As I sit here and type this, I find my first post is going to be a rather easy one:
The overwhelming buzz of the day, and well, past couple of days has been World of Warcraft’s landmark decision to remove the ability to fly from the game. While I am currently unsubscribed from World of Warcraft pending the release of the new raid (yes these days I only resub to clear raid content) I can’t help but have Wildstar open in another window, this open, and just about every other piece of media related to World of Warcraft open in other tabs. Why? Because in the history of this game I don’t ever think I’ve seen a game related change generate a buzz of this magnitude.
I remember the Real ID fiasco of years past, and while astonishingly loud, it didn’t seem to span seemingly time and space as this issue does. There doesn’t seem to be a single World of Warcraft fan venue that has not descended into civil war. Unfortunately for those who oft visit the forums this doesn’t seem to be just another episode of ‘Angry over a change, taking over the forums for a couple of days’. Rather, it looks like this will be a long fought battle that will likely decide the immediate future of this expansion.
Why? Why would something so seemingly trivial be able to decide the future of this expansion? That is a pretty easy one. Because it’s the tipping point for a great many of people. By and large no-flying has been received quietly and begrudgingly, nevertheless received. Up until the past couple of days most folks had been somewhat lead to believe that no flying in Draenor was just something we were going to try for the expansion, no real reason to chalk it up as bad just yet, not against the other sins the game has committed thus far at least. But yet it was almost widely accepted that we were ‘trying something new’ and that the community still had a large stake in the feature’s future. Cash shop mounts still had the ability to fly, NPCs throughout the game could fly, you were even given trinkets allowing you to fly or glide momentarily. It was still there, and for most couldn’t be ruled out just yet.
To the astonishment of what seems like the collective Warcraft community, Ion Hazzikostas or “Watcher”, lead game designer for World of Warcraft announced via interview that we would no longer be flying, ever. That’s right, never again it seems. Why? Well to put it shortly, it wasn’t something that had fit the design team’s ‘vision’ for the game. I can get into all sorts of critique on that some other time (rest assured, I will) but for all intent’s and purpose’s flying was scrapped. Cut low in an interview with a third party website, and into a brief commentary offering no larger, no concise explanation as to why.
And from there, the World of Warcraft franchise caught fire. Fresh off the single biggest subscriber losses in the game’s history, and the largest third party software and botting ban in the game’s history, Ion dropped probably the biggest bombshell of game change in the history of World of Warcraft: Flying was to be removed forever until further notice.