Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Class Warfare destroys WoW's Class Forums

One of the interesting things I noticed about the World of Warcraft forums is that despite its toxicity, it still manages to attract a lot of players to its murky depths. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if the World of Warcraft forums had one of the highest participation rates for any MMO. This is partially because its only lightly moderated and it breeds trolls like a festering swampland. However, Blizzard also has a long history of responding to player opinions and outrage on the forums. The number of hot-fixes and patch revamps caused by out of controlled forum posting is almost too high to count. While this probably isn't the best way to balance a game, it did prove that players had some influence over the direction of the game.

Unfortunately, this has caused posters with specific agendas to flock to the forums. In the early days of World of Warcraft the agendas being pushed were "hardcore raider" versus the more "casual player". This has mostly disappeared though as Blizzard finally hired enough people to produce content for both groups of players. Nowadays the big arguments on the forums are mostly about classes trying to get themselves buffed or their competition nerfed. I don't want to name any specific classes, but the last couple of big forum "riots" mostly originated from the class forums. Blizzard has mistakenly changed nerfs and buffs too many times based on fabricated forum feedback. Unscrupulous players know that organizing a mass protest and filling up a class forum with complaints is the best way to get a nerf or buff overturned.

Blizzard's not stupid though and it looks like they are trying to come up with ways to combat this trend. This is probably why they are talking about getting rid of the class forums and replacing them with the trio of tanking, damage dealing, and healing forums. I believe that Blizzard thinks this will make it harder for specific classes to organize the virtual riots that have made the WoW forums so infamous. Not only should this reduce class warfare, but it should also reduce campaigns against specific talent trees. I mean how long were the retribution and shadow trees held back by negative feedback in their own class forums? It does make sense to realign the forums this way, buy only if you ignore the history of the class forums.

Each individual class forum has a long list of macros, help threads, and design discussion which isn't related to the class warfare problem. Deleting these forums runs the risk of permanently losing a lot of useful information. Also in the future it might be harder to organize this kind of class specific information since multiple classes will be sharing the same threads. The decision wouldn't be that bad if World of Warcraft was a new game just starting out and Blizzard wanted to forgo class forums. Then individual fan sites would just pick up the slack and have their own class forums. Mythic doesn't have any forums and manages to avoid a lot of the headaches that Blizzards runs into. Then again they have had problems getting information out to their players when a technical problem pops up.

All I know is that a change in WoW's forum structure might be called for at the moment. We do tend to go through blue posters pretty quickly and we've seen them suffer mental breakdowns before. The class bickering and jockeying for position probably contributes to that. Anyone else notice how Ghostcrawler frowned throughout every Blizzcon panel he was on? Maybe in the name of not driving our CMs insane we should try these changes out for awhile. If it doesn't work then maybe we would just have to use fan sites like Elitist Jerks and MMO-Champions.

P.S. Yahooo, Blogger tells me this is my 300th post.


Rhey said...

So would this be a bad time to say Nerf Paladins?

*vlad* said...

Ghostwalker is the ultimate Scapegoat/Whipping Boy.

it is obvious he is just Blizzard's mouthpiece, and yet every class has it in for him. No wonder he was frowning all the time (assuming he really is one person, and not just a front).

My main is a Warlock, and I long-since gave up on the official forums.
I instead either go to the Warlocks Den, or the 'zero tolerance of-troll' posts on Elitist Jerks, even if I don't understand half of the posts made there.