Hey, have you heard about the critically acclaimed MMO with a free trial including the first expansion, totaling over 100 hours of gameplay?
I’m sorry, I had to.
Anyways, let’s start this new week off a bit spicy, shall we? A lot…a lot… of prominent WoW content creators are trying out Final Fantasy XIV lately. This isn’t altogether a new trend – some of the big and prominent FFXIV creators were WoW players prior to FFXIV, like Zepla and MrHappy – but a lot of the names coming over now are shocking to some extent, because they are all names that are defined by their content creation centered on World of Warcraft. Bellular, Preach, Quazii, and, may God have mercy on all the FFXIV players, Asmongold, just to name a few of the ship-jumpers. To illustrate, I did a search on YouTube for “wow tries ffxiv” and here’s a quick taste of a very large and expansive set of videos:
I think there’s a lot of armchair analysis we can do here, though, because I don’t necessarily find it interesting that gamers are trying other games they might not have played before, at least not on the surface. However, what I do find interesting and worthy of discussion is why it is happening now, what is driving it, and how that speaks to trends in the actual WoW community as well as to the inroads Square Enix has made over the last two years.
Part One: Content Creators Are A Business
This one needs to be looked at first, because I think it is the most relevant to the direct question of why these people are playing FFXIV now. Making content for YouTube, Twitch, a blog, or a podcast is a business – you cannot sustain forward momentum if you have nothing to discuss. Here’s the hard thing to say as a WoW player – there isn’t anything to discuss right now, not really. We’ve had longer content draughts, it is true, but there is a sort of commonality that those prior draughts had that is broken here – each of those large stretches before had an expansion on the other end, with multiple zones, 6+ new dungeons, a new raid, new systems, and more. In the 11 months of WoW 8.3, we had Shadowlands on the horizon, alongside a series of smaller tweaks to the live game.
Right now, we have a content patch on the horizon, and the first of the expansion. The content base is so much smaller comparatively, so the hype is lessened as a result. There’s a new zone, a new dungeon, a new raid, and a small bit of content around all of that, content that is rapidly changing states on the PTR. The first patch point matters here too, because the first patch of an expansion is rarely transformative, but instead evolutionary. BfA’s 8.1 added a new ring of Azerite traits alongside a single raid, a small handful of quests, and…that’s about it. Legion’s 7.1 had a new dungeon, a micro-raid, and the continuation of Suramar questing. The precedent set in recent years is simple enough to understand – x.1 patches in WoW are rarely exciting or big shifts in content or design paradigm.
And it might sound dismissive to say there’s nothing to discuss about WoW right now, but I mean, really think about it. Every type of player I know is basically hanging on a thread right now. If you love Mythic Plus, you’ve probably done your KSM achievement and are watching the available groups start to dry up as people start withdrawing for the start of summer and the end of the patch, expecting that date announcement any day now. If you love raiding, you’ve probably done your max difficulty to the end – most Mythic-focused guilds are done with Cutting Edge, and the remaining few just got a nerf to Denathrius to smooth things out slightly. My guild, Heroic-focused as we are, has been done with Heroic Sire since March, AotC in-hand and most players moving to new goals or taking a break. PvPers have their rating and gear and most high-end players are likely just grinding out a few matches a week to keep their rating for titles at the end of the season, while more casual PvPers haven’t had any new power combos due to system or balance changes since March. If you play casually, the Covenant campaign was fully completable back in February and Renown could be capped as of mid-March, with all the rewards that entails. Alt-leveling has likely been complete for most players for a while, and so that leaves…what, exactly?
You might then be tempted to say, “well now, what about PTR coverage?” and that is true to a point, but at the same time, this PTR cycle has been volatile and sort of difficult to decipher. A lot of the things that are being tested have been iterated on for months, and the newest additions like the Season 2 Mythic Plus affix were pretty easy to comprehend, while some things have felt very ephemeral and thus not worth learning about until the clearly final versions are implemented. I would have interesting things to say about the Shards of Domination gearing system for raiders, but I barely understand it and even after trying it on PTR, that effort actually contradicted things I had read! Blizzard’s Mythic Scoring seems to be rankling everyone, first the more chill audience like myself because having to run both a Tyrannical and Fortified +15 for KSM seems really dumb and restrictive, and the tryhards because it seems like, based on a loose interpretation of the scoring system, you could theoretically not time your runs for KSM and, provided you complete the runs, still get the achievement because of the way the rating seems to maybe work – which seems like a thing that, if true and I could find an actual verifiable source for it, would be likely to be changed.
