Any gamer who has played WoW for any particular length of time would know that it’s easy to have an on and off relationship with the game. The berth of regular new content, new features and the general poking by current addicts is usually enough to tempt the casual player to re-install and reactivate.
Blizzard’s clever marketing team knows of these “swing players” and has some nastily effective tools at their disposal. The buddy system, which allows a current player to quest along a new player and earn 3x experience for 60 days, is one that, truthfully, managed to pull me in for a month or so.
But can WoW really draw you back in, permanently? Or is it really just one of those lonely game experiences that holds some strange appeal.
I first encountered WoW in closed beta. Back in those days, the game was pretty rough, but very popular. I joined a guild quickly and, being my first *real* MMO experience, I enjoyed it immensely. I followed it into Open Beta and finally purchased it when it released. The problem was, I was very quickly outpaced by my few playing friends and found myself alone @ 30. I didn’t last much longer.
Over the next few years I would re-activate my account probably around 8-9 times, hoping that a new patch or a new promise by a friend would follow through to some of the much lauded “fun experiences”. But time and time again, the friend would get sucked into that raid schedule, the neverending hunger for loot, and once again, I would be left alone.
I’m sure many of the regular WoW players are rolling their eyes at this point. Why not play Solo? Well, I must hold a pretty unpopular position where the “MM” part of MMO tends to be the stickler. The game is infinity more fun when played with a group, PVE or PVP. But the problem is that the game isn’t made to be easy that way, you honestly need people questing or instancing with you and it’s far too difficult or time wasting to find them.
But over and over, I try. Sometimes for a few weeks, other times a few months. Guilds don’t want you unless you want to raid 12hrs a week, others are on so infrequently its tough to find a group to trudge along with. So again, and again, I’m stick wandering, bored, through gorgeously drawn landscape as I beg for a group on the LFG channel.
I still don’t know why I do it. Some part of me yearns to get a return on the money I’ve spent and the time I’ve spared, while another remembers the fun I have had, taking down a huge boss or having a grand ol’ chat while ripping through a string of quests. But the problem remains – WoW is a lonely game. It requires a strict dedication and a huge, unorthodox timesink.
I recently purchased Wrath of the Lich King, after a friend’s gentle nudges brought me back into Azeroth. After reactivating my account, my friend generously offered to power level my old character a bit to get me on my way. The generosity quickly turned to frustration as he quickly became bored babysitting my character and complained that he had missed a crucial raid.
So there I was, back at square one. Too far away from 80 to be of any use, too old to find some younger characters to level with. But hey, at least the Death Knight starting levels were fun, right?