Monday Morning Panda Blues

Last week there was the usual rush to declare victory or defeat, at least on the sales front, when it came to Mists of Pandaria.

Pandas; heroes or not?

Retail sales were pegged at 600-700K units, which is down considerably from past expansions.  Of course, that is only physical boxes shipped.  There are only pulled-from-various-orifices estimates on digital downloads. (Some of which were pretty positive.)  Only Blizzard knows the real answer there, though if there is no press release from them you can guess that they did not set any records.  We will have to wait for the quarterly report for those numbers if that is the case.

Blizzard was pushing the digital side pretty hard, and the option does come with the advantage of having everything pre-loaded and ready to go come launch.

Did anybody NOT see these ads?

And Blizzard itself is offering free server transfers due to queues on a few servers.  Eight US servers with long queues does not seem like a lot compared to the full list of servers, but how many MMOs get queues after 3 months, much less after nearly eight years?

Another press release I don’t expect to see is one announcing how much money Trion Worlds raised from their own little jab at Mists of Panadaria.

Our expansion saves pandas… sort of

Trion Worlds announced their own “buy our expansion and save a panda” offer, where they declared… well, I’ll used their blurb.

Trion Worlds, Inc. will donate US$1.00 to Pandas International for each copy of Storm Legion that is pre-ordered through, worldwide (excluding Alabama, Massachusetts, and South Carolina, even though we really wish they’d let us), between 12:00am PDT September 26, 2012 through 11:59pm PDT October 3, 2012, up to a maximum amount of US$10,000.00. Know why we have to do that? Maine. Weird, right? We don’t know what they have against Pandas, or why $10,000 is a magical number, either. This contribution is not tax deductible, but it would be pretty awesome if it were. Pandas International is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization located at P.O. Box 620335, Littleton, Colorado 80162, whose mission is to ensure the preservation and propagation of the endangered Giant Panda.

The reason I suspect that we won’t see a follow up press release on this because even if they make the 10,000 mark, it would still be during the same week when Blizzard sold more than 600K boxes.  And if they don’t make that mark… well, really nothing to brag about then.  This sort of publicity works better for somebody like The Oatmeal, who just wanted to annoy someone, than as a method to sell game boxes.

Then there is actually playing the game itself.  I have a number of friends who pre-ordered the expansion because… well… its WoW and they always get the expansion… who seem reasonably happy.  I did hear more than once a little bemusement that after the panda starting zone it was a bit of a bummer to then have to work their way through all of the old content to get to the rest of the expansion with their new character.

One friend failed to outsmart the system by using a refer a friend bonus to grant levels to their new panda monk.  Unfortunately, impatient with the starter zone, they apparently applied those levels right away and ended up with a level 30 monk they didn’t know how to play.  Let that be a warning to you.

I decided to give the new panda starting area a look.  I think one of the smarter things that Blizzard did was opening up the full selection of races to all players, regardless of which expansions they own.  Selling boxes is a good boost to income, but keeping people subscribed is the winning strategy.

Anyway, a new panda warrior was born.

Up next, the panda obesity problem…

The panda starter area is very nice and does not, I gather, degrade Asian culture for western consumption, or play to western stereotypes of Asian culture, since nobody seems to be out there protesting.  I guess pandas are too cute… or Victoria’s Secret models are too thin.

My patience for starting a new character in WoW is fairly low at this point, but I made it pretty far into the tutorial.  The monkeys who climb on your back and need to be shaken off might be a joke too close to home for some who spend too much time in Azeroth, but the whole thing is good for new players as it introduces new game concepts at a measured pace.  It might be too slow for veterans, but you will come out of it knowing the basics of the game.

The only real surprise was that on a Sunday afternoon I only saw a single other person in the starter area.  I realize that, being on the conveyor belt of such an area, you won’t run into a clump of people, but just one seemed quite sparse.  But my own server, Eldre’Thalas, seems to be somewhat sparse overall these days.  I couldn’t even take care of my item level needs at the auction house the previous week.  It has fallen quite a ways from the launch of Wrath of the Lich King, when the queue to get on during the first few days was 700+ players deep at times.

But, nice though the starter area is, it did not respark any desire for WoW in me.  I did not run out and buy the expansion or decide to stay subscribed.

There is still a great deal of nostalgia for WoW in our regular group.  The topic comes up now and again, even when I am not making videos designed to ignite those emotions.  But our own time in the game peaked about the time our server’s population did, during Wrath of the Lich King.  WoW has moved towards the point EverQuest occupies in my heart.  The disappointing part is that, unlike EverQuest, we cannot go back to revisit old WoW as Blizzard washed it all away with Cataclysm.

