Monday, February 23, 2015

Make Way For the Heavyweight Champion of MMOs

Back in 1974, in an open workout before the seminal fight of the 20th century - Muhammad Ali versus George Foreman - the older, wiser, but ever mercurial Ali strode into the gym, and started drumming on a pair of bongo drums, chanting, "The champ is here! The champ is here!" George Foreman was the reigning champion, but Ali was the challenger in name only. In the hearts and minds of the majority of the public Ali was in Zaire to reclaim his crown, which had been unfairly stripped from him because of his stand as a conscientious objector against the Vietnam War. Boxing experts of all stripes however, predicted a crushing defeat for the uppity Ali, citing Foreman's demolition of opponents which had given Ali trouble in the lead up to the fight - Joe Frazier and Ken Norton - as proof of the incumbent champion's devastating power. If Foreman could knock out both Frazier and Norton in two rounds apiece, then the ageing Ali, who had been beaten by both men in the past few years since his return from boxing exile, would have no chance at all. Or so everyone thought.

The fight didn't play out that way. Ali not only went on to win, but he won in convincing style - he never looked hurt, and he let Foreman wear himself out with the now famous "rope-a-dope" tactic, laughing at Foreman's attempts to knock him out and taunting him with words such as "show me something, George!", "you ain't popping popcorn, George!" and "George, you ain't nothing but a sissy." The enraged Foreman tried to knock Ali out for five rounds and in doing so eventually punched himself out. The sixth and seventh saw Foreman moving in super slow motion, leaning against Ali and trying to get his wind back. In the eight round, however, Ali applied the coup de grace with a combination that floored the soon-to-be former champion. Foreman was able to get up before the end of the 10 count, but the referee waved the fight off prematurely. It didn't matter in the end - there was no protest from Foreman when he was shepherded back into his corner. No histrionics about a premature stoppage - he had the look of a man who was well and truly beaten.




This past year has seen not one, not two, but three aspiring challengers to a champion supposedly in decline. One by one all these challenges to WoW's crown as the world's most successful MMORPG have been decisively rebuffed. 10 million subscribers, without counting the Asian markets of China, Korea or Taiwan. Some people accuse Blizzard of massaging the numbers, but show me an MMO who doesn't do this, and I'll show you a marketing team in denial. Others also point out that this spike is a temporary aberration, and that subscriber numbers will eventually drop. They would be right, but it is irrelevant. What other MMO can do what WoW has done? Breaking the 10 million number not once but twice, and peaking at 12 million during the days of WotlK. Final Fantasy XIV is the only other MMORPG that has come even close at 2.5 million, which makes WoW almost a full order of magnitude bigger than its nearest competitor. If this game was a country it would rank in around the 80th most populous nation on Earth, beating out Hungary, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates, to name a few. This feat is also all the more impressive given that it achieved its 2nd 10 million milestone on its 10 year anniversary. There is only one other game - EVE Online - which has been able to maintain and increase their subscriber population over the duration of a decade. Other 10 year old plus titles such as Dark Age of Camelot and Everquest 1 and 2 are shadows of their former selves, and even in their heyday never scaled the amazing heights that WoW has. Finally, if these two facts were not impressive enough, WoW did this in a year where not one, not two, but three AAA titles were released in direct competition, and in a fully saturated market awash with rival titles such as Guild Wars 2, SWTOR and The Secret World.

WoW. Literally, wow.

TESO

TESO was the first challenger to WoW in 2014. It was released on 4 April 2014 to a lukewarm and an even outright hostile reception. The virulence of the anti-TESO sentiment can be measured by the hostile reviews collated here on my first post on TESO, with the pick of the bunch being Paul Tassi from Forbes Online, who predicted that the game would be the biggest video game disaster of 2014. Time has since proven him wrong and full of hyperbole. TESO could claim over 750,000 subscribers in June last year, but who knows how many subs they have now, and whether or not this number represents the apogee of their mainstream appeal. Nonetheless, this figure beats every other MMO except for WoW, Final Fantasy XIV (over 2 million) and SWTOR (which raced to 1.7 million subs in its honeymoon period), which puts it in very good company - hardly the disaster the pundits were hoping for. The big news for TESO of course is their transition to B2P and its release on consoles on 9 June this year. The end of the subscription model puts paid to the predictions I made back in March last year, in which I stated that TESO would not go F2P one year after release. B2P is not F2P, but the spirit of the wager was more on TESO sticking with the subscription model, and in this sense I was incorrect. I now eat vast helpings of humble pie garnished with crow's feet for being so wilfully blind, and admit that yes, I was wrong. Despite this I remain cheerfully optimistic about the title's future. FFXIV has shown that there is a massive market for MMOs in consoles, and its imminent release on the XBox and PS4 platforms, along with the removal of the subscription model, ensures that the title will get tremendous exposure and a good chance at retaining a significant proportion of players who enter Tamriel for the first time.

