Pandering

October 23, 2011 at 2:53 am | Posted in Guild Wars 2, mmorpg | 31 Comments
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Guild Wars 2 will have plenty of competition. Star Wars: The Old Republic and World of Warcraft chief among them. So it is interesting to see how both games move forward with competition in mind.

World of Warcraft for instance has released information about its next expansion which has left some pleased and others outraged.

I don’t want to seem venomous or hate-filled, I’m not, but a lot of The Mists of Pandaria features seem like desperate measures.

PvE scenarios seems like an attempt to ape or mimic the more dynamic public quests of Warhammer, Rift, or GW2 in a game that can’t really handle their nature. The original Guild Wars and Lord of the Rings Online have similar features, Challenge Missions and Skirmishes respectively that do the same thing.

Basically an instanced challenge mission where speed is the important factor.

Integrating a now well worn MMO mechanic doesn’t really impress me and I don’t think it will impress others.

The new class is interesting because it sounds like some of the mechanics are taken out of what a couple of new games are doing. A lack of auto-attack is something both Guild Wars 2 and TERA seem to be going for. The dodge mechanic is also a part of these games. I’m not going to say that WoW is trying to steal their thunder but I will criticize how balanced that will be. Seems like there are going to be major frustrations with those mechanics since no other class has them and nerfs a plenty as soon as they’re released.

Another aspect of all this new information that seems in direct competition with other games is their marketing offer. To anyone who subscribes for a year to WoW you get Diablo 3 for free and access to the Pandaria beta. Seems designed to take money right out of the hands of people about to plunk down cash for SWTOR.

The only thing that looks even remotely promising to me personally is their announced pet battle system. Every non-combat pet is supposedly going to be able to battle other pets, train skills, use items, etc. This is just the sort of thing often mentioned by Guild Wars players and I think even attempted in a way with the Guild Wars Polymock battles. I actually kind of dig the sound of it.

But for me the pet battle system is the only thing that looks remotely appealing. I don’t think veteran MMO players will be chomping at the bit for this stuff.

I’ve never liked the cartoony nature of World of Warcraft. It’s not my style and Pandaria seems like they’re doubling down on that design choice. I mean pandas? Are they just picking the low hanging fruit now? Go after the kiddies and cute lovers? They’re definitely making a choice to go after a younger demographic there. Get them while they’re young I suppose.

Hell, who knows? Maybe that’s actually a very intelligent decision. Bring kids into the Blizzard fold now then hook them up with Titan later.

For everyone else a lot of these features just seems like pandering.

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31 Comments

  1. I don’t hang out in every WoW community forum that is out there but the few polls I have seen over the years, Pandaren and Naga were the most requested races to be made playable by players. I see most WoW players happy with it, few of them complaining and most of who don’t play WoW also not happy with it. I think Blizzard wouldn’t mind that. Personally, I liked Goblins and I might like Pandaren if their starting zone is well designed. If I don’t like them, I won’t play them.

    PvE Scenarios sound very ordinary, no-flying till max level restriction is a good call, mixed feelings about new talent system, excited about challenge-mode dungeons. I am excited about the Monk class and might re-subscribe for a couple of months to try it when the expansion releases. Hopefully the release will be around June and not November.

    • Perhaps they were the most requested but they had said repeatedly in the past that pandarens were a joke race and now they’ve done a complete 180 on it. Sounds to me like they had concerns other than keeping their lore legit when they decided on pandarens.

  2. Pandaren’s started as an April fool’s joke many years ago, and have since made appearances in lore and an NPC character. So, it’s not really new and targeted at younger people. And the cartoony style is there because that’s what prior Warcraft games had. It’s the Warcraft style.

    I also love, love, love the pokemon style pet battling system. It might be really awesome.

    • Soooo…. If ArenaNet was anything like Blizzard the commando profession would actually make it into GW2 a couple of years from now as a full on playable profession? 😀

      • You never know, maybe in arenanets next game.

    • I’m well aware they’ve existed for a while but I think it’s no coincidence that their joke race is now the center of a full expansion and just happen to be really cute.

  3. Blizzard was always perfectionist, not an innovator. Honestly, they got me excited for everything. I realized they are picking ideas from somwhere else, but that doesn’t matter. They will want to perfect it so it works.

    Pandaren started as an april fool’s joke, but community back then was so excited they realy wanted to have pandaren units in Warcraft 3. What we got was Pandaren hero Brewmaster. Since then, there was quite some item and some minor lore connected in WoW with them. It is not like they pulled out pandaren just because of Kung Fu Panda.

