I don’t have a bear / cat / owl in the race anymore, but watching WoW from afar I see some interesting changes coming down the pipeline.
I am taking a pretty wild shot in the dark to think about the future of the game but it just came to me like a shining beacon of light, a message from the After-WoW-life. I spent many, many years with multiple accounts in WoW (and multiple sub fees – this is prior to the WoW Token!) but I am long gone, maybe unreachable now. The game is also in a clear decline in terms of numbers (as everyone knows). Also, the classes and game mechanics are being
dumbed down simplified and even main weapons are being whittled down to a single type points to some major changes on the horizon. The timeline for when I expect the below to happen is the expansion after the next. (If ever.). Feel the conviction!
- WoW will go to consoles. I know this isn’t a shocker, but those PS4 and XO controllers have more buttons than it looks like you will need to play with. The game works better as a lobby style game anyway so this is a very positive move. Everything is already garrisoned out (or class halls, upcoming expansion) while you wait to be teleported to your next instance
- Classes will change to “equipped weapons”, FFXIV style. WoW will finally be alt friendly and you can level up every class just by the weapon you wield. This level of alt friendliness is great in casual land. The weapons and weapon upgrades become the new grind. It will be hard to build an entire expansion around a single weapon for your character next expansion and then abandon it in future expansions.
- Expansions will come faster in smaller bites. Designing console dungeons and quest areas will allow a smaller team to publish content faster, at smaller costs (that will add up to more in the long run). This will finally allow people to vote with their wallets on what kind of content they want (instead of what kind of expansion they want) and then that content will now be offered more. This supports high level raids and dungeons, and saves development time from planned obsolescence content (leveling) with repeatable, high value content.
While that is a list that changes the fundamental nature of WoW at it’s core you don’t have to look far to see where the inspiration is for such a change in another Activision product. Destiny.
I have been playing a LOT of Destiny lately. It is a great game that is easily played in 30 minute chunks and has so many paths of advancement. WoW has been working towards this in many ways, and the numbers on Destiny are shattering really. At one point almost a year ago there were 20 million players shooting it up. Then, when the Taken King launched it set records for concurrent players surpassing the first Destiny launch If you add all of that up in a 12-14 month release schedule they probably did north of a billion dollars on the title. I wonder how that compares to overall WoW revenues today. Plus, Destiny has introduced it’s own micro-transaction system as well.
I know many of you are probably sceptical that Blizzard will change how WoW works, and part of me even feels like a more action oriented WoW could go to consoles as a WoW 2 or some such. One would suspect Activision is paying attention to what revenues are being driven by other camps they publish for and seeing the response to titles such as Destiny (and competitors, such as the Division, $330 Million in sales first 5 days..) it would make sense to leverage more Blizzard IP on consoles. It’s a big market, and Overwatch will be a good test to see if World of Warcraft will end up being the next MMO title on consoles. The fact that FFXIV can do it cross platform, same world, could be the attraction of the new generation of WoW players the game needs to continue to be a massive revenue generator.
I don’t suspect that they will let WoW go the route of EQ with progression servers. Making the game console friendly at some point would introduce new players to the game and could also bring back people like me. I am finding the Destiny experience perfect in terms of what I can give and what I want to get from a streamlined “MMO” experience. Perhaps this prognostication is as much as me projecting what I want – but I don’t believe Blizzard will let WoW go away quietly.