Monday, November 30, 2009

The State of WoW Bloggers

Adam over at The Noisey Rogue did an interesting post recently that got me to thinking. His question was "Are Rogue blogs an endangered species?" In recent months we have seen a significant decline in specifically Rogue bloggers. But even more than that some rogue bloggers who use to be quite frequent are talking more about ALTS in their blogs than their rogue mains. Zaltu over at One Rogue's Journey has closed up shop. Others have not posted in literally MONTHS.

Then today as I was looking at some of the other blogs I follow I stumbled across this post by Matticus. Basically he is offering the first 20 people who contact him to do a free guest post because he has found himself to be "in a rut" and is hoping the suggested topics will help keep him energized and motivated.

The more I scanned blogs the grimmer it looked. Greedy Goblin (someone I personally can not stand but I know has QUITE a following) is changing format because HE no longer feels challenged. Other blogs that are still active have become little more than "Anti Blizzard" platforms or are focused more on how the game has CHANGED than where it is at now.

Adam's thesis is that "Bloggers are a vital part of an online community, they reflect its state of health." His conclusion, based strictly on the rogue blog community was that this loss of bloggers shows us that WoW itself is failing and something needs to be done quickly to fix it. I came to a different conclusion but one that I find just as concerning.

What stuck out to me was the TYPES of blogs we are loosing. Those shutting down are often our technical bloggers, our theorycrafters and individuals known for pushing their specific classes to the edge of their ability and beyond. Even sites like EJ's are seeing less traffic. Now I believe there are a couple of reasons for this decline.

First, the age of the game. World of Warcraft the online game has been around now for five years. As compared to other games coming out now you can see it's age in our original avatars and the old world setting. Now Blizzard IS taking steps to do something about this as we know with this next upcoming expansion. How much they are able accomplish and the impact it will have it still an unknown.

Second, the targeted market has changed.When WoW first hit the shelves it was to a niche audience. NO ONE expected it to turn into the juggernaut it is today. But with its success has come an added strain. Where the ORIGINAL players were all "hard core" gamers, looking to push the game to its limits and see what it could do. The more recent influx and now dominate number of gamers today would be classified as "casual".  Their play time is limited and they often have not already developed the skills that many "hard core" gamers take for granted.

So where does this leave us?

Like it or not WoW has become "main stream". Where before those that played were classified as "geeks", "nerds" or "no lives living in their parent's basement." Now it is not unusual to have a raid group made up of housewives, professionals, teens, and even celebrities. It has product endorsements from such companies as  Mt. Dew not just the "gamer companies" like Dell and Jinx. Few people can go through a day with out rubbing shoulders with SOMEONE who plays World of Warcraft.

This change in demographic is being seen in our blogging community. More and more of the blogs out there are from more "casual" players like myself rather than the pioneer players that helped make the game what it is today. Often those veterans who are leaving are doing so for a variety of reasons. Boredom, five years is a LONG time to play ONE game regularly. Real life situations such as finishing college, the birth of children or the saving of marriages. recently did a post asking "When will you quit WoW?" The comments section of that post was revealing. Many of those who responded had already given up the game but still felt ties to it due to a variety of things, most notably their social connections. Who were the majority that had walked away? Those hard core gamers who resented the fact that their "niche" had been invaded. By becoming "main stream" Blizzard could no longer focus as much attention on the things that drew THEM to the game but rather was forced to deal with the learning curve of those just entering their customer base.

So the question then becomes: Will any of the NEW blood be able to fill the holes left by the loss of these veterans? Who will step forward to pick up the gauntlet they have laid down? Is the game itself truly SICK or just suffering from the effects of its age and success? Is it starting to crumple under the weight of being THE powerhouse in the market?

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