Jump the Panda [ COMIC ]

Did World of Warcraft jump the shark panda?

April 1, 2003, Blizzard announced the Pandarens as the new “5th race” for Warcraft III. This was an April Fools’ joke.

Last weekend at BlizzCon, Blizzard announced World of Warcraft‘s fourth expansion, Mists of Pandaria, which would actually add the Pandarens in as a new race to the game. This was not [1].

Are the Pandarens a good idea? Honestly, not sure…We have the Kung Fu Panda Pandarens and we have the World of Warcraft universe which is heavily based off of fantasy genre that J. R. R. Tolkien almost single-handedly created. Can you imagine Gandalf and Po, a.k.a the Kung Fu Panda, encompassed in the same universe?

Gandalf: “You shall not pass!”
Po: “Really? Wish I would have known that before my last-minute cram session. Kapow!”

Whether or not this is the point where World of Warcraft jumps the shark is really be up to the millions of people who will decide to, continue to or quit playing the game altogether.Then again, the game is nearing the end of it’s lifespan anyway, so maybe that shark was alrady jumped a long time ago.

On a side note…Hey Blizzard! Why not take another April Fools Day joke, bard being a new hero class in World of Warcraft [2], and make it a reality, too?! Or how about putting a handful of developers together and create Lost Vikings III for the mobile/DLC platforms? Can I hear a Rock N’ Roll Racing remake?! Just a few suggestions.


  • Pandaran

    Just for the record, Pandaran were around back in the Warcraft 3 days, they predate Kung Fu Panda.

    • Actually, not to try to interject so early on in the discussion, but…

      “Although the concept of a “kung fu panda” has been around since at least 2003, work on the film did not begin until 2004.” [source]

      • Katsu

        At the Lore Q&A, Chris Metzen said they had started talking about a panda race twelve years ago. That puts the Panderan far ahead of Kung-Fu Panda.

        • Part of me wants to call shenanigans on that. Not that I don’t believe you, I’m just not so sure I believe Chris Metzen.

          • Bobila

            Evidence for the concept of a Kung Fu Panda even predates both Dreamworks and Blizzard, given by the lawsuit filed against Dreamworks. Google “Gordon’s Kung Fu Panda Power Work” and you can find news articles and even a pdf link of the claims. The guy registered copyrights for parts of the concept in 2000.

          • I wouldn’t trust Metzen with something like “12 years” completely, but I would trust him that the Pandaren were conceptualized before Kung Fu Panda.

            The first Pandaren was in Warcraft 3’s expansion, The Frozen Throne. This launched in mid 2003. At the very least, the first Pandaren had to have been conceptualized before this. If Kung Fu Panda was conceptualized by Dream Works in 2003, this puts them probably around the same time. It’s not TOO much of a stretch to say Metzen had first made the Pandaren in 1999 when they were first in an expansion in 2003 for a game that was released in 2002 (And thus chances are they had already built part of TFT in 2002). He has at LEAST 9 of the 12 years he claims.

          • Jetstream

            Didier’s been using them on his christmas cards for years. Before he ever put them in as the original april fools joke.

            Also the Brewmaster was an in-game hero for Warcraft 3. It started as a joke. It’s long since moved past that.

  • Nick

    First of, I’ve never played WoW for more than 5 minutes at a time, and maybe 20 in total, but from what I’ve heard about WoW lately, I think it’s kinda unfair to call out the Pandas for not blending in well with the fantasy world J.R.R. Tolkien created. I think Blizzard crossed that line some time back when they started having Goblins riding around on motorcycles.

    • DecKai

      Why? We had Gyrocopter and Tanks, is it really so strange to have motorcycles?

      And to comment on the whole Tolkien+Asian thing, it’s not like Gandalf meets Panda-people it’s more like Cow-people and Walrus-people meets Panda-people. Beside, we had non-european themed races in middle earth, so would it be strange to have Asian themed races?

  • Michael

    I hate to say, it but adding a chinese styled area in wow doesn’t sound so bad. There we’re ninjas in DnD, why not an china-like continent in WoW.
    And since there is already a race of bearpeople (Furbolgs), Pandaren aren’t that unusal either. Imagine, you weren’t informed about the kungfu panda movie, what would you say? I vote for a race of monkey people led bei MonkeyKing :D

    For the Tolkien like style. What about Draenei, Worgen, nice Dragons, most of the demon races, Tauren, Furbolgs, Trolls (so different from Tolkien Trolls) and right Goblins with gun powder

  • antiavenger

    Personally, I <3 the idea. And they were already canon long before this announcement (IIRC, they were included in the paper and pen RPG and I just read there was already a pandaren in Warcraft III's expansion). So I guess all in all it doesn't hurt to hear from something that's canon and but yet never been seen before in WoW. Besides, the story was messed up with the intro of WotLK anyway and ever since then it's been even MORE of a mess. What's one more thing to add?

