A number of my fellow bloggers in the Warhammer Online community are shutting down their blogs. Many are heading for other games while some say they’ll continue to keep WAR on their radar but will not play enough to blog about it. At this point I’m feeling pretty similar, not much of a surprise considering I started this blog a few weeks ago knowing I would get to this stage eventually. I haven’t logged onto WAR to actually play (I’ve gotten on to take screenshots for posts, give a guildmate some items, etc.) in at least three weeks. I thought that perhaps the new live event would get me excited again, but at this point I’m too interested in City of Heroes to give WAR another shot. I’m not sure what the fate of my WAR blog is. I’d like to keep it up for a while longer, but if I am not playing the game I don’t see how it’s possible. I’ve already done a few too many posts comparing WAR to CoX, something that my readers have tolerated so far but might not enjoy if it continued any longer.
I’ve seen a lot of theories about why the WAR community is dropping off so quickly. Aside from the most obvious reason — that the game is no longer appealing enough to write about — some of the theories include the notion that MMO players are no longer monogamous with their subscription habits or that the MMO offerings of the past year have been somewhat disappointing in comparison to the dominant game of the past few years, World of Warcraft. I think it’s very likely that a large number of people are part of the former category, and that gamers are no longer committing to a single game and are instead holding multiple subscriptions at a time. For me personally, I find that WAR just doesn’t have the things I want in an MMO.
A large part of the excitement and anticipation I felt for WAR’s launch was that I wanted a game that could excite me the way WoW did. I, along with many other gamers, really believed that WAR could be a WoW-killer. Instead, WAR feels more like protein powder to WoW’s steak: all the nutritional value is there, but it’s a flavorless, odorless powder compared to a delectable cut of meat (odd that I bring in the steak analogy, when I don’t even eat red meat usually). To further the analogy, WoW provides players with the naughty, guilt-ridden portions of the steak as well — the fat, the calories, etc., that in WoW’s case translate to things like fluff items, vanity costumes, and more refined systems. WAR can give players a nutritional experience, but it doesn’t have the extra bits that make it juicy and delicious.
Enough about food, though, and enough about WoW. I’m not going back to WoW, at least not in the foreseeable future. I’m really enjoying City of Heroes so far, and I hope to maintain that enjoyment for a while. I don’t plan on blogging about CoX extensively (though of course I’ll mention it on occasion) because I worry that my negative feelings about WAR were deepened by the critical eye I used to examine the game as a blogger. Three times a week I wrote about WAR, discussing the aspects of it that I liked and criticizing those I didn’t. I fantasized about ways of improving the game, whether through implementing new systems or borrowing features from other MMOs. I think it’s entirely possible that the knowledge that those improvements would never come about soured me on the game experience. As time went on and I needed more and more topics to blog about, I started looking out for things about the game that bugged me or that needed to be changed. Had I not looked so closely at the game’s flaws, perhaps I would have been content to play it longer.
Critically examining my hobbies tends to take all the enjoyment out of them for me. I guess I thought I could avoid that fate with WAR blogging, but it was probably inevitable. When I played WoW and raided consistently, all it took was an afternoon of pondering what I was spending my time on to make me never want to raid again. MMOs are inherently silly time sinks, but so long as we don’t think about that fact, gamers usually continue to enjoy them. Similar moments happened to me for other hobbies as the one I experienced with raiding. What was I getting out of making custom greeting cards, of watching cable television, of painting ornaments? I enjoyed those pastimes, but when I considered the time and money spent on the experiences compared to the value of the result, I found I couldn’t enjoy them any longer. Fortunately my gaming hobby has avoided the trap somewhat. Sure, killing 100 foozles to get to the next level seems pointless, but somehow, once I have recognized the pointlessness and said “good riddance” to a game forever, I am able to recapture the enjoyment after a short break. Could a short break be what I need to get excited about WAR again? I hope so, but I’m just not sure. In the meantime I’m going to continue playing CoX, continue blogging (though, again, I’m not sure what I’m going to do with Girl IRL), and see where it takes me. You’ll come along for the ride, right? Great!