Wednesday, June 8, 2011

How does WoW disinterest affect blogging?

I thought I'd go a little meta on my blogging here and analyze how things have changed during my 1,5 years of writing about WoW, especially in the light of how things have changed in WoW. This is clearly from my PoV so I'd love to hear what your experiences are about this as well! Just after having written this post I stumbled on Shintars post (how the heck did I miss it?) over at Priest With a Cause on the same subject, which linked to a post by Rohan at Blessing of Kings that also touches upon the subject. Clearly it's a matter on more peoples minds.

It took quite a while before my blogging got any attention, which really is just because I kind of had it hidden in the backdrawer of the internets. Once I turned my attention to other blogs, I quickly noticed that the favor was returned, and I've been a happy member of the WoW bloggosphere ever since (which, as some discussed on Twitter the other day, is a really nice part of the bloggosphere). And I intend to stay there, don't worry about that. Since things really started to move around here, which would be around the end of last summer when I managed to be featured on Wowinsiders Daily Quest column, and until now, a lot has changed however. Not only my own pace of blogging, since I recently decided to focus my writing attention on other projects as well, I've cut down from posting every day to just about every other day (and that might slow down even further with the summer weeks coming up, simply because I won't always have access to a computer). That change was because of personal matters, but even not counting for that I definitely see a change in my and others blogging.

Blizzard recently announced a drop in subscriptions, and I remember that my first thought was - "Ah, that explains a lot!". Overall I've seen people feel dreary and tired of Cataclysm content already, something well described by Oestrus at The Stories of O.

"I would be perfectly fine calling it right here, at 6/13 in Heroic modes and taking a nice, well deserved break until Firelands comes out.  I would have no problem not logging in, except for the occasional Amani bear run or round of TB dailies. (...) Don’t get me wrong, I still love the game. (...) I’m just tired."

I know plenty of people who've taken their disbanded guild as the final excuse to actually quit WoW, although they've probably been contemplating it for a long time. All that spills over to the WoW bloggosphere too of course. I see more posts than ever that go "Oh I haven't written anything in a long time, but frankly I haven't played very much lately" or "I don't really know what to write about so here is a random mash up of thoughts". Don't get me wrong, this is definitely not boring or bad posts - but they do conform to the general feel that people seem tired with... something. WoW? Playing? Writing? It doesn't really seem to be one thing in particular, rather a lot of things that go hand in hand. I find it hard to believe that such a big part of the WoW bloggosphere suddenly has so much more irl-stuffs to do that they can't find time blogging. But clearly something is taking away peoples muse. People are having a hard time, not to come up with ideas, but to find the motivation to sit down and type them down, or that is the feeling I get from all these posts. Maybe because these bloggers are tired with WoW themselves, or ex-members of a disbanded guild or otherwise in a position that they right now seem to share with a lot of other WoW players and that make it difficult to find something enjoyable to do in game. And in consequence to find something enjoyable to write about the game.

What these problems lie in, I don't know. And I've hardly been unaffected. Even if I don't personally feel like I am ready to quit WoW (far from actually), I probably wouldn't be lying if I said I spend less time with it now than I used to. Or so I think anyway. Love recently started a new guild with some friends, and they have been doing really well. Part of the reason for them leaving was that they didn't like the 25 man system and the way things were handled in my current guild, but I didn't think that was the whole story. I was afraid that what really would turn out to be the problem was their lack of fun with the game and so this new guild wouldn't do it for them either. They tried to remedy it by moving on to presumably greener grass, but probably realized that it wasn't the guild that was the real problem, it was their undefined lack of motivation and fun in the game. I knew this probably was part of the problem and didn't want to be sitting there with an empty guild when they finally had figured that one out. I told Love, and what happens? Two of the main instigators to the move (they were four total) have now decided that they want to "cut down on playing". It seems to take people quite some time to figure this out however, and the time between is spent in some lingering gaming-limbo. I think I can see this in some blogs as well although in most cases bloggers just disappear when they can't find the motivation to write.

I can see this lack of interest affect my blog as well. Not my personal writing but the kind of traffic I get. During the end of Wrath and especially in early Cataclysm, I easily had around 1500-2000 pageviews each day. Today I consider it a good day if I get up to one third or 600 each day. But even if pageviews have dropped dramatically, my subscriptions have actually gone up (modestly, but still). As any blogger probably knows (at least any blogger who's written any kind of WoW-guide), there are really two types of readers - the ones with a general interest in WoW and who often subscribe to WoW-blogs, and the occasional "tourist" who finds your blog on Google because he was looking for some sort of certain information. In early Cataclysm my guides on how to spec your priests (holy and disc) had insane amounts (at least for my standards) of pageviews each day. Progressing through Cata I can follow the general guilds raid progression by seeing how my various raid boss strategy guides are topping my pageview meters. It was Magmaw and Halfus for a very long time, then it has recently moved on to Nefarian and now I also see increased interest in Halfus hc. But overall, the interest for general information on WoW has significantly dropped, at least where my blog is affected, while the returning readers continue to return. To a big part I'd attribute this to the fact that we're some ways into this expansion now and less people feel like they need a guide to know how to get started. But I also think that the general lack of interest players seem to feel towards WoW plays its part.

It leads me to think about the question - what should I write about if I don't write about WoW? Which might be the question on the mind of plenty of bloggers right now. Some bloggers have made it clear that they have a very specific idea about what their blog should be about. Some don't even write about WoW generally, but about a certain class or profession, which of course limits their possibilities. Personally, I've always felt like my blog should be about anything that happens to interest me the most at the time, and currently (and for some time now) this has turned out to be about WoW. WoW is one hell of a bucket to get writing material from though, and I doubt I would find as much to write about on another subject, but who knows! Some bloggers have turned their WoW-blogs into more general gaming blogs, which I like since I'm definitely interested in gaming overall (I subscribe to two different swedish gaming magazines for instance) and I always enjoy reading someones thought about another game than WoW. And of course, there are still plenty of awesome Wow-blogs that continue to deliver interesting posts like nothing has changed (keep it up yo!).

The problem with this general dwindling of interest (as I see it anyway) isn't only the sad drop of existing WoW-blogs, but that it's rather disheartening to constantly read and hear about how people don't enjoy something as much as they used to. It only adds to the feeling of being on a sinking ship, and everyone are looking for the life boats. This is definitely not where WoW is at (and I realize the irony in me just making it worse by writing this), my point is that disinterest tends to turn into an evil spiral of disinterest. Sometimes when I read a post from someone saying "I don't really know what to write about..." I want to comment and say "but there is loads! Don't give up!" (and sometimes I do). When people around me start questioning the fun in what they and I do, I might too, although maybe I wouldn't have otherwise. Shintar notes the same thing;

"Am I really thinking that the game is less fun than it used to be or am I just automatically nodding along when others say so?"

It is impossible not to be affected when it is everywhere around you. And I can't even really define what it is, it's just this vague sense of people not having fun anymore.

1 comment:

  1. I'd never considered how the slowdown of Cataclysm could have led to a lower number of readers. But thank you, now I have an excuse beside my writing. :)

    Without WoW, there is still WoW to write about (I stopped playing months ago, still write about it). At the very least, it is a useful point of reference. Everyone has played it, is playing it, or at least knows someone who plays it. Seeing how games are similar or different from WoW can be a useful tool. Just today I was able to use daily quests to illustrate something I dislike in Civilization, or maybe the other way around.

    That said, the "WoW isn't fun anymore" posts, with no analysis, are just depressing. If they have analysis of what is going on, they can at least offer some hope, of problems identified and maybe fixed.