To be a success, all World of Warcraft: Classic has to do is exist.

www.g4wow.com

As someone who creates video game content for a living, I try to adopt two types of online personalities. Leaning into either sometimes helps me create content for gamers and those interested in reading about video games.

1. The first persona is defined by a cynical, hypercritical attitude towards pretty much anything within the gaming world that tries to illicit hype or excitement.  This isn't my natural state of being (my friends will affirm that I like to get excited over video games), but I'd like to think it helps me keep my cool when attending gaming events or writing about the state of the industry.

2. The second persona is all about the casual majority. Despite my love of esports and high-level competition, I've found trying to develop empathy and compassion for casual gamers incredibly useful. I try to keep aware that most gamers crave gameplay experiences that are approachable,  memorable, and above all, fun.

Normally, these two mindsets exist in harmony, each occupying the voice in my head when necessary and appropriate. Whenever I am tasked with telling a story or reporting on a video game, I try to rely on either of these voices to help me tap into the "gamer" perspective -- a perspective that, I hope, ultimately benefits whoever is reading. It helps me answer questions throughout an article as they might appear in a readers mind.

When it comes to writing about World of Warcraft: Classic, however, I have no idea where to start.

I fundamentally disagree with some of the cynicism regarding its existence and I also don't understand why a large majority of gamers, in my opinion, consistently misunderstand why WoW: Classic is being released in the first place.

 

"WoW: Classic is just that a classic. You can't just make Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and then remove it from the world."

 

I think that the existence of Wow: Classic automatically makes it a success. That is all it has to do, exist. It doesn't have to beat retail WoW and it doesn't have to dominate gaming culture like it once did (though the Beta has shown it still can draw a crowd). All WoW: Classic has to do is start Blizzard's journey back into the hearts of their loyal fans.
 

Classic, or out-dated?

Full transparency: I am incredibly excited about the release of World of Warcraft: Classic. Blizzard jail is a real place and I will certainly be sent there for admitting this, but I have enjoyed my time playing on private Classic servers immensely and, despite popular opinion, my enjoyment wasn't steeped in nostalgia or some attempt to re-live my teenage years.

I think WoW: Classic is just an incredible MMORPG, full stop. At the peak of its popularity in 2006, 7 million subscribers would likely agree with that statement. Those numbers seemed like an impossibly large number back in 2006 but, nevertheless, quality gameplay and thoughtful design that sought to eliminate everything that wasn't fun about MMORPG's made WoW the most popular game in the world.

When the game launched in 2004, YouTube, Twitter, and Twitch didn't exist. Gaming wasn't a mainstream phenomenon and word of mouth among PC gaming communities would make or break a title. It is hard to remember how things were back then, but I remember separating gamers into two distinct categories: those that played WoW and those who didn't (maybe they played Guild Wars).

With all this in mind, I don't understand why so many pundits and WoW: Classic doubters choose to ignore the reality of the game's appeal. For some reason, WoW: Classic isn't recognized as a great game. Instead, it is talked about like a piece of out-dated technology that simply can not exist in 2019. WoW: Classic's mechanics are described as impossible frustrating, its raid content as tedious and demanding. 

No one talks about how satisfying WoW: Classic's progression felt or how lethal it's PvP was, the discussion is almost always dominated by quality of life concerns, as if WoW: Classic's only selling point its ability to offer grown-up gamers a ride down a lazy-river of nostalgia.

 

"It sounds like hyperbole, but this is exactly what happened with WoW: Classic -- it just happened over 15 years and not overnight."


Gamers discuss WoW: Classic like Blizzard is asking iPhone users to suddenly switching to a Nokia brick. The game just isn't given the respect that other classic video games have. For example, virtually every Final Fantasy game has legions of fans who would support a modern re-release: no one would think of discrediting the core mechanics of these games because they are old. 

Consider E3 this year and remember that some of the most beloved reveals were all re-makes. Where are the doubters that claim people won't even enjoy The Collection of Mana bundle, The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening or Final Fantasy VIII Remaster in 2019? Even Super Mario Maker 2, which can only be described as an incredible achievement in gaming fun, is almost complete founded off of a series of classic game mechanics that Nintendo has respected for decades.

In hindsight, WoW: Classic's gameplay and mechanics could have been respected by Blizzard in the same way that Nintendo does with Mario's jump speed, height, and aerial drag. After all, can you imagine the backlash if Nintendo released a Mario game that drastically changed his jump properties, simultaneously declared "New Mario" as the franchise's future while also making any previous Mario titles unavailable to purchase or play?

It sounds like hyperbole, but this is exactly what happened with WoW: Classic -- it just happened over 15 years and not overnight. Is it so crazy to suggest that WoW: Classic is just a really good game and nostalgia isn't the only reason fans will enjoy it?

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