Blizzard’s World of Warcraft (WoW) is set in the Warcraft universe, where players can create their own characters, sign up to play, and embark on epic quests. However, the game has an issue where players can’t part with their current class, and instead must always play the class they were initially assigned to when they purchased the game (unless they purchased a class transfer option). After all, that class has already done all the work in the game, and the responsibilities that come with that class are no longer there.
In a recent patch for World of Warcraft, the developers removed the “conduits” that needed to be placed in order to use the various class-specific portals in major cities. The problem with the conduit system is that it made acquiring a second character in a different class a matter of a few minutes. The patch also finally made the portal-specific covenants freely swappable.
Patch 9.1.5 for World of Warcraft was released on November 8, 2016. Among many changes, the conduit system was removed from the game. This might not seem like a big deal, but for a long time players have been frustrated by a lack of choice when selecting a new covenant. Players had been able to select from a limited number of premade ones, or make their own from scratch, but the former option was not open to the masses.
We recently mentioned that the general design philosophy for World of Warcraft patch 9.1.5 seems to be centered on features that players have been requesting for a long time but that Blizzard has so far refused to implement. The removal of conduit energy, the ability to freely swap covenants for players at an undisclosed but high level of Renown, and a skip option for steps of the Covenant campaign already completed on other characters are among the more notable changes in today’s new developer update, which confirms that patch 9.1.5 will be released on the PTR in a few days.
So, why are we doing this now? The developer letter makes it obvious that Blizzard understands that conduit energy, in particular, adds nothing to the game, implicitly admitting that negative comments about the system was correct throughout the lengthy expansion testing phase. Covenants, on the other hand, are justified as providing an essential player experience in the early days of the expansion, when switching covenants was more difficult. Regardless, the expansion seems to be pulling the ripcord with force at this stage in production, under the present shadow of the corporate litigation and controversy, as well as the apparent mass exodus from the game.
Due to a lengthy series of controversies in the MMO and gaming sector over the past several years, including the Blitzchung boycott, huge layoffs, labor conflicts, and executive pay debacle, Activision-Blizzard is regarded a problematic business in the MMO and gaming industry. The company was recently sued by the state of California for fostering a work environment that was riddled with sexual harassment and discrimination, and the company’s disastrous response has added to Blizzard’s ongoing pipeline issues and the widespread perception that its online games are in decline.
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