I know what you’re thinking and the title was to prep you by having you read it in Zoidberg’s voice. Hopefully you won’t read the rest of the article like that, but if you do. Not bad.
World of Warcraft has single-handedly made me hate the idea of factions in MMORPGS. At any given time in this game almost 50% of the content is roped off – inaccessible to you due to your faction. Even if you have a horde and an alliance character, you can’t be both at once. Along with that, a decent chunk of the playerbase is roped off to you as well.
At first this didn’t seem so bad – until the population started going down and they added realID. At this point when you’re trying to organize realID raid runs you have to make sure that the personal friends you trusted enough with your realID email have a character on the faction you want to raid on. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. Sucks when they don’t.
I’m a fan of putting in Cross Faction RealID, clearly, though I can understand why they wouldn’t add it. Factions are so deeply ingrained in World of WARcraft that it’s almost impossible to go back now. The thing is though – this isn’t the RTS game. It’s an MMORPG. MMORPGS thrive by having the community interact with each other.
It would be one thing if War were still the basis of this game. Let’s face it – World PVP is dead. There is no more Tarren Mill vs. Southshore…partially because they nuked Southshore off the face of the planet and there are no alliance hubs out there anymore. PVP is mainly relegated to battlegrounds and arenas. Maybe they’ll add something to MoP but isn’t it too little too late anyway?
WoW has made millions off its faction branding. Look at Blizzcon and how easy it is for Samwise to rile up the crowd by just shouting “FOR THE HORDE!” You set this basis of differences in people and that their side (Alliance and horde are both guilty of this, mind.) is inherently better than the other through subtle actions and its a perfect marketing recipe. Hatred sells. The reason they don’t denounce faction hatred or come out and say that one side is preferred over the other is because the players eat it up.
You think I’m joking about the “hatred sells” thing? Look at politics. People walk into traps with that all the time because they see bright lights and big words and get confused. Look at brand warfare. Pepsi and coke will never come out and purposely insult the other brand, but they’re there in the background quietly enforcing your loyalty because even if you don’t choose their soda, you’re still putting money into the industry.
Because of this, the greatest challenge Blizzard would face with implementing cross faction RealID is the players themselves. Some aren’t going to want to give up that faction specialness for the sake of gameplay. Which means that both sides will continue to be segregated, and great potential for grouping and uses of the cross faction raiding function will be lost.
I hate faction limitations in game. I’m hoping its something the MMO industry as a whole will move away from as more next gen MMOs come out. I hate to hold other games on pedestals but this is one thing Guild Wars 2 is going to do properly. Guild wars is arguably one of the better PVP MMOs out there, and GW2 is shaping up well in the PVP area as well. There are no factions at all, but the PVP is still there in the form of World vs World and battlegrounds. This means that those who prefer dungeoning with friends can and when they want to PVP welp, off they go.
Soon games are going to have to choose to either bank on the short term – guaranteed faction branding loyalty; or the long term – replayability and accessibility.
Me, personally? I’m tired of having 50% of my friends totally unavailable to play with unless they want to roll an entirely new character. I can shout “FOR THE ALLIANCE!” til the cows come home, but that’s not going to fill up my firelands achievement runs, is it?