Saturday, February 14, 2009

Conjecture on Kaplan's Move

As I'm sure someone predicted, the announcement that Kaplan (Tigole) has moved on to Blizzard's next MMO, "fans" of World of Warcraft are screaming about a tumbling sky for the game.

Nonsense. It is utter nonsense.

I am not speaking from a fan-boy view but rather from message board and fan-site experience. From the first time I ever did research on World of Warcraft, whether it be for upcoming changes or current game play issues, it has constantly been doom and gloom for the game. Yet the game has continued to expand, the quality has continued to improve (with some odd hiccups along the way), and the subscriptions have continued to grow.

Yes, Blizzard has a new MMO in the works.

Yes, Blizzard wants its most experienced man (people) to lead the project.

One of the fears that the fan community has is that a large percentage of the talent on World of Warcraft will be transitioned to the new project, leaving the current game floundering with second-rate talent and a lack of direction, or at least a questionable direction.

Here's the thing though. Blizzard needs an experienced person on board the new project who can put together the best team possible for the game. Yes, he is going to try and recruit from World of Warcraft and if anyone WANTS to move on to the new project, they will. For some of these people it is an opportunity to step outside the box they've been in for the past few years. But guess what? Kaplan also gets to recruit from people who are working on Diablo III and Starcraft II because those games are nearing completion. Obviously people from Starcraft II will be approached first, but Kaplan's new team doesn't have to be fully manned in one fell swoop. He also gets to recruit from outside the company and right now the pickings are cheap and plentiful with all the failed games letting their creative teams go.

How will these personnel changes affect World of Warcraft? It might have some new flavors in the next expansion. We might even see some new flavors in the next content patch after Ulduar is released. New flavor does not a failed game make.

So, get a grip. Stop screeming about a sky that isn't falling.

Besides, Blizzard has been getting more upfront about their future plans for the game and has dropped some subtle hints. For instance, they are looking into an alternative for the next expansion to avoid the "layered" affect of the current game. They are also discussing ideas to expand the game without adding new levels in every expansion.

This of course flies in the face of the "Blizzard does the same thing for every expansion!" crowd. Yes, the ONLY two expansions thus far are quite similar. And yes, it does feel like a safe model to follow. I suspect Blizzard is going to change things up quite a bit with the next expansion and having some new faces in the creative mix will only help.

While the doomsayer crowd continues to wait for the opportunity to flay each other's flesh to be the first to cry "I told you so!", I will sit and patiently wait for Blizzard to continually improve World of Warcraft.

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