You may have noticed, but World of Warcraft is in the news again. It's not because of some new expansion that always brings back a few players, it's not because Blizzard is finally killing the game after more than 15 years of operation. It's because a new game mode has been added: Classic. Servers offering that experience let players play the game as it was when it first released, with none of the expansions or quality of life improvements that have been introduced in the years since.
But what do people get out of it? Surely modern games are better than older games, even when it comes to versions of the same game? Not according to the millions of players who have registered characters on classic servers, nor the thousands sitting in multi-hour-long queues just to get into the game.
So what are they getting out of it? Just why are so many people playing WoW Classic?
As with any retro gaming, whether it's on PC or console, nostalgia can be a major factor in our enjoyment of any game. That's why certain titles which haven't particularly aged well can be so much fun and there are certainly aspects of WoW Classic that will draw in players for that very reason.
Azeroth as it once was is something that many players haven't been able to experience in well over a decade, so being able to run around its (then) two continents as they did back when they were far younger, is something that many gamers just can't pass up.
It doesn't mean it's going to be great, but nostalgia will carry many thousands of gamers through at least a few hours of levelling.
For many long-term or even lapsed WoW players, one of the biggest problems with the modern Warcraft experience is that it's both too complex and too easy. With an expanded game world, endless new items, quests, NPCs, and loot to play with, gamers have a hard time seeing all of it. Teething problems like finding where the hell you're supposed to go, or teaming up with enough people to run a dungeon or raid, have also been addressed by Blizzard in recent years, making it easier for players to enjoy the game.
For many, though, that's removed some of what made WoW so much fun for them. It was challenging and explorative. It didn't hold your hand. Today, it arguably does and for some, that's made the game no longer fun for them.
But 2004/2005-era WoW, with none of the quality of life improvements that have been made since then? That's music to their ears.
A classic MMO experience
It's fair to say that as we approach 2020, the MMO genre is, if not dead or dying, certainly waned. It's far from the mainstay gaming genre it was when WoW launched and today the vast majority of gamers play more focused, competitive games. MOBAs like League of Legends and DotA 2 still command some of the largest playerbases in the world and Battle Royale games and Autobattlers are the genres de jour.
New MMOs are few and far between and they are forced to be innovative to try to break ground and create a sustainable community. There just aren't games like the original WoW any more and certainly nothing new that could hope to capture its magic and presence.
That's something that fans of the MMO genre in general miss. Beyond a more streamlined WoW experience, WoW Classic has the potential to be the classic MMO experience. Few other franchises can offer that.
Finding old friends
Blizzard has made it easier than ever for old WoW gamers to try to reconnect with friends of years gone by. Where once they logged off, never to be heard from again, now those characters and players you raided with back in the 2000s can be dug up again and reconnected with. There have already been a number of noteworthy reconnections highlighted in videos and on forums and Reddit threads.
Not everyone is going to find their old guild, but for those that do, this could be a magical moment in their lives.
And everything else
These aren't the only reasons that people are enjoying Classic WoW, but they're the best ones we could think of. Are you going to give Classic WoW a go? If so, what's your reason for getting back to Azeroth as it once was?
Image source: Inertiate/Reddit