And thus begins another series, this one entitled "Worst Case Scenario". There have been some interesting bits of news lately that have left a few games with undetermined fates. This leads to some fun speculation from the community. Let's play Debbie Downer and pick out the worst possible scenarios that could happen. It'll be fun!
As you may have guessed, the topic of this one relates to the possibility that Vivendi may sell of Activision/Blizzard. Now, I can't say that I understand much about how a company is sold, how much shareholders have a say in the direction of a company, or even if the scenario in the title is possible, but currently Vivendi plans to sell its shares on the open market soon if there are no buyers. In which case...
What if Zynga bought majority share in Blizzard? Hell, what if Zynga outright owned Blizzard? I'm not trying to paint Zynga as a demonic company (that would be too easy) but there are undoubtably many complaints about the casual direction the game has been going. What if the casual game king started calling the shots at Blizzard?
First in my mind would be Blizzard's sudden integration with Facebook. Why shouldn't Facebook update with your achievements? Sounds like fun. You can even invite friends to WoW via Facebook posts on their wall. And do so automatically! And money to progress in the game? Of course they'd have a hell of a lot of that!
Alright, perhaps that's being a bit drastic. Even a company like Zynga knows that making such drastic changes would alienate the playerbase and cause the value of the stock that they just bought to plummet. But with the casual direction that Mists of Pandaria is going, would Blizzard be able to take some pointers from the casual game behemoth? Absolutely.
Let's examine what Zynga is best at in games: Tiny, short actions that allow for meaningful interaction while at the same time requiring a lot of dedication in order to progress. World of Warcraft fits many of those ideals neatly. I can currently log in and do three quests, probably in less than ten minutes, and still feel like I accomplished something. I did that today. With MoP's additions of pet battles, the Tillers farm segment, and the massive amount of daily quests it would be easy to break play sessions into bite sized bits.
Assume for a moment that Zynga would honor any promise that Blizzard already made for the game. If you want to log in, do some dailies and maybe a pet battle or two, that would be fine. But micro-transactions would be king. How would you like to buy another raid lockout? Or perhaps remove your weekly limit for Random Dungeon rewards? You can bet you'd be able to pay for that. Pets in pet battles with extra stats or bonuses? That could be an option as well.
Let's make no mistake, these changes would be introduced in a way that would be spun as improvements to the game. Play as you want, as much as you want, for a small extra fee. You sub buys you something, but a little extra can buy you more. I wouldn't be surprised if the items that remove your weekly limit for Dungeons had charges, so you had to keep buying them week after week.
I could spend pages listing all sorts of things they could sell, but the important part is how content would change. Bare bones content would be released for those with a sub, and adventure packs would start to reign supreme. Zynga abandoned Farmville, and they would absolutely be alright with burning through WoW's massive playerbase for all of their money and then dumping it when the train runs to the end of its tracks.
So, worst case scenario? We see the end of WoW. Entirely.