Crusading against monthly fees
Blizzard Entertainment’s latest game, The Burning Crusade (an expansion set for World of Warcraft), goes on sale today, and it will be their first game that I will not buy.
Back when World of Warcraft was first announced, for a long time I told myself I wouldn’t buy it. I had never been into massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs), and the prospect of having to pay Blizzard a monthly fee for the privilege of playing it struck me as outrageous. Against my better judgement, however, I picked up a copy of the game when it was released in late 2004 (paying a rather hefty sum for the Collector’s Edition, as it happens), and took out a subscription. Despite my best efforts to like the game, I found it to be a tedious waste of time, with a clunky interface, dull-as-dishwater combat and servers so unstable that staying connected long enough to make waiting in line to connect worthwhile was virtually impossible. I created several characters, but got completely sick of every single one of them before even reaching the level 15 mark (the maximum level being 60), and eventually cancelled my subscription, making me $15 better off per month.
The advance word on The Burning Crusade has not given me cause to reconsider. The rundown of new features suggests that it caters almost exclusively to high-end players who have already whittled away hundred of hours playing the game, and nothing suggests that anything has been done to make the quests less boring or the combat less mind-numbing. I’m still somewhat bitter that Blizzard decided to take a successful real-time strategy franchise, which included one of my favourite games of all time, and transport it into a completely different medium: why, after all, should Warcraft fans have to pay through the nose for a game whose genre may not even interest them just so they can see where the story goes next? I would appeal to Blizzard to hurry up and make a new game, but I know they’re raking in so much money from World of Warcraft that they could devote their entire business to keeping it afloat from now until the end of time.
I’m sorry, but, if I want to play an online RPG, I’ll play Guild Wars, which is so much better than World of Warcraft it’s ridiculous (and it doesn’t have monthly fees either). Guild Wars, as it happens, was created by former Blizzard employees, one of whom was the original lead programmer of World of Warcraft, which makes me wonder whether that game would have turned out better had they not decided to leave and set up shop elsewhere.