Why I Quit Playing World of Warcraft Even Though I Love the Game

 

First off, I have to correct the title. World of Warcraft isn't a game... it's another life. It is so engrossing and broad in expanse that it completely draws participants into it. There is beauty, ugliness, moments of calm peace and periods so fraught with risk it'll make your hands shake. Like real life, it has its pains, rewards, joys and frustrations. In spite of this page's title I sincerely encourage anyone who hasn't done so to give it a try.

When I did I was instantly swept up into it. I played 6 and 8 hours a day, many times late into the night and couldn't have been happier. I spent over $1,000.00 upgrading my computer, monitor and got a special gaming mouse. The year I played World of Warcraft was one of the most challenging and rewarding of my life. And yet I quit. Why?

There were many reasons, which I'm about to chronicle on this page. My goal is not to dissuade anyone thinking about trying it from doing so, but so that if they do they know a few of the game's many pitfalls. This page is organized in list format because that's the fastest way to convey this sort of information.

 
1. No Maps: The first problem I experienced was the lack of detailed, labeled maps of cities, quest areas and battlefields. I couldn't count how many times I got lost and spent far too much time wandering around trying to find my way back home. At first I thought this was because I was new to the game. But every time I ventured into a new realm, regardless of how advanced my character was, I ran into the same problem. I bought every guide book available and none provided the fine detail needed. In-game maps were unequal to the task. Eventually you figure an area out but it's a slow, frustrating experience.

2. Incomplete Quest Instructions: A big part of living in World of Warcraft involves completing quests. Many of these tasks involve doing something in a particular way or the quest is impossible to complete. The information provided by quest givers is very often so incomplete that players have to research the quest on-line in the hope that someone's stumbled upon the secret and posted the solution. I recall one quest in Northend where to solve it you had to stand on one particular spot on one special log or the game wouldn't activate the quest. Many quests have similar problems yet the people writing the quests repeatedly fail to provide complete instructions or even provide clues as to how to complete them. Many such quests are hard enough even when you know how to do them. There are also few instructions on how to play a battlefield. I had to go on-line to find recommendations posted by players. Unfortunately, all of these assumed your side would work together as a team. In fact less than half of a side work together.

3. Bugged Quests: Dozens of quests are "bugged" and are impossible to complete. Some get fixed by Blizzard after millions of players complain, but just as many times are left as is. Because many quests are linked in sequence a single flawed quest can become a major stumbling block to leveling a character.

4. Jargon: The World of Warcraft has hundreds of expressions and idioms that prevent new players from understanding the game. Blizzard should provide a lexicon to help players get started.

5. One Size Fits All: When World of Warcraft was first released it was designed as a conflict oriented game primarily for gamers who enjoy fighting and killing each other. But it very quickly grew to the point where it had over 13 million players worldwide. With such numbers it was unreasonable for Blizzard to assume every player wanted to follow the exact same path to growing a character. Many players, such as myself, don't particularly enjoy killing and being killed, yet we are forced into it because participating in battlefields and killing other players to earn conquest points is the only way to obtain the best armor and weapons. These are needed by even the most pacifistic of players because there are always players who enjoy ambushing you. I wish Blizzard would offer a way for noncombatant type players to obtain the highest level gear without having to kill people.

6. Jerks: I couldn't count the number of times I was minding my own business mining ore or working on a quest when some jerk snuck up behind me and killed me just for the fun of it. There was one particular rogue in Pandaria that liked to remain cloaked near a high cliff, then when someone walked by he'd stun them and kick them off the cliff to kill them. There was absolutely no way to prevent this. Worse still, his favorite spot was so situated that where you fell was impossible for your ghost to reach your corpse. This meant accepting the huge resurrection cost. As bad as that was it's nothing compared to many of the jerks haunting battlefields. These tend to be loud mouthed, abusive louts who curse everyone as being loosers, yet they themselves do little to nothing to help win the battle. They hide in the background and get mad because everyone else who is working hard to win the battle are outnumbered and can't make up for the hanger-backers. They're there for free points at everyone else's expense. Battles are won by people working together and supporting each other. Knocking everyone is a sure way to loose a battle and waste everyone's time. One more jerk I have to mention is the camper. This is someone who's much higher than you, kills you, then camps on your corpse and kills you again and again everytime you try to resurrect yourself.

7. Insufficient Testing: Every ten weeks or so Blizzard posts a large change to the game. Part of these changes is intended to improve the game and part is an attempt to fix existing problems. I lived through several such upgrades and each time software conflicts arose that made some areas of the game unplayable. In particular, in an upgrade that introduced cross-realm transfers prior to Mists of Pandaria there was a battlefield in Wintergrasp, a zone in Northend, that became a nightmare for months. Many times I'd go there late at night and be the only player. I occupied every workshop, killed every NPC, destroyed every tower and succeeded in defending the keep. The result? The win was awarded to the other faction. The battlefield was so glitchy that you never knew what was going to happen regardless to your actions. Once I did absolutely nothing. The battle timed out and I won all points. It was so erratic that if you tried flying into the zone, even when a battle wasn't in play, you were automatically dismounted and often fell to you death. This went on for months. Finally, Blizzard fixed most of the problems but it took far, far too long. During this debacle I conversed with several Blizzard game masters and they confessed that the software that defines the game has gotten so large and complex that it is impossible to tell how new changes are going to affect even unrelated parts of the game. Shockingly, they admitted that many times attempting to fix a problem could result in more serious problems being created so they choose to leave the game broken because doing is the lesser of two evils. I might accept that if Blizzard were a small, struggling company. But World of Warcraft brings in over $200,000,000.00 a year. Surely for that much money they could afford to properly test upgrades before releasing them.

