In case you missed it, Blizzard made some big announcements the other day. Yep, an MMO is releasing another expansion set. However, this one is going to completely reshape the entire World (of Warcraft), and that’s really the best possible thing that they can do.
World of Warcraft was originally released in 2004, and is currently the most popular MMO in the world. With local servers in Europe and Asia, odds are you’ve either played WoW, know someone who has, or are at least aware that there is a game called WoW available. Since the game was originally published, there’s been two expansions released, The Burning Crusade in 2007, and then Wrath of the Lich King in 2008. Since then, Blizzard has continued to release free content updates featuring new dungeons, and pvp areas, however there hasn’t been a major update in almost a year.
WoW is starting to run into the same problem faced by games like Everquest, and Asheron’s Call. The people who were going to buy the game bought it, leveled up their characters, and are maybe getting a little bored. You can only level a character up so many times before you start to find it repetitive, and while raiding and PVP is fun, finding a group can be difficult, and pvp can be frustrating for some.
So why is Cataclsym the only direction for WoW to go? Because Azeroth has gone stale. Unless they want to end up like the Ultima Online’s and Everquest’s out there, they have to revamp it. So how do they do it? They either release World of Warcraft 2, or they do something like Cataclysm: create a world altering event, that is going to make people want to start over, to create a character just to experience the new content and art. And maybe get some of those people who left for other MMO’s to come back into the fold.
What’s even better is, World of Warcraft evolves. From the most popular user written modifications, to the way the starting areas for a character works, Blizzard is always paying attention to what people really like. 2008’s Wrath of the Lich King featured a very dynamic and scripted starting area for the new death knight character, and people loved that fact that they could quickly pass through the initial ten levels, get some skills and gear, and jump into the more interesting content. Blizzard has stated that the Cataclysm expansion will have that same content with the two new races available to players, the goblins and worgens. Again, listening to the players is one of the best things they can do, because it will make people feel like they are actually making a difference in how the world is evolving and developing.
I’ve been playing World of Warcraft since it was released. Frankly, I’ve grown a bit bored with it, but the new Cataclysm expansion (at least what we’ve seen of it) has rekindled my excitement. I sure I’ll be pre-ordering it and standing out in the cold to pick up my copy at midnight.