So basically, we’ve been talking about 9.1 for almost 4 months now, and most of the features and elements of it are iterations of earlier designs that we’ve watched on PTR. The live game hasn’t changed in any real substantial way since November 2020, with the exception of small balance tweaks and Valor. I even have this struggle when writing about the game – what new perspectives can I offer? I shared my stories about doing KSM for the first time, about getting into Mythic Plus, about breaking that boundary for invites to 15s with the more judgy elements of my guild, and I wrote pretty extensively about how Heroic Sire had been a hell of a challenge to overcome and also been something that was pretty fulfilling in the end. I’ve talked about world quests, alt leveling, healing, DPSing, tanking, and even talked at length about 9.1 content and what my hopes and fears were for that. I personally have been feeling a lack of stuff to discuss, and there’s not much else besides this sort of real life analysis of the business of WoW and what the hell has happened here.
That means right now, the only new thing in WoW to discuss that hasn’t been well-trodden already…is TBC Classic. And hey, that content has been discussed to death over a decade ago! There’s been a little bit of room for folks to discuss things like the uptake for TBC Classic, how the experience is different from Vanilla Classic in how launch went, but I’ve also noticed that a lot of people haven’t had the same level of enthusiasm in discussing TBC Classic when compared to how saturated the blogosphere and content creator environments were for Vanilla Classic back in 2019. I think that’s fairly straightforward, from my perspective – WoW Classic was novel in 2019, a long-fought-for victory of the community that loved it, and it was also the period in the game both oldest and with low uptake among current players of the game, low enough that it was both a nostalgia-rimmed trip into the past and a curiosity item for newer players, while TBC Classic kind of…doesn’t have as much of that? It also had a staggered launch of sorts, because the ability to play Blood Elves and Draenei back in mid-May, prior to the official launch, meant that there were really two waves of hype for it, where Vanilla Classic built on a single rising tide of hype – name reservations to final wave beta tests to actual launch where all that built up pressure was released at once.
If my actual business is talking about WoW, right now, it fucking sucks. If I was dedicated solely to being a WoW blog, I’d probably be super checked out right now, not even writing this. In the case of these content creators, however, they make money doing this, actual living money and not “might pay for WordPress Premium by the end of the year if I’m lucky” money. So not talking isn’t an option.
FFXIV is an MMO, and migration from WoW to it is not uncommon, thus making it ideal if you are a WoW creator trying to fill a slump in content!
Lastly, though, there is a sort of two-hit combo to FFXIV that makes it more worth discussing if your business is game discussion. FFXIV has announced a record high of registered accounts that dwarfs WoW’s highest peak sub number, and while those two are not equivalent data points, they are easy to conflate, but also speak to a growing interest in FFXIV that is no longer easy to ignore. At the same time, attempts at public data collection (realm surveys, Raider.IO player counts, etc) seem to indicate that, for perhaps the first time ever, FFXIV has more active players than WoW. All of this is inconclusive and sort of difficult to validate, but there are enough outwardly visible trends that support the idea that talking about FFXIV is viable as a business model and may actually bring in more viewers and support than the same for WoW. Again, I want to stress that some of these data point are false equivocations and others are just best guesses on public data, but the tide seems to be turning against WoW – a topic I intend to give room to breathe in a separate post.
Part Two: Player Reception
Outside of the content creators, I think it is worth a moment’s thought for the fan community of both games. Something I have heard jokingly said often is “no one hates WoW more than WoW players” and I think there is something to that. However, WoW has always had a strong presence with new content on the horizon and a hype cycle that builds and builds perpetually, such that even when the game is doing poorly overall, it never has a prolonged slump. BfA had a hugely successful launch and players kept coming back for more over the patch cycle. My guild actually gained players in 8.3 without recruiting, because people returned to the game during COVID, despite how 8.3 actually…was.
