Despite a well-publicized dip in subscriber numbers, most WoW players have stuck around. But those folks didn't leave for no reason, so what keeps you coming back and still playing?
Is it the friends? The new content? Old content still to explore? Alts? PvP? Roleplaying?
At this point in time it's getting to be a touch difficult to remember why I keep coming back to World of Warcraft. The game that I've known and loved for years now has become rather stagnant to me, and this seems to be much of a similar case for both my fellow bloggers and players alike.
Much like your favorite book or movie that you've simply seen one too many times, WoW has become a bit stale. Don't get me wrong, the game is looking as gorgeous as ever. The characters are as always interesting and engaging folk, the people behind the avatars for the most part are diverse and entertaining, hell even some of the storylines that I'm just now coming across are rather intriguing. For some reason though WoW has just seemed to have lost its spark, that one irresistible charm that has kept me craving for more. There are two things to blame for this I think: 1) Far too much available content, resulting in a glutton style of gorging oneself quickly on said content, only to log off with a feeling of mental misery. 2) Myself for not pacing my time spent logged on in the past. Even after two months of steady playing I still felt overwhelmed by the content available that had been left to be yet experienced. I hadn't even stepped a hoof or paw into raiding. Burn out indeed.
The fact of the matter is that the people of Azeroth and Outland have been warring for years now. The Alliance is exhausted, the Horde's lust for blood has been sated, and quite frankly all of the various leaders and soldiers of both sides need some serious down time to mend their wounds and rest their tired minds. Both sides have been waging a tireless war against not only each other, but against the greater evil as well. Whether we like it or not the barracks are emptying due to fallen soldiers, aging warriors, and tired leaderships. For many of us who have been warring for years are beginning to look back at glory days of past instead of the potential challenges ahead of us. I know of more than one guild hall that was once a bustling congregation of raid ready comrades, now only to be filled with the echos of the past.
So what is it exactly that keeps me wanting to return to Azeroth? Why do I still want to slip into the pixelated skin of a druid, shaman, or a rogue? Is it simply because it gives me the freedom to fly in such ways that I am unable to do in real life? Is it because normally I wouldn't be able to shift into a cat made of shier badassery and stealth/pounce bunnies to my little heart's desire? Perhaps it's due to the fact that I am unable to kick nearly as much butt in real life as opposed to my alter online egos. These are all nice benefits, don't get me wrong, but they're not what pulls me in at the end of the day. My answer to all of those questions would have to be: "Yeah, well that's part of it, but..."
To cut to the chase it's the people. During past rocky periods within my guilds it was always my raiders that kept me logging in. There have been times where I just wanted to /gquit and run away (actually quitting the game had never crossed my mind actually), but I couldn't do that to those who faithfully followed me into battle oh so many times. Now that I no longer have a guild that I consider 'home' it's just my little crew that keeps me longing to play. I miss being a badass with a tail, I miss exploring, I miss mangling faces off for the greater good, but honestly this game doesn't mean shit to me without my people. I may not hang up my hat for good if they were all to decide to put down their wands/bows/axes/swords/staves, but what little passion I currently have left for the game would certainly dwindle to nothing but an ember. Yes, what was a huge burning bonfire of passion for this incredibly immersive game has finally sputtered down to a candle's flame, but without my friends it would be but a lonely ember.
Currently the WoW community is very, very tired. You can see it in the blogosphere, you can read it on Twitter, and sometimes you can even catch a gleam of it on the more popular sites. Subscriptions are beginning to dip, the population of the various guilds are beginning to shrink while their raid attendances are waning, and the popular troll comments on many sites have been something to the tune of "Yeah, I quit WoW." I see and hear all of this, and I definitely feel the weight of it getting me down sometimes. However, so long as I still have my friends and part of this great community to give me a reason to keep coming back, jump back into the rabbit hole I shall. Just ask Alice, I think she knows what I'm talking about.