Would you play on an expansion locked server? If so, which expansion would you pick? How would you answer the class and grouping questions above? What other logistical problems would you expect to have to be overcome?
via Community Blog Topic: Would you play on an expansion specific server?, Robin Torres, WoW Insider, 9/8/13.
Nope! It sounds interesting, and I completely understand the fascination with the idea, but players idealize previous expansions.
How would expansion-locked servers work exactly? Would they really be exactly like they were during that expansion? Let’s not even get into specifics on exact tuning. I’ll assume experience curve, required level to use a mount, the lack of a LFR/LFD, and similar aspects of the game on a vanilla-locked server would be like they were during the end of vanilla. We’d have the old talent system – the really old one. Classes would play like they did in vanilla, and you couldn’t be Blood Elf, dranei, worgen, goblin, pandaren, death knight, or monk.
It sounds fascinating to get to experience that game. The problem is, that’s a different game. Maybe it’d be easy for Blizzard. They must have backup copies of their old software, right? I don’t know, but let’s continue. What would it be like for a player? I’d find it incredibly frustrating. It’s not that I’m a worse player. It’s simply that vanilla was, honestly, worse in a lot of ways. We can argue lore, flavor, and raids, but mechanically it was a bit archaic. World of Warcraft was still one of the early MMOs even if it was definitely not the first. The genre has come a long way. Also, don’t forget how confusing it would be to play a game that looked the same but felt different. If you played the same class on both a vanilla-locked server and the current server, it would be pretty confusing.
What if Blizzard decided to use the current mechanics in every way but lock newer content and impose a level-cap. A vanilla-locked server in this case would have a level cap of 60. It would the dungeon finder, the current class mechanics, and the current talent system. The problem is that classes aren’t currently tuned to be balanced across the board at level 60. I don’t Blizzard worries too much about lower level balance. They’d have to continually balance everything for multiple endgames, and that just doesn’t seem realistic. I suppose I’d be a little more likely to check that out, but I could do the same by finding a guild that turns off XP at level 60. In addition, the backlash would be just as bad as not having expansion-locked servers. “This isn’t what it was like in vanilla at all! All these kids think they’re hardcore like we were, but they’re not!”
Blizzard would be in a lose-lose situation. Raid tiers are more like PVP seasons (or seasons in sports for that matter) than we think. Yes, you can go back and run an old raid, but it’s different. You can never truly go back. The majesty of an MMO is that the world, the game, the players change. Past expansions are in the past, and I want to move forward.
Edit: Here’s the results post on WoW Insider: Community Blog Topic Results: Expansion specific servers, Robin Torres, WoW Insider, 9/13/13.