I say that now because we need to drop a stunning statistic – in the last eighteen months, even counting 9.0.5 as a content patch, WoW has dropped…3 updates. If we just count major content patches, that number is two releases in eighteen months. If we go back to the 18 months prior to that, there were five content patches. I’ve only counted the expansion pre-patch and not the actual expansion going live in these numbers, but even then, it goes to 3-4 in the last 18 months and 6 in the 18 months before that. Yikes.
WoW lives on players being excited for new things, but the problem of the last year and change has been that we’ve had much larger gaps between new releases such that excitement is naturally tamped down. 8.3 hype had to live on from release in January 2020 until mid-October 2020, and that was with the benefit of an expansion in the wings. We’ve had 9.0 content since November 2020 and even now, 7 months later, we still don’t even have a date for 9.1! What in the actual fuck is that?!
I have enjoyed Shadowlands, and I think once 9.1 comes out, I’ll continue enjoying it, but I took the last several days off of WoW, spending 5 minutes keeping up with guild chat in-game and 10 minutes running circles in Oribos on PTR, and then I spent most of the rest of my time playing other games, watching videos, writing for a project outside of this blog, and I haven’t missed WoW. Not at all. I’ve kept up with PTR stuff, so I wouldn’t say I’ve completely blocked the game out or anything, but I’ve definitely taken a step back, and it has been really nice – which is not a great thing for Blizzard! It is hard for me to have goals in mind for 9.0 at this point, because I’ve stretched to reach new ones and at the same time any new goal I set has an, as of now, illusory ticking clock before the new patch might possibly come out and invalidate it!
In FFXIV, meanwhile, let’s do the same comparisons. Counting only major content patches with actual new stuff to do (so x.1-5 and x.x5 patches), the last 18 months have seen…8 patches. The prior 18 months to that have seen…9 patches. FFXIV has been riding a wave of steady content releases and even in the COVID era, they dropped the count by a single patch – that is great dedication to the game and reflects quite well on the team. If you’re an FFXIV fan, you’ve had a consistent base of content to be excited by, and the team has way more reveal events and moments to build excitement because of how they handle content unveilings – each of the major patches gets two live letters, with a third usually for the x.x5 patch, and then in both of these windows combined there would have been 3 in-person Fan Fest events for Shadowbringers, the Endwalker reveal livestream, the digital Fan Fest 2021, and then press tour for Shadowbringers, alongside a job action trailer and the benchmark release. That is a staggeringly large amount of touch points compared to Blizzard in that same window, who would have had two in-person Blizzcons, one Blizzconline, and a few Q&A livestreams…let’s count…looks like about 8 streamed events in all 36 months, as far as I can tell from counting off of Blizzard’s WoW Twitch page. That’s not awful, but it also pales in comparison to FFXIV, which easily doubles the number of livestreamed events not counting Fan Fest or Blizzcon/line.
I know which playerbase is more energized and excited right now, and if you’re reading this, you probably do too. Outside of small pockets of hype for WoW, FFXIV just has way more going for it right now, with a major expansion only 5 months away, ongoing content support including an upcoming minor patch that will remove most loot limits for current content, letting players start to gear up excessively in preparation for the content to come in Endwalker, and in the early fall, we should start getting more Endwalker news, including a job action trailer and the PC benchmark, which always smuggles in content we’ll be seeing without spoilers, somehow – so I expect to see new job actions rendered live on my PC, performed on new hunt targets, dungeon bosses, and trial enemies (I sure hope Anima is in the benchmark!).
