• Day XX – An early interlude

    I’m not really sure where the summer’s gone.

    After my last post, I put a solid couple of weeks into the game and queued up a few topics for posts here. Those are still in the works, but I definitely lost the thread somewhere along the way — maybe it was the mad rush of our summer program, maybe my newfound obsession with immersive sims, or maybe some kind of mix of the two.

    Realistically, I just got bored.

    But why?

    I wrote last time about this disconnect between the Demon Hunter’s narrative and early-game power progression, and I definitely think some of that’s still at play here. Maybe I’m just not entirely invested in the character.

    It might also be the fact that I’m playing without a subscription, which started more as a joke born of financial necessity and has since become a bit of a challenge for myself. Not unsurprisingly, Warcraft isn’t meant to operate as a free-to-play (F2P) game. (But more about that some other time.)

    Still, I think it’s easy to just point at a game and say, “That part’s broken.”

    Perhaps it’s the optimist in me, but it’s hard to believe that Warcraft is broken. It continues to work, even if it’s continued to bleed subscribers since its peak — and therein, I think, lies the real problem: If subscribers are leaving, most are probably going somewhere else.

    So, again, why?

    I remember hearing speculation about “WoW killers” and talk of “WoW clones” throughout much of high school and college. Some were expected to have better graphics, others were shaping up to have more dynamic gameplay, and a few actually planned to buck the subscription model entirely. None ever managed to usurp the throne.

    More recently, though, I think it’s safe to say that both Final Fantasy XIV and Genshin Impact have come extremely close. And while their graphics are different and they each bring some new mechanics to bear, it’s difficult to say that those make them better than Warcraft or objectively more likely to draw new players — a love for Veera or anime-style art don’t really apply across the board.

    In fact, the thing I keep hearing about both games is that they have fantastic stories. Some will say that you need to get past content from A Realm Reborn in FFXIV or be prepared to play solo in Genshin, but it’s still the narrative design that really seems to capture players’ attentions.

    I haven’t put more than a handful of hours into either of the two, but I think the reviews say something… And, more importantly, I think they give us a way to reorient the situation. Instead of insisting that Warcraft is losing players because of its own narrative struggles, a fact that’s not entirely untrue, it could be worth asking: At what point do other games with more captivating worlds and stories become more of a draw for players?

    Or, better yet: Am I actually bored? Or did everything else just do a better job at holding my attention?