Last night, I logged back into World of Warcraft for the first time since August. It’s the 17th anniversary of WoW’s launch, and I damn near didn’t log in for it. I logged in, I bought the in-game pet with in-game currency, I killed the anniversary boss for my mount, and I logged back out. I don’t think I will be going back.
I stopped playing WoW in August. Aside from one or two moments of nostalgia, I haven’t missed it. My long-time guild was blown to the wind at the end of Battle for Azeroth, so last year, I found another guild that I really liked. Unfortunately, as more of my old friends came back to the game and joined the new guild, cliquishness and drama emerged, my friends and I often felt excluded, and bit by bit, my friends were driven away.
As for raiding, I was often frustrated by a lack of leadership from the raid leads. There seemed to be a real disconnect between whether the raid prioritized progression or inclusivity: you can do both, to an extent, but I believe at the end of the day, you have to know which one is more important to you. A progression-focused raid is inherently less inclusive of players who might be friends, but also might not play well enough for the content you’re doing. Personally, I’ve always prioritized inclusivity as much as possible in my raid teams, but this one wasn’t mine to run.
Finally, I felt really devalued as a healer with that team. Comments were frequently made by leadership about having “too many healers” or the healing roster for the team being “malleable.” As one of three healers who showed up every raid night and healed well, it felt dismissive and hurtful to see raid leads invite new people or occasionals to take one of our healing spots. I won’t speak for the other healers, but I felt taken for granted.
Around the time this was all coming to a head, the news came out about the lawsuit, rampant sexual harassment, and endemic discrimination at Blizzard. So I started feeling pretty unenthused about WoW.
Obviously, a break was in order. I had no intention of returning to the guild I was in. I had made a couple of great friends there, but I hoped I would be able to play with them again in WoW or that maybe they would come to Final Fantasy XIV to play with me for a while.
I’ve played FFXIV on and off for years now, but this time, I couldn’t help noticing how refreshing the community was. It was like a breath of fresh air to run content with people who were routinely friendly, encouraging, and helpful — even if they didn’t know you!
It was increasingly and crushingly obvious to me how toxic the WoW community is. Random groups for content regularly vote kick players who are thought to not be good enough, even for content that requires a very low skill level. Casual misogyny and homophobia in general chat is common. Failing at content in WoW is met with derision and blame; in FFXIV, it’s met with discussion of what went wrong and encouragement. Forum posts from the developers about, say, adding new cosmetics for a class, are filled with complaints, accusations that the devs are lazy, and denigration of the class in question.
In this, of all years, who needs it? Maybe it’s the whole gritty, faction war focus of WoW, like you’re supposed to hate other players. Sometimes you work together in spite of yourselves, but only as long as necessary, and sometimes not even that long. Maybe Blizzard has completely mismanaged the community. Who can say?
What I know is that in FFXIV, there’s of course an enemy, but the three player “factions” band together to fight the enemy; collaboration and cooperation and caring about others are emphasized in the gameplay. It matters in this game how you treat others.
I think, after 17 years, I might be done with WoW for good this time.