Is the End Game the Real Game?

Pictured: The Real WoW?

Pictured: The Real WoW?

So I’m sitting here this morning, pondering what to write for my daily post and looking through other’s blogs for ideas to steal inspire me, when I happen across Mend Pet‘s latest post.  It’s a celebration of the fact that her priest just dinged 35 and that she’s learned one of the basic tenants of priestly SSing.  She also mentions that she’s using the recruit a friend method to level up her little priesty, and I had thought to make a post covering this subject.  But then I got to thinking (a common problem), what’s the point of recruit a friend?

Well, the point is to get you through all those annoying early levels quicker and deliver you as fast as possible into what is commonly referred to as “the end game”.  Of course it stops at 60 and you have to continue on from there at a normal pace, but the point is that Blizzard wants to get you there as soon as possible.  But why?  Why shouldn’t people be able to stop and smell the flowers along the way?  Blizzard may not have done much with the old world in quite a while, but that doesn’t mean that it’s a pile of crap or anything, it’s just, well, old.

Though most people use it to level up alts or the likes of which, the original point of the promotion is to (wait for it) recruit a friend and bring them into the game.  One of my original joys with proto Dueg was the experience of leveling up and seeing all the things that the old world had to offer.  But players recruited via this promotion won’t get that, instead the old world will be a blur of NPCs and cities as they level 2 to 3 levels every hour and are quickly thrust into Outland, never to see the likes of Desolace or the Arathi Highlands.

Understandably, players who have already leveled one or more characters to the top level are going to consider any method that gets you through the old world to be a god send, keeping them from hours and hours of doing all the old shit they’ve already done.  But for the new people, this method puts an emphasis on the end game, getting to the newest then the hardest content quickly and efficiently.  But does this cheapen the old content?  Does this mean that end game is the real WoW, constantly evolving away from where it started and making it’s most current incarnation the most relevant?

To a certain extent this seems to be Blizzard’s goal as they’ve stated many times that they want more and more people to experience end game content and to see the raids.  This makes sense from a  developer’s point of view as why would you waste all this time trying to create these worlds only to have maybe 50 to 100 people see it.  But at the same time, it takes away something from the old game, makes it seem like a faded picture to be glossed over in an old album while you download digital pics onto your comp.

Now this makes sense to a certain degree in that you’re not going have people running Molten Core and Blackwing Lair over and over again when there’s simply no lure to do so other than nostalgia.  Why should the developers be upgrading the old content or improving areas that have had tumbleweeds blowing through them for a couple of years now?  It doesn’t make sense and would be a waste of resources for the most part.  But the emphasis on the end game, wanting to include as many people as possible, are starting to take their toll on the psyche of the average player, making them think that in order to be a real WoW player, you have to be a raider.

Even though Blizzard has made a few concessions to the below level 80 players such as the Argent Tournament and the likes of which, there’s really not much to do once you hit that final level other than raiding.  You can level your professions or get achievements, true, but there’s only limited rewards there and it won’t make your character’s stats the best they can be.  The only way you can truly “level” your character past level 80 is going to be the end game content, raiding and the likes of which.

Now yes, I do realize that there are thousands and thousands of players who don’t raid at all or experience the end game of WoW and they’re a-ok with that.  They’re fine with logging on and maybe just doing some fishing dailies or running some BGs and hey, good for them.  The game is what you make it and any ambiguous ideal of what’s the true game is nothing more than opinion or discussion.  But more and more it seems as though Blizzard is emphasizing the end game and raiding and saying, “This is the real thing, this is where it truly begins”.  

Does Blizzard spend too much time and effort on this or should they maybe focus on other aspects of the game?  Like most opinions, this question is likely to have about 11.5 million different answers.  Some will say the end game is the real game and it’s only right that Blizzard focus on that and could probably do with a little more focusing, because what’s more important than keeping your top players happy?  Others still will say that though raiding has it’s place, it’s not everything and Blizzard needs to spread the love a little more.  No matter what direction you go in though, I think we can all agree on one thing: Though the end game is fun, the “real” game is what you make of it, and it’s different for everyone.



6 Responses to “Is the End Game the Real Game?”

  1. 06/02/2009 at 12:44 PM

    I don’t know if I’d go so far as to say End Game is the Real Game. I’d say it’s another game entirely. When you hit 80, or when you start raiding, it is another game, different from the questing/leveling up game. For me, I have my raiding toon, which I enjoy, and then I also have my leveling toons, which I enjoy equally (or possibly more). But I enjoy each aspect for different reasons. Raiding is a team sport, whereas leveling for me is a solo (or duo) game, and I can go at my own pace.

    While I am using RaF to level my priest, and I may not be a -new- recruit, we aren’t just having someone run us through instances. We are moving quite quickly, but we’re still getting a lot of questing done. We did all of Mulgore, Barrens and Thousand Needles even with the bonus. I also thought this bonus would make the game less playable and too quick for new players, but having used it myself I’ve learned that it isn’t too fast. Especially if someone had never played before. You just avoid those ‘well crap, I have no yellow quests left. Where do I go now?’ moments.

    I think the leveling experience is extremely important. Recently the discussion of “start any character at 55” has been tossed around a lot – I’m completely against it. The End Game isn’t the only game, and it’s important to play the game as a whole.

