World of Warcraft Classic provided Blizzard’s massively multiplayer online game with its most significant popularity boost in recent memory. But the game’s top Twitch streamer isn’t sure that Blizzard will learn anything from what the legacy content has done for WoW.
While talking to his viewers on stream today, Asmongold was reluctant to give Blizzard’s development team credit by saying he didn’t believe they were going to be able to identify what made Classic so successful and implement that into new expansions, like Shadowlands, which is set to come out later this year.
“There are so many problems with the way that they handle things in the game right now, that I don’t even know… if they fully understand why Classic is enjoyable for a lot of players,” Asmongold said. “I worry that Blizzard will look at Classic, and say, ‘oh, players like spending a lot of time on things’ and then just make things take longer. I don’t trust them to know and to understand why the different things in the game worked the way that they did.”
Following the release of Classic in the fall, WoW generated the most viewership on Twitch in its history with numerous streamers marathoning content. The figures even outperformed the budding grassroots Race to World First esports events that were started by Method at the beginning of the Battle for Azeroth expansion in 2018.
Two reasons for Classic’s large, seemingly cult-like following are the systems that the game has in place for progression and rewarding players. While progression, like leveling and farming up gold, tends to take significantly longer than in retail WoW, those long and sometimes tedious efforts give players a stronger sense of reward.
Yesterday, Asmongold criticized retail WoW’s developers for changes that they’re making to the “corruption” system that makes character progression feel less important and worthwhile. And today, he expanded how that general idea relates to Classic.
“People get more out of Classic,” he said. “And people tell me this over and over and over. Why is that? Because the game makes them feel good.”
Asmongold admitted that Classic as a game has numerous flaws. The grind of the game can turn people away from it. There’s significantly less balance to the strength of the game’s classes. The game’s pace is notably slower than retail WoW. A lot of Classic’s end game content isn’t as mechanically challenging, either.
But the reward system that Classic provides, when combined with the game’s immersiveness, gives players a high that retail WoW can’t match right now for many.
“Feeling good is what matters,” Asmongold said. “It matters more than anything. The problem is that ‘feeling good’ is such an amorphous term that it’s hard to define. So you need the intuition of a good developer to be able to do things that make people feel good.”
That’s the challenge that Blizzard is presented with as its development team continues to work on Shadowlands for later in the year. While Blizzard already said it’s using feedback from Classic to help with its efforts for Shadowlands, outside of things like class “un-pruning,” it’s unclear what the company intends to do to make players feel more rewarded.
It won’t necessarily be easy for Blizzard and Asmongold is keenly aware of that. But at the same time, he seems to believe it’s achievable.
“It’s hard to talk about it. It’s hard to say it. It’s hard to even know what it is,” Asmon said. “But whenever you see it, and whenever you experience it. You know you’re in it. That’s what it is. That’s what I think the difference is.”
More raid content
While talking about what Blizzard can learn from Classic, one of the main elements of the game that Asmon pointed out was the amount of relevant end-game raiding content that Classic has compared to retail.
In retail WoW, each raid releases with four different difficulties as Blizzard’s way of trying to make the game more accessible to players with varying degrees of skill. But one downside to that has been its effect on the reward system for the game.
With each raid difficulty rewarding players with different levels of gear, every raid has a wide range of rewards in terms of power level. This makes it so that whenever a new raid is released by Blizzard, the previous raiding tier is made largely irrelevant.
In Classic, on the other hand, where only one difficulty exists for each raid, players continue to do older raids even after they’ve started to work on newer ones.
“It’s simple,” Asmongold said. “Just make one or two raid difficulties and don’t make the raid difficulties just invalidate the previous raids.”
Asmongold said Classic has more end-game raiding content that players still do on a weekly basis compared to retail—and it’s not even really close.
“There’s no reason to do Uldir,” he said. “There’s no reason to do Battle of Dazar’alor. There’s no reason to do Crucible of the Storms. There’s one reason to do Eternal Palace, and Ny’alotha is the only relevant raid.”
As new Classic raiding content has been released, players have still been able to pick up important gearing upgrades from previous instances like Molten Core, the game’s first raid.
Despite Zul’Gurub’s release last month, players still run through Blackwing Lair, Molten Core, and Onyxia’s Lair on a regular basis.
“Classic WoW unironically has more relevant raid content than retail WoW does, and it’s not even halfway all released,” Asmongold said.
While Blizzard certainly has a lot more to manage than just the way it handles end-game raiding content, it seems like at the very least Asmongold believes he knows how to help the devs out in that aspect of the game.