‘good’ players. You don’t need to link a raid achievment to register on Icy Veins. Fat Boss wants to help you through it not mock you. And that doesn’t even start to cover the wealth of information from real life people, in the community. Yes, that same community that the author villifies. About 30 minutes after my mage dinged 90, being the impatient sod that I am, I hooked her straight into a heroic. And my dps was dismal. After the last boss, the healer whispered me and said “You need to go back to basics and get your rotation right. My 85 mage can pull more dps than you did”, and then bailed. Well, the healer was 100% correct, I’m not a good mage by any stretch. I wish they’d said something at the START and then made suggestions. Instead, I bailed our wonderful ever patient raiding mage and bombarded him with a million noob mage questions. I think some question he answered at least three or four times until I got the hang of it. That’s right, one of the COMMUNITY members was happy to spend an insane amount of time helping me out. On my alt. That I play badly. And it’s not just within my guild. I had (and have) no qualms in whispering that warlock in LFR doing gobfuls of dps and asking for tips, how do you work your timers, have you any tricks, and wow, your dps is incredible!! I”ve yet to meet one who has been nasty, snubbed me or made fun of my scrubbiness. A stranger in the WoW community. Happy to help. I’ve joined live streams of warlocks and spoken with them, I’ve spoken with Redevoi a lock that just makes me shake my head at his skill, he’s spent time (actually, it was regarding H spine, his suggestion was to save myself the heartache and reroll a mage….) giving me ideas and strategies on warlockery. All these members of this ‘awful’ WoW community. Helping me out. I’m sure that warrior was ever so grateful to the OP of the original thread, however had he just started looking and asking _himself_, he may have had a far easier run of it.

    So all around, it seems to be all about change!! Yes, things change, demographics change, communities change, but they do not disappear. Communities are where you find them and what you make of them. They are the poster child for getting out what you put in. In a player base of 9.6 million, if the author of that article can’t’ find a community that he enjoys, he may need to start looking at himself being the problem. I’m proud to be a member of the WoW community and proud to be a member of my guilds community. I’ve friends from all over the world and all over the servers. I have a friend in LA (I”m in Australia) who I think the world of, that I keep in touch with outside of WoW more than inside. I chat with friends x-server and x-faction, I love chatting with so many of my guild members that I”m afraid to list them incase I leave one out!! I would never have met any of these people who enrich my life so much if I wasn’t a member of the WoW community.

    The title of this article? “The WoW community is bad, and you should feel bad”. No. A community is simply a concept. It is neither good nor bad. A community is made up of it’s members, and while they may demonstrate good and bad behaviour (often within minutes of each other), I refuse to believe that they are bad. No. I do not feel bad. I am a member of that community, and I do not feel bad.

    • Patrick Ross

      While I am not in a terribly active guild in MoP, I did return to “hardcore” (as in, four times a week, heroic bosses) raiding in Cataclysm, so I understand that my circumstances have definitely changed but I have seen the other side of the coin these days as well. I returned to the same guild I was in in vanilla during Firelands to raid, and while it was nice to be in a competitive guild again, there is still no doubt that the feeling around even the concepts of guilds changed significantly. It became merely a “log on, down boss, log off” affair, and I think a lot of other guilds are like that now.

      Again, I can’t stress enough that I don’t know what the solution would be or even if there is one, but the necessity of your surrounding community is just no longer there.

  • Caremouse

    I find myself agreeing with a lot of the people who are pointing the change of setting, it seems it was not so much the game that changed, but more what you do within it.

    I will share a personal experience from Vanilla to put things in perspective and elaborate my view on the community.

    I started playing a few months after the release of the game, a friend and I had both gotten the pass and got sucked in, we leveled together to the 40s having a ton of fun, meeting a bunch of new people forming a guild as we moved along, the game was new, the players new, and all was fun. However, summer rolled around, I decided to take a break, and my friend kept on playing (To this day that summer is still known as the lost summer, because the only way for anyone in our friendgroup to reach him was for me to log into wow and whisper him). After a few (maybe 3 or 4, not entirely certain) months I returned to the game, the community was drastically different, I had fallen out of the loop and all the people I had played with were now lvl 60 and raiding. The community I knew was actually already gone, there was not the same amount of people leveling and since I couldn’t have much in-game interaction with the people it was pretty hard keeping a solid relation going there. After solo leveling I dinged 60, and I was promptly invited to raids, but I felt like an outsider, never actually felt like a part of the team, it had already become pretty hard to penetrate the cliques that had already formed inside the guild while I was gone.
    Now, this is what happened to the community over the course of 2-4 months, imagine what 8 years will do it, there were ofc newer guilds where I could make new friends back then, but they are still popping up, nothing has changed.
    So I feel that what you in large address in your article is the open community, but fact is, the open community was tough even back in vanilla, and what mattered then and what matters now is really the people you are in a guild with.

  • Bryan

    The problem is very very simple: Classic WoW was *hard*. Some of it was actually hard – most raids, with a few exceptions more towards the end; some of it was just logistics difficult – finding a group for 5m or finding the 20/40 people to do the easier bosses in MC/ZG/AQ20; and a lot of it was hard as in time consuming. Because of this difficulty was what drove the community you described. The insane requirements for high PvP ranks drove the need for organized groups, just as much as requiring 40 people – relatively consistent and decent players – drove raiding guilds.

    When you trivialize things – which is exactly what happened with PvP gear starting in BC, and what happened with raids and dungeons in LK with minor exceptions – you completely remove the need for that cooperation. You remove the need for that cooperation, and the community suffers. Of course, you get way more people playing the game, because the game is a lot more accessible.

