Category Archives: WoW Classic

The 500 Hour Mark

I saw a question going around Twitter last week asking people to list out video games that they had played for 500+ hours.

Artwork provided by my daughter

This apparently stemmed from the developers of Dying Light II saying that the game would require 20 hours to play through the main story, 80 hours to finish the main story and all side quests, and 500 hours to “max out” the game by going down all possible choices and whatever, which generated some minor controversy and whatever.  Articles have been written, posted, and probably forgotten by this point.

I honestly don’t even know what the game is about.

But, as tends to happen, a side discussion about time spent with games came up with people listing out games they have spent 500+ hours playing.

And that is where I want to go with this.  After playing video games for more than 45 years I have to have more that a few titles with which I have hit the 500 hour mark.

Here is the thing.  I kind of want to be sure about it.  There are a lot of games I have spent a lot of time playing, but have I really spent 500 hours?  That is equal to a full time, 40 hour a week job for about three months.  And people, myself included, often wildly overestimate how much time they really spent with a game.

For example, I figured that Civilization V would make the cut.  I played a ton of that in the last decade.  But Steam clocks me in at just 425 hours played.  That is a lot, but it isn’t 500 hours.

And Civ V is the game I have the most time with on the Steam platform.  I have several games there I feel I have played thoroughly which only have 20-40 hours recorded.

But then there is something like Valheim.  I played that for a few months just a year ago.  I have 280 hours played on it, which still isn’t 500 hours, but is over half way there in under a year.  So it doesn’t have to be a title that I have played for a decade, it can be a title I focused on a lot in a limited time frame.

So I am going to break my titles out into confidence levels.  Some things I have numbers for.  My monthly ManicTime measurements enter into things as well.  I started using that to measure game play time back at the start of 2019, and there are titles I have hit 500 hours with since then.

Verifiably Have 500+ Hours Played

  • TorilMUD

I played this regularly, with a few breaks, from 1993 until late 2004.  The current running version, which represents the third one I have played, shows I have over 100 days played, which gives me 2,400 hours played at least, and that came after the last pwipe in 2002.  So there could easily be more than double that invested in the game.  Would I bet on having played 5,000 hours?  Maybe not, but it seems possible.

  • World of Warcraft

Yeah, pretty easy on this one.  Given all the time spent with the instance group, having played through WotLK from launch until Cataclysm, and time devoted to later expansions like Mists of Pandaria and Legion, I am probably past the 500 hour mark at least four times over, if not more.

  • WoW Classic

I am going to differentiate this from WoW, in part because they have different clients, but also because all of my WoW Classic time has been tracked by ManicTime.  And ManicTime puts me in at 775 hours played.  Yikes.

  • EVE Online

After fifteen years, this is pretty easy.  Once again, even my ManicTime measurement for the last three years puts me past 500 hours, and that is impressive given how much time I spend tabbed out of the game when I play.  I swear I am logged in twice as long as ManicTime tracks.

Almost Assuredly have 500 Hours Played

  • EverQuest II

I could probably get EQII into the above category if I went in and did /played on half a dozen characters.  I played it a lot in the first year and then have come back to it at various times.  I have a lot of alts spread over the few remaining servers at this point.

  • Civilization II

I have absolutely played more Civ II than Civ V, and since I have a benchmark for Civ V via Steam, it stands to reason that I have the hours in for it.

  • Minecraft

Have you seen how much time I spent building roads and rail systems?  Minecraft had the advantage of being something I could play for hours while listening to podcasts or audio books.

Pretty Sure I have 500 Hours Played

  • EverQuest

I mean, come on, I must have 500 hours in for this.  This one gets into the mists of time though.  I did play a lot back in 1999 and 2000.  But  I no longer have the account I used back then and I am fairly confident I haven’t put in that much time with my current account.  So I feel like it is over 500 hours, but I don’t have anything to really anchor it to.

  • Lord of the Rings Online

While I really never get far beyond Moria, I have been back into the game enough times now that I must be well past the 500 hour mark.  I have played through the original content many times at this point.

 

It is Quite Possible I have 500 Hours Played

  • Rift

I wasn’t even thinking about this, then I went back and looked at some old posts about Raptr and the time tracking it did, and I hit Elite in Rift for hours played.  It was the WoW replacement for quite a stretch.  Add in the Rift Classic experiment and I feel pretty sure I am there.

  • Civilization

I played the original pretty obsessively back when it came out.  I never went back after Civ II came out, but it was a few years before that happened.

  • Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri

This came after Civ II and there was quite a stretch between that and Civ III where this was the big strategy game.  I liked this a lot more than Civ III and a bit more than Civ II, but it had problems in the long term as it was locked into a few full screen resolution sizes from the 90s, while Civ II was just a window that even today resizes to the fit my current huge monitor

  • Age of Empires II

I think I make the cut on this one just due to longevity.  I have played this off and on since it came out more than 20 years ago.  It used to be a staple at work on a Friday night back in the day, and Steam say I have about 100 hours played with the HD remaster.

  • Pokemon Go

The math works here for the most part.  My wife and I have been playing for almost five and a half years at this point, so 500 hours requires less than 15 minutes a day on average.  The only thing keeping me from being completely on board with this is figuring out what really constitutes “playing.”  Me tapping on my phone screen, yes.  But how about me going for a walk to get steps?  Does the walk require intent?  Does spinning a Pokestop make the whole duration of the walk count as playing, or just when I have eyes on the screen?

The Mists of Time are Thick, but I think I made 500 Hours

  • Wizardry

Have I mentioned the annotated, hand drawn maps I made of the game back in the day?  I have a couple of Apple II titles that probably make the cut, but this one left behind physical evidence.

  • Ultima III

The last in the Ultima series before Lord British got all moody and introspective.  I played this to death, and then bought an editor that let me make my own modded version of the game, which I then played some more.  Also, my girlfriend at the time wore makeup with the Ultima III brand, completely unrelated.

  • Lode Runner

There are a lot of Apple II games that I played for a bit, and then there are a few that I played for ages.  I played a lot of Lode Runner, solving all those levels and then making my own levels.

  • Stellar Emperor

I spent a lot of time… and money… playing this back in the day.  I won the game once.

  • Klondike

This was the first really good solitaire game that I found on the Mac back in the day.  I used to play it obsessively at times.  It had a scoring system that rewarded smart, efficient play, and I developed a whole philosophy of play to adapt to it.

  • NetHack

Maybe, sort of, if you count the time I spent digging through the code and modifying it to see if I could make the game better… better for me at least.  It was a bit of an obsession for me in the early 90s.

Missing From the List

  • Diablo Series

While I have played all the titles from the Diablo series, often intensely at times, it has tended to be in short bursts.  I might have played them all for a combined total of 500 hours, but no single title has hit that mark.

  • Pokemon

Again, my combined time playing Pokemon, by which I mean the core Pokemon RPG games on the GameBoy, DS, and Switch, no doubt adds up to more than 500 hours.  But I have not spent 500 hours on any single title.  The champion was probably Pokemon SoulSilver, when I caught them all.  My blog post of that shows I invested 243 hours getting there.  Nearly half way to 500, but half way doesn’t count.  I probably spent closer to 50 hours on most of the ones I finished.

  • Atari 2600 Games

From 1977 to 1983 the Atari 2600 was my only real home video game outlet, so I am sure I played many more than 500 hours.  But did I play any one game that much?  Maybe Adventure or the Indiana Jones game… but most likely the Blackjack cartridge.  The fourth game on that was Poker Solitaire, and I could sit and play that for ages.  But that was so long ago, I really can’t commit to saying I have 500 hour into any of those cartridges.  They were not deep games.

So that is my guess at the games I have invested 500 hours into.  But when you’re into the back half of your 50s, you’ve had a lot of time to get there.

My Games Played for 2021 and Looking Forward into 2022

It is that time again, time to look back at what I played last year and maybe try to get an idea as to what I might play in the coming year.

2020 plus 1

Past Entries

Last year I wasn’t really feeling it for what I might play, probably because the list I made didn’t really pan out, so when I made the call for 2021 I kept it short and sweet.

The likely candidates were:

  • WoW Classic
  • EVE Online
  • Retail WoW
  • Burning Crusade Classic

I also threw out RimWorld, Civilzation V, and maybe World of Tanks as possible candidates to which I might return.

So now is when I look at what I actually played.  I don’t go as into as much detail as Belghast, but my chart is more colorful!  The top ten titles, which represent the games I spent 10 or more hours with in 2021, were:

2021 in gaming for me

Overall I tracked time for 20 games, so the bottom half of the list did not make it to the ten hour mark.

  1. WoW Classic – 29.61%
  2. Valheim – 23.10%
  3. EVE Online – 18.73%
  4. Diablo II – 7.18%
  5. New World – 6.67%
  6. Forza Horizon 4 – 3.68%
  7. Forza Horizon 5 – 2.36%
  8. RimWorld – 2.21%
  9. EverQuest II – 1.77%
  10. Pokemon Pearl – 1.21%
  11. World of Tanks – 0.92%
  12. War in the Pacific – 0.56%
  13. MMO Tycoon 2 – 0.49%
  14. The Fermi Paradox – 0.48%
  15. World of Warcraft – 0.38%
  16. Flashing Lights – 0.36%
  17. Runes of Magic – 0.18%
  18. Art of Rally – 0.13%
  19. Hearthstone – 0.05%
  20. LOTRO – 0.05%

EVE Online was the only title I played through all year, and even that was fairly light once World War Bee ended, which explains why it ranked in third in overall time played.

WoW Classic, which includes Burning Crusade Classic, topped the total time played, but petered out when we were reminded that we did not exactly love The Burning Crusade the first time around.  Our WoW Classic time probably peaked in Blackrock Depths, which we ran into a dozen times at least.  Leaving was made easier by having Blizzard’s behavior exposed.

