World Of Warcraft Game Director Ion Hazzikostas Discusses Nurturing Community In Shadowlands And Classic

World Of Warcraft Game Director Ion Hazzikostas Discusses Nurturing Community In Shadowlands And Classic
Credit: World of Warcraft via YouTube

In a recent interview with popular streamer and Shadowlands alpha tester Sloot, World of Warcraft’s game director Ion Hazzikostas discussed the building of a community in World of Warcraft and how the team is taking lessons they’ve learned recently to bear in the upcoming expansion.

Namely, Sloot asked if Hazzikostas and his team had been looking to the recently popular release of their highly-demanded Vanilla experience, Classic, and if anything that had happened there was giving them ideas for the future. The Classic client lacks much of the bells and whistles that would be added into the game in later iterations, helping to essentially force players to be more social.

In short, it’s definitely a thing that the development team is looking towards, but there isn’t a specific feature from Classic that the team intends to necessarily lift and put into the game. This makes perfect sense given that Classic doesn’t really have any features to lift, as this more stripped-back approach is one of the main things that players were asking for in regards to the Vanilla experience.

While the team intends to do what they can to improve the sense of community, they’re working out a handful of approaches that can help. At the moment, there were no specifics that Hazzikostas was willing to share, but there certainly may be some developments coming out down the line.

It’s no secret that the current iteration of World of Warcraft – commonly called Retail – does absolutely nothing to foster a community. While guilds and party systems do exist with a bit of an inherent social quality, these aren’t emphasized in any way. Many players stay in guilds to enjoy perks like a guild bank or guild-funded equipment repairs.

When it comes to PvE content like dungeons or raids, the most popular way to tackle these is through the Dungeon Finder or Raid Finder systems. It’s shockingly common for a party to go through an entire dungeon or raid without saying much of anything to each other, with everyone fulfilling their assigned role. While content like Normal, Heroic, or Mythic raids do require players to build a group, this can still be done with a public posting, and given that the game operates on a cross-realm basis now, it’s very likely for your raid to end up filled with players you’ll never interact with outside of the raid itself.

Classic, meanwhile, doesn’t have these features – no cross-realm play, no dungeon finder, no raid finder, nothing. This forces players to be more social, interacting with and seeking out others so that they can fill out groups for the content they need. Additionally, since everyone is on the same realm, it’s very likely that you’ll be interacting with the same players repeatedly. If nothing else, this often forces better behavior as well, as group members that treat others poorly or steal group loot often receive a reputation for doing so and are even sometimes shunned by much of the community in a blacklist sort of way.

As time moves on, we’re certain to see plenty of changes to the Shadowlands task list. Hopefully, the growth of the community continues as the expansion approaches.