TESO was my adopted title for most of 2014 - I gave up WoW in March 2014 to play this game, and was even able to convince my gaming circle to migrate with me. My verdict on it remains pretty much unchanged - theme park style quest mechanics with high production values, extensive use of phasing which occasionally posed problems for group play, and great tri-partite world PvP in Cyrodiil. It was not Skyrim turned MMO - the NPCs stayed in fixed locations, they did not have Radiant AI or their own schedules or agendas - but rather it was an iteration of the WoW model, with prettier graphics and voice acting, complete with dungeons, raids and an LFG finder. There was no player housing, instanced or otherwise - the world was simply scenery, and zones become abandoned and desolate as they were outleveled and rendered obsolete. Changes in the world were rendered via phasing, and occurred at the pace in which the player completed their quests. Despite megaserver technology, TESO was a prime example of the single player MMO, in which players play alone together. Only in Cyrodiil could player agency interfere with other player agency, and this zone was safely fenced away from the rest of Tamriel. With the virtue of hindsight I can see that I was guilty of imbuing TESO with qualities that it might not have necessarily have possessed out of sheer contrariness. Nonetheless I plan to return to the game in March - there are many good things about TESO which would justify a second look, and I am also looking forward to the implementation of the Imperial City and the Justice system.

Wildstar

I never played Wildstar, seeing it as the chief rival of the horse I had chosen to back, and watched with glee when it started going down in flames shortly after its release. It took the writing of bloggers who believed passionately in this title to shake me out of this phase of petty one-upmanship, but being the shallow human being that I am, I have to fight this impulse at every opportunity. I know that it's not a zero sum game, but I have to confess that bloggers that i) panned TESO, ii) praised Wildstar, but iii) don't play Wildstar anymore in its hour of greatest need are the ones that raise my ire the most. I have to admire people who are passionate advocates of the game without being unfairly critical of TESO, and put their money where their mouth was by playing the game and supporting it despite its rapid fall from grace. I have less admiration for people like Scree from The Cynic Dialogues, who tear into TESO and come up with declarations such as "I am entirely opposed to this game succeeding", go on to play Wildstar and spout high-minded rhetoric like "what's a bigger testament to a game's success and justification for your passion for a title than to see it succeed and its gaming population flourish" without stopping to think of how that sentiment could be applied to people who actually like TESO, before finally leaving Wildstar five months later, citing "I'm not as hardcore anymore" as the excuse for abandoning the game. So much for passion for a title. Not that I'm much better mind you - I talk TESO up, play for eight months, and then abandon it for Archeage. I guess we're both just hypocrites.

Tobold made the estimate that Wildstar had around 450,000 subscribers in June 2014, but there seems to be no doubt that subs are now a fraction of this number, and the initial acclaim and fanfare surrounding its release have given way to pundits making bets on when this title will go F2P. At least Wildstar supporters can say that their title outlived TESO in the subscriber stakes - TESO will have been a subscriber title for 11 months and one week (TESO was released on 4 April 2014) by the time it transitions into B2P on 13 March, and Wildstar will beat this mark in early May this year (Wildstar was released on 3 June 2014). The ominous news regarding Wildstar lies with the figures released by NCSoft for 2014, which show that Wildstar sales are down 500% from the quarter of its release. At this rate a transition to F2P may be the least of their worries - there is a distinct possibility that the title may go the way of Warhammer Online and City of Heroes, and be shuttered for good. Wildstar, out of the three AAA titles released in 2014, most closely resembled WoW in terms of its cartoon art aesthetic (despite the sci-fi setting) and both its endgame PvE (dungeons and raids) and endgame PvP (Arenas and BGs). The fact that it singularly failed to challenge WoW and is now struggling to stay afloat is the final death knell to the aspirations of any publisher who ever had faint hopes of out-WoWing WoW.

