What came after Wrath of the Lich King?

| Wednesday, January 9, 2013
It's no secret that I didn't like Cataclysm much. As a result, I didn't play it much.  Previously I'd played WoW every month since the fall of 2005.  A month or two after Cata launched, I stopped caring and stopped playing.  I later returned to see what was going on and left again.  About five months ago I started a new character with a few friends and essentially leveled up, ran a few LFR, and then MoP came out and I fled in terror.  All in all, much less exposure and no attachment to anything.  Beside Twilight Highlands, I have no nostalgia, no sense of "I miss doing that; wasn't that neat?"

In other words, Cataclysm essentially does not exist when I look back on WoW.  There is a fuzzy time when I didn't have much fun, and that's about it.  It's like a repressed memory, shut away so as to not ruin the otherwise fun time I had.

I've started running Wrath of the Lich King heroics, particularly the ICC 5-mans (for Quel'Dalar).  These should feel like very old content, yet they do not.  I feel as if I was just in them, as if they were just in the previous expansion.

I wonder if the level structure strengthens this sense of Cataclysm being little more than a big, bad patch.  Typically they've added ten levels, but Cataclysm and MoP only added five; though taken together they're a solid ten.  Add in my lack of raid experience in Cataclysm (LFR barely counts) and the overall effect is that I see MoP as the expansion that came after LK, with Cataclysm just being a patch that added a few instances.

This leads me to a hypothesis: Players who only play for a short time in each expansion will tend to view them as smaller, with less content, and as less substantial, less dramatic a change to the game, than players who play for longer periods.

This would mean that players who play less don't merely get less value by playing less, but also by their perspective being different, so that for the same amount of content, they will view it as less.  Of course if there is less content, then there will be less willingness to pay for the next expansion, as it would appear as just an expensive patch.  I see this in my own behavior, in that I did not want to pay full price for MoP, though half price was sufficient.

I'm sure Blizzard realized this a while ago and it explains a behavior that sometimes confused me: adding new content mid-expansion.  While I understood that they wanted to keep subs going for the money, I did not see the other value: keeping a sub going adds value in the mind of the player.  Not only are they more invested, but they will feel as if they got more out of an expansion.

From this perspective, of keeping subs going having value beyond merely the sub price, it makes a great deal of sense that Blizzard would have absurdly slow daily grinds such as Golden Lotus.  EVen if players complain, merely by playing, they are increasing their sense of value from an expansion and will be more inclined to buy the next box that, from previous experience, they expect will be filled with content.


Coreus said...

In a way it's interesting that a "casual" player of an MMO would feel like they're getting any kind of value out of the package, considering how much of the game you don't even see if you're not deeply time-invested. I think Blizzard is getting better and better at balancing the game against many types of player [while obviously failing to please everyone].

Also nice to hear someone else praising Twilight Highlands. All the other Cata zones were a bit too cartoony and out there; Twihi felt like the iconic Cataclysm zone to me. I was so sad when I maxed my Dwarf People rep because I had no reason to go back for more drunken Horde killing.

Klepsacovic said...

Twilight Highlands felt like a perfectly Warcraft zone. It had the Horde-Alliance conflict, and the unification against the outside, even greater evil. To me it felt like a more violent Nagrand and I loved Nagrand.

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