Valheim, which came out of nowhere to become our obsession for a few months managed to come in second.  We got our money’s worth out of that title, though the content ran out of steam for us and the small team working on it was overwhelmed trying to just keep things going.

Diablo II Resurrected was also a good time for a bit.  New World showed up in September, but we didn’t really start playing it in earnest until more than a month had gone by and the login queues began to subside.

The two flavors of Forza Horizon were in there as well.  I combined them into one row on the chart, though they would have easily both made it on their own.

RimWorld made the cut when the Ideology expansion hit, giving your colonists their own belief systems to work around.

I wandered into EverQuest II for a bit, as I tend to do, but didn’t make a big commitment.

Once it arrived, Pokemon Shining Pearl was a hit for me, making it into the top ten for time played in just the last five days of the year.

And then there was World of Tanks, after which time played starts to drop off rather quickly on the chart.  I suppose my one regret was not being able to get into War in the Pacific, though honestly the biggest hurdle was how tiny the print was on my 34″ monitor.  It is a war game from an earlier age of small monitors with large pixels.

So of the four likely candidates, I did end up playing three of them.  Retail WoW quickly fell off the rotation for me in 2021 as the Shadowlands expansion turned into a repetitive grind for somebody not interested in raiding.  Technically I logged in for quiet a while into the year, but I am not sure you should count the monthly run at Darkmoon Faire as really “playing” the game.  I only did that because I was already subscribed and playing WoW Classic.

Which I guess brings us to the 2022 outlook.

2022 is what we get

Here is what I can see from where I sit this week.

Sure Things

  • EVE Online
  • Forza Horizon
  • New World
  • Pokemon Shining Pearl
  • Stellaris

I already have time logged for all of those this year.  I might give up on them sooner rather than later, but they will be somewhere on the list.  I certainly have much still to do in Shining Pearl and the group seems committed to New World for the time being.  And I just bought some of the DLC for Stellaris, so I’ll play a bit of that I am sure.

Likely Candidates

  • EverQuest II
  • RimWorld
  • World of Tanks
  • WoW Classic Wrath of the Lich King

I own the latest expansion for EQII and am subscribed for another two months, I’ll probably play some.  Likewise, it is easy enough to pick up World of Tanks whenever.

And, naturally,l I started thinking about RimWorld again since I started writing this, which makes it more likely that I will go back and play it.  It happens.

WotLK Classic though, that depends on Blizzard actually shipping it this year, though it feels like that is all the WoW team will manage in 2022, and Blizzard not being a complete shit show that makes me feel bad handing them money.  I am biased towards playing it, that expansion representing what is my likely peak in Azeroth, but I am also wary of Blizz and how they might screw it up or just make doing business with them so unpalatable that I’d rather just stick with the memories.

Maybe, Maybe Not

  • Age of Empires IV
  • LOTRO
  • Valheim

AOE4 is part of the XBox PC subscription, so I just need to download it.  I am just wary of another 100 megabyte download for a title that might not pan out for me.  I haven’t liked anything in the series since AOE2.

LOTRO I want to go back and play now and again, but it looks so bad on my big monitor that they have to do something for wide screen support before I will commit.  If they do that I’ll give it a shot, otherwise I’ll pass.

And then there is Valheim.  I am wary of this because any updates they ship will only apply to unexplored areas, and on the world we build up we explored a lot, including into biomes that should be getting content.  So going back for new content means started over again on a new world, abandoning all of our work.  That might be too much to ask.

Unlikely

  • World of Warcraft
  • Burning Crusade Classic
  • WoW Season of Mastery
  • Diablo Immortal

Okay, I might  try Diablo: Immortal when it arrives, having a phone and all that… though I’ll likely play it on the iPad instead.  But otherwise the theme here is clearly Blizzard games I would be likely to play in past years not drawing much appeal from me in 2021… and honestly it is as much because of their own lack of merit as much as because of anything Blizzard is up to.

And then there are the new games that might show up.  As I have noted in the past, in January of 2021 I wouldn’t have called Valheim, New World, or Pokemon Shining Pearl even being options, yet they all made the cut.  So I am open to some new things, but I cannot see far enough into the future to tell what might show up and tickle my fancy.

Predictions in the Face of 2022

We’re here again at the arbitrary start of another year.  I remember a time when New Years Day was a day of optimism, a day of resolutions about making yourself a better person.  Now… now I am reminded of a Life in Hell comic where Bongo prays every night for tomorrow to be better than today despite the fact that his prayers are never answered.

2022 is what we get

So, yeah, welcome to the new year.  It is an even numbered year which means national (but not presidential) elections in the US and some sort of Olympics… I think we get the cold kind this year, but they’re in China, so time to celebrate repressive regimes I guess.  I’m sure the year will be just dandy.

I am going to go with predictions this year, after having taken a year off with questions for 2021.  As I always point out, I have a history here, checkered and/or dubious and mostly wrong.  But as my boilerplate for this post says every year, I’m fine being wrong if the discussion is interesting.  Anyway, past events:

I was tempted to run with questions yet again, but I made a bold prediction back in 2021 and promised that I would include it in any New Year’s predictions post, so let’s get straight to that.  You will probably be able to tell from the tenor of some of my predictions that I am not exactly in a happy, optimistic, “everything will be great” sort of mood.  So be it, maybe the new year can step up and prove me wrong.  I would be happy enough to let it do so.

1 – Activision-Blizzard will drop “Blizzard” from the Corporate Name

I made this call back in August, when things seemed really bad for Blizzard, and committed to making it a prediction, so here it is in the first spot.  There was a possibility that they could have straighten up and fixed their issues, but I have such confidence in the indelible nature of corporate culture… every time somebody says “we’ve always done it this way” they might as well add “because this is who we are” to it… that I remain unsurprised by the company’s inability to clean house effectively.  Even when they admit that there might be a problem, it is all they can do to keep from fighting that idea, pushing back on the state and, by proxy, all the complaints against the company.   If you cannot candidly admit there is an issue then you cannot fix it.

And the problem has damaged their brand, damaged their income, and alienated them from a chunk of their once loyal fan base.  Meanwhile, Activision, having finally figured out how to milk the Call of Duty cow year round, doesn’t really need to be dragged down with all those problems which, outside of Bobby Kotick’s connivance, seem to be focused just on Blizzard’s team.

The prestige of leading the Blizzard brand has already been downgraded over time.  Morhaime was CEO, Brack was President, then it was Jen Oneal and Mike Ybarra were “co-leaders” of the studio… until Oneal left because the company sill pays men more for the same jobs.  I think Ybarra became Office Manager at that point.

All of that points to the Blizzard brand not being as big of a deal.  The only counter to this slide in the brand is how Bobby Kotick has taken center stage of late in the company issues.  It is possible that his bad behavior, and endorsement of the bad behavior of others, could draw enough heat directed solely at Blizzard so far.

Overall though the trend for Blizzard has been to be third of three when the quarterly reports come out, so even if the Blizzard name isn’t gone I’ll give myself a small partial credit win (2 points) if the company name is officially Activision Blizzard King by the end of 2022.

2 – No WoW Expansion in 2022

I am going to go out even further on a limb when it comes to Blizzard and suggest that the disruption they have been facing and the need to retool things a bit to look better when compared to FFXIV are going to slow down their development process even more than usual. As such I think we’ll be seeing the largest gap between expansions in the history of the game as the next expansion wanders out into 2023.

3 – The Arthas Hail Mary

Wrath of the Lich King Classic will be announced to great fanfare.  This will be the big 2022 announcement for the WoW franchise, and it will be as stale as you expect.  While I love the whole retro server scene, and WotLK as well, there is a reason that Daybreak doesn’t put out a press release every time an EverQuest progression server unlocks a new expansion.  And it will be tainted by the same things that hurt Burning Crusade Classic, like a special deluxe package with a horrendous mount to single you out for ridicule.  It will be more popular than whatever is going on with Shadowlands, an admittedly low hurdle, but it won’t launch until Q4 so we won’t see any financial impact during the 2022 calendar year. (Q4 financials won’t show up until February 2023.)

4 – Immortality is Overrated

Diablo: Immortal will finally ship in time for summer… after all, NetEase is the one doing the work here.  It will get a lot of hype from the company because WoW Classic and Hearthstone updates can only carry so much water for them.  It will be briefly popular, because we do in fact all have phones, combining as it will everything Blizzard promised (something like Diablo) and everything fans feared (cash shop from hell), but the Q3 2022 financials will only mention it in passing.

5 – Activision Will Settle with the State of California

The cost of fighting on multiple fronts… the company is being assailed in various ways by the government, its employees, customers, and shareholders… will wear the company down because none of it is good for business.  Somebody on the board will eventually force the issue and make the company do something to make these problems go away… something besides denial, platitudes, and union busting tactics, which has been the Activision tack so far.

Riot, which played the same game for years, largely due to being able to turn a big profit for Tencent even as the fight went on, eventually settled and agreed to pay out $100 million, $80 of which went to compensate employees and contractors mistreated by the company.  The state is tenacious and the price of fighting eventually becomes more of a burden and it will make sense to simply not be discriminatory jerks as a matter of policy going forward.

As a public company Activision, and with Blizzard development seemingly moribund in the face of the crisis, won’t be able to diddle as long as Riot.  A year of this will be too long for stockholders.  The company will have to pony up double what Riot did, so they will have to write a check for at least $200 million in penalties and compensation, agree to mandatory training for management (though everybody VP and above will just have their admins do the training for them, so no change there), and agree to let the state keep an eye on the for a few years.