    Do you want a *good* game – meaning a game that has a balanced and logical reward structure (none of the PvP since BC and none of the PvE since LK have made any sense whatsoever in terms of rewards matching the difficulty of the accomplishment) – or an accessible game, where everyone can pretty much do everything and get most of the best gear in the game? The first is what Classic WoW was like, but your playerbase is severely limited to people who will actually try and spend time. But Blizzard chose the $$, and thus dumbed everything down, removing all the need for cooperation and sense of community.

    • Stéphane Blouin

      ”Of course, you get way more people playing the game, because the game is a lot more accessible.” The numbers show this assumption to be wrong.

  • Yeah… I remember thinking I was terribly clever for rolling an undead holy priest. Y’know, it’s an interesting character to try and role play. These days, even on the RP servers, nobody cares. I try to roleplay to people and I get responses like being reported for spam and people telling me to uninstall. Are you kidding me? This is what we call an RPG?

    I first got my taste of hate back when Cataclysm first came out though. I was trying to use the very new random dungeon system and I was constantly and instantly being booted from random groups for being *GASP!* a Death Knight tank with two swords. I had no idea that Blizzard had shifted the focus for DK tanks over to two-handed weapons from dual wielding and all I had was these really epic one-handed swords. So I was in this catch 22 situation where the only way for me to get a better tank weapon was to do those random dungeons but no group would even TRY to let me tank for them without already having said weapon.

    I was VERY frustrated and upset. I would have gladly quit the game and not returned if it had not been for my awesome guildies who helped me out and held my hand through all the changes. I guess I’m just lucky to have such a great and friendly guild.

    • ALan

      Undead Priests are so strange, haha. What about Undead Monks?

  • IgorImpressionist

    This article makes me voraciousslyyy rub my own hindquarters. MY HIND QUARTEERRRSSSSS MASSSSTTERRR!

  • Billy Beefcaked

    I absolutely loved WOW from launch all the way through Wrath of the Lich King. The game took a drastic downturn with Burning Crusade, and by the time Mist of Pandaria came out WOW was in the shitter.

    I absolutely refuse to play that game ever again at this point. I’ll just cherish some of those amazing moments I had during BC & WOTLK.

  • Mach

    Name one danm thing that is what it was 7 years ago…

    • koomassa

      Scuba Steve… danm you!

      Also, aren’t you pretty much expressing the same sentiment that the author is? Why are you getting angry, lil’ fella?

  • somebodysomewhere

    People still play WoW?

    (had to be said. sorry)

  • merwanor

    WoW is more of a singleplayer game for me now, and I am actually fine with it as I don’t have time for serious raiding etc. So raid finder and such works fine for me. But it is true, the little interaction I have with the community is mostly just horrible and just lots of name calling. Thus I don’t talk to anyone anymore in game. But it is mostly like this in all MMOs these days, it is even worse in games like SWTOR from my experience.

    Sure I miss the old days, but I think I just miss the feeling I had back then, everything was new and exciting then, but in a sense you can go back to the old days, as most new MMOs feels more like old WoW, and when I play them I realize that these old school features are just that, old.

    WoW has evolved like crazy, and I still find that compared to all the other MMOs it just feels better and is more fitting for me at least. What they have to do is make us care about the story more, the world and give us a better villain. I personally think they pulled out Arthas way to early.

  • k3nj1n

    On the risk of being one of the jerks that you guys were talking about, this article, post or whatever, was meant on the current community. The changes Blizzarf has made to gameplay, on the other hand, was prized by the author. Now, talking about the community as one Since-Cata-Player i must say, yes, the community is all about the phrase “If you dont know the mechanichs/have the achievement, you cant come” but, at that time, i’m sure, every noob wondered “How the Eff would i know the effing mechanichs if you dont gimme the change to go in the effing raid?” that is true now as well and that sucks.
    The solution, unfortunally, is not something that blizzard can come up with but us, as community, must work out. Sadly, thats the most difficult, if not impossible, thing to do. What i think we all can do is put our own effort to not be the jerks we are actually talking about and help the noobs and not so noobs out there.

  • Merch

    Now a lot of these elitist minded snobs are clawing at the gates of GW2 which is a new game, and one that is trying to break the cycle of sheer number crunching (with things like movement, dodge, etc that create a much more dynamic experience) Still, I’m beginning to see dungeon groups target the newbie, blame him for wipes, shout abbreviated skills, builds, and strategy that only a seasoned player would know how to make sense of, and the newbie gets kicked before even having the opportunity to ask “what is that? why does it work? why wont this work?” much less address the complaints and equip the proper skills and desired gear.

    I wonder if there ought to be separate servers dedicated for casuals and hardcore gamers.

  • Stéphane Blouin

    Blizzard could try something for one expantion, namely doing the exact opposite of what they have done for Pandaria, Stop catering to casuals and noobs and give people inaccesible raids that will make people QQ more. Players should be QQing, the more the QQ the better the game. That means people envy other people’s gear and guild and skill and work hard to achieve the same or leave. That way, we could prove to blizzard we were right all along and that they were wrong all along and that way the entire internet would stop being plagued with articles of the like.

    That means removing easy modes, lfr modes and going back to TBC model with only one difficulty and where end game content is severly unaccessible.

    I’m challenging Blizzard, If even more people quit and unsub than players comming back. Then you proved your point and we are a fringe minority. But if more players do come back to the game and stick around because they have a challenge, then you were wrong and you should fire all those who work for you that suggested to appeal and cater to casuals and people with attention deficit disorder and short attention span because they did not understand what makes a great video game and have no business in that industry.