Video game fans nostalgic over return of ‘World of Warcraft’

Category:  The Arts
Friday, September 13th, 2019 at 10:55 AM

When someone thinks of a popular game today, it’s usually one that was recently released. It has new graphics that almost seem real, gameplay that gives a sense of in-world freedom and an in-depth story you can sink your teeth into. In late August, one release bucked that trend.

Activision Blizzard released “World of Warcraft: Classic” at 6 p.m. on Aug. 26, tapping into the nostalgia of a whole generation of gamers. “World of Warcraft” was first released on Nov. 23, 2004 and became one of the most, if not the most, popular game of its time.

At its peak, “World of Warcraft” boasted having almost 12 million monthly subscribers to the game with its most popular expansion being “The Wrath of The Lich King.” The retail version of the games has been on the decline for the past seven to eight years, losing some of its subscribers to more updated games. Rumors have the active characters below 1 million.

Two hours before the rerelease, major “World of Warcraft” Twitch streamers connected to the character select screen to await connection to the servers. The larger of these streamers had over 190,000 viewers at game launch, whereas usual viewer count can be around 20,000. By almost 30 minutes before game launch, people were not able to login to the character select screen. Instead, they were sent to a login queue with over 10,000 people waiting to go into one of the 35 servers. The wait time could be as long as eight hours.

With this rerelease of the vanilla version of the game, Activision Blizzard made sure as to not change anything from the original game. Everything from the graphics to the overall gameplay is the same. Many avid gamers of 2004 can attest that graphics back then were not the most realistic. Facial features seemed to be glued on to the character faces; contrast that to today where mechanics provide accurate depictions of someone speaking, facial muscles and all. The world was very basic, whereas today the sun within a 2019 game reacts to almost everything in the game, creating intricate sun rays and shadows. So why is this game so popular? Nostalgia.

Many gamers know this warm feeling. Many game companies rerelease their older games and use nostalgia as a selling point, or infuse a sequel with it. For instance, most ’90s gamers remember the 1998 Gameboy release of “Pokémon Red” and “Pokémon Blue.” They were groundbreaking games that most kids (now adults) played. I could pick it up today and still remember the childish feelings that accompany the falling stars on-screen as the “Game Freak” logo appears.

For me, I was 14 when “World of Warcraft” first launched. I was a young kid where the only important thing in life was school. Video games at the time were constantly getting better and better. Now, we finally had a game where we could go to a completely different world and play with friends. Some of my friends played day after day without stopping. I met so many new people and made unforgettable memories that the rerelease brought back to light.

Most games today do not inspire those feelings. Most can be played and finished within eight hours and are not always rewarding. “World of Warcraft” was an endless experience. With the more complicated fights, you can receive some very rare items that you can boast about.
In the time leading up to the rerelease, individuals created many private servers for “World of Warcraft,” as they looked for a space where we could relive that fantasy. Activision Blizzard unfortunately caught on to this and began shutting down these servers and causing players to get upset. That’s when the company realized how popular the classic version really is.

With the game’s 15th anniversary, “World of Warcraft: Classic” has finally been rereleased. The game is now playable on both Mac and PC.

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