WoW! Thoughts! — On Patch 6.1: The Patch With No Name

Thoughts on the lack of content in Patch 6.1 and Blizzard's misunderstanding of the community.

Last night, Blizzard announced that Patch 6.1 was now available for background download in advance of its launch on Tuesday.  The last few weeks have been tumultuous for Blizzard, as players looking for non-raid content have been following the news regarding the patch with a bit of confusion.  There is a surprising lack of actual content, and for the first time since Patch 2.2, Blizzard is releasing a patch with no name.  Surely no one expected Warlords of Draenor to echo The Burning Crusade in this manner.

To compound the situation, some of the features that are coming with the patch are controversial in nature.  For example, last week a video appeared on Blizzard’s YouTube channel demonstrating patch 6.1’s Twitter integration feature. This feature was first announced in the Blizzard’s “World of Warcraft in the New Year” post, and while met with skepticism at the time, it was overshadowed by other announcements such as the game-time currency. When presented with the video absent distraction, players immediately indicated their dislike by downvoting the video at a roughly 9:1 ratio.  Although this protest will yield no result, it signals the depth of the discontent within the community.

Blizzard’s problem through Warlords of Draenor’s development has been managing expectations of the fans . The success of Warlords shows that Blizzard knows what their player base wants, but lately Blizzard has developed the tendency to overpromise and then suffer wrath when course-correcting later.  Blizzard’s dithering about flight shortly after Warlords announcement (maybe 6.1!) has resulted in people still ranting about it despite Blizzard giving no indication there are plans to add it in the near future, if ever. While the furor over Twitter integration may seem to be a large number of people rallying against the encroachment of social media (all of this happening across the internet on sites which allow for groups to gather and discuss – the argument can even be made that Ventrillo or Teamspeak are a form of social media), it is ultimately about Blizzard’s perceived ignorance to the perception that Warlords of Draenor lacks endgame content.

While I have espoused my love for the Assault quests and Garrisons in the past, I will admit that lately, my playtime in WoW has been significantly reduced. While that is not entirely due to a lack of things to do (if anything, I still want to build up my garrison a little more and I have alts that need tending to), I have not been able to play WoW for more than maybe 3 or 4 hours a week, and I have been fine with that. I have had just enough time to tend to check my garrison buildings each day and maybe trap some beasts or run LFR. For anyone enthralled with Mists multiple factions and daily quest hubs, it is easy to see how this expansion could be found lacking. Most players should be done with their garrison quest by now, and sadly, that story will not resume until patch 6.2. The non-raiding player base is starved for content, and patch 6.1 was Blizzard’s chance to satiate that hunger.

Yet instead of a meal, the focus has been on snacks, like the S.E.L.F.I.E. camera or even the Blood Elf models. While the Blood Elf updates have been heavily anticipated, there is no content there. Players log in and have the model.  Any time spent admiring the new models and experimenting with transmogrification cannot be assumed. The same goes for the S.E.L.F.I.E. camera. There may be a quest to obtain and upgrade it, but that is a one time experience with a reward many players care little for. Patch 5.1 brought an entire new daily quest hub to Mists of Pandaria – a patch that many argue was the best example of Blizzard’s use of quests to tell a story to date. Players want more of that, and based on the video Blizzard’s Patch 6.1 Survival Guide, it appears they will be left wanting.

The video mentions two specific forms of content coming in 6.1: the continuation of Khadgar’s Legendary Questline, and the Garrison Daily Visitor. The Legendary quest is convenient for Blizzard to mention, but not true patch content, as it is related to the recently Blackrock Foundry raid. The story quests are coming in patch 6.1 only because they are gated behind the task of acquiring 900 elemental runestones from the raid. While this content will technically be available in the data provided on February 24th, no player could have possibly completed the requisite grind yet, so claiming this as patch content is disingenuous.

As for the Garrison Daily Visitor, a single daily quest giver is not the same as a full quest hub.  Players will randomly be tasked with killing a dungeon or raid boss, or be provided a profession quest.  The only intriguing content here is the relic quests, which are required to obtain Harrison Jones as a follower.  It will be interesting to see just how long these quests are.   While Blizzard has attempted to extend the amount of time required to complete all six relic quests by gating them behind this random visitor appearance, that has been offset by the fact that players can receive quests by visiting other garrisons.  It will be interesting to see if anyone is able to complete all six relic quests in one day by garrison-jumping until all quests have been found.   Otherwise, it would seem that a well-connected player can complete this in about a week.

So as the player base finds themselves frustrated, Blizzard makes themselves an easy target by debuting the twitter and Patch 6.1 videos.  Twitter integration itself seems useful to anyone who has a history of tweeting screenshots or events in game – actions which admittedly do not apply to all players. But pet battles, or fishing, or plenty of other features in WoW are not used by all players. This harms no one while benefiting (more than) a few. But simply because development time was spent on this and not on new content, players are incensed (not that the content developers are the people responsible for UI features like this, of course).

Furthermore, Blizzard has confused matters by remaining silent on the Iron Docks quest hub until now.  As the hub was deployed on the PTR, data-miners anticipated it would be part of this coming patch.  Data-mining is always a suspect proposition, but Blizzard neither supported nor denied any claims by these sites until the last few days, describing the Iron Docks as the one time quest chain lead in to Tanaan in 6.2.  For weeks, skeptical players have been reviewing the patch notes and claiming that Patch 6.1 lacked content.  Those of us looking to defend Blizzard would retort by mentioning the Iron Docks quests.  Now, with the patch upon us, Blizzard has proven their critics correct to their supporters’ dismay.  I may be the Video Games Public Defender, but I need my client to help me do my job right!

I would say Blizzard has been courting disaster lately, but that is a bit hyperbolic.  Yet I am stunned at how little actual content is in this patch.  Perhaps the combination of the garrison daily visitor and the S.E.L.F.I.E. and jukebox quests and the various garrison improvements will prove enough to tide players over.  I wanted to say that Blizzard had been doing a terrible job at communicating the content that was coming in this patch, but it appears many players understood just what was coming, and the rest of us, out of either hope or disbelief, did not listen.  Regardless, Patch 6.1 arrives next week, and many are disappointed with what it contains.  We do not know when Patch 6.2 will arrive, but I expect Blizzard is going to get plenty of angry tweets until then.

WoW! Blurbs!

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Nick Zielenkievicz
Nick Zielenkievicz
Nick Zielenkievicz

Senior Producer

Host of WoW! Talk! and The Tauren & The Goblin. Sometimes known as the Video Games Public Defender. Wants to play more Destiny and Marvel Heroes but WoW is all-consuming. Decent F2P Hearthstone player. Sad that he lost the Wii that had Wrecking Crew on it. Would be happy if the only game ever made was M.U.L.E. Gragtharr on Skywall-US. Garresque on Ravencrest-US.

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