If we look at these content creators as gamers and players first and foremost, there’s a point now where WoW’s hype has been declining and FFXIV’s has been rising, and even if you think FFXIV isn’t for you based on appearance, this moment in WoW is probably the most opportune to look at other games. Right now, in the MMO space, FFXIV is the de-facto “other game.” Sure, there’s Guild Wars 2, SWTOR, Neverwinter, EQ 1 and 2, and a raft of new releases coming out in the next few months, but FFXIV looms large in the space as the game sucking up the most oxygen right now. A lot of my guildies are trying FFXIV, or trying it again, or resuming playing it. My Fan Fest Hades shirt from FFXIV gets the kind of knowing nods and double-takes I used to get for WoW shirts, while my BfA Anduin/Sylvanas showdown shirt rarely gets a second look. If I were a boring and dumb political writer, I could say that FFXIV is winning “the shirt primary” which is a joke that maybe 1 person reading this will ever chuckle at, besides me, who is the real target for that one.
But all this together paints a troubling picture for WoW – there’s just little reason to be excited about it as a player right now, which means there’s less content to make about it, which means there’s less money to be had, which means that if you’re a content creator, you’re playing FFXIV and comparing and contrasting it with WoW, and so far, a lot of the impressions are very favorable. I heard that Bellular might be a convert (haven’t watched his video) and Quazii, only a fraction of the way through the free trial, plunked down for the full purchase of the game up to Shadowbringers because he was enjoying it so much.
That leads me to a couple smaller points I want to make to close out today.
Part Three: FFXIV’s Impenetrability Has Been Broken
FFXIV has, for much of its life, had a set of preconceived notions about it that made it difficult to pick up for those looking in from the outside. It’s a game for loser weebs – look at the cat ladies, weird suits, and stylistic sensibilities! It’s a game that is too difficult to get into – look at the wall of quests just to get to the current content, the “horrible hundred” of post-patch ARR, and how many different things I need to go find unlock quests for! It’s just a slower version of WoW – what’s so different about it besides the longer global cooldown and stat naming?
Over time, all of these have dropped. In reverse order – the game has never just been slow WoW, but instead has been its own thing with combos, a vastly different style to both healing and tanking, and a larger variety of DPS jobs that serve different functions, with a very different way of looking at group composition and progression. From Heavensward forward, it has even tweaked this formula with oGCD weaving, more complex rotations than WoW with much larger openers to learn and understand, and tweaks like Job Gauges adding to the uniqueness of the game. The 5.3 new player experience revamp has streamlined and made the ARR questing in particular much better, although some of the changes do suck a little soul out of the original experience. Lastly, is FFXIV a game for weebs? I mean, kind of, yeah – but I like that it has a stylistic sensibility that is more broad and interesting. My tank set on my character in FFXIV is a summer skirt, bikini top, and straw hat – and that’s cool and fun. The localization team keeps the spirit of the game intact while layering on these fun in-jokes that add layers to the game and make it, well, more of a game.
The game has addressed a lot of core complaints about being too different, too difficult, and too weird to get into. As the game has grown larger, the perception has also changed – it would be easy to write off the game in early ARR as “slow WoW for weebs” but as the playerbase has grown to (possibly) usurp WoW’s spot on the MMO throne, it is a lot harder to say the game is a niche product for a specific minority audience now and be taken seriously. Thusly, a lot of people who would have been inclined to pass on the game now have to reconsider and think about if their position against the game was a reasonable conclusion to arrive at. I wouldn’t fault anyone who’d played the game for deciding it wasn’t their cup of tea – that is perfectly understandable. But I would say that if you haven’t tried it and you like WoW, it is worth trying just to see – and the expanded free trial makes that effort much easier than before.
Part Four: WoW Will Still Be There and the Content Will Be Fresher
The hype cycle of WoW is brutal on the community and game in some ways, because nothing ever gets room to breathe. When new content comes out, it gets a couple of weeks tops before some new thing is on PTR, in beta, or being announced. Even if you’re trying to dodge PTR spoilers and the like, you’ve probably been bopped by one or more, whether it’s sloppy spoiler tagging and titling on Wowhead or someone in your guild Discord posting a screenshot or starting a chat about the story, you almost certainly have heard a ton of 9.1 news by now, including actively spoiling content.
