This originally started as a comment over on The Wayward Initiave. We were discussing WoW (go figure) and touching on why Cata does not really seem to be doing so well. It ended up graduating from comment to blog post at some point, so I moved it here.
During the Wrath life cycle we saw the introduction of the LFD. This was a wonderful tool for those (like me) that take their WoW in short segments when it can fit into their day.
The downside of this tool was that the servers “PuG” community of those that would put together a friends list and build 5 man groups from it all but evaporated. It was quicker and easier (at least in Wrath) to queue up and go run something than it was even to build a guild group in many cases.
The LFD was a huge success in getting people to run instances instead of sitting in Dalaran bored. It was also an unmitigated disaster from a social standpoint. People lost that connection to the others in the game.
In my experience, it actually encouraged people to be asshats. Well, asshats, Silent Bob, and the GOGOGOGOGO kiddies.
I have always said people come to WoW to play the game, but stay for the friendships they have found. Thats the only reason I still play to be honest.
I also think that with guild leveling and the perks that go with it Blizz (unintentionally I think) encouraged people to abandon small friend based guilds in favor of larger ones. It became easier to find a dungeon/raid if you were in a larger guild. Actually, I have heard (but can’t confirm) that some guilds are requiring members to do all their heroics as guild only activities to maximize guild leveling.
Take away (or just weaken) those in-game friendships while making the game more time consuming and less accessible all at once and you have a recipe for a segment of your player base to get frustrated and leave.
The people that were mostly there for the social network.
Yes, I understand that there will always be people who are not happy with the game, there are simply too many of us to please us all. What I think they did not realise is how much the willingness of people to continue to pay $15 a month for a game is very dependant on that underlying social network.
Maybe they should call up that Zuckerberg guy and ask for some advice.
I hear he’s pretty goo with that whole social network thing.
Filed under: World of Warcraft