I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — I like a challenge. I loved attunement quests, no matter how crappy they were to do (doing Jailbreak twice in a single night for Majik because he was a dumbass and died? Not fun.). I loved working out strats for encounters in Burning Crusade raids, which, at the time, were incredibly punishing (Vashj, Kael, Bloodboil all come to mind off the top of my head). We were nowhere near server first, we were over a year behind in most cases. But we persevered and worked through it. The only nerfs we took advantage of were attunement removals (except the BT one, because we needed the necks for shadow resistance) and the 3.0 nerfs because, dangit, we weren’t ready to stop raiding yet. (Still, we were 4/5 Hyjal and 5/9 BT when 3.0 dropped.) By and large, Vashj was pretty similar an encounter when we downed her (on June 2nd, 2008) as when SSC opened up in 2007. There had been no 20% zone-wide nerf. No stacking 30% player buff. Nothing of the sort.
There was a measure of pride there. I still wear my Hand of A’dal title because of what it took for us to kill Vashj and Kael and finish the Vials of Eternity quest.
I remember Lady Vashj too. What I remember about Lady Vashj was that she broke the guild I was in. We went 3/4 TK and 5/6 SSC, but we broke on Vashj. Maybe she was beyond us, maybe we should have improved, maybe we should have practiced more or been better players.
Really hard bosses break guilds. Vashj, Kael'thalas, Vaelastraz, Ragnaros. These bosses are known as guild-killers.
Broken guilds are not good for the game, in my view. Guilds that get stuck on a hard boss, with no respite in sight, die. These nerfs keep guilds from getting stuck. Small, steady nerfs keep people moving forward, keep them from being completely stuck forever.
To me, the choice seems to be between guild-killer bosses, or nerfing. I choose nerfing.
I’ve long felt that Blizzard is ignoring its population of older players. I have been playing WoW since October of 2005. This doesn’t grant me any in-game advantage, and that’s okay, but those things that I “grew up” with, like attunements, like keys, like epic class quests, like epic instances without the novelty of a “heroic” mode… those are the things that kept me interested in the game. Those are the things that helped grow the game to 11 million players. Precious few of those mechanics and concepts remain. Is it any wonder why people are quitting? Is it any wonder why I now believe this to be my final expansion? The game is unrecognizable. The playerbase is maddeningly lazy and unwilling to put forth the effort that so many of us old-timers did and their laziness is affecting us.
Honestly, when has listening to older players ever helped Blizzard?
Blizzard listened to us at the start of Cataclysm. "Wrath was too easy," we said. "Make heroics hard like in TBC!" "Bring back crowd control!" "Make raiding hard again!"
Blizzard listened to us, and was rewarded with a significant drop in subscriptions. It's obvious from their subsequent actions that their internal numbers were telling them that the drop in the subscribers was coming from the people who found endgame too hard.
Consider the idea that ignoring the older players is the right thing to do. That they are merely a vocal minority. In my view, all the evidence points to that conclusion.
I am obviously not the type of player they want playing their game. And that’s what’s so very shocking to me. I am a good player. I am a community asset. I am a guild leader, a raid leader, a healing lead. I write a blog dedicated to the game that has had hundreds of thousands of visitors and pageviews since December 31st, 2009 (and more before then, but I don’t have any data before 12/31/09). I co-host and produce a podcast dedicated to the game.
Kurn loved the original Cataclysm heroics. So did I. We both wrote multiple blog posts extolling the experience. Many, many other bloggers out there did the same.
And what was the result of the best efforts of these "community assets"? Two million lost subscriptions.
Our set is not as important as we think we are. We are loud, but occupy a small, tightly bound niche. There is no reason that Blizzard should give our concerns any extra weight. If anything, the evidence is proving that our concerns should be given less weight.