Warning - Fanboi's may attack!
WoW has changed. Change is sometimes a good thing, and I'm not going to belabor the obvious changes (less challenge) or industry misconceptions (subs are needed to cover ongoing costs) instead, I am going to look at two things I have noticed the most since my foray back into WoW.
First, to stave of the flames - WoW is still a fun game. It presents well, plays well, and yes, we all know how many subs they have. They are obviously growing still, but there are two nagging things that jump out at me that aren't typical Blizzard "style", every time I log in and (try) to play. Confusing conundrums, after the cut.
1.) "All Instances are Full - Please Try Again Later". Wait.. what? The company that has the largest player base, highest gross revenues, AND "gigantic" profits can't afford enough instance servers? C'mon. That is downright silly irresponsible. You overcharge subscription fees under the guise of "ongoing maintenance costs", yet don't use those revenues for, uh, maintenance costs? Give me a break. This is inexcusable. Granted, sometimes it is only 2 minutes. Two nights ago it was 20 minutes. [waits for someone to come in and say "duh, dude, it was only 20 minutes, go get a sandwich or something" - that's not the point. It's a point of principle.]
2.) "We are performing Rolling Restarts on all/x/y/xyz realms". The majority of the time I log in this message is displayed on the login screen. I don't log in every day mind you, but my last 7/10 logins I was greeted with this message - some/all/few servers require rolling restarts. See (1) for "ongoing maintenance costs" as a big question, but these are Blizzard sanctioned servers, written in Blizzard code. Are they out of your control now? Or is it something else?
What's up, Blizzard?
Code is too big, too convoluted, too confusing. I can only imagine the tangled web of code for WoW, with three expansions under the belt. Do things get lost in translation, from one coding team to the next? Is it not so neat and tidy as it once was? Too much going on? I always wonder if the programmers think about "how they would structure the code if they new back then what they knew now". I can imagine the code is a mess - I could be mistaken, but just the thought of what is required for a game of this magnitude, and the various levels and personalities of programmers who have been involved over the last fiver years altering it. Someone with programming experience can let me know if I am far off on this one. I can just imagine.
Return on Investment trumps quality in the new Blizzard. I am leaning towards this one. You know they can afford new servers (whether or not the code can handle them is another question altogether). You know the cash is there - unless, of course, it is more important to put that cash into dividends instead of instance (or stable) servers. Instead of investing in staff for multiple specialty jobs (improvements, patches, stability) keep the same small teams that work on everything - one at a time. ROI, baby. Unfortunately, not ROY.
Perhaps it is a combination of both. Regardless, anyone who has been playing the game lately can't argue that the game seems to be less smooth than "back in the good old days" with nagging inefficiencies and error messages - that aren't being solved.
I was going to cancel again, but I really think they need my $15 a month for "ongoing maintenance". Quitting now (again) will just hurt the rest of you folk who live by WoW - and I wouldn't do that to you.