Saturday, October 22, 2011

WoW goes Kung-Fu Panda


By now I suppose all WoW fans have read the news about the new expansion, so no need to paste here details. I feel Blizzard is hammering the nails on WoW's coffin, at least in the western market. Pandarens were always a little joke in WoW universe, and now become a playable race and theme for a expansion. Very, very disappointing.
You've been running around Kalimdor and Eastern Kingdoms, then Outland and Northrend, thwarting the plans of the big baddies, following a good chained history and then... everything goes to a halt and something new is introduced, disrupting totally the chain. By that time Deathwing will be just a dead husk, but what about of the threats still looming around? Old Gods, Burning Legion... they aren't going to kick back and relax while we're in Pandaria learning kung-fu!
WoW subscribers have been going down since Cata was released. Almost everyone felt the expansion didn't bring anything really new that was worth to keep playing the game and went away looking for greener pastures. In this case it seems Blizzard considers american and european markets dry and looks to attract a raising market like the asian and specially the chinese, focusing the entire expansion on chinese lore. Will it work there? Probably. Previous expansions, specially Wrath of the Lich King were hard to be introduced there. Chinese specially find undead and skeletons very disgusting, a taboo. So an entire expansion based on creatures they dislike wasn't going to work (Blizzard had to change several mob models for the chinese version). So they're now fully betting on the chinese market with something they like. I wouldn't be surprised if after Mists of Pandaria we get Sands of Arabia or Snows of Caucasus as the new expansion.
But at least, one good new (and also a good hook to keep playing): if you commit to one year of WoW gameplay you get Diablo III for free. A good marketing trick to secure player base.

8 comments:

  1. Actually no. Pandarians where not introduced in TBC as the alliance race, because it would cause problems in China.
    "During the discussion panel at Blizzcon 2009, it was stated that the Pandaren have not had an increased presence in the game due to legal issues with China." -From wowiki.
    Pandarens are introduced because they have been the most requested race since vanilla. I remember being at the WoW invitational in Paris, and seeing people everywhere talking about wanting to see/play pandaas.

    ... Maybe those people have stopped playing by now?

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  2. Most probably the issues with the chinese government have been already fixed, specially when they realise they can get a good amount of money with this.
    The rest of new features introduced also point to eastern market (the Pokemon battles, the scenarios, etc), something that's already successful there.

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  3. The first designs for Pandaren were in fact, Japanese themed, not Chinese. The Panda is the national animal of China, being native to the region and very much a protected species. The clothes and weaponry the Pandaren were shown with were Samurai (Japanese) theamed which, to many Western eyes, is 'Asian' or 'Oriental'. Many, many centuries of conflict have built up an uneasy relationship between the two Countries and they do, understandably hold their seperate traditions and histories very dear. Many Chinese have not forgotten or forgiven what happened to thier country during WW2 at Japanese hands.

    I belive the offence caused by depicting their national animal in the traditional dress of their oldest and most contravertial rivals would be the main reason for offical Chinese protests and the stalling of the Pandaren idea at the time.

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  4. @Raffles: I may be wrong, but if my memory doesn't fail, the first depiction of a pandaren was wearing the traditional chinese suit: http://us.battle.net/wow/en/media/wallpapers/other?view#/panda-xpress It was used for an April's Fools prank. The second image I remember it's the japanese one, with a pandaren and his cub in japanese style clothing: http://www.hellaphone.com/walls/a4/a4oeouo.jpg
    I haven't investigated this deeper, so I'm not sure if prior art existed wearing japanese clothes.
    Oh and btw, I'm a big fan of japanese culture (did 3 years of traditional sword fighting), so I can tell the difference between japanese weapons and clothes from other asian cultures :)

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  5. Top notch there old chap, it would seem the April fools joke was before my time in the game. That 2nd Image was the first one i'd seen and seems to be being re-used a lot recently. I've never studied Japanese culture but have lived and worked in China, but I'm sure this goes for both sides with Japanese people wondering why a Chinese animal is dressed up in thier traditional garb.

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