World of Warcraft: Why do I keep going back?

Last year World of Warcraft turned 10 years old. That’s a huge milestone for any game that relies on paid subscriptions to fuel its growth. I joined up about 8 years ago, so I’m by now one of the Vanilla crew but I know my way around the game and I’ve invested a great deal of time into it as well as a huge amount of money. I was thinking about the vast expense that World of Warcraft has caused me that led me to the question: why do I still keep paying for it?

Monthly subscriptions for games are dying out. Plain and simple. The payment model just doesn’t suit the modern gamer, let alone the modern gaming market. There are constantly new IP’s being released as well as countless re-masters and sequels to already popular titles. With so much choice and variation of game out there the modern gamer doesn’t want to be tied into having to pay a fee each month just to log in even after shelling out for the game in the first place.

So my first thought was “am I just clinging to the past?” Well, yes and no. Whilst I do still recount tales of my first adventures in Warcraft I don’t completely rely on them to justify the subscription. It’s an ever evolving game set in an ever expanded world. Blizzard, despite what you may read on various forums and message boards, always tries to innovate and explore new ground when it comes to presenting content in the game. Take a look at how the story element to The Burning Crusade was presented and compare it to that of Cataclysm, look at the way questing was dealt with in Mists of Pandaria and compare it to Warlords of Draenor. So in terms of clinging to the past, I don’t think that’s the case as the game remains relevant to me today.

I think it all comes down to the world itself. I’m a sucker for stories in games and in World of Warcraft there are so many stories. There’s the huge over arching story that’s taking place throughout each expansion but then there are thousands of little stories in the many many quest lines and beyond that there are stories you make yourself, adventures with people and situations you find yourself in and while you can say “yeah but all MMO’s have that”, the fact is I’ve seen all of these stories, I’ve been a part of them and I’m ready to be part of the next ones. I think the reason I keep playing World of Warcraft is because I’ve been in it for so long now. There are elements of story telling that are better in The Old Republic, there are PvP elements like world versus world that Guild Wars 2 really gets right and there are visuals that The Elder Scrolls Online and Final Fantasy XIV have that are gorgeous. But none of them are home to me. The time I’ve invested and the experiences I’ve got out of it are worth the subscription for me and while that may not fit with the opinion of many of my fellow Warcraft players it’s enough for me.