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Timothy Kennedy M.

Villar
UWRT 1101-088
October, 2014

World of Warcraft Creating and Destroying:


World of Warcrafts Positive and Negative Impacts Within The Game Industry
Introduction/Background
Since its release in 2004 Blizzard Entertainments World of Warcraft (WoW) has deeply
impacted the MMORPG field, game development, and the people who play the game. An
MMORPG is an acronym for Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game. The game has
attracted more than 12 million people to enter and explore the world of Azeroth all while playing
$15 a month. Whether its to escape reality, socialize with other players, have fun, or just relax it
is clear that WoW has affected the world. Previously MMORPGs were meant for the hardcore
who may have also been well antiquated in pen and paper RPGs such as Dungeons and Dragons,
which the first MMORPG, MUD, was inspired by. Only anticipating 400,000 subscribers within
the year Blizzard had severely underestimated the appeal of their game, breaking 400,000 within
a month, and by the end of the year having over 4 million subscribers (Machinima 2011). WoW
has had a comfortable grip on the MMORPG field, with much reason. This paper seeks to
discuss how WoW has grown to its current level from meager beginnings and how it has affected
not only gaming culture but society as a whole.
As opposed to traditional video games, the characters you interact with in the game of
World of Warcraft are real people rather than computer programs. The other members within
your party to take on the boss could be your school or work friend, or a stranger across the
world. On hearing about the World of Warcraft as a child I was elated to discover there was an
entire world of thousands of people on their own mission forming their own story.
As an avid gamer who enjoys nearly every genre from first-person shooters and roleplaying games to real time strategies and simulators; I appreciate the scale that MMORPGs, and
specifically WoW offers. An MMORPG offers a very different experience from that of a single
player game for not only players but development as well. Traditionally, MMORPGs operate on
a monthly subscription meaning that a player must pay a fee, in WoWs case $15, every month
to gain access to the game. This is justified by the developers as a way to pay for server upkeep
as well as support the company in developing new content on a regular basis. This is in stark
contrast to single-player games that in the past only charged a rate of around $60 for a whole
game. The effect that WoW has had on single-player games is already apparent in that
Downloadable Content, or DLC, is becoming more and more accepted as a form for companies

to not only provide more content for old games, but generate more income from pre-released
games as well. Ever since its release WoW has become the standard in the MMORPG field, with
every MMORPG released since then claiming to be the next WoW Killer while none actually
succeed at matching WoWs ability to reel in players and keep them coming back for more
(Machinima 2011).
We all have our typical image of what a typical MMO gamer looks like, unhealthy,
unkempt, and pathetic. It has become increasingly acceptable for people to express their
enthusiasm for video games without fear of ostracization but it seems that MMO gamers have
been left in the dust. The typical WoW player is often judged almost immediately as soon as
their affinity for Warcraft is learned. This presumption is not completely unwarranted video
game addiction or dependence is an issue many WoW players face with the best guilders putting
in 29+ hours a week playing the game. Some play for a source of fun and challenge, while others
play to cope with loneliness, isolation, boredom, stress, anger, or even to escape reality.
The gaming industry is a constantly changing field, with the 90s being filled with
Doom clones to the early 2000s being full of World War II shooters, what is popular
changes often due to a single impactful game. For the first person shooter genre, it was the first
Medal of Honor. For MMORPGs, it was World of Warcraft. As someone who loves video
games, and someone whose childhood is defined by those games, I am very interested in how
World of Warcraft continues to send shockwaves within the industry and affects people all over
the world.
Review of Relevant Literature
Spoils of Warcraft, All Your History Are Belong To Us: MMO, and World Of Warcraft
And The Impact Of Game Culture And Play In An Undergraduate Game Design Course all relate
to WOWs impact on the MMORPG industry as to how games are developed. Spoils of Warcraft
from Fortune magazine discusses the profitability of the game and delves into the economics of
game development and data warehousing. It can cost over $70 million to produce an MMO, not
only that but a company must support its servers after launch. Designers must constantly build
new dungeons, develop expansion packs, and craft new stories. All Your History are Belong To
Us: MMO is a documentary series that provides a lengthy history of the MMORPG industry
from the humble beginnings of MUDs, Habitat the first virtual world with onscreen avatars,
and Meridian 59, the first MMORPG to have a 3D engine and introduce a monthly subscription
service. The documentary reaffirms that WoW has changed the industry for better or for worse
and is the standard. Dickey (2010) displays WoWs importance in game design with his journal
World Of Warcraft And The Impact Of Game Culture And Play In An Undergraduate Game
Design Course is perhaps the article that most displays WoWs impact on the gaming industry,
playing and studying WoW is officially given to game development students to learn about level
design, gender in games, and game culture. One interesting interaction is the incident at
shadowfang keep, where a groupmate purposefully claims all the loot in an instance for him and