6 – Bobby Kotick Will Remain in Charge at Activision

I feel I have to remind people now and then that these are predictions, not wishes, and this is one of those times.  Bobby owns too much stock and is in too deep with the board, which has backed him all the way, to lose his seat.  Any sense of irony is completely lost in the executive suite, so the fact that he knew about and endorsed what was going on that caused the company so many problems won’t disqualify him from continuing to collect a huge compensation package for running the company.

7 – Enad Global 7 will Announce Marvel Universe Online

Maybe they won’t call it exactly that, but there will be a new MMO from them based on the Marvel IP, which Daybreak had the rights to make before EG7 purchased them, that will look suspiciously like DC Universe Online to those who know where to check.

And it will be on the PC and consoles and it will be kind of a big deal when it ships.  But I’m only saying they’ll announce it in 2022.

8 – H1Z1 Will Remain in Limbo

Of all the titles in the Daybreak portfolio, none must be as vexing for EG7 as H1Z1.  It sold a ton of copies, it was huge for a season or two, and it was the type of brand that Daybreak always dreamed of creating.  Then Daybreak screwed it up and has spent a few years now trying to catch that lightning in a bottle again.  And with Fortnite and PUBG out there still making bank, there is always that hope for a comeback, yet the chances are so sketchy that the company can’t bring itself to actually invest in it.  They simultaneously know it won’t happen and yet still believe it could.  So they’ll keep talking about H1Z1 in 2022 yet do nothing new.

9 – LOTRO Old and New

There won’t be a console release for LOTRO, but there will be news.  We will find out that, in order to support current generation consoles, the game needs to be re-written, a process that will end up with there being an old LOTRO, the current game, and a new LOTRO, for PC and consoles.  This will put old LOTRO in semi-maintenance mode, with limited updates and no new expansions, while the team focuses on the new LOTRO.

10 – Nothing New in Norrath

And that won’t necessarily be a bad thing.  Despite being the foundation of the company, EverQuest and its younger sibling will just continue on as before, with an expansion each in Q4.  EG7 talks up the original IPs it owns, but it only sees potential in the popular IPs which it has licensed.  EverQuest Next, EverQuest III, or EverQuest the small group RPG, those are all still dead until Amazon or Netflix wants to make a Norrath streaming series.

11 – Ji Ham Confirmed as CEO of Enad Global 7

His acting career pretty much demands it at this point.  The search for a suitable candidate will come up dry and he will be the default choice.  Things could be worse.

12 – CCP will Circle the Wagons to Defend Against Player Feedback

The last year has demonstrated that CCP will stick to its own pet theories when it comes to the game, ignoring player feedback by covering its collective ears and repeating over and over that everything is fine, that the players don’t understand, that the company can dictate the correct way to play, and blah blah blah “I can’t hear you!”  Angry players should be ignored, where “angry” is defined as anybody who disagrees with the company line.  Nice players agree wholeheartedly with everything the company says.

To further support their position 2022 I predict that we will see the company start cutting back on the data players have been using the assail the company.  The Monthly Economic Report will cease to be published.  The data feeds that EVE Offline uses to create its PCU charts will be turned off.  The current online player count will disappear from the launcher.  Dev blogs will be more message, less substance than we’ve been used to.  Then CCP will be able to control the message without having their own data constantly contradicting them.  How can you say “EVE is dying!” if you don’t have any data to back it up?

13 – New Eden Economic Times

To make it abundantly clear, scarcity is not the new reality, this is a temporary phase and it will end.

-CCP, December 2020 Economic Outlook

While taking measures to silence dissent, CCP Rattati will continue to lead the charge against the economy.  The tenants of their economic outlook from 2020 remain unchanged.  They were:

  • Abundance breeds Complacency and Scarcity breeds War
  • Predictable Inputs lead to Stagnant Outputs
  • Autarky is Anathema to Free Trade

And while they appear to have had the opposite effect… scarcity ended a war for a starter… CCP will continue to fixate on the idea that if they just keep putting the screws to players and making them poor and miserable that we will all snap to and play the game the correctly sooner or later.  The idea that the game should be fun, that players might not want to fret about losing ships they can no longer afford to replace, or that the economy is the critical aspect of the game will not enter the company’s philosophy in 2022.  More of the same, the economic beatings will continue until subscriber numbers improve.

14 – New World on Consoles Announcement

One of the odd things to master in New World has been the UI, which is decidedly different that the WoW-centric UI conventions of the MMORPG genre.  It isn’t bad, though it sometimes seems a bit awkward, but for the most part it just takes some getting used to.

And then I started playing Forza Horizon 4 and 5, which is a title designed to play on Windows PCs and XBox consoles, and some similarities clicked for me… the New World UI is setup to be playable on consoles (in a way that, say, LOTRO is completely not).  They have minimized the keys used for many things, movement and positioning can all be done via the analog sticks, special combat moves map to buttons, the main attacks… I guess the shoulder controls.  It all pretty much fits.

This is probably a blinding flash of the obvious for some of you, but to a non-console player it didn’t spark until I had another cross platform title in my face.

Add to this the fact that Amazon seems fine letting Steam host its front end and the XBox or PlayStation store aren’t likely to get in the way either.

The official stance is that there is no plan for consoles, but it sure feels like it was made to be on consoles, so that might just be Amazon playing coy after getting pestered for five years about when the PC launch was going to happen.  As with above, the announcement only is being predicted, though I wouldn’t be completely surprised by a Q4 2022 ship date.

15 – New World Store Update

New World did very well on box sales in 2021, and I am sure they plan to repeat that on consoles as well, but the in-game store will still change in 2022 as the pressure to keep bringing in cash begins to mount.  Those AWS servers don’t pay for themselves.

The store has been entirely focused on cosmetic gear, the one in-game store item that seems the least objectionable.  It is kind of expensive to my mind, but some people seem to be buying the stuff.  I see it around Windsward now and then.  But it won’t be enough in the end.  Every MMORPG with a cash shop goes down the same path in the end.  So before the end of 2022 I predict that at least three of the following will be available in the cash shop:

  • Premium Housing
  • Fast Travel Tokens
  • XP Boosters
  • Faction Boosters
  • Trade Skill Learning Boosters
  • Learning Speed Boosters for Weapon Mastery
  • Cosmetic Items with Stats
  • Mounts
  • A second character slot on your server

16 – Crypto Mania will Continue and yet Yield Nothing of Value

UbiSoft, EA, Pearl Abyss, and a host of smaller studios and studios started for the express purpose of jumping on the bandwagon, will continue to talk about crypto, blockchain, play to earn, and NFTs.

And it will all net out to nothing a year from now because, despite the bleating of the crypto bros and the sheep following them, there is really no upside for a studio like EA to hitch its titles up to somebody’s block chain and give up income when there is nothing crypto could do that they couldn’t already do… or haven’t already done… themselves.

And the downsides? Whoa Nelly, if you think lock boxes look like gambling, I am pretty sure when they become NFTs with the intent that they can be bought and sold for real world money that even the government will suddenly agree that it is gambling.  Even skirting that, there are tax implications for “play to earn” if it gets too lucrative… and that will fall outside of the studios hands… that make the whole thing a nightmare.

The UbiSoft test case will fall flat because they will end up having to impose such restrictions to stay within the law and away from expensive entanglements as to end up not achieving any of its promise, and no studio with live games will see fit to follow suit.

17 – Metaversary Rhymes

Then there is the whole fairy tale metaverse aspect of crypto that people are on about.

The main item here are the crypto bros who think NFTs are the future and will act as transferable tickets for virtual goods so that you can buy a car in Need for Speed and drive it in Forza or Mario Kart.  That ain’t gonna happen.  Leaving aside the complexity of getting different studios with different motivations needing to get together on some sort of agreed upon standard for… well… literally anything anybody would want to move from game to game, no studio is going to buy into that.

Any game that makes money selling cars, using the example above, wants you to buy their cars.  That is how they make money.  If you can just bring all your Mario Kart stuff into Forza Horizon… again, leaving aside the huge elephant in the room issue of standards… Forza loses.  So Forza isn’t going to join that venture.

And we’ve been to the internet, right?  How long do you think it would take for somebody to mass produces knock-off cars for a buck that could be used in all those metaverse titles?  This is a dead end as there is no upside for the development studios that would need to implement it.

So this will go absolutely nowhere in 2022, despite the myriad start ups jumping on board the bandwagon trying to milk a bit of that sweet venture capital by throwing around buzzwords.

18 – Non-Fungible Fiascos

Even with the above pair of predictions I know that some company’s won’t be able to help themselves and will stick their hands in the fire and get burned.  I predict crypto/NFT/play to earn nonsense will at least get an official announcement and plan for the following titles (2 points per correct call):

  • EVE Online
  • Star Citizen
  • Black Desert Online
  • Final Fantasy XIV
  • Wild Card: Some Gamigo Title

I am not saying that any one of them will be implemented… player push back will be huge… but the blue sky press releases will go out.

19 – Chapter and Metaverse

Meanwhile, there is the other metaverse story, where Mark Zuckerberg, who apparently missed out on Second Life, wants to create a VR world that he controls.  He is so bent on it that he renamed the company Meta… and totally not because Facebook has a horrible reputation and he needed to distract from that.

In his metaverse there is none of this NFT movement nonsense, because you won’t ever leave his domain once you strap the VR headset onto your face and log in.  In Zucktopia you will see what he wants you to see, which is generally the right wing propaganda that pays top dollar.

The problem is that you can’t goose-step around with your neo-fascist buddies if you don’t have legs, which means all torchlight rallies will be limited to less than a dozen people.  Limitations of the platform I’m afraid.

And so this too will go nowhere in 2022.  At best we’ll see some more creepy demos with uncanny-valley Mark Zuckerberg… and I leave you to decide if I mean his avatar or himself… talking up his dystopian future where all the bad parts of Facebook will be injected straight into your eyeballs via a VR mask strapped to your face like something reminiscent of Clockwork Orange.

