Where Warcraft Went

I’ve been out of Warcraft pretty much since I moved to Scotland; my guild tends to be operate on US-centric time zones (understandably, since that’s where most of the guild lives), and I was less and less captivated by the world of the game. It was getting more like a second job than a continuing adventure, so when my life changed intercontinentally, I just drifted into retirement.
A great deal of what frustrated me over the years I was active involved the game designers’ response to keeping the game fresh. The folks at Blizzard introduced new zones (great!) and instances (very great!), and new character classes (meh) and races (meh), and added new levels of achievement (tut tut) and new gear (tut tut). The new classes and races don’t bother me that much, though I’m sure they took mind-boggling numbers of work-hours to develop and balance, work-hours that I’d rather had been spent on world-building and lore. But the really irksome aspect of the ex-pacced (‘expansion pack-ed’) game was the devs’ decision to raise the ceiling on levels, and to accord these new levels greater powers on a scale comparable to the increases at preceding levels.
What that meant in practical terms was that good, ordinary players on the terms of the older game could become demigods (on the older game’s terms) just by being good, ordinary players on the ex-pac’s terms. Instead of diminishing the increments of improvement as players ascended the levels — so that there was always an incentive to advance, but a longer, slower curve with smaller incremental improvements — they opted to keep hopping skills and talents up, which made the regions in which players begin and learn their fundamentals an uncanny zone in which the bosses who once had been the biggest, meanest monsters imaginable were easily defeated by small groups of hyper-advanced players (and the new, tougher bosses in the successive ex-pacs were so intensely powerful that they could have wiped out the entire world of the original game).
OK, so Blizzard chose another route, they’re introducing Pandarians in the next ex-pac, and maybe it’s great and maybe it isn’t — but I have an idea for an alternative revenue stream for Blizzard.
Since they already have invested in and built out a world that has to be playable for beginning characters, why not put up a couple of servers on which the monster/opponent structure is recalibrated to older standards, but with diminishing incremental advances for player levels and equipment? Why not, in other words, rely for allegiance to the game on the game itself, on challenging monsters, new terrains, groups and raids at a consistent level across all zones, and where bosses get more challenging by making them more intelligent rather than more powerful, less predictable rather than more intricately choreographed (and predictable)? I’d think they could make money at it, and at the same time learn about game behaviour and mechanics under this different reward system, and about building more intelligent bosses. That’s my idea for the day; theology will wait for tomorrow.

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