  • Personally, I would’ve loved a bard class but I quit playing WoW a long time ago.

  • renning109

    i think the problem alot of ppl have with the pandas is the same one steve pointed out
    “we have a race of pandas, that know martial arts, OH! its a race made up of jack black!”
    i think the moment that enters your head the whole concept is ruined. i saw alot of samwise’s artwork on the pandas and read up on alot of the ground work blizz already had done before even cata came out, then i saw kung fu panda, maybe that just made how i perceived this race differently

  • Vilhelm

    Just tossing this out there:

    For going on 7 years now, people have been predicting the death of WoW via whatever the latest thing is. They have done long, ranting forum posts about how This Is It and they’re quitting and stuff. And yet, somehow, WoW remains on top. I’m gonna place my bet with Blizzard on this one. They tend to make good products.

    • When I send World of Warcraft is nearing the end of it’s lifespan that was in reference to Deathwing.

      • John

        What do you mean by the death of World of Warcraft? Like the death of Azeroth and how it looked, or the death of WoW as the game engine and moving onto like a WoW II with a whole new world (Aladin song plays in my head)?

  • Everglayde

    I admit i’m still undecided about the Pandaren race- i like the Monk idea but really really wish they would include a Bard. Of course WoW has always seemed “easy” to me having started MMO’s on the original EQ through many many of its expansions- the thing that put WoW on top of EQ in my opinion was the PVP gaming- content and strategy wise EQ still remains on top in my book-
    As far as the death of WoW- i’ve Beta’d and played some of the “next big things” and until other devlopers can figure out how to balance PVe & PVP in one game WoW will continue to reign… Until then…

  • greyfade

    Don’t forget about the whole pokemon battle thing that’s coming along with the expansion.

    I, for one, am prepared to clock everyone’s asses with my Mini Diablo and Zergling.

  • Tabularoinak

    I, for one, love the idea of the Pandaren. I have loved them ever since they came about in the Warcraft III days. WoW has gotten very dark and dreary, and I see nothing wrong with a little fun coming in through the Pandaren. Yes, they’re a little Kung-Fu Panda-y, but come on, don’t tell me they’re “Jumping the Shark” with pandas people. Look at the races they’ve been putting out since the game’s inception. This little image puts my point across best. http://i.imgur.com/myLOL.jpg

    • I got a chuckle from that. I’m sending that to the people in my guild who dislike the Pandaren.

  • Kira

    It’s really one of those things that boggles my mind. We can accept talking cows (Tauren), talking goats (Draenei), talking Walruses (Kaluak NPCs), talking wolves (Worgen) and all the strange things in the World of Warcraft but Pandas is where the line is crossed? Seriously people, get over it.

    You look at it like “oh now they are just using their stupid jokes as ideas for content” when in reality they make a joke about something and then see the public speak up at the time saying they are interested in it becoming reality… then they make it happen and people shit all over the idea.

    Here’s a lesson: You can’t make everyone happy. If you don’t like something, how about not giving it a second thought and going about your day. But I forget this is the internet, and people will always speak out. Wait, that’s what I’m doing now. Oh the irony.

  • Broketoon

    And this is why Im going to snipe Jedi in December…no fuzzy things trying to kill me…

    • renning109

      cause worgen, tauren, furbolgs, and hogger arent fuzzy

  • Grifter

    I will consider Blizzard jumping the shark if they actually took Sharks, put them on tripods for land walking and made them a playable race.

    Honestly I think this whole thing freaking out like it’s Kung Fu Panda is a little over the top. Not everything HAS to be based on something else directly though in retrospect everything these days is derived somewhere from pop culture. Everything can be compared to something and not really be the original source. *shrug* But that’s my opinion, I’m kind of looking forward to the Pandaren. (If the Pandaren have tigress, monkey, crane, mantis and viper sidekicks plus if the Monk trainer is a red panda… you might be onto something.)

    • What people tend to forget is the fact that Kung Fu Panda wasn’t just something they came up with. The visual style, the martial arts used, and numerous other aspects are based on Chinese traditions, customs and structures! They are real things. People assume that because they both have pandas and look similar, OMG one is based on the other.

      Meanwhile, the original version of the Pandaren was based on Japanese traditions, customs and structures, and that was supposedly why Pandaren were never used in Burning Crusade like Metzen had wanted. Supposedly, the Chinese government had been pissed with Blizzard about Chen from WC3 (Keep in mind, the panda is China’s national animal and, well, China hates Japan), so they pulled Pandaren in BC to allow them to redo stuff to be based on the proper set of customs and such.