20 – A Better Metaplace

The year started out with me poking at some of the vague statements that Raph Koster was making about his own multiverse plan, wondering at how his new company was going to address some of the more obvious issues, like who would be paying for all of it.

But that was me quibbling over details.  Here at the dawn of 2022 I don’t know anybody else I would trust as much as Raph to speak of a future vision of virtual worlds.  Most of the metaverse talk is castles in the sky, next to which Raph seems to be a guy with wood, nails, and a hammer, ready to build something real.

So, to try and turn this editorial into a prediction, I am going to say Raph Koster and Playable Worlds will deliver something tangible in 2022.  Not a complete product, but enough to get past the vague teases that have gone before and cement the company as serious in a sea of pretenders.

21 – Non Starters

I have to have a couple of gimme predictions on the list, so lets run down the quick list of things that won’t ship in 2022 (2 points per correct guess):

  1. Crimson Desert
  2. Star Citizen
  3. Squadron 42
  4. Camelot Unchained
  5. Pnatheon: Rise of the whatever will get us a headline

Extra Credit Guesses

A bonus 10 points each if these come to pass

  • CCP will go really overboard on defense and decide that electing the CSM is a bad idea, since that process tends to fill the seats with people who have independent ideas.  Instead, taking a cue from Blizzard, they will let players apply to be on the CSM, picking the candidates that most suit the company needs.
  • Meanwhile, the WoW Player Council will be a one-time production.  After a year of shooting down ideas from the current council, Blizzard will thank members for their service, declare the whole thing a wonderful success, then not ask for applications for a new council as the team goes off to do whatever they were planning to do in the first place.

Scoring

As I usually do, each prediction is worth 10 points if I get it correct, with partial credit available.  I have already marked some of the predictions with “points per correct call” for multi-title guesses. With 21 predictions, that is 210 possible points.    Extra credit predictions don’t count against my win percentage, which I assume will be very low, as it is most years.

Again, I want to remind some readers that these are predictions, not wishes.  My wishes for would be sunshine and lollipops compared to what I have laid out above.  This is just what I think could happen after having been through both 2020 and 2021, a pair of years that saw fit to try and beat any cheery optimism out of me.

Which isn’t to say I don’t want to hear any contrary positions.  As I said at the top, discussion is an aspect of the whole thing and  I expect to be right on 30% of these tops, so in disagreeing with any one of my predictions you are more likely to end up correct in the end.

Anyway, the coming twelve months will reveal the truth and I’ll be back in December to count up the score.

Answers to My Questions for 2021

Back at the start of the year I eschewed the usual predictions post and instead went in for a round of questions.  After 2020 I was clearly feeling unprepared to predict anything, though this was not the first time I went down that path.  Now we have hit the middle of December and it is time to see if any of my questions got answers we like.

2020 plus 1

There is a long pattern of me making such posts on the first of the year.

Anyway, let’s get tucked in and see what I can come up with.

What will a return to normalcy bring to the video game industry?

Right off the bat I am going to have to object here to the assumption that we’ve returned to anything like normalcy.  We’re not in 2020 anymore, but we’re not not in 2020 anymore either.  The shadow of that year lay heavily over this one, its poison seeping in.  People who can are still working from home, Covid is still spreading, the economy is still in a bind from the pandemic, and the world still seems to be going to hell at a rapid pace.

Will Shadowlands hold players?

Well, at least we have an easy one here.  The answer is “no.”  There are a few reasons, not the least of which is Blizzard not releasing much in the way of additional content and Blizzard being revealed as a nightmarish Dickensian workhouse of misogyny and intolerance.  Also, maybe “run Torghast every day for the next two years” wasn’t the winning plan that somebody thought it was.

Will Diablo Immortal ship?

Another easy one!  And another “no.”   Wyatt Cheng once asked if we had phones.  Many of us probably have new ones since he asked that question at BlizzCon 2018.  Now does he have a game?  That seems to be a more pertinent question at this point.

Does Blizzard have anything new planned?

Three for three here on the easy questions, with another big “no” on the tally.  Diablo II Resurrected is about as “new” as they got, and they had Vicarious Visions do the remaster of a twenty year old title for that.  It was a good remaster, but it wasn’t new.

Along with that we had Burning Crusade Classic and WoW Classic Season of Mastery, also not new.  Even the solo mode for Hearthstone didn’t feel very new.  I guess their bigger company issues got in the way for some of that, but it still feels like they came into 2021 just winging it and hoping something would come up.  And, honestly, they don’t seem to have much lined up for 2022.  How can such a big studio… more people work on WoW than most MMO studios have total employees… deliver so little?

What does Daybreak under EG7 really portend?

A reverse merger, with Ji Ham now at the helm?  I wouldn’t have called that one.  Otherwise there has been some promises for the future, but the first year really seemed like business as usual for Daybreak… except maybe they didn’t lay so many people off in 2021.  That’s a plus.

Will Norrath continue to boom?

Kinda, maybe, sorta.  As noted above, things were mostly business as usual.  That has generally been good for the Norrath titles, EverQuest and EverQuest II, which get an expansion in November/December and a major content drop in late spring/early summer every year.  So things roll on there.

But when it comes to doing anything new, it is LOTRO they want to put on consoles, DCUO they want to update, and an unannounced Marvel IP MMO that gets all the headlines.  They even keep bringing up H1Z1.  But EverQuest as a franchise?  Any plans for that look to be dead.

What happens with H1Z1?

Nothing.  As I wrote above, EG7 keeps bringing it up when they talk about the important IPs they control.  There is clearly some wishcasting going on about the title returning to the top of the battle royale genre. But actual progress?  There was some mention that they had a few people look into being able to run a build, but otherwise nobody appears to be working H1Z1 in any meaningful way.

At least they stopped renaming it I suppose.

Where is Cold Iron Studios?

Not with Daybreak and EG7, we know that much.  Somewhere between the announcement that Daybreak was purchasing Cold Iron and the launch of their game Aliens: Fireteam Elite, Cold Iron went somewhere else.  Details are hazy, the story is mostly inferred, but Cold Iron never made it into the EG7 stable of studios.

What does ArenaNet do after all the departures?

Pretend nothing has changed and announce an expansion?  This is the problem with bringing up studios and games I do not watch closely.  A bunch of key people left ANet last year, but back in August they announced the End of Dragons, slated for February 2022, so I guess everything is good.  Maybe?  I don’t really know.

Where does CCP go next with New Eden?

Nowhere?  Seriously, after the Triglavian story cycle the company has been been focused on the new player experience and trying to force the in-game economy into a form that they believe is best for the long term survival of the game, ignoring the short term “hey, can you give us something fun?” requests from the players.  Short sheeting the economy isn’t fun.  Even if you don’t care about the economy and mock miners and industrialists who are complaining, you have to admit that there is very little fun in what CCP has been doing for the last year.

Will CCP stop strangling the New Eden economy?

No.  There was a promise over the summer that the end of scarcity was coming.  But the Q4 quadrant, New Dawn: Age of Prosperity, involved very little prosperity.  For every relaxation of the economic restrictions there was some matching nerf to offset things, often hidden behind some oppressive new game mechanic.  CCP said they were listening to feedback, but they mostly slowed their roll a bit (compression will be in 2022 now) and tried re-arranging the deck chairs some (“waste” got renamed to “residue”) as they carried forward with the goal of resetting the economy to some past halcyon state.  I am sure this will end well.

How Will World War Bee End?

The side with the 3:1 numbers advantage got tired and went home.

There are many ways to spin who “won” the war.  PAPI can claim that they forced the Imperium down from four regions to one constellation and destroyed trillions of ISK in ships and structures.  The Imperium can claim that they held out, denied PAPI their stated victory conditions, and in the end destroyed as much in ships and structures as PAPI did.

As for losing the war, that award generally goes to the group that loses their space and has to move elsewhere.  That makes Legacy Coalition, the main instigators of the war under Vily, the losers.  TEST, the leading alliance in Legacy, lost their old space, couldn’t hold their new space, and ended up trying to live as far away from the Imperium as they possibly could.  Brave gets a special mention for losing hardest of all, as not only did they lose their old space and their new space, but now the rest of PAPI is attacking them because Brave sold structures to the Imperium so they could at least asset safety their stuff and get some seed ISK in the bank to carry on.

Really though, the honor of ending the war goes to CCP.  It was already somewhat obvious after the second battle of M2-XFE that their servers were not going to be up to a final mighty battle.  And then CCP made changes to resources and production that made capital ships too valuable to expend freely, so the attackers were limited to subcaps.  In the choice between investing a lot of time and effort in a real blockade of the final Imperium constellation or just going home, they opted to go home.

Will Nintendo announce a remake of Pokemon Diamond & Pearl?

Yes, goddammit, yes they did.  About freaking time.  And it has shipped and there is a copy for me and my daughter under the Christmas tree.  We’ll see how that plays out soon enough.

Will crowd funded MMOs finally find their way?

Ha ha ha ha… no.  I mean, Crowfall went live I think.  I am not sure it will survive, but it shipped.  And they are a stand out in the stable of crowd funded MMOs, which mostly promised things they couldn’t deliver.  Don’t spend money on things that you cannot play today.

Project: Gorgon is the right path, as it was in playable form from the day of the first monetary ask. Camelot Unchained is the wrong path, asking for money, blowing through every promised date ever, and starting a new project before the promised one is even in beta.  And then there is Star Citizen… well, they certainly know how to milk a community.  Star Citizen is a lot of things, but being an actual video game seems to be a few bullets down the list.

Is there anything new possible for MMORPGs?

