With the recent announcement that Blizzard has thrown in the towel on Project Titan, many MMO fans are wondering what kind of newly-available resources the developer might send over to the World of Warcraft team. The Warlords of Draenor expansion launches next month and Blizzard has already expressed interest in ramping up the expansion schedule to one per year. That’s a good start in an attempt to keep the aging MMO alive, but Blizzard will also need to appeal to a larger audience if it wants to keep subscription levels above water. It looks like the company may be starting to look at the eSports market to win over a new crowd of gamers.
Structured PvP was next to non-existent when WoW launched in 2004, but over the last ten years the competitive Battlegrounds and Arenas have evolved into one of the game’s most addicting features. WoW 3v3 Arena is already a featured event in many eSports tournaments, but it’s no secret that it isn’t a fan favorite. Despite being a ton of fun to actually play, the PvP mode just doesn’t offer the same kind of spectator event as something like League of Legends or even Counter-Strike.
Apparently, the team at Blizzard feels the same way that eSports fans do about watching WoW Arena runs. Speaking to PCGamesN about the small spectator turnout for the WoW Arena Tournament at DreamHack Stockholm, Blizzard’s Kim Phan offered the following statement…
“I can definitely say that WoW 3v3 Arena right now is kind of hard to watch, in the form that it is… And so there are things that we want to evaluate.”
Phan is the head of eSports at Blizzard and he openly admits that the game wasn’t designer with eSports in mind. Priorities have shifted over the years and at this point, capitalizing on the growing eSports market may be the best bet for WoW to stay relevant. Phan explained that the primary problem with WoW’s Arena event is that it isn’t spectator friendly.
Warlords of Draenor will make some improvements on the eSports front by adding a spectator mode (nothing too groundbreaking compared to the competition), but PvP changes aren’t a major focus of the story-driven expansion. At this point, Blizzard is just trying to make a few tweaks to bring the spectator experience into the modern age of PC gaming.
“It is taking a game that was out before all of this happened, and then figuring out how to enhance it and support it.”
Blizzard is also willing to consider the notion that Arena may not be the most enticing of WoW’s modes for spectators. Some of the most exciting moments in WoW take place in PvE raids, so it seems logical that those encounters might be more exciting to watch than player versus player battles.
“Ideas have been brought up like Battlegrounds. People enjoy watching live raids at BlizzCon. What makes something an eSport really depends on what people want to see. We are taking a close look into how we can better support eSports.”
Whether it is PvP, PvE, or both; it makes sense to see Blizzard dedicating some resources to enhancing the eSports appeal of WoW. We doubt the game will ever be as exciting to watch as League of Legends or DOTA2, but there is definitely room in the market for the MMO.
Which WoW mode do you think would make the most exciting spectator event? PvE or PvP? Let us know in the comments.
World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor, the fifth expansion for the game, releases on November 13, 2014 for PC and Mac.
Follow Denny on Twitter @The_DFC.