Archeage

I had no intentions of playing AA until my interest was piqued by articles written by several bloggers, and I thought, what the hell, it's a F2P title, I have nothing to lose. I downloaded the game, booted it up, and immediately fell in love. I'm a latecomer to the genre - I have never played MUDs, nor have I played influential titles such Ultima Online, Star Wars Galaxies or Everquest. Persistent, non-instanced housing was a new phenomenon for me, as was the player's ability to "terraform" the world by raising crops and livestock, and by building farms, cottages, houses, manors and castles in the world itself. My favourite memory of AA will always be the massive cherry forest planted by a number of departing players on the Ollo server. Their efforts changed the world completely, and it was strange to see what was once a barren plain completely transformed into a deep and extensive wood which almost covered the entire zone.

AA has many things going for it which should have ensured a bigger success than the one they currently enjoy. The tab targeting combat system, while not especially innovative, is made interesting by the fact that players can mix and match the 10 talent trees into 120 possible combinations, giving variety and depth to class make-up. The crime and justice system is interesting and well thought-out, and the ability to become a turncoat and attack your own faction gives a new lease of life on the old and tired concept of two faction warfare. This was OWPvP with consequence, as traitors to their faction accumulated Crime Points and were eventually exiled to eke out a living on the high seas as pirates and buccaneers. The game boasts a very deep crafting system, and the incentivization of trade creates traffic on the roads and seas, and keeps zones which would otherwise be bereft of players productive and relevant. The crown jewel of the world, however, is the great ocean separating the continents. It will be a long time before another MMO creates an ocean zone which is remotely similar to the sea in AA, which is in equal parts beautiful, wide, deep and perilous. Ever since I crafted my boat in AA I have been content simply sailing the seas in my clipper, dodging hostile vessels, and imagining coming upon unexplored islands and exploring their interiors. Alas, the reality of the game never actually squares up with the wild flights of fancy that take place within my head, but sailing the seas in AA almost makes me believe I am in another world, a quality which most MMOs lack these days.

The verdict on AA however, based on Syncaine's blog, J3w3l's, Aywren's and Alysiana's, to name a few, is that the game's good points are overshadowed by the unscrupulous F2P model used by Trion, and the rampant use of cheats and hacks in almost every facet of the game. I've seen this now at first hand, being present when a bunch of guildies and myself were waiting around to claim an expiring plot, only to see it snatched away by a housing hack when the plot was vacated. It's a real shame, but there is a silver lining in the cloud in that it shows that there is a market for this type of open world sandbox fantasy game. AA's failure is a market opportunity for a team savvy enough to see it, and at this point in time it looks like Camelot Unchained is best positioned to exploit this in 2015. They may never reach the heights of WoW, but if there's a lesson to be gleaned from all the bloodied competitors left in WoW's wake, it is this - don't take on the gorilla at his own game, but rather carve out a niche for yourself. For all the criticisms bloggers, writers and academics levy at the concept of theme parks, it is unquestionably the most popular MMORPG paradigm in the world, and WoW excels at making them.

WoW

So TESO, Wildstar and AA all tumble before the cultural phenomenon that is WoW. The magnitude of WoW's triumph can be measured in how its greatest critics are playing the game despite of themselves. One of the reasons why I started this blog was to respond to Gevlon's continued attacks on WoW as a game for morons and slackers back in 2013. It absolutely boggles my mind that Gevlon is now playing WoW again in his old role as a healer, although I do suspect that a lot of the reason of why he plays is because his girlfriend is a devoted WoW tank, and you can never underestimate the "social" pull of friends and family as a catalyst for bringing people back to a title. He has since cancelled his subscription again, but I was amazed to hear him say that "without M&S WoW isn't a bad game", which is something I would have never picked that hoary old goblin of ever saying. The venerable Raph Koster, an early pioneer of MMO design, calls WoW "the biggest game design achievement in all of virtual world history." The young but articulate Murf calls WoW the "greatest online RPG of all time" and makes a similar observation that "I am not sure it is massively multiplayer anymore, but a decade of success, an incredibly well-received new expansion, and newly re-assembled fan base of ten million hungering for more make that opinion a non-factor." The best posts are the ones expressing awe, bewilderment and consternation. J3w3l's post made me laugh the most, because it encapsulates the bewilderment of people who don't like WoW, and cannot fathom why such a game has such amazing mainstream appeal. Nobody knows - least of all me. My friends and I don't even play WoW as an MMO - we play it as a MOBA, spending the vast majority of our time in instanced Arena or Rated BG matches, and consider the rest of the game as an added bonus.