The metaverse maybe?  That seemed to be the topic for 2021.  I don’t know if it is Raph Koster’s desire to remake the simple days of MUDs in the 90s or Mark Zuckerberg’s dystopian vision of an all controlling metaverse that turns our very desires against us, but I guess either might be something new… at least for MMORPGs.

Oh, and something about crypto and NFTs.  But we’ll probably burst that bubble in 2022.

Will I play anything new this year?

Valheim.  That was a bit of a left field star, but ended up being our main game for about two months earlier this year.  New World showed up and, once the initial chaos settled down, the instance group got into the game.  And then there was Forza Horizon 4 & 5.  Open world driving for the win.  There were a couple of other small titles that were new, but nothing that I invested more than a couple of hours in.

That I played three new games made 2021 a departure from the usual routine.  In 2020 80% of my game time was spent in WoW, WoW Classic, and EVE Online.  The year isn’t over yet, but so far those three titles represent less than 50% of my tracked play time.

Will VR get a killer app this year?

Ha ha ha ha… no.  VR will remain a niche so long as it requires a real world obscuring mask strapped to your face… oh, and the motion sickness issue gets addressed.  Ready Player One and Zuckerberg’s idea that we’re all going to live in his ad laden VR metaverse hell is a pipe dream.

Will the industry be smart enough to keep regulators away?

Not really.  The industry’s best defense so far has been regulators being interested in other things to further their own interests.  It has to be a slow news day for lockboxes to make the headlines of late, so politicians and regulators have mostly been busy elsewhere.   Except for Blizzard.   Yeah, Blizzard is having some regulatory issues, though not over lockboxes and that sort of thing, just mundane things like running a hostile, discriminatory work place.  The usual corporate thing.

But the industry keeps on trying to get the government to come down on them hard, with cryto and NFTs on their list of things to try next.

Will We lose Section 230 Protection?

Not yet, though Facebook seems to be pushing to have that taken away, because they have the money and the staffing to deal with any new regulations which would help them cement their place in creating our dystopian future… and present… and recent past.

What will I do when the blog turns 15?

Write a post about it.  That is my answer for most things I suppose.

So that was the list for 2021.  As those were just questions rather than predictions there is no score.

I think I’ll be able to warm up to doing some predictions for 2022.  I have a couple of weeks to get on it.  But first I need to make a 2022 graphic.

The WoW Classic Season of Mastery Starts Today

The time has come for the next WoW Classic experiment from Blizzard, the WoW Classic Season of Mastery will be available all over the world later today… at least today Pacific time, tomorrow in some places further east.

The Season of Mastery Launch Times

This is Blizzard’s second dip in the nostalgia well for the vanilla WoW experience and I am interested to see how recyclable the idea is.  In 2019 it was huge, but for last week’s name reservation event they put up just 13 servers.  Not that 13 servers is anything to look askance at.  There are a lot of MMOs out there that would love to fill up 13 servers.  I think the EverQuest team is happy to fill up just one server every time they roll out the retro experience.  But it is well shy of the 80+ servers that WoW Classic saw two years back.

Back then they had to have layering and free server transfers to help alleviate the crowding and queues.  Now they are offering free server transfers off of dead servers in the age of Burning Crusade Classic.

Anyway, we shall see tomorrow and in the coming weeks whether or not they have under estimated… or possibly over estimated… the demand for a fresh run at vanilla.

Though, it isn’t really vanilla this time… or even less vanilla than WoW Classic was the first time around.  Blizzard has finally tallied up all the changes they are making for this run compared to WoW Classic, and the list is pretty long.  I might as well toss them in here for posterity:

Systems

  • All characters under level 60 will receive the “Adventure Awaits” buff.
    • This buff will increase the experience gained from quest turn-ins by 40%.
    • This buff will also grant additional bonus experience to Group and Dungeon Quest turn-ins.
  • In raid instances, players cannot benefit from world buff effects such as Rallying Cry of the Dragonslayer, Warchief’s Blessing, and Spirit of Zandalar.
  • Buff and debuff limits will be removed.
  • Players who kill an enemy while in a group with one or more players at a much higher level than the slain enemy will receive significantly less experience.
  • Calculations used to determine the experience awarded for enemies that have been “tapped” by one player or group but killed by another player or group were adjusted.
  • The Looking For Group tool from Burning Crusade Classic is present in Season of Mastery.
  • Chat reporting feedback improvements are available.
    • Added in-chat confirmations for players who report misbehavior in chat, as well as for those that someone may report.
    • When reporting a player for verbal harassment or other disruptive chat in-game, players will receive a confirmation when there’s an action against the other player.
    • When your behavior has moderately changed for the worse, you may receive a warning message so that you can modify your behavior before receiving a penalty.
    • When acutely inappropriate behavior from a player is observed, the system may skip a warning and take immediate action.
    • /ignore now blocks characters on the ignored player’s WoW account.

  Content

  • There will be significant adjustments to enemies in Onyxia’s Lair and Molten Core:
    • Bosses and other creatures that are part of boss encounters have had their health increased.
    • Augmentations to many existing boss mechanics and new mechanics introduced to challenge players in Season of Mastery have been made.
  • The availability of Mining and Herbalism nodes has been significantly increased in all zones, as well as:
  • Max-level herbalists have a slight chance to obtain Black Lotus when looting a high-level herbalism node.
  • Western and Eastern Plaguelands will enjoy new spawns of Plaguebloom.
  • There have been adjustments and additions to Herbalism nodes in Dungeons.
  • There’s been an increase in the availability of certain crafting materials such as Elemental Fire, Elemental Earth, and Elemental Water.
  • High Elf Watchers have appeared in Ironforge and Undercity, seeking to chronicle adventurers who bear a “Soul of Iron”.
  • Some dungeon enemies have received slight adjustments:
    • Stratholme – All Undead creatures in Stratholme will now gain immunity to snares 30 seconds after entering combat and gain immunity to roots after an additional 30 seconds of combat.
    • Maraudon – Many creatures in Maraudon will gain immunity to snares 30 seconds after entering combat and gain immunity to roots after an additional 30 seconds of combat.
    • Maraudon – 30 seconds after gaining immunity to root effects, enemies gain 50% increased movement speed.
    • Maraudon and Stratholme – Crowd control of any type (except snares or roots) will reset the snare immunity, root immunity, and speed buffs.
    • Zul’Farrak – Zombie Trolls in Zul’Farrak now drop fewer lucrative treasures. Most of the loot previously dropped by Zombie Trolls has been redistributed to other enemies in the dungeon.
    • The denizens of Blackrock Depths have grown suspicious of criminal activity and will now attempt to stash their most valuable items away if they suspect a thief in their midst.
  • There’s been a reduction in the cost of training riding skills and purchasing level 40 mounts.
  • Dire Maul will be available at the launch of Season of Mastery.
  • The Gordok Tribute chest in Dire Maul can no longer be looted by players not on the tap list for King Gordok himself when the encounter is defeated.
  • Changes made in patch 1.10 to dungeon rewards will be in place at the launch of Season of Mastery, including the availability of Idols, Librams, and Totems, and adjusted drop locations and drop rates of some items such as the Hand of Justice in Blackrock Depths.
  • Changes and additions made to reputation vendors and item drops in patches 1.6 through 1.11 will be in place at the launch of Season of Mastery, with a few exceptions:
    • Items on vendors and items associated with reputations are not accessible until a later content phase, such as the Zandalar Tribe.
    • The (world drop) plans for Titanic Leggings and Sageblade will be made available in a future content phase.
  • Summon elemental Templars and Dukes in the Twilight’s Hammer camps in Silithus to facilitate the completion of the Dungeon Set 2 questlines at the launch of Season of Mastery.
  • Please note that the rest of the Cenarion Hold and Silithus activities associated with Anh’Qiraj will remain unavailable until the Anh’Qiraj War Effort event kicks off later.
  • Level 50 class quests will be available at the launch of Season of Mastery.
  • The healing provided from the Diamond Flask trinket on-use effect no longer benefits from bonus +healing or spell power.

 PvP

  • We have doubled the maximum amount of weekly ranking progress gained. Dedicated players who consistently finish each week at the top of their realm and faction’s rankings each week can expect to move through the ranks roughly twice as fast as was possible in Original World of Warcraft.
  • Warsong Gulch, Arathi Basin, and Alterac Valley are available from the launch of Season of Mastery, including their associated reputations and rewards.
  • Season of Mastery brings back many Horde and Alliance Guard NPCs removed from Alterac Valley in patch 1.11 of Original World of Warcraft.
  • At the launch of Season of Mastery, we will enable the World PvP objectives in Eastern Plaguelands.

There are some interesting things on the list.  I think the faster/smooth leveling will appeal to the raiding crowd that wants to get in and start on that without the somewhat uneven ride to level cap that vanilla offered and which WoW Classic faithfully recreated.  I did the grind to 60 on two characters, but was pretty happy with the exp changes that came with the Burning Crusade Classic update.

At this point my WoW account has finally lapsed and I am not interested enough to renew it just for this, but I will keep my eye on the news to see how it is going.

Addendum: Just in time for the launch a new round of horrible insider details from Activision Blizzard.  We’ll see if that puts a damper on things.

WoW Classic Season of Mastery Name Reservations Available Today

Blizzard’s World of Warcraft Season of Mastery, their return to the nostalgia well, is on its way.  This is another fresh start opportunity for those wanting the day one WoW Classic experience, and the whole thing kicks off for real today… or tonight… or possibly tomorrow depending on where you live… with a name reservation event.

When you can get logged in to reserve a character name

There was a similar event for WoW Classic more than two years back, which turned into a bit of a fiasco because they hadn’t put up enough servers.  Not enough servers became a bit of a theme for the launch, with long queues and more servers being added and layering tech, which allowed more players to be on a server than it would otherwise hold, having to run much longer into the life of the game than Blizzard expected.

