I’ve come home for a week of rest before I resume my apartment search in Toronto. This will allow me to begin posting on my blog again, and I’m hoping to build up a stash of enough pre-written posts that my blog can continue even while I’m in Toronto.
And what better way to restart my blogging than a good old fashioned Warcraft rant?
The lack of flight in Warlords of Draenor has been a point of hot contention in the World of Warcraft community for months now. Blizzard has long waffled on the subject, refusing to give a clear answer on when it will return.
Now, at last, we know: It won’t. Ever.
Of course, there’s always the chance of them changing their minds, but as of right now, the plan is that flying mounts will never be enabled in Warlords of Draenor or any future expansion.
Needless to say I’m not happy. Flying was one of my favourite parts of WoW, one of the few things it still did better than anyone else, and removing it is yet another example of Blizzard trying to tell me what I think is fun.
But I’ve said all that before, and I don’t want to repeat myself too much. This time, I’d like to focus on how Blizzard has handled this whole debacle.
At this point it’s hard not to feel that Blizzard has been stringing us along. Going into WoD, the general impression was that flight’s removal was a temporary measure. They repeatedly said they would turn it back on in 6.1. True, it wasn’t a promise — it never is — but we were definitely left with the impression that’s how things would play out.
Then 6.1 rolled around with no flight, and they started to spin it as an open-ended experiment, and now they’ve finally come out and said flying is gone for good, proudly declaring their experiment a success.
I struggle to understand what the basis of this conclusion is. The feedback on flight’s removal has been universally and overwhelmingly negative in a way I have not seen in my entire WoW career. Anecdotally, nobody ever leaves their garrisons, and the only thing that would be trivialized by reimplementing flight is a few jumping puzzle Easter eggs with irrelevant rewards that anyone who cares about has already done, and flight’s removal has coincided with the largest subscriber loss by far in the game’s history.
So how, exactly, has it enriched the game?
It’s hard to escape the conclusion that the value of flight’s removal has nothing to do with gameplay and everything to do with making things easier on the devs by removing the need to design with the third dimension in mind. From there, one begins to wonder if there was ever a chance of flight returning, and all the talk of it was just an attempt to, again, string us along.
I realize that all sounds rather paranoid. It is rather paranoid. And there’s a pretty good chance I’m seeing ill intent where none exists. But if nothing else it’s a monumentally big PR blunder. They’ve played directly into the narrative of the most paranoid and angry forum-dwellers.
This brings us to the issue of store mounts. Blizzard is continuing to produce and sell flying mounts for real money. Yes, you can also use them as ground mounts, but this usually looks completely ridiculous — several don’t even have ground animations. I very much doubt anyone bought the Heart of the Aspects so it could shimmy along the ground like an inchworm.
Which brings us to the other important point: Blizzard has always made their flight capabilities a selling point and used flight in their advertisements. Some ads for the new Mystic Runesaber even showed it soaring majestically over Draenor — mere days before Ion Hazzikostas revealed the end of flight.
This is just sleazy. Again, maybe Blizzard didn’t intentionally mislead players, but that’s sure how it looks at face value, and the best case scenario is that this is case of gross incompetence from a PR perspective. It’s tone-deaf at best, flirting with illegality at worst.
Hell, even people who didn’t pay real money for their mounts have gotten a seriously raw deal. I get a little nauseous when I think of all the time and effort I poured into some of my rare mounts. I’ve done Iron Dwarf, Medium Rare three times. That’s cruel and unusual punishment. You could at least let me use the mount from it.
As I’ve said before, I don’t know how Blizzard can think they can make flying mounts THE prestige item of the game for nearly ten years, then render them useless and not have everyone lose their minds.
The really sad thing about all this is that, despite all my disappointment and resentment over Warlords of Draenor, I was planning to reactivate my subscription soon — likely as soon as this apartment searching madness is over. For all Blizzard has done wrong, I still love Azeroth as a setting, and I miss my characters.
But this “no flying ever” business has left me with such a sour taste in my mouth that… well, I always say I could never quit WoW for good, but this is as close as I’ve ever come.
I am strongly considering skipping Warlords of Draenor altogether, at the very least. I’ll miss the legendary chain — as far as I know, Blizzard is still going through with the boneheaded plan to make those temporary content — but I don’t really care about the story in WoD anyway. It’s an alternate universe; none of this is going to matter in the long run anyway, right?
I may not come back until they do an expansion that really grabs me from a lore-perspective — which pretty much means Azshara or bust — or they drop the subscription and go buy to play or free to play, which I still view as an inevitability, though admittedly it might still be aways off.
Even then, it might be hard. Blizzard has shown such utter contempt for its customers right now that it’s hard to ever trust them again. What’s the point of ever trying to get any in-game rewards if they might just be made irrelevant on a developer’s misguided whim?