In this post, I might have put forward the illusion that WoW is on death’s door, but sorry, especially to the MassivelyOP editorial team, that isn’t the case. WoW will trudge on for a lot longer than most of us would reasonably expect, and while it seems fairly dire right now (and kind of is, in some ways), the game isn’t anywhere near death. In fact, I think it might actually end up being really nice that so many content creators are off in FFXIV now. Why? Simply this – every video, podcast, post, and topic they discuss that isn’t 9.1 means that when the content launches and they do resume discussing it (because let’s be real, they are all coming back with the patch) is going to be newer, fresher, and less vigililantly followed. If you cover WoW as a profession, that means reading patch notes on a weekly basis as the PTR ping-pongs changes back and forth, changing and reverting, changing and tweaking until the new content is, to Blizzard’s satisfaction, just right. Part of what kills the game’s excitement is that we discuss so much of that, because it all happens publicly and we have an army of people that talk about it, both professionally and personally. If we have a month, or even just two weeks where people are discussing another game altogether, well, that means there’s a bigger slate of fresh WoW content waiting on the other side, and less following the minutiae of the design from start to finish.
Don’t get me wrong, I am a pedant at heart and I love obsessing over the tiny little changes and tweaks that Blizzard makes, but sometimes, it means hating the game a little more than it deserves, because you get mad or excited about things that don’t end up happening, which is kind of not great! If we all take that time away from the game, it means there’s more to dig into, more completed content worth getting worked up over in whatever direction is appropriate.
Part Five: The Poor, Poor Final Fantasy XIV Community
I want to stake my spiciest claim here – I think that the fawning praise of the FFXIV community is often overblown. It is better than most MMOs, sure – and it deserves plaudits for that. However, the community has a lot of toxic elements as-is, and that needs to be said before this next statement.
WoW content creator communities are poised to be exceptionally toxic. If any of them say anything negative about FFXIV, the followers trying the game will do the same and it will be a shitshow as the strong personalities of the seedy underbelly of FFXIV butt heads with the most awful WoW community members. I say this mostly in reference to Asmongold, whose community is full of the most vile, toxic, godawful people in gaming, spurred on by the often toxic and shitty things done by their hero himself, who then denies that any toxicity was intended or meant and claims he fails to see how it could possibly be toxic to other players. (The most recent example – telling his acolytes to /spit on anyone in TBC Classic with the Deluxe edition mount, and then saying it was solely against Blizzard, who aren’t even the target of the action…) Bellular sometimes can be a little edgy, but not awful, and Preach comes with the same kind of slight edginess, coupled with the sort-of elitist Mythic raider mindset. The only creator who I would wholeheartedly advocate for on the recent converts is Quazii, who makes great content and seems like a cool dude.
So I kind of fear what playing FFXIV is going to be like in Endwalker, because some percentage of these converts are coming and staying, and while Asmongold’s audience may not like the game (nor will Asmon himself in all likelihood, as the game is definitely very different to his tastes for combat gameplay), some number of them will stay, and they are likely to spur a new wave of GCBTW posts (that is a rabbit hole you can fall down if you have an unvarnished view of the FFXIV community, because it is enlightening).
On the flipside, the worst elements of the FFXIV community, who infamously bullied Scottzone out of the game for a tepid take on raiding in FFXIV with death threats and brigading, are likely rubbing their hands together in glee. However, I don’t think they’ll find much traction – I only know Scottzone because his story is a cautionary tale to a content creator my size about how fucking awful elements of the FFXIV fanbase can truly be, while the ones I’ve mentioned here are substantially larger and probably get far less flak that filters up to them. All of them save for Asmongold seem well-adjusted enough, and while I give Asmongold the personality shit, I do think that Zack, the person, is probably savvy enough to not read any bizarre comments. At the same time, Asmongold’s stream just gets too much interaction for any lone wolf FFXIV fans to gain the attention they might want, and I’m sure if we tallied up the number of death threats and hate mails sent by fans of the creators mentioned in this post, all of them would be Asmon fans, in my estimation!