So I am sure that this time around Blizzard will be prepared.  That have had the big WoW Classic launch, back in 2019, and the Burning Crusade Classic launch earlier this year, to help them size things.

And with all of that experience, they have 13 servers setup for name reservations today, eight in the US and Pacific and five in Europe.

  • U.S. East Barman Shanker PvP
  • U.S. East Jom Gabbar PvP
  • U.S. East Shadowstrike Normal
  • U.S. West Mutanus PvP
  • U.S. West Nightfall PvP
  • U.S. West Obsidian Edge Normal
  • Australia Lionheart Normal
  • Australia Swamp of Sorrows PvP
  • EU Bonescythe PvP
  • EU Dreadnaught PvP
  • EU Ironfoe PvP
  • EU Kingsfall Normal
  • EU Quel’Serrar Normal

That doesn’t seem like a lot of servers.

But I cannot tell if the Blizzard team feels that WoW Classic has been done once, so it won’t ever be as popular again so there is no need to plan on anything like the 80+ servers WoW Classic eventually needed the first time around, or if they feel that Blizzard’s bad odor in the news cycle means nobody will show up for their grand re-opening (though that certainly didn’t seem to be a problem for Diablo II Resurrected).

Now, I suspect that this event is as much to let people reserve names… though this time around you will be limited to one character on one server… as it is a way to test the popularity of the idea.  After the 2019 name reservation event Blizzard started adding a lot more servers.

So we will have to wait and see if Blizzard piles on some more servers between today’s name reservation event and next Tuesday’s launch of the WoW Classic Season of Mastery.

Nostalgia and the Legacy of Blizzard North Keeps Blizzard Strong in the Q3 2021 Results

For Diablo, our plan to enter an era of unprecedented content scale for the franchise has experienced a strong start with the September release of Diablo II: Resurrected, the return of one of the most acclaimed titles in PC gaming history. First week sales of the title were the highest recorded for a remaster from the company.

-Activision-Blizzard Q3 2021 Presentation

As anticipated, yesterday saw the Activision-Blizzard Q3 2021 financials announced, which covers the period from July 1 through September 30 2021.

I put those dates in there just to be clear as to why I expected at least a little drama on the Blizzard front being that is the timeline when the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing hostile workplace lawsuit was headline news in the gaming community.

If players were really mad at Blizzard for being a horrible company, then it feels like there should have been some pain on their bottom line.  Instead, Blizzard posted its strongest quarter in 2021, bringing in $493 million, up $60 million from the $433 posted in Q2 and $10 million ahead of the $483 million posted in Q1.

Those were not “launch a new WoW expansion” numbers like Q4 2020, but they were still ahead of “its a pandemic and we’re all stuck at home playing video games” numbers.

Activision Blizzard Q3 2021 Financial Results Presentation – Slide 13

Margins were down a bit, 38% in Q3 compared to 43% in Q1, but still up when measured against Q2, when they dipped to 33%.

Overall, things were looking up for Blizzard in Q3, which might have been expected to have been the summer of their discontent.  What saved Blizzard’s bacon?

Apparently Diablo II Resurrected is a very popular title.  According to the earnings call it was a huge hit in South Korea, which might explain why I see Battle.net queues close to midnight Pacific time.  While people have been upset about BNet’s performance, it is apparently one of those problems related to being too successful.

That, however, was the extent of the good news at Blizzard as their achievements slide in the presentation deck shows.

Activision Blizzard Q3 2021 Financial Results Presentation – Slide 8

It opens with the quote I have at the top of the post, which honestly could have been taken as faint praise given how the Warcraft III remaster went.  Even the StarCraft remaster wasn’t a huge of a deal.  But Diablo II Resurrected, which launched on PC and consoles in September, was enough to carry the quarter, because the rest of that slide is excuses and qualified successes.

Diablo Immortal, which I keep reminding people had a playable demo at BlizzCon 2018, is now slated for some point in the first half of Q2 2022, while Diablo IV is nowhere in sight.  It seems unlikely for 2022.

The Overwatch 2 entry is likewise vague on when it might be a thing that can generate revenue.  2022 doesn’t seem to be the target anymore.

Hearthstone is hard to judge, so whatever “stable” means, that was what it was.  We’ll see if the new game mode warrants a big mention when they review Q4.

And World of Warcraft, which is running both retail and classic modes now, recorded the strongest engagement for a non-expansion year which, given the cliffs the subscriber base has been driven off of for some of those years, might not be as big of a brag as you might think, especially when they’re running Shadowlands and Burning Crusade Classic in parallel.  That the Monthly Active Users for Q3 2021 stayed stable at 26 million for Blizz while D2R was booming probably means WoW was down by quite a bit.

So I guess a qualified good quarter for the Blizzard side of the house, even if they are the third place studio, such that people are starting to refer to the company as “ABK,” for Activision Blizzard King.

It also seems that bad behavior didn’t harm them as much as it might have.  But gamers are not, as a larger group, an especially politically aware group I imagine.  I noted yesterday that Riot didn’t seem to suffer from bad behavior, with League of Legends remaining hugely popular even as headlines haunted them.  Maybe being a bad place to work doesn’t hurt your bottom line, which I am sure will make everybody toiling in the video games industry happy.

You can certainly argue that the lack of a strong plan for Shadowlands and having no other fresh titles on deck hurt them as much, if not more than, the investigation by the state of California did.

We will see have to see what Q4 looks like, with the new Hearthstone game mode, WoW Classic Season of Mastery, and the cat mount being the only big items visible.  I’m surprised the cat mount didn’t get a mention on the Blizzard slide.

But we won’t get the Q4 news until February, so we’ll see what happens then.

Related:

Can Blizzard Do Anything That Doesn’t Look Bad Right Now?

Betteridge’s law of headlines suggests that the answer to this question must be “No,” unless we consider it an open ended question.  But the easy answer is “no,” and I’ll stake that against whatever Activision Blizzard announces in a few hours at their Q3 2021 investor’s call.

In advance of that however, we can look at the cat mount.  Did you know that you can buy a cat mount now, a flying cat mount no less, in World of Warcraft.  Well you can, and it is just $25 for the “Sunwarmed Feline,” described as the “fuzziest mount Azeroth has ever seen.”

It is admittedly very fuzzy

Now, even in the best of times, somebody would have been shouting “cash grab” or complaining about a subscription game padding their bankroll with cash shop purchases.

But that has died down somewhat, and you can usually predict the regulars who are going to show up with that complaint.  We’re kind of past the outrage era of the sparkle pony and the $10 horse I think.  Another mount in the cash shop is pretty much expected now and then.

Unless, of course, your studio is being investigated by the state for having been a hostile work place since forever ago and senior staff… who were already leaving rather regularly… begin getting the boot and even the CEO has to take a temporary cut.  Oh, and your studio is basically living off of nostalgia for games launched 15-20 years ago.

When that happens doing anything like adding a new mount to the online store is immediately greeted by rage.  How dare you continue to conduct business as normal!

I mean, look at this headline over at Massively OP:

Tell us how you really feel…

Not that I am holding up Massively OP as a beacon of temperate games journalism… I think one of the biggest arguments in favor of video games being art is the amount of ink spilled over opinions, and their site is driven by opinion as much as any… but a year ago that headline would have just been World of Warcraft releases a new cash shop mount and would have had maybe 20 comments split evenly between grumbles about corporate greed and joy about the cool new kitty.  Now the pitchforks and torches are out.

And that is pretty much the reaction to everything.  If they let somebody else go, change some NPCs name, cover up some cleavage, or remove a suggestive joke or emoji the crowd is angry because they aren’t doing enough, they are doing the wrong things, they should be focused on something else, or they are just doing some window dressing rather than fixing the main problem, take your pick.

And even things that might otherwise seem good get the veil of suspicion draped over them.  It is hard not to think that the whole WoW Classic Season of Mastery was a quick attempt to shore up Q4 2021 revenue and win some goodwill by feeding us some more nostalgia.

Even when the press release announced that Bobby Kotick had asked the board of directors to to cut his compensation, my gut reaction was to wonder aloud if they said yes.  Everything they say, everything they do, is under the microscope, so if the press release just says “asked” I want to know the response. I don’t want to hear that he asked, I want to hear that it was done.

This is what happens when people feel you have betrayed your trust, when you private reality turns out to be kind of shitty compared to your public persona, when you prove once again that corporations are not people so cannot be our friends, ever.  Our relationships with them are purely transactional and if we see them any other way we’re just kidding ourselves.

Of course, in the middle of all of this, are a lot of actual people who do the work that makes Blizzard go, most of whom probably just want to do their job in a safe environment where they can be themselves.  This has to be a miserable time for them.

But they have to move forward, the company has to move forward or a lot of people will lose their jobs, maybe jobs that they really love, jobs that they have worked many years to get to, and even if corporations done care about the individual, “Blizzard Lays Off Staff” would be another blow of a headline.

So I wonder what the other side of this looks like.  Ion Hazzikostas has an interview over at Venture Beat about trying to move forward.  Because they have to move forward, fixing things and shipping products, or they all go home.

And outrage has an expiration date, unless you keep feeding it, which has been one of the Blizzard problems; we keep getting new revelations.  The end doesn’t come until all the bad stuff comes out in the daylight.

There is a temptation to compare Blizzard to Riot, which went through its own series of damning revelations about being an incredibly hostile place to work if you weren’t a meat eating white hetro male.  The headlines for them dried up pretty fast after the initial revelations, though the state of California is still on them about working conditions.  The state will keep going until it stops getting complaints.

