I always find it more than funny when people say "I played WoW for eight years and I hate it!" That sentence just doesn't make sense. What they're really saying is that they've moved on from the game, and that they've spent a significant part of their life using it as a key recreational activity, but now it's time for another game.
But in our society of instant gratification and hyperreal reactions, it's perfectly okay to rant about how much you hate something, just because you have a minor disagreement. For a lot of people, more and more people actually, there isn't any middle ground because love and hate. This isn't everyone, by far, but the large number of people that operate like this are growing, and that's more reflective of society than it is of WoW.
And you're right, this happens in every MMO launch. But what's funny is that it's the same people that roam from MMO to MMO, trying to find that next thing that reminds them of the social connections they had in WoW. Sometimes they find it, most of the time they don't, and the cycle continues. What's happened before will happen again.
"Oh this game is gonna be the next WoW killer!"
"Oh this game REALLY is going to be the WoW killer!"
"Oh this game went free to play."
I recently started playing EVE Online and they've got one big server. How long until WoW has it?
I don't think the one server concept is ever going to happen in WoW in the same way that it does for EVE or GuildWars 2. The game simply has too many people; even with WoW's population decline it's still about 23x the size of EVE, and probably 50x the size of GW2 (my estimate).
What I do see happening is that we're going to get more virtual realm mergers, to the point that every realm is going to look super populated. That's going to stay like that for a very long time. The other thing to think about too, is that the game's most used end-game areas, dungeons, PvP, and raids, all operate on cross-realm technology -- so a one shard environment isn't very important.
One thing is for certain, regular Queue readers and commenters are getting saltier by the week. I can't imagine how this place will look in another 4-5 months with still no WoD. And this place is probably the most positive site on the internet for WoW discussion.
I think we're a really good barometer of what the overall "silent majority" is thinking about the game. There is a super crazy vocal minority that will go on non-stop about the most trivial changes and get really upset about them. That's not most people -- most people don't quit the game just because their class doesn't have enough mana regen abilities they think, or that Blizzard "doesn't care" about PvP when they're constantly making changes to try to improve it. Most people look at things like that and go "meh."
What gets interesting is when all the voices start to merge into one. It's happened a few times before in WoW's history -- notable during the Real ID fiasco and the BlizzCon ticket screw ups (every single one of them). That's the time that Blizzard really needs to sit up and listen to what people are saying. Fortunately I think they do that, for the most part. Sometimes they can be tone-deaf, and sometimes their response isn't adequate, but I do think they get it when the community begins centering around a negative topic. And frankly, WoW's community is the best part of the game, their most valuable asset. They know this, and I'm not going to be surprised to see a little discussion about content release cycles from the blues soon.
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