Back in 2017, PUBG acted as a critical turning point in the gaming sector. It introduced a concept, so simple, but yet so addictive that it broke all records in a matter of months. Bugs, poor matchmaking, hackers, an offensive performance – all the things, of which already one often means the downfall of a game – PUBG had them all. And boy was it bad. But nobody seemed to care. Sure, posts were made, complaints were handed in, but nobody seemed to stop playing, because the idea, the gameplay, was just so good. It combined, among others, communication, action, stealth, a high skill cap, and loads of adrenaline. It single-handedly transformed the design decisions of triple-A companies all around the globe. And successors quickly followed, most notably the infamous Fortnite.
Gaming has matured since 2004; it has its place in the middle of our society and generates more and more revenue each year. Technology, especially in the communication sector, made a huge jump. Twitch, Twitter, Esports in general, and various other instances got introduced, all helping to lift gaming as a concept where it is today. And we are right in front of the next fundamental direction change in gaming. Companies increasingly cater to a young audience, provide fast gratification, make everyone feel like they are a hero, and make most design decisions with the “casual” in mind. Games like Dark Souls, on the other hand, are the prime example that there is, by all means, an audience for a harder, a more atmospheric, an even bigger timesink type of game. “Roguelike” isn’t without reason one of the most searched keywords on Steam. But the players of these games provide, in comparison to the type as mentioned earlier, not a license for money-printing.
All these years, the hardcore playerbase was lurking in the shadows, came out from time to time to feast on new, fresh stuff before going back to their damp cave. That time now officially comes to an end. In less than a week hundreds of thousands of dwellers will leave their holes, crawling all over the place and proving to everyone, that they do exist and that they actually have a lot of money to spend. They have grown older, have jobs, families, have seen it all. But most importantly: they remember how it all started. Combine that with the technological advances that happened over the last 15 years, and you will certainly see the same image as I do.
World of Warcraft was a phenomenon when it launched. It shaped our culture, altered how games were made, and was capable of changing the lives of millions of individuals. PUBG had bugs, gameplay issues, and various other problems. WoW got 15 years of continuous development and experience under its hood. The phenomenon that once left the world in sheer awe is back, stronger than ever, supported by modern technology and ready for its second coming. Blizzard isn’t prepared for this launch. The players and companies aren’t prepared for the tremors it will send right through the gaming world. Glimpses of it could be seen during the Beta, the various stresstests, and most importantly, during the last week of character creation madness.
However, what follows in a few days is the real thing. It will blow away every anticipation and will thus change the future of gaming.
And the best of it all? We are right in it. We made that happen. We are the reason for all these 14-year-old Fortniters to grab themselves a hand full of Classic and get addicted beyond everything they’ve touched before. Classic will have the same impact as PUBG once had, and the outcomes of that are for us to enjoy.