But Riot’s audience feels a little different than Blizzards.  Not that there isn’t toxicity in any large, popular online game, but League of Legends has a reputation in that regard above and beyond the likes of WoW.  And during the time when Riot was in the headlines they remained at the top of the monthly SuperData chart… I miss that bit of monthly insight… so the bottom line didn’t seem to be hard hit.

So I suppose we’ll see later today with the investor’s call how hard Blizzard is getting hit when it comes to the bottom line, though how much of that is outrage at the company and how much is the fact that Blizz just hasn’t been delivering much new in a while will still be up for debate.

October in Review

The Site

It is the last day of the month and I know what you’re all dying to hear about.

You want to know how a month of ads went, right?  RIGHT?

Well, you’re going to hear about it anyway.  It is Halloween and that is my trick.  Treats come later, if at all.

For the month of October, up through yesterday, the ads on the blog earned a total of Fourteen Dollars and Eighteen Cents, not counting today, because the ad calculation for a given day only shows up the next day.

Results through October 30th

Not bad.  Better than I expected honestly.  It I can keep that going the Premium hosting plan will pay for itself.  Each ad served up is apparently worth about 0.0176 cents, so quantity matters.

I hope that all of the regulars have some sort of ad blocker running all the same, because some of the ads are a little too on the point relative to my writing I think.

This is an image of an ad, not an actual ad

Ula told me that she saw an ad for New World on the site at one point.  She even sent me a screen shot.

Once again, an image of an ad, not an actual ad

That sort of ad appearing here would greatly please me.

But I mostly see old people ads, which might be because the algorithm knows I am an old person.

Anyway, feedback on ads is always welcome.

In other site related news, after five weeks of going back and fourth with a random series of WordPress.com Happiness Engineers… they just put your email responses in a queue for whoever is up next… it looks like polls are working again and that the issues I pointed out have been mostly fixed.  Of course, the Happiness Engineers kept telling me I was wrong and everything was as it was supposed to be almost the whole time… when they were deigned to respond to my actual issue rather than just linking me to a help file that was not at all helpful… so I would send them an “I told you so,” but it would just go to some random person with no history on the topic.

Okay, one Happiness Engineer did, in fact, acknowledge the issue… actually multiple issues… I was bringing to them and even said they could reproduce them.  But my response went to somebody else and that was the end of all helpfulness.

Still, the whole experience was better service than I used to get when they just let rando unpaid volunteers do their support, which generally resulted in somebody giving an opinion about your blog rather than dealing with the actual issue.

One Year Ago

I started using that 34″ ultra-wide monitor.

Somebody at Google Stadia was ranting about making streamers pay.

Blizzard delayed the Shadowlands expansion.  But they were building up for the AQ war supply event in WoW Classic.  And we got a late November launch date before the month was out.  WoW seemed to be hanging on according to the Q3 2020 results.

I was also wondering if we were going to get a level squish with every WoW expansion going forward.  And then the big level squish patch hit and all our level 120 characters were suddenly level 60.  The only thing was to try it out, though it was a bit strange.  The new Exile’s Reach starter area was… new.  We put together a little group to try the level squished Northrend.

Ula made us an instance group video about our time in Sunken Temple.  Then there was the running of the Gnomes.  And then we started some prep for a little instance called Blackrock Depths.

Meanwhile, StarCraft II fell off of Blizzard’s active development list.

The EverQuest team announced the Claws of Veeshan expansion, the EverQuest II team announced the Reign of Shadows expansion, and the  Lord of the Rings Online launched their War of Three Peaks expansionette.

And in EVE Online World War Bee was in full swing, with PAPI finally trying to gain a foothold in Mother Delve.  That led to Guinness World Record setting battles, which CCP got us ready for by introducing a UI Only mode to the game.  That was some timing.  I’ll sum up the war as a list:

And outside of the war I did a bit of quiet mining in the new ore distribution plan.  The Reavers SIG turned six years old.  We got a Crimson Harvest event for Halloween.  The Howling Interdictors update gave us stasis bubbles.  And then there were the Triglavians.  They captured 27 empire systems and, with another update, they were yanked into a new Triglavian region named Pochven.  Farewell Niarja.

Sean Connery, the favorite James Bond of many, passed away.

Finally, there was the tale of the Canadian visitor.

Five Years Ago

Amazon’s game studio announced some games including the alleged MMO New World.  Being given almost no information about New World did not stop some people from banging the hype drum, boosting expectations, and generally setting themselves up for disappointment.  I wonder how that turned out?

Also announced was the Nintendo Switch, which would allow millennials to play video games at roof-top parties, if the trailer was to be take literally.

Civilization VI launched and became the first Civ title I did not acquire at the soonest opportunity.  It just didn’t excite me.  Instead I was getting my strategy game fix with Stellaris.

I reviewed the Mineserver Kickstarter campaign a year after its launch.  The units were nine months late at that point, with no end to the wait in sight.  The whole thing eventually failed to get off the ground.  Another Kickstarter crash and burn.

I made it to level 20 in Pokemon Go.  There was also a Halloween event.

Tom Chilton, of unfortunate quote fame, let out another one when he said that World of Warcraft had over 10 million subscribers again after the Legion expansion launch.  Blizzard, having taken a vow of silence on subscription numbers the year before, denied everything and claimed he was mis-quoted.

Over at Daybreak they were discontinuing game cards and taking H1Z1: King of the Kill off of Station Cash as an RMT currency.  They did give us firm dates for the two Kurnak based expansions for EverQuest and EverQuest II.

In EVE Online, while we were fortifying Delve our foes in the Casino War began to turn on each other, with Pandemic Legion and their followers declaring their intention to take Tribute and Vale of the Silent away from Circle of Two and TEST.  All I could do was give a Nelson Muntz, “Haw-haw!” at that turn of events.

Still, that wasn’t half as much fun as CCP declaring casinos against the EULA with the coming of the Ascension expansion.  Our foes would have to actually earn ISK in-game.  I wondered what that would do to the economy.

We also got the YC118.9 update which, among other things, meant the death of the in-game browser.  We did get breast cancer awareness skins.  Yay, pink skins!

At our end of New Eden there was a lot to do.  I was fighting the Blood Raider menace with my Ishtar and looking for ways to help the coalition.  Reavers turned two years old and were blowing up citadels and fighting over timers in Querious.  The coalition itself was ranging up into Fountain with a new doctrine.

And in World of Warcraft the Legion got its first post-launch content drop while my own enthusiasm for the expansion was starting to wane.

Finally, I was at EVE Vegas, but since it lasted through Halloween I didn’t post about it until November.  Also, a new version of my blogger feed was operating in the side bar.

Ten Years Ago

We all said farewell to Steve Jobs.

Tobold was predicting that CCP would go bankrupt in 2012.  I am never going to let that one go.

I summed up what I liked and disliked about Need for Speed: World.

I got Civilization II running on Windows 7 64-bit.  People still come here for that article.  I managed to get it to run on Windows 10 since then.  But it didn’t work back then with my original 16-bit copy, I had to get the 32-bit version, Civilization II Gold Edition.

I started another contest, this time for Azerothian travel posters.

I recalled the start of the alien invasion!

EA was planning to unify all of its free to play online games to use the same in-game currency… something that never actually happened… also, I think all the games on the list are dead now.

Nintendo was talking about augmented reality on their new 3DS console.  Five years later we got Pokemon Go… on iOS and Android.

The announcement of their Unity release got Gaff and I back to TorilMUD to mess around with the Tako Demon.  I had to work to remember some MUD command syntax to get his corpse afterwards.

Then there was BlizzCon.  The instance group was already bemused by Cataclysm, and the mention of Pandas did not revive our spirits.  Pet Battles seemed interesting at the time.  In coming to grips with the Pandaria announcements, I assumed that I would end up buying the expansion.

And then there were other WoW related things, like the announcement of the Guardian Cub, which some people predicted would be like PLEX in EVE Online.  Not quite, but it probably provided test data for the eventual WoW Token idea.

In EverQuest, on the Fippy Darkpaw server, after much complaining, SOE seemed to suddenly wake up and start doing things.  Problems were, you know, solved!  It was becoming a kinder, gentler server.  Sort of.

And then there was Rift.  We started scouting it as a potential home for in instance group after the disaster in EverQuest II.  The scouting went well enough that we all ended up in Telara.

Finally, I was sorting through many press releases and wondering where this so-called GDC Hall of Fame was.

Fifteen Years Ago

The site got a mention in VirginWorlds Podcast episode 33 while Blessing of Kings was telling me how to be a raider in World of Warcraft.

I was defending instancing and game company forums as well as moaning about the fact that I couldn’t find a decent video card for my AGP motherboard.  Also, Blizzard’s WoW patcher was pissing me off as well while Lore was mocking WoW groups. [Damn, that was done in Flash, so I guess it is gone now.]

Our Saturday night World of Warcraft instance group completed our first full dungeon run in the Deadmines.  That meant my first dungeon run write up.  And my second.  But we got it on our third try.  Then it was off to The Wailing Caverns.  Did anybody have a five player dungeon adventure path like WoW back then?

I decided in EVE Online that covert ops would be a good career choice.  It certainly sounds cool.  However, the effort was cut short when I got to some of the pricier skills.

When it came to the then upcoming Lord of the Rings Online, I was up in arms about pointy ears and monster play, while the approaching Age of Conan made me think more about Barsoom.

I felt that fall urge to run around in EverQuest,  no doubt prompted by another EQ nostalgia post, plus I wanted to take some pictures of Faydwer in order to compare them to the upcoming EverQuest II expansion, Echoes of Faydwer.

I also jumped into EverQuest II and got all confused (nothing new there) about the trade skill changes that occurred during the 10 months I was away.

