Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Collector's Market (World of Warcraft vs. Farmville)

These past weeks I have been unable to play World of Warcraft. Mostly due to a change of address, but also due to some financial issues. Mostly, I am just taking things slow and easy financially, just being safe. Just in case our numbers were wrong.

Anyway, I am currently re-immersed in Farmville and other Facebook games. Because they are free. Also, I like them.

I have also been keeping up with the Cataclysm news. And sort of scratching my head over it. When you break it down, the expansion is just more of the same. Some old stuff gets a fresh coat of paint while other stuff makes old ideas more "modern", or easier.

I think that Blizzard is missing the boat on the collector's market in-game though. Sure, they've dabbled a little here and there with the trading card game with it's exclusive pets and items and the Blizzard Store has been a hit, but they could do so much more in the collectible game.

Pets and some gear are about the only things players can reasonably "collect". The problem though is that the pets are now treated like spells. There is no way of showing off more than one or two at a time. And gear must be equipped or linked to "show off".

Now, more than ever, Blizzard needs to incorporate a part of the game for showcasing collections. Housing has been a hit and miss venture in MMOs, but Farmville has take in-game collecting to wondrous heights. Not only can you "collect" awards for mastering crops, but you also get to collect rare and exotic animals and trees. Other collectibles include thematic buildings and decorations. Many functional buildings have to be "built" from the ground up via gifts from friends and neighbors. Some of the buildings "interact" with certain animals to produce adults or babies.

Blizzard really should take the time to implement an instanced mechanic for players to interact with on the scale of Farmville. I've touched on this before and I really think players would like it. Sure some players do not want a "World of Farmcraft", but millions of Farmville players seem to say otherwise. They are constantly demanding more stuff to buy with real money and the opportunity to expand their farms.

For World of Warcraft, this instanced mechanic would have to work like a seperate solo game within the meta world. But with a proper social network in place, the "solo" game would still require a lot of assistance from other players.

Want to build a keep? Your in-game characters might have to go out and kill stuff to find materials and resources. Some of the materials and resources might be profession-specific, that means more activity at the auction house. The Blizzard Store would be awash with "sparkly" items for the farm and home while slightly less eye-popping items would be available throughout the game via quests, boss/mob kills, random world drops, and reputation rewards. And what about in-game vendor shops? Load them up with basic "stuff" to get the collection spirit rolling. Maybe offer some odd high-end tidbits at exorbitant gold prices.

World of Warcraft is not just in need of more quests and monsters and exotic locals, the game also needs something fundamentally different and engaging.