Panda Reactions at Our House…

I watched a bit of the live-blogging and Twitter coverage of BlizzCon today.

Of course, the big news was the announcement of the next World of Warcraft expansion, Mists of Pandaria.

Panda Express... In Your Face!

I told somebody who used to play WoW about the expansion and they thought I was pulling their leg.  Pandas?  Really?

Which about sums up my initial reaction.

Not that it was much of a surprise that pandas turned out to be the focus of the expansion.  The news about Blizzard registering the name “Mists of Pandaria” was out a while ago.  The surprise for me was that they weren’t just yanking our chain, registering a red herring name to throw us all off.

No, when Blizzard registers pandas, they mean to give us pandas.

And I honestly do not know what to think.

WoW is all but in the “nostalgia” category for me as of this moment, a game I may go back and visit when the urge strikes me, but one I somehow doubt will ever be my main game again.  And thanks to Cataclysm, nostalgia isn’t even a good excuse to go back, since most of the game only dates back to 2010 now.  Nothing pre-Burning Crusade exists in its original form.

But Blizzard is throwing in a lot of stuff.  A new race, a new class, a Pokemon-like pet battling system, scenarios, account-wide achievement tracking, scenarios, and a revamp and simplification of talent trees, all of which have some appeal.

And there is the whole “subscribe to WoW for a year and we’ll give you a special mount, Pandaria beta access, and a free copy of Diablo III” there to muddy the water.

I am going to, without a doubt, buy Diablo III.  And that is going to be $60 if it is a penny.  So, taking the best possible price plan to subscribe for a year, $156 by going for it in two 6 month increments, that means a year of WoW for ~99 dollars.

Which wouldn’t be a bad deal, if I was playing WoW.  But I am not.  And I might still consider it still if Pandaria was six months out.  But it is a year out if it is a day.  And while I would like the mount… I have a weakness on that front… the beta holds no attraction for me whatsoever.  Access to the Cataclysm beta took the edge off the game for me and probably shortened my interest in the expansion by a couple months.

When I got home from work, I told my daughter that the new expansion had been announced at BlizzCon.

She was immediately disappointed that I hadn’t subscribed to BlizzCon on DirecTV again this year, even though all she really wants to see is the dance and costume contest.  I told her we could catch that later on YouTube.

But when I told her that the new race was going to be pandas, she was very excited.  Pandas are a winner with pre-teen girls.

So we went over to her iMac and watched the Mists of Pandaria B-roll video in full screen HD via YouTube.

This got a mix of excited gasps and exclamations that Blizzard was totally ripping off the movie Kung Fu Panda.  We own the movie on DVD, and while I think we’ve only watched it twice, it apparently left an impression, as my daughter was pointing out what was ripped off from which scene or location in the movie.  I was impressed with the level of OCD detail.

But despite that, or perhaps because of that, her first question was, “When does it come out?”  And I had not even mentioned the pet battling system, which I am sure would also be a big hit with her.

When I said it was probably a year away, that got a frown.  A year is a huge chunk of a young girl’s lifetime.  Anything could happen in a year.

Still, she seemed undeterred, as her next question was, “Can I get in the beta then?”

And of course, there is a way I could make that happen.

So we have at least one strong fan of pandas at our house, as well as one undecided.

We shall see how things turn out.

One thing though… it is a shame that the World of Warcraft Magazine was closed down.  This would have given them at least six more issues of content.

18 thoughts on “Panda Reactions at Our House…

  1. Aufero

    I realize the general internet reaction is “WTH!? Pandas??” but this may actually pull me back into the game when it launches. My favorite things in WoW were new races, new starting areas and new classes – I had to try (and level) them all. I could see myself enjoying this.


  2. wizardling

    Reinforces my lack of interest in WoW :-\ WoW becoming casual is now a joke taken too far with this kiddie expansion.


  3. Tesh

    Incidentally, I think that Blizzard’s panda fetish predates Kung Fu Panda. It’s entirely possible that Dreamworks took the Blizzard idea and ran with it, beating Blizzard to the punch. Sure, Blizzard is capitalizing on the popularity of KFP (and the impending third movie), but I’m not so sure that we’re looking at a ripoff so much as mutual development, not unlike Antz and A Bug’s Life.