In Closing – Interesting Times in MMO Land
I wanted to evaluate this topic because it feels like Blizzard is sort of caught flat-footed right now and their stronghold in MMOs is starting to finally give way, and as a WoW fan that also likes FFXIV, I think this is a good thing in some ways. I would like WoW to be better, and I think that it getting knocked on its ass would be a net benefit to facilitating that. As I’ve discussed before, I do think that COVID is a valid reason for some manner of delays, but WoW has been so beset by them that it loses validity and points to larger problems.
This summer is the most interesting time for it to happen, too. FFXIV is building on strength as the game pushes to Endwalker, other MMOs are gaining steam, with Neverwinter completing a major systems update, a new expansion coming soon for Guild Wars 2 with a major livestream unveiling next month, and a slate of new releases including Amazon’s The Lost Ark, among others. I don’t think WoW is going to die in a sudden manner, and certainly not this soon, but this is maybe the first time ever where I wouldn’t immediately laugh at the question “will WoW die?” As a portent of issues, I think these content creators jumping ship is symbolic of a thing that is happening in the larger community, and if I were Blizzard, that would make me want to be more communicative and forthcoming with details. But, Blizzard’s gonna Blizzard, and as of this writing, we’re still waiting on a patch 9.1 release date while even Diablo II Resurrected has one.
Interesting, interesting times in the MMO space, and as COVID impacts begin to abate, things will only get more interesting.
9 thoughts on “Why Are All These WoW Creators Trying FFXIV? An Analysis”
The recent wave of content creators jumping to FFXIV, at least to try, is fascinating. I’ve been watching it unfold a little via YT, even watched the Asmon video of him pledging to give it a try.
It is a bizarre, bizarre time.
It has also been interesting observing my own reactions to it all over the past week or two. FFXIV has been sitting on the periphery of my gaming interests since I left it. Always sort of on the edge of thought that I should go back and complete the ‘Horrible Hundred’ (or whatever it has been cut down to now, with the streamlining patch).
On the edge — but not quite there.
Finally, tonight, I redownloaded and subscribed. I only jumped in very briefly as I don’t have the mental space tonight to try work through my abilities and resetup my HUD and binds (it seems these are saved locally, rather than with character/account). It’s going to take some concerted effort this weekend I think to get back up to speed again with my level 58-ish Bard.
I ever so briefly contemplated rerolling, but even streamlined I don’t think I can take on the MSQ all over again. xD
LikeLiked by 2 people
One of the things I really don’t miss about wow is the influence that the big content creators (even the reasonable ones) have on the community and the game. I was very happy to see FFXIV fly under the radar while growing slowly to be more and more of a success, but I suppose this was inevitable.
I’m afraid a lot of them will stay. Not just the toxic ones, but the reasonable ones. The interest of content creators who do this for a full-time living (I’m not speaking about people like you who do this for fun) do not align with the vast majority of players who play for fun, or at most, a hobby. A game built around the idea that you play the content, take a break and
then go play another game may be incredibly fun for many of us for years, but it doesn’t pay full-time streamer bills.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Let me add a collector’s point too. I would probably collect Legion raid and BfA dungeon sets now – except they did not fix that problem yet. I’ve entered a Freehold with my mage, and guess what, the first trash pack curb-stomped me even on Normal, so I retreated in shame through the exit. I could solo Legion raids in BfA at least till Nighthold Normal, and I cannot do even that now.
What would prolong MAU during the current lull is 2 things. One, they could fix and adjust the said farming areas so they would work like in previous expansions, two, implementing flights 2 months earlier – as they would anyways apply only to initiate zones and were planned from the beginning – that would whip up achievement hunt and anima WQ hunt.
I’m still not urged to Final Fantasy – maybe I could sometime later, but by level 20 or so of my previous try I was not excited about story, characters or gameplay at all. So far I’m drifing in single player titles, which have a natural end and could be swapped to WoW once content showers again. It’s my first WoW vacation in 8 years – I always played and had stuff to do even during the longest pre-expansion lulls.
