I just cancelled my WoW account. I've been an active subscriber for a long time - since 2006 - with only one break for a few months a couple years ago. I have 33 toons on three servers, all PvE, two of which are Horde. I've not looked recently, but I'm pretty sure I accumulated almost two years of real-time game play. (Not a stat I'm particularly proud of, mind you.)
I was an active raider during the Wrath xpac but, since Cataclysm, I've stopped raiding and I've never pug'd a raid simply because I don't want to spend (waste) the time reading up on fight mechanics nor do I wish to deal with the pug-emo's that I understand are prevalent.
What made WoW so enjoyable for me, as an active player and subscriber, was that the game embodied the epitome of open-ended playing. For the same reasons why I love games such as Fallout, Far Cry and Skyrim, when I log in to the servers, I can pretty much go in whatever direction I want, where ever my mood takes me at the time.
Over the last few xpacs, I've become increasingly disenchanted with the apparent diminishing returns offered by Warcraft's gaming model. Blizzard has continued to take away choices from me in terms of game play and it's finally reached the point where I'm no longer interested enough in the game to play it's stripped-down version that it's evolved into.
For sake of discussion, nerd-rage venting is offered for free, I'm going to post what I feel were the features changed, or removed, from the game that finally made me throw in the proverbial towel and willingly walk away from a significant account in terms of time invested, character levels and gear.
An unhealthy insistence of PvP
I loathe PvP. I raised 10 toons to 70 on a PvP server (Demonsoul) and I finally bit the wallet and paid $250 to move my toons to a PvE server. It was money well spent imo as I no longer had to contend with griefing, (a player of significantly higher level killing my lowb and then camping my corpse, repeatedly killing me on re-spawn) and I could just concentrate on playing the game.
I never flagged myself willingly for PvP and I can't remember the last time I went into a battleground. I was prolific at PvP for chasing down certain achievements but, for the most part, I hate the philosophy behind PvP - especially how it permeates onto the PvE realms.
(Side note: If you're on a PvE realm, why do you launch and promote a PvP guild? This makes no sense...)
What became unbearable was Blizzard's insistence of dragging me back in to PvP battles. In Timeless Isle, for example, some Alliance twerp would flag themselves for PvP unnoticed by you, ripping lose with AoE spells/effects, effectively flagging you for PvP, at which point several newly-flagged toons would ambush you and leave your corpse cooling in the dirt. What fun.
Brawler's Guild is thinly-veiled PvP and, after trying it, I never saw the point. Like Pet Battles, it's suitable for those who are interested in it. For me, it never rated more than a "meh". In one of the more recent xpacs, Blizz released something called "proving grounds", another empty-headed collection of pointless tasks for you to stumble through.
WoD introduces quest lines to get you back into Proving Grounds and the Brawler's Arena. Which is more-or-less duplicitous on Blizzard's part, afaic, because if I thought Brawler's Arena or Proving Grounds was fun and/or interesting, I would do them. Forcing me to do them via quests is just... well, sad.
Balance - Heard of it?
After 10 years of continuous development, Blizzard's game designers still haven't figured out how to balance the classes or even an individual classes' talent trees.
Every xpac introduces nerfs to most, if not all, of the classes and some classes were nerfed so hard that they basically became bank alts until the next xpac.
Why, Blizzard? Why do this? Why take a class that someone enjoys playing it and, in the parlance of that asshat Ghostcrawler, nerf it to the ground? What's the point? Where players simply having too much fun playing that particular class?
And why do you penalize players for wanting to play a talent tree of their choosing?
My first toon was a mage. A fire mage. Which I've not been able to play, successfully, for years (Playing a destro-lock during WotLK doesn't count!) because of the dps penalty. Even though that's the class I want to play, I have to take a serious hit to my productivity. And, gods-forbid, I show up for a raid using that class. I'll get kicked so fast...
I enjoyed playing Rift simply because the talent trees, and the classes, in all combinations, were inherently playable. Want to be a tanking cleric? There's a spec for that! It was awesome! And it worked well in game and instance play. No penalty for playing the way you want to play. What a concept!
When the Death Knight was introduced as a "hero class" - a murky attempt of justifying the OP that are DKs - a general hue and cry arose from the masses. "OP! OP!" they shouted... Until the blood DK tanked for them... Hell, you didn't even need heals... Blizz promised a second hero class, a healer, to be released soon after but it never developed. Instead they just decided it would be easier (and more inline with their established practices) of nerfing the DK down to sub-heroic levels. Still horribly OP compared to, say, a mage. But that's the way Blizz likes it.
Blizzard Taketh Away...
Over the years, Blizz has gotten very good at taking away things/stuff from players, reducing their in-game choices, simplifying game play is their justification/response to player outrage.
Remember when your lock could DoT-up a mod or another player? Nerfed. Curses? Nope.
Remember when your alchemists could have unlimited potion effects? Now, you're lucky to get two. And that includes scrolls.
Mages? Remember innervate? Gone. Mirror image? Gone.
Remember when you didn't have a global cool-down? (Which, imo, reduced the game to a glorified turn-based blob o' boring. Click - pause - click - pause - click - pause. Some classes, you actually get to click more than 2-3 buttons in your rotation! Oh, the chaos!!!)
Seems like the last few xpacs, Blizzard focuses more on what they're taking away from the game as opposed to what they should be adding.
One of the traits that makes WoW so enjoyable is... listen carefully, Blizzard: consistency. Players, as a rule, aren't going to be appreciative of massive changes resulting re-learning class play every single time you release an xpac. It gets tiring after spending months how-to optimize your dps-output only to have to relearn everything in the xpac. At some point you just shrug, mutter "why bother?" before turning on your Xbox or PS4.
Thou Shalt Raid and Thou Shalt Enjoy It!
Hey Blizz - here's a heads-up. Not everyone raids.
In the last xpac, WoD, you're now penalized for not-raiding in that you're limited to the amount of crafted 640-level gear you can equip.
Seriously. I'm not making this up. You're only allowed to wear three pieces of "warlords" gear on a single toon. So all that garrison-crafting you're doing is going to be pointless after a very short-time. Unless you want virtual gold from the AH from selling to others.
Let's face it - Blizzard has never had a handle on crafting anyway. In most of the xpacs, you can't use the stuff you can craft until you get to a level whereat mobs and instances are dropping better gear anyway - so why bother?
Now, it's gotten even more heinous - with putting a cap on the amount of gear, that you make yourself, that your toon can wear, Blizz is effectively saying to the player base - if you want to wear all purps, you're going to need to raid. There's no other way to get it.
If you don't raid, then you're going to cap out with whatever you can scrounge around doing heroics. And, to be perfectly honest, I'm just not interested enough to peruse the loot compendiums to see which instance boss will drop what.
Well, it was a good run, Blizzard. Not since Microsoft have I seen a company so openly chock-full of hubris, openly ignoring it's user-base simply because they know better. While openly lamenting the loss of subscribers, it's still a huge cash-cow so I guess they can continue with their practices of dumbing-down and nerfing the status-quo. At some point, all players will be blood DKs, I guess, with a two-button rotation. For the most part, I did use to greatly enjoy playing WoW and I'm grateful for that time.
I have a gaming PC that's looking like it's going to get upgraded to a linux nas-server and I'm headed off to Skyrim (Xbox) where I can play a game the way I want to play it. I've also been greatly enjoying playing Destiny and Second Son on the PS4.