    As for the art, well… both draw *heavily* from Chinese architecture and tropes, so I can’t get too worked up over similarities.

    The part that bugs me is the talent system revamp. I guess I’ll see how it plays out, but it seems kinda… silly, really, to clamp it down even more, though I do really like that players can “respec” to a degree without going back to town.


  4. bhagpuss

    Very interested to hear of your daughter’s reaction, which I am certain is exactly what Blizzard was hoping for. Blizzard know what their demographic is much more accurately than we can, and they know how it’s changing over time. It looks pretty clear that they’ve decided the game can’t but benefit by playing younger.

    As an adult MMO hobbyist with little emotional investment in WoW, I see Pandaria as a positive development for the genre. It will clearly and firmly reposition WoW in a lower age-bracket and fewer MMO bloggers will use it as a benchmark for MMOs that really aren’t that similar.


  5. stargrace

    I think a LOT of people are forgetting that the Pandaren are actually from Warcraft III (not world of warcraft), it’s not a race that WoW invented out of the blue to suddenly add to the game, and they pre-date the “Kung Fu Panda” movies.


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  7. *vlad*

    As stargrace said, Pandaren, aka ‘kung fu pandas’ appeared in Warcraft years ago, so Blizzard are hardly ripping off someone else’s idea.


  8. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    In my daughter’s world, whatever she saw first is the original and anything else using that imagery is “ripping it off.” She enjoys the certainty of youth.

    That said, and I realize that the whole Panda/China/martial arts imagery is pretty mush standard, there were sections in that video that did look a lot like sets from the movie.


  9. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Paul – As they told me in all those “how to interview job candidates” classes, past performance is the best indicator of future performance. Blizzard’s past performance indicates that they need about 2 years between expansions. I would be surprised if it came out in July, a date which is still 9 months away.


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  11. smakendahed

    I haven’t shown my kids yet for fear that my oldest will have a sudden renewed interest in WoW.

    Blizzard has been suspect for creatively reusing existing material (not saying this is the case now) for awhile now. The whole look of Warcraft and Starcraft has some similarities with a certain other game that existed long ago in RPG format.

    But whatever.

    This doesn’t inspire me to come back to play at all. In fact, the changes to talents … again … just further frustrates me. The shift to making players select advanced cla.. er… specs sounds very familiar but I just can’t place it.


  12. ljwitch

    I don’t really see this as something that is necessarily just a big hit with pre-teen girls. I’m a girl, and I’m 40. And, I love the pandas. I think it’s about how you see the game in relation to yourself. Some people just can’t get over losing what we had before Cataclysm, Pandas were never really the breaking point I don’t think, I just don’t think THEY themselves realize that yet.


  13. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Ijwitch – Well, saying that it is a hit with pre-teen girls, or one pre-teen girl in particular, my daughter, is not the same thing as saying it won’t be a hit with another demographic.

    But yes, what it comes down to in my mind is whether the next expansion will be more interesting/fun/whatever than Cataclysm.


  14. Tanek

    The thing I don’t understand about the panda reaction is that we have cows that can turn into bears, which is fine, yet somehow fighting pandas are just over-the-top ridiculous. :)


  15. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Tanek – I get what you are saying, only I have seen this said about a half a hundred times by people whose ability to register cuteness apparently marks cow people and pandas at the same level of cuteness. Is that the case with you? Are you telling me that you that way as well.

    Because there being a non-humanoid race isn’t what is at stake here. It is that pandas are so damn cute and cuddly. It is that saccharine cuteness that is driving the blogger gag reflex.

    Pandas have been scientifically proven to have a cuteness factor that is practically off the measurable scale of cuteness.

    Blizzard would literally have to introduce a race of soft, fuzzy kittens with LOL Cat phrases to match the effect of pandas.

    So please, saying you don’t understand the panda reaction and then comparing panda reaction and then comparing them to cows… I guess proves that you do not, in fact, understand the panda reaction.

    So you were right all along. Carry on.


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