World of Warcraft Game Director Ion Hazzikostas shares his thoughts on Warbands (and expansion leaks)
Our own Cory Taylor had the opportunity to have an exclusive chat with World of Warcraft Game Director Ion Hazzikostas at BlizzCon 2023, and he shared some of his thoughts on the upcoming WoW expansion, The War Within — especially about one of its most promising new features, Warbands. It was more of a philosophical talk where he exposed the WoW development team’s thoughts on the shift in design philosophy that led to this very alt-friendly feature, which quickly became a major source of community hype for the upcoming expansion.
The cause of that shift, according to Ion, was “relentless community feedback over the years, and also [their] own experiences playing the game.” Ion shared that for him, personally, the shift involved “letting go of some traditions and philosophies that had been ingrained in [him] by the leaders who taught [him] about Warcraft design years ago.” He believes that the people working on WoW were “stubbornly holding on to archaic aspects of the game — and it was just out of a sense of tradition.”
But during Shadowlands, he says that the team took a giant step back and decided to “reexamine every assumption [they’ve] made and held about how World of Warcraft should be played, and what the game should be, and what the community wants.” To Ion, many people don’t even think of themselves as having a single main: they play their characters relatively equally. Others do have a single main, but it’s possible to “meet [each of] those players where they are.” They realized that every kind of player is looking to get something different from the game, and it’s their job to make sure they’re not “throwing arbitrary barriers to the enjoyment they’re seeking to get out of it.”
When asked about how it feels to be able to talk about the next three WoW expansions at the same time, Ion shared that the team is “excited about it too” — and added that he’s glad that there were no major leaks leading up to this one. Usually well in tune with community discussions — and memes — he even said that he appreciates the jokes about how the MMO-Champion leaks community is in shambles. “What are they going to do for the next few years? Sorry, we already know what [the next expansion] is!”
All in all, this was a very interesting insight into the thoughts and philosophies of the WoW team moving forward with the game, and it’s fantastic to hear some affirmation that the WoW team is, in fact, very interested in providing ways for players to enjoy all of their different characters with as little attrition as possible. Warbands have been very well-received by the community, and Ion is not unaware of it. “This is actually all the things you’ve been asking for,” he concluded. “They’re coming.”
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