Five million players in 2020 down from a top of ten million in 2010. Several expansions. 1.2 billion dollars in revenue per year. 19GB of space on your hard drive. Millions of hours played. An almost uncountable expanse of land. A film directed by Sam Raimi. A market of billions in transactions of wow classic gold and other items. An episode of South Park. Psychologists who create characters in the game to do online therapy.
The global scale of the world of World of Warcraft is staggering. There is nothing like it in the realm of video games, and this is something that its players understand perfectly, but which is disconcerting for those who are not part of their world and for those who do not understand what the words massively multiplayer role-playing game represent on the Internet (MMORPGs, or simply MMOs). Perhaps due to the fact that WOW is so gigantic, it is also impossible to ignore, and therefore there are conflicting opinions.
All of this grandeur can help you forget the most important things about World of Warcraft. So leaving behind all the hype, the numbers, the media coverage and the debate, what we are left with is simply a magnificent game. A work molded with skill, love, and perfectionist obsession by an exceptional team of talents at Blizzard Entertainment.
If we want to talk about the game, rather than talk about all the baggage that has accumulated over the years, it would be best to start at the beginning.
It was in September 2001 that World of Warcraft was first unveiled in public when Blizzard executive Bill Roper flew to London’s ECTS fair to publicize the project. The expectations were high. The then legendary studio had presented the strategy game Warcraft III (which had not yet come out at that time) at the ECTS two years ago, and the promise of a new game from Blizzard were big words. Until then, the studio was known for making few games and also very slowly, but also very, very well. All bets were that they were going to feature a sequel to their other strategy hit, Starcraft.
The first sketch of a gnoll defined what the game would look like later, Didier says.
It wasn’t Starcraft II. That afternoon, Roper announced an entirely new approach to Blizzard. They wanted to create a massively multiplayer game that would allow players to roam the World of Warcraft with their own characters. At first, three races were revealed (humans, orcs, and tauren) and each of them would be completely different. The game could see the action in first person, in third person, from a distant view or in isometric perspectives.
The first reactions were of all kinds. The truth is that there was a mixture of excitement and a certain intrigue, but there was also confusion in the air, and to some extent some disappointment. Why had Blizzard, the strategy game giant, chosen to venture into such a niche genre? Didn’t they know how few people actually played MMOs? Did they know where they were getting?
“I think it was a natural progression,” recalls Blizzard VP of Creative Development Chris Metzen, as he looks back on events dating back a decade. “We had been working on Warcraft III and its different iterations for a couple of years just when we started thinking about World of Warcraft, so a lot of the creative vision carried over directly from the Warcraft III experience.”
Sam (“Samwise”) Didier, the artistic director of the company, bursts into the chat. “I’m not sure if it really started here, but we were once working on a behind-the-character camera for Warcraft III that was very similar to what we have in WOW right now. We were thinking of giving a slight change to the game, adding a touch of strategy and action RPG game, a kind of RTS-slash-RPG ”.
Defining what the murlocs would look like was not easy.
“In the end, we did something much more focused on strategy, but I remember those early versions of the game, where you could walk around the stage following the Archmage or the Master of Swords seeing him from behind. You saw the horizon and the enemy terrain head-on … I think this helped us to think later about creating a game that was as spectacular as that. ”
However, not everything that inspired World of Warcraft was a natural progression. It also helped that the team spent hours and hours playing other games.
“It’s funny,” admits Metzen, “back then a lot of us were playing MMOs like Everquest and Ultima Online … Well, we had a secondary development team working on a project that wasn’t announced, that we thought was cool. a lot, although we were still shaping it, but since we were huge fans of games like EverQuest, the discussion at the time was, well, we could make one of these!”