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MMOGology: I lost a friend to WAR

Marc Nottke

Last week I wrote about Blizzard's Recruit-a-Friend program and my experience leveling through World of Warcraft with triple XP. The Recruit-a-Friend program is a seemingly brilliant strategy on Blizzard's part. In addition to recruiting new players, it also serves as way of keeping existing players occupied while waiting for Wrath of the Lich King; players that might otherwise divert their attention to Warhammer: Age of Reckoning. Who can resist the allure of triple XP, right? My friend Rob couldn't and for a while we enjoyed the rush of leveling as fast as we could.

But the thrill of light-speed-leveling wasn't enough to hold his attention for long. It was still the same content we'd run through time after time. An astute reader of mine, Jeromai, left the following comment about my last article, "There's a sidelong danger to power-leveling fast. All the content you once enjoyed as content now becomes a means to an end. It's a headlong race right towards the burnout phase of a game." Jeromai couldn't have been more right.

I logged into WoW a few nights ago, ready to blast through another level or two with my friend. He never showed. A few days later I called him up and realized I'd lost him to WAR.

The only question now is, will he stay with WAR? I haven't yet sampled the apparent joy that is Warhammer. I've heard the public quest system is fun and that you can jump right into RvR from the beginning of the game. The dark humor and lore are also big appeals for fans of the franchise. Warhammer sounds like it has the makings of a great MMOG. Of course, one of the deciding factors in choosing which games we play has to do with whether our friends are playing too.

Rob and our friend Josh were both huge fans of Mythic's Dark Age of Camelot. They loved the world RvR and they were fortunate enough to make friends in a guild of fun, like-minded players. Many of those Camelot players have migrated to WAR and it appears that some semblance of their old guild is reforming. In my opinion, social ties are one of the strongest factors that bind us to our game of choice. We play MMOGs because we love video games, but also because we love playing with our friends (and occasionally beating the crap out of them).

I can only imagine Rob leaving WAR if the mid-level and end-level content isn't yet fully realized. If the game becomes a huge grind, a bore, and it just isn't fun to play anymore, he and Josh may eventually migrate back to WoW. WoW definitely has a fully realized end-game, but we've already experienced much of what WoW's end game has to offer. Unless WAR really starts to blow, I think he'll be there for a good while – probably long after Wrath of the Lich King. So in this case, it seems like Recruit-a-Friend either backfired for Blizzard, or just wasn't a sweet enough deal. Regardless of what Blizzard does, they're going to loose at least some players to Warhammer (and other games).

I may try Warhammer at some point, but I'm not planning on picking up another MMOG subscription just yet. I've already got active accounts with WoW and Lord of the Rings Online – not to mention occasionally dabbling in freebies like Dungeon Runners. I feel too invested in my current games to abandon them and start new with another MMOG. Until Wrath is out, it's back to Middle-earth for me. I've been enjoying LOTRO's bonus XP and Harvestmath festivals over the weekend, as well as the lore that's deeper than any other MMOG out there.

Leveling up in Wrath and experiencing new content without my bud Rob will stink. I guess I could wait around until he's done with WAR, but ... I'm way too excited for Wrath. Are any of you in the same boat? Are you or your friends trying out new games while others stay behind in the old world?

MMOGology [mŏg-ol-uh-jee] – noun – The study of massively multiplayer online games via the slightly warped perspective of Marc Nottke.

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