  • Ryu

    “The comparisons here are all pretty moot because, while I like Pandarens, it is the fact that they have always been treated as a joke that makes them out of place. Creating a race of fat, drunk martial artists is just strange, and suddenly adding a class that has only been seen amongst the few Pandarens that existed in the first place. Introducing the monk class is a guarantee it will be the ‘it’ class for a while, and suddenly a class that is pretty much unseen will, over night, appear amongst a bunch of different races in vast numbers. Could I say that about the Death Knights as ell? Yes, though having to ‘earn’ it does make it a little easier to explain.”

    “Regardless, Warcraft jumped the shark when they announced WoW (it didn’t have to, and it took a while to show, but it did nontheless). In the end, there are enough ‘hardcore’ morons and casual ‘I’ve-invested-the-time-already’ types to keep the game alive, but that doesn’t make it a good game. Blizzard makes decent products, but in the past few years, they’ve become a shit company, and good games or not, shitty companies don’t deserve to be paid.”

  • Insaniteus

    People have started whine riots over every new race so far. In fact, I think the Draenei still have the record for bitching, since that was an epic rage fest. People made YouTube music videos mocking them, and the nickname of “Space goat” has never died. The existance of magical space ships alone infuriated people when BC came out. Still, the Pandaren seem to have reached second place now, and it’s 100% because of the movie.

    WoW has focused hard on mixing in all ethnic fantasies into one world. We began with typical European lore in the Alliance and early Horde. Then the modern West Horde used Native American and African lore, and the East Horde used goth culture. In WotLK nearly everything was linked to Norse lore, including a race of evil Vikings, Frost Giants, and Thor and Loki. Cataclysm hit us with a dose of underwater Greek lore, and an entire region devoted to Egyptian lore and gods. Next up, we will have Asian culture, which opens up a huge, gigantic set of possibilities from just how much source material there is to work with. I fail to see why anybody would have a problem with this, other than complaints that the aura of darkness is gone. People got used to each new expansion being “The world is even more doomed than it was before, led by an even more powerful being!”

    That, and people probably expected Azshara and the Old Gods to get their own expansion by now, but honestly they should’ve been included in Cataclysm since they are behind EVERYTHING, and Deathwing is just their pawn.

    • ThePeebs

      My only problem, and I mean only is the aura of darkness. I really liked the idea of death and decay from the Lich King. I loved the massacres and the rampages of Deathwing. But some oh so cute Pandas cleaning up, not so much. (This has nothing to do with the race, just the aura of darkness surrounding the game). What I will admit is that they have made the Pandaren look great. I also would like to admit that I am VERY excited about the monk class. This is the thing I am waiting for most.

  • Magi

    Being a long time WC3 player it doesn’t seem like such a big deal to me since I was choosing the Panda hero from the tavern long before I even heard of Kung Fu Panda.Does seem like an odd fit though when thinking about making the next expansion more epic.From the last expansion a big black scary dragon to panda’s.

  • From games, to reality :-)

  • TecXero

    Wow this comic spawned a lot more comments in less time than usual. I’m on the fence on the matter. I’ll try it out, if I don’t like it I’ll put it down, if I do then I’ll keep playing. I stopped playing when wrath hit and I don’t mind doing it again.

  • Talmire

    I don’t think it’s too bad of an idea. They’ve been in the lore since WC3, so why does everyone think it’s a horrendous thing?

    • Because a lot of people who play WoW didn’t play WC3. They don’t know that the Pandaren was first introduced in it.

      • Skorpeyon

        This is the biggest problem. People just don’t get it because they think that WoW was the first thing to ever include the Horde/Alliance lore. They either don’t know or they forget that there were three entire RTS games that built the basis for this lore long before WoW started. I do wish that Blizzard would put out a Warcraft IV just to remind people. I’d love to see the forums with that. “WTF??? Warcraft IV!? But CATACLYSM was the 4th part of WoW. Or do they mean the PANDAS!? Wait, it’s not an expansion!? THIS IS STUPID!”

        They’re just all so late to the party.

  • Thomas Gibson

    I personally think the Pandarens are quite cool and I get to have a Gnome Monk. But the Big Bad in this serie…I mean expansion is the upcoming war between the Horde and the Alliance? Its a good thing its not really up to the players to decide that one isn’t? Thermal-Goblin Explosive-Warfare in 5 mins if that was the case.

    I’m just wondering if this will be the last expansion, then they’ll finish off the WoW story in Warcraft 4….I hope not. I still want to see if they do anything for the Emerald Dream, or any other planets out there…

  • ArmedWombat

    WoW NEVER was classic Tolkien Fantasy. It has always been a blinking, psychotic anime-stlye over-the-top amusement park. And that’s fine. And the Pandarenes… well, there was Chen Stormstout in the RPG Orc Campaign in ‘Frozen Throne’ who did fit in quite well … PLUS they already got a whole lot of anthoropomorphic races.
    I haven’t Played WoW for years and I’m not gonna start again, but I can hardly see that another race of anthropomorphoic animals will make any difference in the overall style of the game. Even if they are a playable Race.

