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Both are Blizzard?

The first phase of Starcraft II Beta is over and I found out that I was spending more time on it than I had realised. I suddenly “gained” about one free hour per day. It also made me realise that I am really looking forward to this game. While searching for more SCII information, I found plenty of news about the upcoming World of Warcraft expansion, Cataclysm, as well. I played WoW for years, enjoyed it, got burned out a few times, returned, had fun again, burned out after a while etcetera, etcetera. I had fully expected to get back with Cataclysm when I quit halfway Wrath of the Lich King. Actually, I expected to return earlier.

However, I can barely muster any enthusiasm. MMO-Champion has a big post called “World of Warcraft Cataclysm Press Tour” on the front page and everything about it seems to be about grinding and simplification. I fully realize that MMO’s have always been about getting players to run around as long in the treadmill as possible, but Blizzard does not seem to bother to try to hide it anymore since Wrath. I am also still playing Lord of the Rings Online and while I am feeling the grind of getting a decent Legendary item, I am also sightseeing in Moria. It may not look like I imagined from reading the books, but it is still worthwhile to see how other people imagined it.

This treadmill also lets you visit Balin's tomb.

Compare that to Starcraft II. While Achievements have infected that game as well, its single player campaign is set to continue the epic story of Starcraft and Brood War without the MMO type grind. Of course, the single player experience will be shorter than an MMO, but the quality of the time investment is much higher. Spending time is necessary to get better in multi player, but this is no mindless grinding. People will have to analyze their play styles and adjust their strategies to really get better.

Blizzard once made two rich worlds, Warcraft and Starcraft (and Diablo, of course), one has degenerated into a thing of pure repetition, the other remains an intellectual challenge. Is it really the nature of MMO’s to require less thoughts of the players or is Blizzard taking the easy way out with WoW?

I think the latter.

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