WoW's continuing success is especially galling to its critics because a number of people have laid the demise of the genre as a whole at the feet of WoW. Wolfhead's blog should be entitled, "Why Everquest Is The Best Game Ever, and WoW is the Spawn of the Devil." Wolfshead takes great pleasure at levelling scathing broadsides at WoW with epithets such as "the once mighty Blizzard Entertainment has had to suffer the embarrassment of years of declining subscriptions" and "the massive and aging ship USS: WoW lurches toward the iceberg of its obsolescent doom in a sea of ice cold reality". I wonder what Wolfshead thinks of WoW's rebound back over 10 million. The silence on his blog is deafening at the moment, but I'm sure that when subscriptions start to fall again the attacks will resume in earnest. Another clanger belongs to Keen and Graev, who wrote that "I still believe Blizzard is phasing out WoW" in August of this year. Erm, no. If that statement seemed far-fetched in August 2014 (who in their right mind would want to phase out 6.6 million subscribers, which is still three times the size of its nearest competitor), it seems positively ludicrous now given the light of recent events. Thousands of bloggers, writers, players, forum posters, academics and developers (Roger EdwardsSigMrBTongueMark KernRiot55Seanxxp, and Ionomonkey are random samples drawn from a cursory Google search) have made claims to the effect that WoW has ruined MMOs. In fact Raph Koster's thesis in a nutshell is that WoW redefined a genre that was already over a decade old by the time of its inception, and by virtue of its success changed the meaning of MMOs from the "virtual worlds" represented by Ultima Online and MUDS, to effectively mean games "similar to WoW." This is why he concludes his argument with the words "WoW effectively made MMOs perfect, and in the process, it killed them.




WoW simply doesn't care. It just steamrolls past bloggers, opinion pieces, and academics, swatting them aside like flies. I don't disagree with people who criticise WoW - I am one of WoW's critics, too, and I have critiqued WoW for its use of the "hero narrative", its compartmentalisation of play styles, and the sterility of its virtual world amongst other things. Nonetheless, WoW's success seems to indicate that the opinions of bloggers and writers such as myself only represent a tiny minority of what the world likes in an MMO, which is why Blizzard completely ignores whatever we say or write. We are irrelevant. The vast majority of the world seems to like theme parks, group finders, questing, instancing, worlds as scenery, tab targeting combat, play style compartmentalisation, easy and accessible game play which can be turned up to higher tiers of difficulty for those so inclined, and bite sized chunks of content. Which, come to think of it, seems pretty sensible really.

I claim no prescience with regards to WoW's astonishing return to form. I am flabbergasted just like everyone else, and my initial reactions are best reflected by pieces which express their disbelief and astonishment at the number of returning subscribers. NO ONE PREDICTED THIS. If you can find an article that predicted "WoW will rebound from 6.6 million to over 10 million subscribers with WoD" I will eat my hat. When WoD was released they picked up more subscribers than all the subscribers in TESO, Wildstar and AA combined. That's mind-boggling. I'm completely surprised to find myself playing the game again, and I can say with all honesty that I had no intention of returning until about one week prior to the launch of WoD. That's when I was deluged by messages from friends, family and old comrades returning to WoW, and being the social person I am, I was happy to join them. I can't believe that I am doing the same old routine that I have done since vanilla. I've done this for almost a decade now - that's just bloody insane. Why? FOR THE LOVE OF GOD WHY? I'm never going to bet against WoW again. That game is a monster.

Back in Zaire 1974 Ali and Foreman had to share the same gym, and so the rival camps coordinated their schedules so that the two fighters would never have to meet. Ali, upon learning this, deliberately came to the gym early so that he would meet the champion just as he was finishing his training session. He did this to demonstrate that he wasn't afraid of Foreman, whom the press had labelled invincible and unstoppable, and to show his disdain and contempt for the current champion. WoW's approach to the MMO battlefield is equally disdainful. Blizzard remained confident enough in the appeal of their product despite declining subscription numbers to wait two years before releasing an expansion. They gave no sign of ever reacting to the release of TESO, Wildstar or AA, but rather marched to the beat of their own timetable, and released WoD to coincide with the game's 10 year anniversary.

