1. a fact or an event in nature or society, especially one that is not fully understood
2. a person or thing that is very successful or impressive
According to Oxford Dictionary, World of Warcraft is definitely a phenomenon. It’s successful, impressive and what it is and what it will become is not fully understood, not even by its creators.
It’s one of the few MMOs that stood the test of time and even one of the fewer that did with a subscription model. Blizzard released seven expansions in the course of 15 years and through this journey they’ve added new classes, races, maps, mechanics, systems and revised almost everything in the game. They’ve also taken a lot of feedback from players, of course one might argue how successful they were at applying that feedback.
However, some players wanted to go back. Some preferred the old ways, some just wanted the nostalgia, others wanted to experience it for the first time and with a variety of reasons and a lot of pressure from the fans, Blizzard finally opened “Vanilla” Servers: Servers where the game is as it was 15 years ago. These serves will receive patches the same way the game did. What then? Right now, it’s not clear.
I thought it could be interesting to look at this as a new way of doing things. I mean, no one knew what WoW would be at vanilla. No one knew what it would be after vanilla. After the first expansion. Nor the second. Nor the third… No one knows what WoW might evolve into next year. There is no guideline. There is no sample. WoW IS the sample. It is the trendsetter.
So, how about Blizzard makes this part of their business rather than just a fan service? They could have the following:
Retail Servers: Follows the regular retail logic. New expansions, new content and it’s the “main universe.”
Expansion Servers: These servers start as Vanilla or with an expansion’s “x.0” patch and receive patches as they go, similar to that expansion. Ultimately, they stop at a version, likely at the last patch.
Semi Servers: These are similar to the expansion servers, but are reset in certain intervals. The characters are reset to level 1, their guilds and friend lists are kept and maybe, they receive an item that shows the total amount of levels or or time on that character, or there may be some titles or unlockables.
Seasonal Servers: These servers simulate the “life time” of Warcraft, except the dreaded off-times are not needed! So a new patch arrives at a certain interval. There may be different intervals in different servers (yearly patches, 3 monthly patches etc) and they may differ depending on content (WoD x.1 was very light on content, so it may have a shorter interval till x.2.)
And to get crazier:
Alternate Universes: Basically Diablo III seasons, but for WoW. These are Seasonal or Semi Servers with special rules such as:
- Killing mobs grant triple experience
- World Drops are disabled
- Every boss kill in a dungeon adds a modifier to the mobs that are still alive
- Every boss kill in a dungeon applies a buff to the party
- Murlocs have double the aggro range
- Undead are immune to mental effects, bleeds and criticals
- Dragons drop triple gold
Of course, any of these servers might also have certain achievements that unlock certain things in retail.
I’m curious to see what Blizzard will do. Would you play these servers? Do you think they would be popular?