as a result gets kicked from the group and tensions arose. The article doesnt necessarily delve
into the business aspect of development, but the process of development in creating game
mechanics and studying them.
(2011). /afk: Away from Keyboard, The effects of collective MMORPG (Massively
Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games) play on gamers online and offline social capital, and
Notions of Video Game Addiction and Their Relation to Self-Reported Addiction Among Players
of World of Warcraft are sources that demonstrate why business may follow suit in Blizzards
footsteps. Just as with everything which may be perceived as addictive, companies will capitalize
on that addiction (Zhong 2011). A recent anecdote is the Call of Duty franchise, which releases
DLC map packs or other content for a fee without hesitation, because they know their user base
is hooked on the game and will purchase anything with Call of Duty plastered on it no matter
what. /afk does not display much in the production aspect of WoW, but rather allows viewers to
see the negative ramifications of playing MMORPGs, WoW in particular. We see many
protagonists lives crumble before them as they let the game take over their life. Peoples careers
are jeopardized, with their personal lives following suit. One person we follow loses his wife as a
result, while roommates begin to detest each other. Eventually some quit the game for their
betterment while others are still gripped to the world as it is the only thing they have left (Stuetze
2011). Notions of Video Game Addiction discusses exactly that, addiction to gaming and its
effects on the players socially and physically. Players are often aware when they spend too
much time playing games. Problematic gaming interferes with various aspects of life including
work, having a partner, free time, or living in an independent dwelling (Oggins & Sammis 2010).
The effects of collective MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games) play on
gamers online and offline social capital, and Being in the World (of Warcraft): Raiding,
Realism, and Knowledge Production in a Massively Multiplayer Online Game justifies the
play of video games, and specifically WoW. Golub (2010) gives a brief history of MMORPGs
starting with MUDs, going on to the graphical importance in games during the 90s, including
the grandfather of MMORPGs, Everquest in his discussion with Being in the World (of
Warcraft). This journal mostly discusses the various topics that arise within living in a virtual
world bringing up the payment of virtual goods with real world currency. Golub does an efficient
job of introducing WoW and its gameplay and discusses his firsthand accounts in WoW. He
discusses the diversity within his guid Power Aeternus and goes on to describe the mechanics of
raiding, as well as how experienced players opt for practicality in game rather than immersion.
Golub is explicit in his description of the game, dedicating a portion of his journal on the means
of verbal communication in game using Vent, a voice chat program. He argues that World of
Warcraft for medium-core players is a healthy activity, and not poisonous like the media
would typically say. Henderson & Keatings (2013) Race to World First focuses on the positive
aspects of playing World of Warcraft including a sense of camaraderie and thrill when defeating
a raid. The documentary follows the guild Blood Legion in their quest to become ranked number
one as a guild in the race to defeat the new expansions boss first with their ups and downs. The

documentary works to portray competitive WoW players as not only normal, but breaking gamer
stereotypes altogether.
Zhong (2011) discusses the social interaction MMORPGs provide to players in The
effects of collective MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games) play on
gamers online and offline social capital. Social capital refers to the resources and support
provided by bonding and bridging social networks MMOs, massive multiplayer, depend on the
building of social networks. This article works to provide evidence for the positive effects of
online gaming and notes that social experience in MMORPGs and how it influences social
networks and participation. The article makes an argument for both the support of playing video
games as a supplement or replacement for physical social interaction and the negative aspects of
it.
Entering The Conversation
World of Warcraft has simultaneously impacted the game industry in positive and
negative aspects. Game companies are still companies their goal is to create a profit;
Activision-Blizzard is one of the most profitable game companies in the business, much of this is
due to Blizzards merging with Activision, bringing some of their skills with them. Not only did
Blizzard influence the economic aspect of the game industry with WoW, in addition many
studios felt the actual developmental facet of WoW, one of the most profitable videogames of all
time (Levine 2007).
Meridian 59, EverQuest, Ultima Online, and numerous other MMO Grandfathers laid
the foundation for the modern MMORPG. Meridian 59 introduced the monthly subscription
service that many MMOs operate on, EverQuest introduced a more structured world with quests
for players to follow, and Ultima Online allowed for players to do almost anything they wanted.
World of Warcraft offered all of these experiences, simultaneously streamlining them allowing
greater accessibility to players. Prior to WoW MMORPGs were a niche game market, often
catering to the hardcore gamer, who often studied the mechanics intensely, keeping
spreadsheets for their various characters. World of Warcraft casualized the MMORPG field,
within a year millions were playing for this reason. Players hands were now held as they played,
leaving the players likelihood of getting confused and frustrated diminished. The trade-off with
this approach is that WoW was often seen as too easy from many veteran players, this
mattered little for coorpoorate heads as World of Warcraft exceeded Blizzards expectations tenfold within a year boasting four million subscribers (Machinima 2011).
EverQuest and Ultima Online also wavered in popularity due to the traditional release of
sequels from developers. Sequels worked for standard games because players valued progression
in gameplay and story, and sacrificed nothing by moving on to the next title. EverQuest 2 failed
to bring all players to the sequel and actually competed against its predecessor for the same
subscriber base weakening both game worlds. WoW opts to instead continually release patches