In the words of the great Muhammad Ali - bow down, chumps! The champ is here!

8 comments:

  1. I'm not sure how long the sub bump for WoW will last, however. I've seen a few bloggers I read already unsub, and others have grown weary of the semi required nature of garrisons.

    I considered going back, but most of what I'd grown disappointed in and caused me to unsub is still there (mainly PvP faction imbalance and asshattery in lower level zones). Besides, I take a different tack than most other people when a new expac drops: I start over with a brand new toon and level that one all the way up to the entry point for the new expac. It took me close to a year of grinding BGs before I got to Pandaria, and if I subbed now it'd probably into 2016 before I was ready to purchase Warlords.

    Right now, WoW is the king. But nothing is permanent, and if I had to guess, WoW would get dethroned not by another MMO, but by a cosmic shift in video gaming itself. Blizzard seems to be positioning WoW to compete against LoL and other MOBA games in e-sports, but I'm not so sure how that will work out in the long run. Some people I know who tried WoW but couldn't understand the story are happily playing League of Legends, which surprises me but I just shrug and move on.

    But I wonder if the rise of mobile gaming --and all of the money thrown by mobile games at Super Bowl ads is any indicator of its popularity-- is going to shake the landscape by a bit. WoW will continue, no doubt, but Blizz' focus will probably go toward Hearthstone as its primary moneymaking source.

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    1. I'm pretty sure subs are declining as we speak, but I'd bet money that this type of cyclical rise and fall has been factored in by strategists at Blizzard when calculating their revenue stream. My track record on predictions are poor, but it would seem a fair bet that level boosts are here to stay, as I think they played a massive role in enticing old players to come back. Who knows what the life cycle of this thing is going to be like – it has no precedent.

      Don't go back to WoW, mate – as Admiral Ackbar said in Return of the Jedi: “IT'S A TRAP!”

      As for WoW positioning itself against MOBAs it's already tried that and failed. Even during its halcyon days as an e-sports in 2007-2010, when it was being hosted by big organisations like Major League Gaming (MLG), Electronic Sports League (ESL) and the now defunct World Cyber Games (WCG), it was struggling to maintain its foothold. WoW e-sports is now solely supported by Blizzard and by smaller community-driven tournaments, but given the size of WoW this is no small thing. Despite Blizzard's support however I think it is very unlikely that WoW has a chance to compete against LoL and DotA 2, both of which are now massive established e-sports complete with leagues, annual events and massive amounts of prize money. Blizzard's best hope is with Heroes of the Storm, but only time will tell whether even the Blizzard brand will be enough to dislodge the other two heavyweights from their position at the pinnacle of e-sports.

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  2. While all you say is true I wonder why it should matter to anyone who just plays MMOs. The Beatles undoubtedly dominated popular music during the 1960s but that didn't prevent a vast range of bands making recordings at that time, recordings that not only still sell but that have drawn in new, young audiences year after year ever since. One cultural phenomenon can grow out of proportion to the segment of the wider culture that spawns it without necessarily debilitating or damaging that segment.

    Nevertheless, even today, you can find people who will seriously tell you that popular music lost its focus and its purpose with the end of The Beatles. Equally you find plenty of people who can't understand, just from listening to the music, why they are supposedly superior to countless other pop groups from the distant past. In my opinion, while they were a cultural phenomenon without equal, as is WoW, they shaped themselves to fit a yearning void in the zeitgeist, as did WoW. Had either not been there another would have taken their place.

    As for last year's Crucial Three, TESO dropped the sub because, rightly or wrongly, the game's owners believe it won't be feasible to run two versions of the same game under different payment models and, again rightly or wrongly, believe the console players they hope to attract won't stand for a subscription. It would be surprising if that wasn't their intention from the beginning. Having a subscription for the life of the PC game game prior to the Console version arriving was a sensible way to increase the revenue from that unique period in the game's life.

    WildStar failed because it was an ill-thought-out idea pitched to a market segment that turned out to be very much smaller than imagined. Also it has, allegedly, had some serious management issues.

    ArchAge was an unfinished conversion of a game that had failed in its original market, which was released before it was ready, presumably for financial reasons. It then suffered a series of catastrophic technical problems that most likely resulted at least in part from the rushed release.