And the world keeps turning.

8 thoughts on “Monday Morning Panda Blues

  1. One Angry Gamer (@1AngryGamer)

    This expansion does absolutely nothing for me yet Blizz fanboys like The Instance podcast proclaim it the best expansion ever?


    1-10 new content, ONE Race/Class. 75 levels of same old garbage then some new zones 85-90. Yippeee. And this somehow beats Burning Crusade with its 2 races, 2 new starter zones (to 20 I might add)


  2. Gripper

    I am playing in the expansion and I am enjoying it quite a bit – also I have taken a new tact on the expansion and gaming in general as I am just cruisin along and enjoying the ride rather than flaying myself to get to max level. I am making sure I complete each area – trying out the new farming and cooking stuff etc..

    Thus far – I am enjoying it quite a bit. I cant really say whether its the best or worse, I think its rather how much are you enjoying the game. With all the choices available now -for me its EQ2, GW2, Rift etc for fantasy I think its what you enjoy.

    Right now its Wow…and I am liking it!


  3. wizardling

    So what is up with the weird regulations sometimes state by state in the US regarding contests and even just donations to charities as part of a sales gimmick? It all seems rather outlandish to a New Zealander – no offence intended. Why would anyone want to set a limit on the amount a company can give to charity based on sales of a product? Is this the kind of thing that should be listed in or is there, or was there once a good reason or at least good intentions behind this?


  4. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Wizardling – Outside observers sometimes forget that the country used to be properly styled “These United States,” as it was made up of 50 semi-autonomous entities. You would have to ask the people in Maine, about 3,000 miles away from me, about the 10K limit. They make their own laws.

    There was probably a reason at one point, something to close a tax loophole or such.

    The problem with laws is that they stay on the books forever unless somebody goes back and reviews them. (Though some of the laws on that page you linked clearly exist for good reason even today. Pacific Grove, for example, has a monarch butterfly sanctuary, so a fine for bothering the butterflies makes sense in that context.)

    The real question in my mind is why some lawyer at Trion felt that a company located in California needed to accommodate various regulations regarding charities in all 50 states. Theoretically they should only have to abide by California rules or, since it represents interstate transactions, federal government regulations on the subject, since only they can regulate such things between states.

    The internet makes things complicated, and lawyers have a multiplication effect on that complexity.


  5. Aufero

    My major hurdle in trying out the new race and class is the realization that leveling through old content fills me with mild revulsion and preemptive boredom. Been there, done that about ten times. If they ever revamp the 60-80 grind (particularly the BC stuff – I’m done fighting demonic pigs) I’d be a bit more interested.

    Maybe I should just accept that for me WoW has gone the way of all the other MMOs I used to play and won’t play again, and stop reading about expansions.


  6. HarbingerZero

    @Wizardling – Outside observers sometimes forget that the country used to be properly styled “These United States,” as it was made up of 50 semi-autonomous entities.

    Outside observers? How about most inside observers, including , but not limited to: US Presidents, Congresspeople, Politicians, John Q. Public…


  7. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @HZ – That too. Your typical European pundit pontificating on US internal policies generally makes it clear right away that they have no clue regarding the separations of power in the US.

    But, theoretically, we’re supposed to know about it. And, frankly, despite your cynicism, we do tend to know about it more often than not, once we stop and think for a moment.

    The President and Congress clearly know about it. You can tell by how they have also figured out how to work around it, usually via outlandish distortions of the definition of interstate commerce or by waving federal funds around.

    When I was young, the drinking age differed across the 50 states, being pegged generally between 18 and 21. The feds wanted it to be 21 universally, but couldn’t legislate that, as that was clearly the domain of the states. So they said any state that didn’t raise the drinking age to 21 wouldn’t get any more federal highway funds. No more “free” money? Suddenly the drinking age was 21 everywhere.

    No more rich kids going to Hawaii to get plastered after high school graduation. Separation of powers subverted!


  8. flosch

    Since we’re already far away from the original topic anyway… nitpicking time! Is your example really one of subverting separation of power? Doesn’t that deal with the degree of independence between legislative, executive, and judicial branches? And isn’t your example more one of one executive branch overruling the other by technicality (or one legislative overruling the other, if you will)?

    From a country where drinking age is 16 for beer and wine (don’t have a problem with that), and the Bavarian government just decided that gas stops can continue selling alcohol, but only to drivers, not pedestrians! (No, don’t ask me. Please don’t. I have no idea why either.)


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