    As for Blizzard, I can see why they focus mostly on the high-end stuff. That’s how they keep people. While leveling, there may not be new dungeons being released and new content available, but there is always something ‘new’ for you to move forward to – whether it be new abilities or zones you’ve yet to visit. Whereas people who have reached the cap/are playing the raiding game also need somewhere to go, and that means new development must be done.

    Gah, sorry about getting so long winded! Perhaps I should have turned this into a post of my own 🙂

  2. 2 Isiene
    06/02/2009 at 12:56 PM

    I agree with the personal preference on this one. Since I can only speak for myself, I’ll be quite frank. 😉 I’ve quit WoW about 3 or 4 times before, never ever having gotten a character past level 30 (AND I was leveling a hunter). Old world, questing, and well, quest/level grind just bored me to death. I couldn’t stand a minute of it.

    Months ago, one of my friends from another game persuaded me to try WoW again. He kept pushing at me to level, twinked me out in blue gears, and well, I made it to level 70 purely out of a guilty conscience. 😉 But then, something crazy happened! At level 70, I actually had fun! Running WotLK instances!

    It’s just my personality; I HATE level grind, but I can run instances and raid forever. I love the team aspect of it, the alertness, and even the wipes (as long as we all learn something from it). I know all my friends from other games feel pretty much the same way; I think they’d love raiding, but I would never recommend WoW for them, as the 1-80 grind is just too, too, long for them to ever remain hooked.

    And to leave a lasting note: I’m leveling up a blood elf priest (I can’t help it! I love pretty characters!), and it’s so, so much more bearable to run Scarlet Monastery over and over.

    So long version short: yes, I agree that the game is entirely what you make of it. And although the end game IS the real game for me, I think I’m happy with the option of RAF if leveling an alt drives me too batty.

  3. 06/02/2009 at 12:56 PM

    I love leveling characters and I sure wouldn’t mind a little love for the “old” world. But I’m not holding my breath.

  4. 06/02/2009 at 1:53 PM

    Alright, so I have one of nearly every class and have leveled 7 classes to level 70 or beyond (sorry rogue, warrior, and pally–I tried). I used to pride myself on finishing all the quests in a zone before moving on. With no one to run me through dungeons or give me money or gold, I had to work hard. But what I loved about playing all the toons is enjoying and understanding their play styles. What’s it like for a healer, what about a caster? What challenges are there for melee or ranged attackers?

    Since I got the mage to 70, I really haven’t gone back to play much on my lower level toons aside from some play with a druid during my own recruit-a-friend experience. But I’ll get back to that paladin one day!!

    The thing about the old world versus the new content is there was SOOO much of it. I never understood when people would say “I’m out of quests” I don’t remember EVER being out of quests and each of my characters went a different route…NE went from Teldrassil to Darkshore, Ashenvale, Desolace, Tanaris, Feralas, Felwood, Un’goro…while the gnome went from Dun Morough to Loch Modan, Wetlands, Southshore, Arathi, Hinterlands, Searing Gorge, Burning Steppes…and my human went from Elwynn to Westfall, Redridge, Duskwood, STV, Southshore/Alterac, Hinterlands, Plaguelands. So in short, there were so many ways you could reach 60 that in my first three characters I found myself rarely repeating quests.

    I would love to see some improvements to the old world, or have them toss in a few dungeons for higher levels back in there, or even attune some of their old (and awesome) content for a heroic mode so that people can see the things. I would even love if they made heroics for all old instances and tossed a new type of classic badge on them that could be used for reputations or heirloom items. It might give some incentive?

    For me though, the actual game comes through “character development” for me. It’s not about phat loot, but instead seeing as much of the game as I’m capable of all while getting professions and reputations maxed out. I’m slow at reaching some of the same things that others achieved months ago, but I have a hell of a lot of fun playing the game and still get excited over epics, I don’t think they are welfare at all.

    On a side note, raiding and the raid end game feels very much like a job to me (which is why I usually only PUG in if someone asks). The strict schedule and rules and such do not fit my playstyle as it becomes much like work. I already have one job, I don’t need another. Ha ha. If people want to raid though, I’m glad it’s there for them and yes, Blizz should keep that developed too. The achievement system was awesome for keeping those of us that don’t raid interested in the game once we hit 80.

    A little love would be great, but sometimes I log in and think “there’s so much to do!” anyways, that for now I’m still working on getting those other 70s up to 80.

  5. 5 Light
    06/02/2009 at 1:59 PM

    As a person who has been playing less than a year (without RaF) the old world really does show how bad the game design was back then.

    It might have been impressive in 2004. It is not today. They did a lot of work to make specs viable with Outland gear, the old world just feels like you are being crammed into behaving a certain way. Not the way to make a new player want to stick with the game. I have leveled as an balance druid and elemental shaman. They both suck pre-Outland. 🙂

    Raiding doesn’t feel like “real game” to me. It’s something to do after you’ve run out of quests and what makes the game have the second M in MMO. The game is all about leveling up and meeting people, IMO.

  6. 06/02/2009 at 8:41 PM

    Interesting thought you have there, I do think in a sense they are starting to rush people through old world to experience the new as well.

    In all honesty, I do enjoy logging on an alt and leveling him up like I did my main when everything was new to me. It gives me a nice feeling about the game.

    Of course, raiding is also pretty fun too. Hah, I guess it really depends on what I feel like doing at that time… old world leveling or raiding.

    All in all though, I really wouldn’t go to say that End game is the Real Game. There’s just so much to do sometimes that it feels just as if they were two different games!

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