    This will go on. The Beatles, of course, being four individuals as well as a marketing juggernaut, had the grace and good fortune to be able to split up and move on. WoW, as a purely commercial construct, doesn't have that luxury so we can almost certainly count on its owners milking it for every last penny far into the future.

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    1. To be frank, none of it really matters to anyone who simply plays MMOs. But to people like ourselves who like to pitch in with our opinions about what makes an MMO good or bad, it is tremendously interesting. I agree that cultural phenomenons can outgrow their foundations without undue detriment to the base which spawned them. In the case of WoW and the Beatles, they even serve a greater purpose by expanding their cultural base by importing people who would otherwise not be interested in MMOs or pop music respectively.

      I don't like the zeitgeist or the “perfect storm” argument because it is a cop out of sorts. It cheapens and demeans the achievements of pioneers and inventors, because we are in essence saying “well, it wasn't that great an achievement, someone else would have done it anyway.” Someone other than Columbus would have discovered America. Someone other than Edison would have invented the light bulb. Someone other than Einstein would have worked out the theory of relativity. Some other group other than the Beatles would have become the godfathers of pop music. Some game other than WoW would become the runaway success that it has become. It is true that inventors, pioneers and explorers are indeed “standing on the shoulders of giants” and building on what has been done before, but saying that someone else would have taken WoW's place gives no credit to the developers who created it. People who espouse the zeitgeist and “perfect storm” argument may still be right – in fact, the beauty of this line of argument is that it can never be proven wrong, as all you can ever do is engage in counter-factual historical speculation – but I am more interested in the specific historical context in which the achievements were made. Why did the Beatles become the mega group of the 20th century, and not say, their contemporaries like the Miracles, or the Shirelles, or the Velvet Underground, who only achieved critical success after their careers were over? Why did WoW become the mega-hit that it become in a genre that was already over 15 years old by the time of its inception? When WoW was released in 2005 it was pre-dated by over 50 titles. Over 50 MMOs. Why was it WoW, and not Everquest, Dark Age of Camelot, A Tale in the Desert, EVE, Star Wars Galaxies, or any of the other 50+ titles which pre-dated it, that became the mega-hit? The zeitgeist argument says that WoW was inevitable. Did WoW have to happen, on the scale that it happened? I certainly don't think so, but to each their own.

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    2. WoW didn't have to happen, but a lot of timing surrounding WoW's release is fortuitous.

      I remember news reports about EQ in sports articles of all things, mainly because of some baseball players such as Curt Schilling playing the game, so the larger world was becoming interested in MMOs. PC computing power AND (at the time what was considered) broadband connectivity were becoming common enough that that hurdle essentially vanished by 2004.

      Now, while timing was fortuitous, Blizz' domination didn't happen by accident. Blizzard already had a reputation for polished work prior to its acquisition by Vivendi, and WoW didn't disappoint in that regard. Blizz also had established titles prior to the release of WoW, such as Diablo and Warcraft itself, so they were already a known name in PC circles. They also had several innovations to the MMO genre with WoW, such as making the game easier to play solo and instanced content, that made it easier for what Gevlon would call the "casuals" to join in and play.

      In short, they had the right product at the right time, and they didn't mess up with their marketing message.

      (Having the non-gamer crowd find out about WoW via items such as the blood plague incident only helped too, because any press is good press.)

      I'd argue that Blizz marketing is what has enabled them to get on top, and that combined with their willingness to use items such as release dates to maximum effect against their competition have kept them on top.

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  3. The last two weeks in AA have seen an influx of players joining the game for the first time or coming back ... from WoW. And in 18 months time when the next expansion is released the cycle will repeat itself.

    Speaking of which, are you out of AA? Guildies wanted to kick you as inactive the other day but I headed them off at the pass.

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    1. Just kick me Noisy – I think my time in AA is done, simply because of time factors. I'm studying Japanese for the proficiency exams and have picked up a few non-MMO hobbies which preclude me from playing on week nights when you guys go out on your roams. Weekends are usually reserved for WoW, and now that we are hitting the end of the gearing period we are starting to form serious teams to push for rating. AA is a superior game to WoW in my opinion, but my friends in Oz are devoted WoW players. My sister, in particular, tries to make time between taking care of her baby and work to play PvP with our team, which makes it very hard for me to justify spending any time in AA.

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    2. Sad to hear it. If you ever want to come back, you know where to find us.

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