Blizzard is doing the worst possible thing it could do regarding retail: releasing Classic, content that people actually want back, during Blizzard’s WEAKEST expansion to date: Battle for Azeroth. MMOs like WoW are extremely dependent on healthy and robust populations, and I know players like myself are going to pour way more time into Classic than into retail, leaving lame BfA content in the dust. The 8.2 patch has been completely overshadowed and marked obsolete by the exciting and fun content of Vanilla Classic. If I were a BfA dev, I’d feel horrible about myself, knowing gamers are chomping at the bit for content, made by creative developers who care, that’s 15 years old instead of wanting to play supposedly “new and exciting” 2018-2019 content.
BfA has one of the worst reputations of all World of Warcraft expansions. It has been plagued with complaints about its core systems well before beta was released. Many players felt that Blizzard did not take criticism of BfA’s features seriously which destroyed trust in Blizzard’s expertise and leadership. The criticism HIGHLY outweighs the praise. Even professional critic reviews of Battle for Azeroth were MUCH lower than all other expansions including Warlords of Draenor. Due to the negativity that has been so pervasive for over a year now, the BfA team is now synonymous with lackluster game content. Unfortunately for these BfA devs, Blizzard has thrown them to the wolves by providing players an alternative - WoW Classic, a game that is not synonymous with negativity or uninspired game designers. Clearly, players are either not going to associate themselves with retail by not playing, or they’ll play WoW Classic.
BfA’s shrinking participation will only be exacerbated by longtime players diving back into content that was taken away with Cataclysm. This will literally negatively affect all aspects of the game that requires group participation, especially for those who main Alliance. PvP for example will rely on a shrinking participation pool that has not been forgiving to Alliance PvPer’s. The lack of participation will only compound the problem, driving more and more away. Similarl for PvE, the options for Mythic keystones have decreased, driving many to completely abandon doing them. Guilds are having trouble finding raiders to do current content especially on the Alliance side. Faction health affects one another, so if the Alliance side completely collapses, the Horde side will fall soon after. Even activities like RP have seen huge declines in the RP community. Ask anyone from Wyrmrest Accord or Moon Guard and they will tell you that Stormwind/Silvermoon/Orgrimmar have never looked more dead than they have the past 9 months.
One signal that BfA will be completely overshadowed by Classic is the lack of excitement or criticism over 8.2. If you look at the PTR forums, there is a significant decrease of participation and feedback which means, people don’t even care. People are so disillusioned with BfA that they can’t even feel compelled to COMPLAIN about 8.2. Complacency has set in. This a huge red flag for supposedly one of the “biggest patches ever.” BfA devs are pleading with us to help fix the game, but due to their predatory and incompetent decisions, players have moved on. 8.2 will be DoA, like past BfA patch content. Where have they moved on to? Classic. Classic streaming has made the game the most popular game to be streamed on twitch which proves that the majority of WoW’s fanbase has moved on from BfA. Think about how bad that looks for BfA and its team: players are more excited about 15 year old content than they are for new and current content. A broken and highly exploitable game from 2004 is more attractive and desirable than a game that’s had 15 years to improve.
The mass migration to Classic will be devastating to retail WoW. The consequences will be permanent and I highly doubt new expansions will help bring it back up to where it was again. WoW fans have no confidence in the BfA dev team due to them ignoring glaring issues with BfA. I’m not going to continue paying for a bad expac only to get a decent one and most others feel the same after recognizing it as a pattern. Blizzard has brought in the ultimate retail killer, WoW Classic. It’s not going to stop there, once the BC servers come out, they too will be more popular than Blizzard’s current game design. Personally, I’d try to make the most out of the next 3 months, it will never go back to the way it was with Retail after Classic is released.
It was fun while it lasted!