LikeLiked by 3 people
I think you are underestimating how bad the new player experience in FFXIV is. The combination of a 2.5s GCD and few buttons to press makes the gameplay feel very slow and uninteresting. It’s made worse by the general feel, animations and sounds of combat which doesn’t have the same level of tightness as WoW. On top of that ARR is essentially a very long, poorly presented visual novel with occasional gameplay. It might get better but getting better at hour 30 leads to a very different rate of player retention than getting better within the first hour.
How the MSQ has compounded upon itself over multiple expansions for new players has lead to a state where the MMO part of the game has withered to the sidelines and the mostly single player story has taken focus. People who have played long term may not feel that but it’s in stark focus for new players.
As a result, I think a lot of people will try FFXIV and will stop playing before they reach Heavensward. There will of course be people that make it past that and it will still feel like an uptick in the number of players but it’s still a small percentage of the total number of players who tried it. I suspect that post-Endwalker the focus will shift to creating a better experience for new players with a new story.
I would also say that while many ex-WoW players will play FFXIV many will still feel that WoW is their real MMO. They may not play anymore of Shadowlands but if the next expansion is back to Azeroth with features, such as player housing, then they’ll return to WoW. The game has a feeling of home that other games can’t replicate.
WoW also continues to sell bonkers amount of copies on launch. BFA sold 3.4 million copies in a single day. Shadowlands was 3.7 million in a day. It may struggle to retain them over the expansion but there is still a massive amount of initial interest.
I am by no means bleak on FFXIV. It is on an upward trend which is likely to continue. But for all the current doom and gloom surrounding WoW the game has the capacity to bounce back strongly if the developers can focus their attention wisely and well utilize the huge amount of developers working on the game. The scale of technical expertise and artistry that WoW can leverage is currently unique in the MMO market. When Riot enters with Palia that may change..
LikeLiked by 2 people
Amen, I totally agree with the thought.
Despite we’d be complaining about any current expansion drawbacks and systems, they’re the first world problems. Once you launch any other “WoW-killer”, you immediately notice that. The combo of visuals, gameplay, music, characters, story, and yes, technical flawlessness and optimization goes way too far beyond any other MMO. We might complain at an occasional disconnect (and not just complain, millions chanting in Twitter and forums “what am I paying my sub for?”), but once you try to launch a game and login for 3-5 minutes compared to WoW’s 15 seconds from pressing Play in Battlenet to actually running with your character, you immediately get the difference. And this works in every aspect, while Blizzard not only sit on their asses and achieved success, but actually improving all the components expansion by expansion.
Even if storytelling and endgame solutions are not at their peak for players nowadays, it will require a lot more than several expansions to bury the game.
I don’t altogether disagree with your take on FFXIV, but I do think that your “uninteresting” is someone else’s “different in a positive way.” It is slower to start and with fewer buttons, that is true – but I think the pacing isn’t awful so much as the repetition is in early FFXIV rotations. WoW offers more abilities earlier and I think that helps a lot with new players getting into the game. I’ve been trying a fresh character in FFXIV since the 5.3 revamp of ARR and it’s not as slow as I remember, but I know my view is different because I’ve been playing the game for years now. I would absolutely agree that even post revamp, ARR is the worst part of the game and the fact that it is out front for everyone trying the game is a challenge that has to be dealt with at some point.
Personally, I play both games because I want different things from each, and the fact that elements I like are shared between both games in a lot of ways is a nice thing for easing between them.
On the success of WoW, it is undeniable, but at the same time, I think we are seeing a challenge to that forming. Not all the way, and certainly not an immediate one, but the game is falling on its face a bit with the delay of 9.1 and what ripple that might have on the rest of the expansion. If we end Shadowlands a patch earlier than expected, I don’t know that this expansion gets looked at that fondly afterwards (even though I do think the content is quite good overall). Those hits to perception can affect the long-term potential of the game, such that perhaps we see a softer launch for 10.0, or fewer active players in the retail game to a point where further server merges have to happen. It will take much more than just the current delay, but it is interesting timing that so many new MMOs are lined up for the next few months, alongside new content in many existing titles and the growth of FFXIV and others in the space.
