We're gonna get right into it today, because I found myself opining over a single question. And honestly? I'm pleased with my answer.
There, I said it.
I want my cookie.
What, in your collective opinion, is the bravest decision Blizzard has made in regards to World of Warcraft?
Unfortunately, the collective opinion isn't available right now, but mine is! And so is The Queue (lucky you!).
I don't think it's really possible to narrow down the bravest decisions by Blizzard beyond a few key points. And I should say that by a "brave decision," I mean a decision that took a lot of guts and could have failed terribly, but instead resulted in a ton of great things for Blizzard and the game. Remember, the brave man is the successful man, whereas otherwised he'd just be a fool (or however the saying goes).
The very first brave decision Blizzard made was to hire Jeff Kaplan. Before WoW, he was a huge thorn in the side of the EverQuest designers. He constantly hurled massive criticisms at them, became one of the first very vocal individuals in MMORPGS, and pushed in ways to reform EverQuest unlike anyone has done previously.
Jeff Kaplan was a troll, and no trolls active today are even in the same ballpark as he was. In his rants, he could stand toe-to-toe with Ghostcrawler and make Greg cry like a little mage without his Ice Block, all the while getting another world-first kill and making Ensidia cry like a bunch of wimps.
Hiring Kaplan paid off, and it was perhaps WoW's bravest move of all.
The second brave decision Blizzard made was to move away from 40-man raid content in The Burning Crusade. While many leaders in the community were stressed out beyond belief over fielding 40-man raids every week, the consensus of the community as a whole at the time was that the switch away from 40-mans would spell the death of WoW. Of course it didn't, and it took a lot of guts for Blizzard to make that call in the first place and then stick with it during the transition.
Some might argue with me that 40-mans were great, but as someone who lived through organizing them and running them -- the headache wasn't worth it.
Finally, I think the third bravest thing Blizzard has done was to remove the barrier of entry to raiding. This started back in BC and really picked up in Wrath. Giving casual players the ability to enter raid instances without grinding for 30 to 50 hours a week threatened to disenfranchise a very large and vocal minority of the playerbase (and when all the loudmouths are gone, so goes places like WoW Insider, MMO-Champion, and the official forums, and then the doomsayers are not far behind). But the hardcore players overall were not put off. They were given new challenges and opportunities, and that has paid off in (what appears to be) increased retention rates amongst old players and a boost in subscriptions from new and returning players.
I should note that I don't think revamping the old world was all that brave, nor was changing the difficulty of the endgame in Cataclysm (and note there's a difference between endgame in Cataclysm and making raiding more accessible). All those are minor tweaks that, at the end of the day, have rather predictable outcomes (including QQ).
Could someone please explain to my why in the blazes you'd want to level a character mount-less?
Honestly? To just be a badass. Can any of your friends say they've done it? Probably not. And if you do it, you're not a special and unique snowflake.
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