which add patches on a regular basis. Patches improve graphics, gameplay mechanics, and add
new features such as weapons or quests. MMORPGs no longer release sequels due to the
disastrous results of EverQuest 2 and instead follow WoWs patch based system (Machinima
2011).
MMORPGs are not the only games that have noticed World of Warcraft, many modern
videogames from Halo, Call of Duty, Mass Effect, Red Dead Redemption, and countless games
now release content in small portions of Downloadable Content (DLC) instead of expansion
packs or sequels. Bungie of Halo fame has decided to release a Massively Multiplayer Online
First Person Shooter titled Destiny which has many business similarities to WoW besides being
part of the Activision-Blizzard family. Bungie is moving towards releasing content more
constantly in a WoW-like fashion as players are burning through content faster than anticipated.
World of Warcraft was also made with future content in mind. This fits the MMO model
just perfectly, but unfortunately has seeped into the rest of the game industry. Games are now
made with content in mind, and instead of this content being included it is taken out and sold as
DLC, or included with a much more expensive version of the game. Assassins Creed II, is the
first game I personally remember doing this after discovering content included on the disk
must be unlocked by purchasing a code I was outraged and regretted my purchase as I supported
this inexcusable behavior with my dollar. From then on I choose to boycott game companies that
act this way such as Capcom, EA, Activision, and countless others. Attached is a diagram
visualizing this pattern of behavior substituting games with paintings.

Conclusion/So-What?
World of Warcraft has impacted gaming in a way many people dont realize. It is
responsible for many innovations beneficial to gamers, and beneficial to stock-holders, with both
usually being mutually exclusive. WoW although seen as a hardcore game to the public and
even ignorant gamers is actually fairly easy, and was one of the industry giants to dumb down a
games difficulty for a broader audience. While games such as Grand Theft Auto and Call of
Duty has made gaming more accessible and cool to the general public, WoW has been doing
the same to the existing gamer market having an almost complete monopoly on the MMO field.
This is of legitimate concern to game players and game developers the continual watering
down of content and hand holding in games being released threatens advancement in the
industry and fosters an environment of complacency. World of Warcraft was one of the first big
projects from a major publisher to do so and many other companies quickly followed suit.
Game developers of the current generation should consider the MMO genres evolution
as it can easily apply to any genre. Once a niche field is now one of the most lucrative, a delicate
balance between challenge and ease is needed to have a fun game and a profitable one. The
continual release of new content is one that should be welcomed without hesitation, but with
DLC being content shallow and devoid of value (Bethesdas Oblivion and its horse armor, Call
of Dutys map packs) this great idea has become corrupted. The age of large expansion packs
worth a purchase is ending, WoW now annually releases an expansion pack to increase
profitability while desperately trying to recoup their subscription base (once 12 million, now 7.4
million) lost due to deviation from the original formula. While many corporate giants are
continuing to rehash the same formula a new movement in gaming is rising: the independent
game. While the indie game scene has its fair amount of issues (being equally superficial with
games such as Gone Home, and Planetary Annihilation being examples) the freedom from a
publisher allows for unlimited possibilities. Games such as X-Com: Enemy Unknown, and

Europa Universalis IV are returning to the high difficulty games were once known for, being
intellectually stimulating and entertaining. With World of Warcraft on its way out from
relevancy, gamers have to ask: is this movement towards ease ending, or just beginning?

Works Cited
Golub, A. (2010). Being in the World (of Warcraft): Raiding, Realism, and Knowledge
Production in a Massively Multiplayer Online Game. Anthropological Quarterly, 83(1), 17-45.
Levine, R. (2007, March 19). Spoils of Warcraft Blizzard Entertainment built World of
Warcraft into the most profitable videogame of all time-and persuaded eight million people to
play and pay along the way. Fortune, 151-156.
Oggins, J., & Sammis, J. (2010). Notions of Video Game Addiction and Their Relation to SelfReported Addiction Among Players of World of Warcraft. International Journal of Mental
Health and Addiction, 210-230.
Dickey, M. (2010). World Of Warcraft And The Impact Of Game Culture And Play In An
Undergraduate Game Design Course. Computers & Education, 56(1), 200-209.
Zhong, Z. (2011). The effects of collective MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online RolePlaying Games) play on gamers online and offline social capital. Computers in Human
Behavior, 27(6), 2352-2363.
Machinima. (2011, November 21). All Your History are Belong To Us: MMO[Video file].
Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WDXorHNo3eE
Stuetze, G. (Director). (2011). /afk: Away from Keyboard [Motion picture]. USA: Galaxy Place.
Henderson, Z., & Keating, J. (Directors). (2013). Race to World First [Motion picture]. USA:
Looking For Group Productions.