The day has finally arrived. Among the items the World of Warcraft patch 6.2.2 delivers today is the ability to fly in Draenor.
It was just a little over three months ago, at the end of May, when Ion Hazzikostas got the community worked up by saying that flying would not be coming to Draenor, with the money quote probably being this:
Having looked at how flying has played out in the old world in the last couple of expansions, we realized that while we were doing it out of this ingrained habit after we introduced flying in The Burning Crusade, it actually detracted from gameplay in a whole lot of ways…
That, of course, set a lot of people off, and responses were all over the map. Some people were supportive of the “no flying” idea wanting to keep the feel of the world. Others were enraged that they were to be denied flying. Many arguments full of venom and denial and spurious logic and just plain old inability to concede any point that did not support ones own view on the topic raged across forums and comments threads and blog posts and where ever.
I took something of a middle path myself, conceding that I got the points Hazzikostas was making while still feeling that, in the right measure, flying was pretty awesome. In my usual way I also linked out to others who posted on the topic, both for and against.
But on the internet the path of reasonableness rarely wins. Or maybe it does. Who is to say which side is reasonable in a largely emotional issue?
Anyway, there was that outrage plus the fact that, through cancellations and bans, WoW’s subscriber base had shed 3 million players since the end of 2014, dropping from above 10 million at the Warlords of Draenor peak to 7 million.
So through some combination of reasons Blizzard felt the need to bring flying back, announcing that it we would be able to fly in Draenor just a little over two weeks after they said we wouldn’t be able to fly in Draenor.
Of course, there were some hoops to jump through in order to be able to fly. Some achievements to earn, some faction to work on, some treasures to collect. Again, that made various people happy or unhappy.
Much of the support work for the flying unlock went in with the 6.2 patch back in June, which oddly enough is the exact point in which garrison fatigue hit me and I pretty much stopped playing WoW.
According to Blizzard, the 6.2 patch… and presumably the announcement that flying would come to Draenor eventually… held the line on defections from the game so that subscriptions were “only” down to 5.6 million at the end of June 2015.
Of course, since then most of the talk has about about WoW Legion, which is starting to feel like it might be the Deathly Hallows Part 2 to Warlords of Draenor. I mean, we’re going to get to the real bad guy from The Burning Crusade finally.
I haven’t logged more than 20 minutes of WoW time since the 6.2 patch, so I wouldn’t be able to fly today even if I did log in. But I am sure lots of people will. The skies will be filled with people happy to be able to move to and fro in Draenor without the restrictions of flight points or the need to engage with any of that ground clutter content.
Is it too soon to ask if we’ll get to fly in the Broken Isles? I mean, once we get there.