How It Feels to Witness World of Warcraft’s Decline

Blizzard as a company has been on a downward spiral that only seems to get faster and faster as time goes on. Just when you think they can’t get any worse, they pull something new out of their ass and shock you all over again. From their banning of pro Hearthstone players for standing up for civil rights in China to the recent allegations of extreme sexual harassment in the office, they just keep getting worse. The company they once were is now but a distant memory.

It’s a shame. Blizzard games have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. Some of my earliest memories involved their games. From watching my father play Diablo to playing early World of Warcraft with my older brother, these games have been a part of my life for ages. Seeing them slowly become the twisted bastardizations that we know today, run by a company out solely to take their consumer’s money from them, feels like watching an old friend get hooked on meth.

And now, it seems the camel’s back is finally breaking. People are abandoning ship from Blizzard’s games, particularly World of Warcraft, faster than I’ve ever seen. Big name YouTubers and streamers are all jumping ship and moving on to other games, like Final Fantasy 14.

I’ve been watching this all unfold from the backseat. I haven’t played retail WoW since Mists of Pandaria came out and I only briefly touched Classic before all the controversy killed my interest to play it. It’s a game that I’ve long since left behind. It’s been so long that everything I’ve seen from retail feels like an entirely different game from what I remember.

A long while ago now, I wrote an article about WoW’s various expansions, in which I explored where they should have stopped. In that article, or at least in the comments, I posited that Shadowlands could very well be the last one, then Blizzard would focus their efforts on Classic. And… well, it looks like that’ll be partially true!

The sad truth is, the future of WoW looks darker than ever before. Both Shadowlands and Classic seem to be all but abandoned at this point. In my brief time playing Classic, I never ran into a single other player, even after reaching level twenty. From what I’ve seen, Shadowlands most recent content drop wasn’t even finished. Everywhere I look online, all I see are deserted servers or people criticizing Blizzard for bastardizing the game.

I knew it got particularly bad when my parents, who had been devout WoW players for almost as long as I can remember, abandoned ship. And my dad thoroughly enjoyed playing Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest, okay? My parents are not picky about their video games!

(If they read this article, I’m gonna get an earful for that paragraph…)

Which is completely fair. Blizzard’s monetization of WoW has reduced the game to nothing more than an online store. In Classic, you can spend money to skip straight to Burning Crusade or to copy your character to have a version on Vanilla servers and TBC servers. In Shadowlands, you can spend money on just about everything, from level boosting to mounts to pets to whatever else. Why bother playing the game when you can just press a button and skip straight to the end?

Systems like that undercut the entire point of RPGs. They’re all about exploring the world and watching your character get stronger in doing so. Back when I was a kid, that was my favorite thing to do! I would play for hours on end, trying to explore every single area of the game, including those on the opposite faction! That was the most fun part, it made the World of Warcraft feel like an actual world!

But now? You just press a button and skip over all of it. What’s the point of making an RPG where players skip the whole damn game?

It’s one of the saddest things I’ve ever seen. Honestly, up until recently, I was looking forward to the future of WoW. I had planned to hop back in there when the Wrath of the Lich King Classic servers inevitably came out. But after everything, from the real-life controversies surrounding the company to the in-game disasters that have driven even its most loyal players away, I threw all of that away.

Even though I haven’t played it in ages, I still feel like I’ve lost something significant with the rapid decline of WoW. It kind of feels like losing a pet you’ve had since you were a little kid. Seeing WoW in the state it’s in now only reminds me of the insane heights it once stood at when I was a kid. And realizing that it will never reach that again, that it will likely only get worse from here until it eventually finally shuts down, makes me feel empty inside.

For years, I watched supposed ‘WoW Killers’ come and go. We were all looking for the game that would come along and kill the beloved MMO. What none of us expected was that WoW itself would be the true WoW Killer.

Aaaaand I’m sad now. Oops.

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