8. Blizzard Doesn't Respect It's Players: World of Warcraft is a huge, complex game. Millions of people have expended countless hours playing it, analyzing it, and writing long, detailed on-line articles about how to optimize certain aspects of play. The old talent tree system was a good example of this. There were dozens of skill options that could be mixed and matched to optimize a character's effectiveness. We're talking countless hours invested by players all across the world to figure this out. Yet with a sweep of its corporate hand Blizzard changed the entire system, wiping out all the work invested in the previous one. Their explanation was an attempt to simplify the talent and skill system. In reality they wanted to erase all that work so that players would have to invest countless more hours playing to master the new system. It was a transparent ploy to keep players subscribed by forcing them to go back to square one.

9. World of Warcraft Lies to Players: I was a warrior. One of the trinkets I had gave me 4,000 extra strength points for 20 seconds. I was doing pretty good with it against all types of players, then all of a sudden I started getting killed more often. I was polishing my attack rotation on a practice dumby one day when I noticed that when I activated this trinket my strength only went up by 2,000. I checked the item description and it still read 4,000. Blizzard had nerfed, that is weakened, the trinket without warning but hadn't informed anyone or correcting the item description. Lying like this causes people to make uninformed attack decisions that can cost them their lives. I submitted several bug reports and error messages about it but after several months it still hadn't been fixed. How many other inaccuracies are in the game that we don't know about because we assume descriptions are accurate? It's possible that while my total strength was supposed to be over 10,000, it could really have been much less. Once one error has been found it suggests the possibility of many other errors.

10 Unclear Damage/Attack Numbers: When you attack someone in World of Warcraft your screen gets flooded with numbers of various colors. They come and go so fast it's hard to tell what they mean. This problem is compounded by the fact that additional damage numbers also appear because the person you're attacking is attacking you at the same time. I found it frustrating and confusing.

11. Needless Complex: There are so many character attributes and they are related in such a complex manner that it takes a PhD dissertation to figure them out. For example, at one point as I warrior I had strength, attack power, PVP attack power, expertise and several other attributes all related by an overly complex equation that determined how much damage I did when I clobbered someone with my mighty sword. Each attribute could be tweaked through the activation of various trinkets, having necklaces, rings, using potions and so forth. The problem was that the way in which they were related was so complex I couldn't figure out how to optimize them. Worst still, even if I did, that could all be changed with the next game upgrade. It left me with a headache.

12. Character Strengths: Blizzard states that it works hard to keep all character types equal in strength so that if a level 90 warrior goes up against a level 90 mage they each have an equal chance of being victorious. Assuming they are geared to the same level the player with the greater skill should win. Forget it. The truth is that not only is there an enormous imbalance in the strengths of different races and character types, Blizzard routinely cycles through a sequence strengthening and weakening character types to keep players on an endless treadmill in an effort to have the strongest character. When I started playing warriors were heavily favored. In time they were systematically weakened and arcane mages became the strongest character type. Players deserted warriors in droves to create and level arcane mages. About the time they got there, arcane mages started getting weakened in favor of a different type. This is a never ending cycle. Blizzard likes it because it forces players to remain subscribed in an endless pursuit for the strongest character. It's much easier to keep subscribers trapped this way than developing new and innovative ways to make the game more interesting.

13. Tying Our Hands: Every character type has a wide range of attack options, each with its pros and cons. What's frustrating is that many are mutually exclusive. You can't use them together and once one is used it starts a timer that not only prevents it from being used right away but also locks out many other attacks. I assume this system evolved over time and was an attempt to limit the strength of attacks of characters. The problem is that having so many unusable attack options is rather like hanging a dozen carrots just out of reach of a horse. He can't figure out which way to go. It seems like yet another attempt to make the game confusing to keep players subscribed in a hopeless effort to master the game.

14. Monitor Overload: When a large number of players are fighting each other (turtling) or a boss NPC the light effects that accompany so many attacks overlap so completely that it's impossible to see what's going on. I've been in countless boss attacks where I could not locate the boss because the monitor was overloaded with visual effects.

15. The Never Ending Gear Treadmill: If you play many hours a day everyday for several months you can just barely obtain the top level of gear available before Blizzard adds an upgrade with a new set of even higher gear and you have to grind through the same process again. It feels like you're being punished because after doing all that work to get the best gear and before you have any time to enjoy it the game changes and you have to climb back on the endless gearing treadmill. This is another ploy Blizzard uses to keep subscribers trapped. It was okay the first couple of times, but it's been repeated so many times that it has become boringly repetitious.

16. The Same Old Story Over and Over: World of Warcraft is stuck in a rut. Every big expansion is essentially the same as the last: new lands and new quests and new battle fields. They look different but in reality it was the same story all over again, only the names were changed to make things seem different. For $200,000,000.00 a year it would seem Blizzard could hire some innovative thinkers to come up with something new. They got close in Mists Of Pandaria with the introduction of farms. But in a way that turned out to be just another form of repeatable quest.

 

Collectively, all these problems finally overwhelmed me. I was so frustrated I quit. My single biggest complaint was Blizzard's failure to get character types balanced in strength and keep them that way. I could put up with everything else but to have my character suddenly weakened and another strengthened was too frustrating to endure. Second to this was the overly complex manner character strengths are defined so that it's almost impossible to make an informed decision on how to optimize a character.

If you haven't tried World of Warcraft, please do so. It's a great alternate life and a lot of fun. Many of the issues that made me quit aren't important for newcomers and may never be a problem for you. Please view this page not as a list of complaints or an admonition to not play, but an eye opener so you can anticipate and deal with problems as they present themselves.

 

 

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