The PCG Q&A
Find all previous editions of the PCG Q&A here. Some highlights:
WoW Classic roared back into our lives this week, bringing excitement, nostalgia, and lots of jokes (plus some frustration) about waiting in queues, both for server slots and even in-game just to kill bosses.
But when the initial excitement wears off, will people keep playing WoW Classic regularly? Are players diving in for the long-term or just a brief visit to a place they once knew?
That's our question this week: Is WoW Classic just a quick nostalgia fix, or is it really here to stay? Below, you'll find our answers, but we want to know what you think. Are you playing WoW Classic, and if so, will it be for a few fun nights of reminiscing or are you truly in it for the long haul? Let us know in the comments.
Steven Messner, WoW Expert
I think WoW Classic is definitely here to stay as long as they keep updating it. Right now, Blizzard has plans for six phases of updates that'll roll out over the next year or so, and I'm betting there's going to be a huge audience eager to jump into each of those updates.
After WoW Classic completes that six-phase plan, though, whether or not it continues to be a big deal will depend entirely up to Blizzard. I would love it if WoW Classic found some way to keep adding new content—either by expanding to The Burning Crusade or by branching off and adding stuff that was never previously in the game before. Anything that'll give me a reason to come back each week or month will be fine by me.
But if Blizzard doesn't decide to keep updating Classic in a few years, I suspect it'll still maintain a lively community of roleplayers and diehards who just live and breathe vintage Azeroth. But even if it doesn't stick around forever, I'm pretty confident that the next year is going to be a fun nostalgia trip.
Tim Clark, Hearthstone Honcho
I think it'll flame out, honestly. That kind of nostalgia for something that was, by pretty much all accounts, brutal in terms of grind can only carry you so far. It looks like a theme park that'll be a kick to visit for fans but you wouldn't want to visit every weekend.
I would like to see more games offer this kind of thing, though, resource permitting. There's been some talk in Hearthstone circles of having a vanilla mode event, limited to the classic and basic sets, with the hall of fame cards back in rotation. I think that'd be super fun, and a welcome breather, but again wouldn't expect the novelty to last much further.
Jarred Walton, Number Cruncher
Disclaimer: I don't play MMOs. I have, at most, watched people playing MMOs for a bit. #NotMyThing. That said, I can't see WoW Classic having real staying power. I know there's a niche that wants to play it, but I suspect that super hardcore "games need to be more difficult" group isn't going to be enough to carry WoW Classic for long. We'll see a race to the level cap, and then the number of Classic players will drop off precipitously.
The good news is that Classic doesn't really need to carry the torch—Blizzard apparently has the pieces in place so it can run on existing servers, and you get access with your WoW subscription. So as long as WoW remains a thing, WoW Classic will stick around. But after the initial surge in interest, my bet is that most players will head back to the friendlier environs of modern WoW.
Maybe only one percent of WoW players will want to stick with the Classic experience, but that's still tens of thousands of people. Does that qualify as popular? I suppose it depends on perspective. Plenty of games would love to have more than 10,000 active players. Some WoW players will even prefer the less crowded aspect of Classic if my prediction proves correct. But the majority will end up back in the mainstream realms of WoW.
Andy Chalk, Harsh Realist
I'm totally with Jarred on this. Even if only a tiny percentage of the initial player surge sticks around for any length of time, the WoW audience is so huge that it will be enough to justify keeping the lights on, but nothing more. And that's how I expect it to work out.
WoW is a 15-year-old game, which basically qualifies it as a museum piece, and nostalgia is going to be a huge part of the attraction for most players. Once that wears off, what's left?
Joanna Nelius, Nostalgia Prospector
Nostalgia is powerful and marketable. A quick glance at the pop culture landscape will tell you that, so I'm kind of with Steven on this one. The hypetrain will last as long as there is something new to do in WoW Classic, but they can only revisit past content to a certain point before it's no longer considered "classic." Adding new expansions would be weird because, again, that's not classic, that's new.
But as far as continued fan interest, there were once private servers (Elysium is still around) before Blizzard decided to make their own official vanilla servers. Nostalrius had around 150,000 active accounts before it was shut down—but I don't think that's nearly enough players to justify Blizzard keeping their vanilla servers active should the number of subscribers dip that low in a few years.
Chris Livingston, MMO Avoider
I never played WoW (or much of any MMO) but I've definitely felt the urge to dive back into older games from time to time. But as strong as nostalgia can be, for me it's almost always short-lived. Maybe I'll want to recapture the feeling of an experience again, but one evening spent playing Team Fortress Classic or Unreal Tournament or old LucasArts adventure games is usually enough to fill my nostalgia tank for the next year or so.
Then again, I know people who grew up in the '80s and still exclusively listen to '80s music, so I'm sure there are plenty of WoW Classic players who don't want to just briefly revisit the original WoW, but remain there for good.