    We have to realize, at the end of the day it is just business. And when your game gets as old as WoW, you need new ways to improve and innovate on it. Taking concepts that were there for some time and perfecting them is just fine in my book.

    This last paragraph feels like mockering. I might be wrong. Sure, you don’t like cartoony nature of WoW and that is just fine. There are people who hate photo-realistic nature of GW as well. But do you play the game for the looks or its content?

    I, myself love what they showed, Whole expansion will be green and lush, no more destruction, fire and ice and death on every step. Only nice idilic feeling of perfect world.

    • I don’t know, you say they’re perfecting some of these ideas but I really have to wait and see on that. Throwing in dodge to a game that wasn’t built for it doesn’t sound like a winning idea to me, and taking some really old concepts like their pve scenarios and trying to say they weren’t perfected in lotro, gw, or runes of magic… enh. We’ll see.

  4. When they released WoW I often said that if they released Pandaren as a playable race I would buy it. But that was some years ago and I stuck to Guild Wars instead. And I won’t jump on the WoW train now seeing as GW2 is coming and none of my WoW trials has made me the least interested.

    As for non-combat pet battles, they have that in Grand Fantasia, a F2P I’ve played quite a lot.

    • I don’t really understand the appeal with the race outside of cuteness or it being for laughs, but if you’re into it that’s fine.

  5. I enjoy wow, though my lack of free time has all but killed it. Wasting an hour on a dungeon with pugs just isn’t for me. I dont mind the odd bit of questing for a story though so I was happy to see I’ll get some decent gear – though I am not entirely tricked by it since raids well have their own tier of gear still.
    Whatever, just give me more content that I can play.
    I’ve always hated Pets, in all games I’ve played. I develop my character, not my pets. The pet thing I’ll avoid, don’t see much else in the game for me. I’ll still level up to 90 and have a look around.
    Since I’ll want the collectors edition I am not sure the 1 year pass thing is that great a deal… at the very least it makes the collectors hell expensive.
    I like wow, I like GW, I can have both. Alot of the expansion to me says “factions” but whatever go on copy a 5 year old game and see what you get… I enjoyed factions, Id like something new, but just give it to me…. and hurry up.
    If it really hurts you just think of it like the intel/amd thing. Sure I’d never buy a CPU from AMD, but I thank them for making Intel have to actually compete a bit for my money rather than sitting around on their single core 3g p4 forever.
    Also, working hard for 6 months on an expansion isn’t going to save them if anets done years of work on their content. Its one thing to copy as stuff gets announced, its another to deliver masses of content based on that idea. They were just showing mock up of it even at blizzon, they aren’t going to get anywhere near what GW2 has or SWOTR for that matter. The cracks in wow armour are still there, and getting worse with each expansion, thus the new one.
    Personally D3 is probably more dangerous an opponent to any game that more wow… and any SC2 expansion well delay my purchases by a few weeks.

    • Theres no sub for gw2 or d3 but they both seem to have such long life spans after you’ve got them. It’ll be interesting to see how they compete or if they do.

      • Well if GW vs WOW content is to be compared GW is a strong looser in my books. That’s one reason I wish Id had paid monthly for GW – I’d still be logging in like WOW but having more fun since it was GW. Whatever gets them their money in the end. Its obviously popular the free thing.

    • “Also, working hard for 6 months on an expansion isn’t going to save them if anets done years of work on their content.”

      You’d be surprised what millions of dollars & and a 2k+ staff can do.

      Blizz doesn’t need to be creative anymore; they have the money and resources to take what works in other games, and make it “better” in an already popular franchise.

      Whether “stealing” ideas from other games is gonna save WoW, though, remains to be seen. It’s more than just mechanics; but the look, feel, and story among other things.

      WoW is tired. They tried to re-vamp & update for Cata and are down 1mil subscribers anyway.

      • They take 18 months to remake chapters with different graphics essentially in my books. No I don’t see it happening if their past chapters/expansions are any precedent. They were hardly any change at all and it took them longer than they wanted to get it out.

      • Yeah blizzard is a formidable opponent, but I do question just how long it takes them to get an expansion out. I think the long wait really hurts them in the end.

        • Well from what I”ve gathered they’re trying to aim for quicker expansion output. The problem with that, though, is that it means less overall content and the playerbase for WoW consumes content like locusts.

          The other thing; they’ve sort of trapped themselves in this end-game mentality in which you’re not playing wow unless you’re raiding or doing arenas. They tried (somewhat successfully) to steer away from this when they completely revamped leveling from 1-85 to make it more interesting and fun. But while it’s definitely a step-up from the way it used to be, it’s still a far-cry from having enough power to enthrall players.