And I spent some time carping about MMO pricing plans and wondering what pen and paper games might make good MMOs.

Twenty Years Ago

Dark Age of Camelot launched.  While I never played it… we were about to have a new baby in the house and we were having internet issues, and the world was falling apart due to 9/11… I had some friends who gave it a try.  I remember it being billed as “EverQuest without the suck” at some point.  Anyway, it is still alive, which is surprising because EA owns it.

Civilization III also showed up back in October of 2001, and I most definitely bought a copy of that.  I liked a lot of the ideas it brought, but it lost some of the raw simplicity of its predecessor.  I ended up playing a lot more Civ II even after Civ III was around.

Then there was Motor City Online, which was a bit of a precursor to Need for Speed: World.  I am kind of sad I missed it.  Of course, it was an EA MMO, so they scrapped it in less than two years, opting to go all in on The Sims Online.

Twenty-Five Years Ago

Marathon Infinity, the last of the Marathon series of shooters from Bungie came out.  That was the era of the awkwardly shaped software boxes.  I owned a copy.

Most Viewed Posts in October

  1. The Crimson Harvest Returns to EVE Online
  2. Minecraft and the Search for a Warm Ocean
  3. CCP Takes Aim at Cloaky Campers in EVE Online
  4. Robbing Some Space Banks
  5. The LOTRO Fate of Gundabad Expansion Targets November 10th Launch
  6. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  7. A Week in New World
  8. Watching Dune Part One
  9. CCP Releases the ESS Reserve Bank Keys and Hands Out ISK in EVE Online
  10. 20 Games that Defined the Apple II
  11. Word Ad Unleashed
  12. A Necromancer in Diablo II Resurrected

Search Terms of the Month

soe-game-today
[Not as many as there once were]

play civ 2 on windows 7
[Old OS and an older game]

ancient winter poncho
[I must insist, no Ponchos!]

всадник без головы 2.4.3
[Good luck with that, I never caught him]

Game Time from ManicTime

One game stands out on the list, and I will get to the reason why in its section below.  But it was generally a light month for me.  I did not play as little as I did last month, which was the least I played games since I started tracking my time, but it might be in contention for second place in that regard.

  1. Diablo II Resurrected – 83.52%
  2. EVE Online – 6.60%
  3. EverQuest II – 4.82%
  4. New World – 2.60%
  5. World of Warcraft – 1.07%
  6. Hearthstone – 0.76%
  7. WoW Classic – 0.44%
  8. EverQuest – 0.18%

I am not going to bother writing a section below about Hearthstone.  I played its new mode just long enough to earn the rat mount in WoW.  That is pretty much the sure fire way to get me to play.  And I really only logged into EverQuest to compare its version of the Overseer mini-game to the EverQuest II version.

Diablo II Resurrected

Clearly the game of the month for me.  That was in a large part because the inner ear infection I had after our trip to Hawaii just didn’t want to let go.  Even as I write this I still cannot hear very well out of my right ear, though the pain and most of the ringing has subsided.  The doc says it will get better over time, but you learn as you get older that your body takes a lot more time to recover from these sorts of things.

Anyway, with my head hurting I was really only good for a game that I could sit and click on, and that is where Diablo II Resurrected came in.  I am still playing it, even feeling better because it is still a game I enjoy, but at the start of the month it was all I could handle.

EVE Online

The post war quiet period continues.  I did actually get into a fleet and run off to a structure shoot late last week (kill here) just to keep up my record of getting on a kill mail every month for however many months I have managed that in a row.  If zKillboard is to be trusted, I have been on at least one kill mail every month since April of 2014.  That is kind of a streak.  Otherwise I have been logging in to check on events, get login rewards, and to keep up by PI stuff, though I have been pretty lax on that front.  Still, even with my low effort it netted me about 200 million ISK.

EverQuest II

As I mentioned in a post last week, I was suddenly filled with enthusiasm for EverQuest II, then I did the things I wanted to and kind of fell off.  I am still undecided about the next expansion, though that won’t come until late November or early December.  I also have to say that I still greatly prefer the EverQuest version of the Overseer mini-game.  I have no idea, for example, how to get new agents in the EQII version, while that is pretty much built in to the EQ version.

New World

The strange thing about New World is that I read a lot of news and blog posts about the game, and they almost all make me want to not play it.  That is generally the opposite of the norm, though I may very well have become more curmudgeonly with age.  Almost everything anybody writes about FFXIV makes me not want to play that either.

Still, I did log in a couple of times, if only to check out what Amazon gave me through their Prime Games program.  I haven’t even given a thought to transferring to a new realm or whatever.  At least there are no queues on my server, though the general lack of queues might point towards the direction the game is settling down into.

Pokemon Go

As with much else this month, I didn’t spend a lot of time with Pokemon Go, though I did go out and get a Pokestop daily, just to keep that streak bonus going.  It would have been a light month but last weekend our raid group binged on raiding and I ended up getting almost 150K xp out of that thanks to a timely luck egg.  I spent most of my Pokecoins on remote raid passes, but what else was I going to spend them on?

Level: 41 (92% of the way to 42 in xp, 4 of 4 tasks complete)
Pokedex status: 670 (+5) caught, 694 (+5) seen
Mega Evolutions obtained: 13 of 15
Pokemon I want: I need a Torkoal for my Hoenn Pokedex
Current buddy: Magikarp because he earns candy in 1km which I need for a task

World of Warcraft

It was Hallow’s End so I once more put forth a desultory effort to try and get the Headless Horseman’s mount.  I wasn’t all that into it, but I ran that dungeon at least once a day looking for that long denied drop.  It did not drop.  And so my record of failure on that front remains pristine.

WoW Classic

Since I detailed the instance group off into Diablo II Resurrected I haven’t spent much time in Burning Crusade Classic.  Though, as I pointed out in the D2R section above, I was also not really up to playing it for some of the month.  We’ll get back to it at some point.  We have not yet hit the point where we cannot overcome instances as a four person group.

Zwift

My attempt to exercise regularly has carried on fairly well so far.  My minimum goal remains a 20 minute ride three days a week and I have not fallen below that, though I have depended on the weekend, my makeup days, when work has been too busy for me to break free for a ride and a shower.

My distance so far is almost exactly the same as the drive from our house in Silicon Valley to Disneyland, at least if you could ride your bike down Interstate 5.  My stat totals:

  • Level – 10 (+1)
  • Distanced cycled – 372.4 miles (+107.5 miles)
  • Time – 20h 0m (+5h 32m)
  • Elevation climbed – 15,138 feet (+3,786 feet)
  • Calories burned – 12,296 (+3,513)

Coming Up

The Activision-Blizzard Q3 2021 earning call is on Tuesday, which should be interesting.  Will they cop to their problems on the Blizzard front or will they go with the usual anodyne phrases about post-expansion cycles and something about people going outside finally?  That will no doubt lead to a post here on Wednesday to cover how hard Blizz has been hit.

Some things are launching.  There might be an EverQuest and EverQuest II expansion, though at least one of those will likely wait until December just for the sake of timing, and the November one will no doubt come late in the month to avoid stepping on the LOTRO expansion, which will hit on November 10th.

The WoW Classic Season of Mastery will launch on November 16th.  There is also something called Endwalker that is going live on the 23rd.  That will probably be pretty quiet, right?  There won’t be a million blog posts about that I am sure.

Then, probably most important in my book, Pokemon Brilliant Diamond & Shining Pearl lands on November 19th.

Also on the list for November are new Call of Duty and Battlefield titles and the remaster of the original Grand Theft Auto trilogy,

Finally, an Elder Scrolls V – Skyrim Anniversary Edition launches on November 11th to celebrate a decade of Elder Scrolls V – Skyrim being ported and remastered for every platform known to man.  It seriously feels like the game has been out much longer than that given how often something new comes out about it.  I’d better go make sure I note that launch in the “Ten Years Ago” section of next month’s review.

Oh, and I am reminded that it is also IntPiPoMo, or International Picture Posting Month, in November.  The idea is to post 50 images to your blog, which I’ll probably do by just continuing to operate as normal.  Take the wins where you can find them.

WoW Classic Season of Mastery Goes Live on November 16th

Your chance to experience the rush and the crowds and queues, both in game and out, of a WoW Classic launch has returned

I bet they don’t line up this nicely in FFXIV

Blizzard has announced the launch date for their WoW Classic Season of Mastery servers.  Come November 16th 2021 in the US, or November 17th if you’re in Paris or beyond, you will be able to pile in to old Azeroth for another run through the game as it sorta was back in the day.  It will be a world-wide launch

The Season of Mastery Global Launch Times

If you’re jazzed to get back into semi-vanilla times again with your guild, you will probably want to get in there early and reserve a name for your main character.  You will be able to do so the evening of November 11th, at which time everybody with an active WoW subscription will be able to log in and reserve one name on one server.  Choose wisely and all of that.

There are some changes this time around when compared to the last run at a classic experience, which includes some pacing, difficulty, and quality of life changes I mentioned in a previous post.

While I am not exactly chomping at the bit for another run through a vanilla WoW experience… I think that might be more of a “once a decade” thing for me, I am sure there are plenty of people who missed it the first time around and raiding guilds who want to take another stab at the classic raids from the good old days.

Not mentioned so far that I have seen are the number of servers they plan to stand up.  We’ll probably get that soon as it will need to be decided on by the time they hit the name reservation day.  Of course, if things get swamped on the 11th then they might put more servers up before launch.

But if things are light… and given the mood about Blizzard right now that could be a possibility… well, I guess we’ll see.

But this completes the trifecta of nostalgia launches for 2021.  We got Burning Crusade Classic, Diablo II Resurrected, and now WoW Classic Season of Mastery.  I am happy with nostalgia trips, but it is tough to live on that alone.