And today we're taking a final look at the company behind it all in 2006. WoW looks like a completely different game right now then it did last January-- PVP is completely different, the endgame instances have almost doubled in size and number, items have sprouted up like adds in UBRS, and the classes have almost completely new talents across the board. Blizzard did a lot to this game this year, but not all of it was great. So today we're taking a look at the best change Blizzard made this year, and the worst. Best and Worst Blizzard Moves of the Year are after the jump.
Best Blizzard Move of the Year: Cross-server Battlegrounds
PVP is a completely different game, especially after the changes at the end of the year. DHKs are gone, as well as HKs-- now it's all honor points. Rankings are completely out, and a lot of players are glad to see them go. But as beneficial as that change was, it didn't affect the game as much as the implementation of cross-server battlegrounds. Through some magic of code, Blizzard hooked up groups of servers, connected them to the same battleground, and suddenly, the days of waiting for the other side to fill up the queue were shortened, if not gone completely.
Suddenly, with an overnight patch, players could actually play in the BGs instead of just waiting for them. Honor was plentiful (as plentiful as it got back then), and PVP guilds and premades actually became worth making. As a result, rivalries have built up-- in between servers. There are still some issues-- I spent a really long time in a queue tonight, and I'm not sure why-- but for the most part, cross-server BGs made BGs as popular as they are today. Players keep saying that grinding for honor points today is easy and takes relatively no time at all. But that's only because you can get a match together every few minutes-- before cross-server, it was most like once every few hours.
Worst Blizzard Move of the Year: The Addon Lockdown
Blizzard has made a lot of talent changes that players didn't like, but they've made a lot that players have, too. Druids really didn't like that cooldown added to their shifting, and Warriors will never settle down over in their forum until Tactical Mastery is trainable. But the Addon Lockdown affected everyone in the game, and not in a good way. Blizzard devs decided that mods like Decursive were making the game too easy, and locked them out, requiring all Addons (even valuable and uncontested addons like Auctioneer and CTRaid) to update themselves.
Now, leave out for a second the argument of whether you think Decursive was cheating or not. The problem with this move isn't in the reasons behind it, it's in the way it was implemented. When Blizzard decided Decursive wasn't appropriate, they could have changed the encounters "required" to use it. They could have implemented new challenges in those encounters, challenges that a mod couldn't solve for players. In short, they could have changed the game. But instead, they decided to yank the mods and change the way players play. That's why it was such an issue-- instead of adjusting the game to fit the players, they forced the players to adjust to fit their game.
And that lead to all kinds of trouble. All mods were broken, left and right. Mods whose authors have stopped updating will never be seen in the game again, and mods like Auctioneer, whose authors don't have time to fix things quickly, are still MIA. As a result, endgame raiding was a disaster for weeks after the patch. And I still get errors in game, telling me my (updated for 2.0) addons are doing something they're not allowed to do. Instead of coming with a creative way to challenge the player, Blizzard challenged everyone by breaking the interface.
Things will get back to normal-- with new addons and macros, almost everybody is back to speed, and the devs, we assume, are happy now. But for forcing players' hands instead of honing their videogame, the Addon Lockdown is Blizzard's Worst Move of the Year.
That's it for this year's awards-- thanks again for your nominations. We'll see you again next year-- who knows what will be coming for WoW in 2007? Well, there is that whole "expansion" thing...