          They’re also continuing to make the harder stuff more accesible for raids and heroic dungeons, and even battlegrounds. But for what it’s worth, there’s not enough to keep casuals going and that’s partly why they are failing. Wrath was successful because it was so easy everybody could do it. They tried to cater to the hardcores by making Cata harder and lost subscribers in droves.

          Anyway, Guild Wars 2 is an adventure from level one to eighty; and for a F2P game that part is extremely important because they don’t seem to have a very strong end-game in sight.

          I kind of rambled; hope this makes some sense.

          • Yeah including content for casuals that isn’t raiding or arenas is important, and I’m wondering if you think their new pokemon pet battle thing qualifies? I doubt raiders/pvpers will be 100% interested, maybe pvpers, but it does seem to peak the interest of casuals. Also the challenge of their hard mode thing “challenge” dungeons or whatever, that could please both casuals and hardcore.

            Yeah i guess blizzard isn’t going anywhere really. no matter how disappointed some people are in pandaria.

  6. To me, I just don’t like the idea of something that was used as an April Fools joke suddenly being made what a full expansion revolves around. But as I am not playing WoW or have had any thoughts about playing it, I guess my opinion on the matter is rather moot really.

    However, I do agree that their yearly sub deal thing is really an attempt to get those subs locked down before SWTOR, GW2, and any other games come out so that sub numbers won’t drop as much. I just don’t recall them doing something like that before. But for those that already planned to play WoW all year long that’s a great deal for them (and possibly gets them into that new real money auction house thing).

    Also, while the new pet battle system sounds nice I just see it as a new way for Blizzard to squeeze more money out of people. They’re already selling mini pets through their online store and I can see them adding a whole lot more around the time MoP releases.

    • The thought that it originates from a joke doesn’t bother me nearly as much as the cute aspect that kind of opportunistically plays off kung fu panda. Sure pandarens were around first but that doesn’t mean blizzard isn’t taking advantage.

      There are a ton of in game pets in WoW as i recall so I doubt there will be a lot of pressure to buy pets in their store, maybe a bit but overall I don’t see it as being a big thing.

  7. “For everyone else a lot of these features just seems like PANDAring.”

    Fixed.

    • Surprisingly you’re the first to comment. I just didn’t want to beat people over the head with it.

  8. I have to say, before I read more about it, I thought it looked like an April Fools Joke. Now, I realize that it was. I agree with you Hunter, it does feel like pandering. Blizzard has taken ideas that are well known and have made loads of cash (I’m talking about Kung Fu Panda and Pokemon here) and imported them into Azeroth. And apparently they’re not ashamed to do so since they make little effort to change the names.

    Several features are similar to what GW2 is planning, but that’s just smart competition. There are parts of this expansion that I would prolly enjoy if I played WoW and, like several others have said, it appeals to current WoWers more than attracts new players. I’m sure the people who play WoW are going to enjoy these new additions, but it still looks and feels like filler to me. Especially the comment in the article about doing these grind (my word) scenarios while waiting on your cue for a dungeon/raid/whatever. I’ve never understood the concept of having to take a number to explore an area or take a swing at a boss.

    • People are telling the truth when they say that the Pandaren race was not taken from Kung Fu Panda.

      But as a former subscriber, I can tell you I have absolutely no interest in ever playing WoW again.

      • Because you’ve played WoW to death or because you never liked WoW to begin with?

        • That’s a pretty snide response to someone who takes time out of their schedule to look at your website.

          That aside, I don’t play WoW anymore because the excitement and adventure of vanilla turned into an epic loot soup kitchen, and the game got stagnant. This new expansion is a joke of an idea (it even began as a joke) when compared to previous content. It looks like a cop-out.

          • The irony is that they have been denying that their new expension being related to the panda race, since they register the name ‘Mists of Pandaria’. Blizzard is infamous for sitting on content and releasing it right when a rival company is scheduled to release an mmo. This expansion looks like another attempt to retain at least a portion of their player base. Once gw2 has announced the beta and a released date, is when blizzard will announce some new IP or expansion for their existing IPs.

            • True enough, but it won’t necessarily be some big piece of information just something big enough to get a headline.

          • Snide? it was an honest question, I don’t know what your experience is.

    • I don’t know if it’s smart competition, more like just plain competition. Smart competition would have blizzard thinking up their own ideas and implementing them or trying something from another genre that would seem new. GW2 is doing exactly that.

  9. I think for a while WoW was confused as to who their target audience is…with Cata we saw the streamlining of questing leveling, but then they served up a hard time in the dungeons and raids. With MoP I think they’ve finally figured it out, I agree it seems they are gunning for a younger crowd.


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