I was trying to capture why I think WoW’s current trajectory is both bad but also not that bad, but the draft post I had wasn’t working, so I think I’d say this – I’m not that down on WoW myself, and I don’t personally believe FFXIV is the real threat, but I think the MMO market widening has the potential of putting a lot of very small cuts on Blizzard’s juggernaut. Still, it won’t die for it – not even close – but the current trends are at least a bit worrying because WoW has never been challenged in this very real kind of way. WoW is strong because a lot of people have a strong connection to WoW or Warcraft that they don’t have to other games, in a similar way to how a big component of FFXIV’s audience is huge FF fans who point out the references and cheer for them. I do think that the experience of many of the current games on the market is suitably different in a way that some people will inevitably find home in, including FFXIV.
I do think most of these content creators and their fanbases are coming back with 9.1, though. And if this moment ends up being the start of a sort of WoW decline, it will be incredibly slow and something where people might point at it in like, 10 years time, and not in the immediate future.
I’m reminded a lot of the RIFT boom from early 2011. People were extremely disillusioned with Cata at the time and so RIFT managed to pick up a lot of bored players craving something new. Suddenly “So I’m trying out RIFT…” posts started popping up on seemingly all the WoW blogs – which eventually led to some jokey backlash and then backlash to the backlash.
I’m not saying FFXIV will go down the same path as RIFT (it seems a lot more well-managed for one thing!) but I do suspect that while a certain number of people will discover that hey, there are other good MMOs outside their WoW bubble, most of them will eventually return to WoW. Similarly, those content creators are going for FFXIV content now for the novelty value, but I expect that if they made a serious pivot towards a different game, they’d find their clicks and views actually plummeting after a while, because a game being successful doesn’t automatically mean it’ll be good for views, especially if they’ve cultivated an audience mostly interested in WoW.
LikeLiked by 1 person
I remember the RIFT-drift very well, not for blogging, but because it was the thing that tore my old guild apart and led to me being GL/RL in our own new guild!
Novelty is always cool and I think that once novelty wears off for a chunk of these people, their FFXIV drift will end and they’ll be back to WoW. The content creators I definitely expect will be back, but some of the regular players…hard to say!
I think the reality is that most of the conflict between the games is imagined or ginned up by elements of the playerbase that have something to gain (WoW is bad, check out my WoW refugee guide to FFXIV!) and there’s plenty of room in the market for both of these games (and all the other MMOs that exist or are about to exist).
I do think there’s a point of critical mass where Blizzard starts changing things for 10.0 design if they take enough of a hit, but that’s impossible to tell from outside and we won’t know for sure until that expansion is announced and previewed.
(Also, total sidenote and I’m pretty sure I’ve said this before – I *hate* how many people call people leaving WoW “refugees” like it’s a war-torn hellhole…bad analogy…and not just like, a video game where tastes in design or play can change.)
LikeLiked by 1 person
I don’t know about all of that, but as a 12 year player of WoW, I can say that my first day in FFXIV has been nothing to write home about.
The city looks ‘nice’ – along the lines of Elder Scrolls: Morrowind, really. Been done before.
The maps are absolutely and atrociously useless. I can’t emphasize that enough. .
No obvious and immediate means of accessing your ‘bags/inventory’.
No public transport – just these weird things you have to click on that are supposed to link to other places, but which aren’t named after those places so you have to guess where they go.
The cursor, when moved over an object, npc or player, does absolutely nothing, unlike WoW’s cursor which isn’t so big it damn near takes over the entire screen and will give you a name (and level as the case may be).
Most of your time is spent reading a lot of unnecessary and long-winded drivel (particularly when handing in a quest, of all things!) followed by trying to get out of the blasted city and find where you’re supposed to go for any given quest…and then trying to find your way back again to hand it in.
This seems to be what Devs now interpret as ‘fun’ – wasting players time and increasing frustration levels while ensuring they hardly advance at all; like running around in circles, or being put in a barrel and told to ‘stand in the corner’.
FFXIV has certainly taken that concept to a whole new level. Well done (/sarcasm).
Just my two cents worth.
LikeLiked by 1 person