  • Kasihi

    And let’s not forget, Blizzard has already done the whole “make a joke, make it real later” thing with Diablo 2 and the Cow King.

    They do a lot of their work based off of player response from the community.

    As far as Pandaren go, they set the style years ago in WC3, they can’t just change it because its the generic Asian-Panda mix. Seriously, how many different styles can there be for Pandas? You think Panda, you think Chinese. It’s just how we associate things.

    • Actually, the bad thing was the original Pandaren weren’t based on Chinese. They were based on Japanese. If you consider how the Pandaren hero talked, he sounded like a stereotypical Japanese person speaking English. Even his visual look seems more based on Japanese outfits than Chinese ones. He looks like he’s wearing a karate gi, which is the standard training uniform in Japanese oriented martial arts styles. http://images.wikia.com/wowwiki/images/8/8d/ChenArt.jpg

      • DecKai

        Yes, but the Giant panda lives only in china(not counting any zoos) and is considered a national symbol. Making the race “Japanese” was kinda stupid.

        • Indeed it was, and I bet there is a strong likelihood that, at the time, Metzen didn’t know the difference. He stupidly assumed they were the same cultures, only in different countries, since they were, y’know, both Asian countries right beside each other (with water between them)

  • Yukikah

    Yeah, have to agree with those who say WoW hasn’t been Tolkien inspired in some time. Cow people, steam engines, walrus people, zeppelins, bear people, rockets, hyena people, cannon and guns, fish people, spaceships, aliens, etc. Not to mention the general feel of the game, which has definitely been a mix of high fantasy, Warhammer, cartoons, world culture, and frankly whatever other influences they think they can squeeze in that players will like. A mish mash of epicness, jokes, l337, and such, trying to achieve some sort of fine balance that they think people will find amusing but still be able to take seriously.

    Does this push them over towards the amusing side where people can’t take it seriously though? Good point; Calling that the jump the shark moment… I personally think yes. But then it’s a very fine line, and not the same place for everyone; some people want their games to be serious business while others want them to be amusing. I’m sure there are people who will be able to take this into everything else and fit it into the world and lore seamlessly.

    But then, doom of WoW or not (which this won’t be), subscriptions are already going down and I don’t think the expansion is going to make that number start going back up again.

  • enox

    I would splooge over a new Lost Vikings or Rock N Roll Racing. Or BlackThorne. The new handheld platforms would be *ideal* for this kind of gaming. With all their piles of gold, would it really be that hard to spin off a small developer contingent to do simple(r) games like this? Hell, even good ports of their old ones.
    Why can’t Blizzard just shut up and take my money?!

  • DA

    I’m not a PC gamer, so pandas in WoW is just funny for me. But honestly, all I want from Blizzard right now is the suggested Rock ‘n’ Roll Racing remake (keep the camera angle and the combat focus, and the soundtrack but add a little maybe)(make it available on XBLA so I can get it, too) and Starcraft Ghost. Seriously, who do I have to do something embarrasing or violent to to get this game?

  • Randy

    The WoW forums have been frothing over this expansion (as they do with each one, of course), either on one side or the other. Personally, I think the link below addresses things nicely, but I’m biased by looking forward to the expansion, unlike some people who seem to fear that playing in areas with vibrant colors and panda people will cause their manhoods to shrivel up and fall off.

    It’s an official response from one of Blizzard’s Community Managers, by the way.

  • DickDastardly

    I can’t believe there’s actually a discussion about that. I don’t play WoW anymore since Burning Crusade, but if anyone cannot accept the lore that has been established in the RTS-Warcraft-Series, then he either stops playing WoW, or just stay quiet and live with it. Warcraft wasn’t that serious back in his RTS-Times, and it hast become even more over the top and comically since World of Warcraft, so why the trouble?

  • David

    At the risk of going off an a rant, I think World of Warcraft isn’t so much jumping the shark as tying up all their loose ends without creating more. It’s a simple lack of alternatives. When you look at where the expansion could have gone you’ve got: the Titans, the Panderians and dialing it back a few notches to focus on Horde vs Alliance (my personal fav). There’s not much else going on that’s recognisable outside of the Lore-fan circles.
    For Mists of Panderia to have worked well (not to say it can’t work the way they’re doing it) they needed to establish Panderian’s in the game an expansion or two ago and setup their core lore. Having Panderian’s in the game, having them explain what their deal was (which is actually pretty interesting, if you get past the kneejerk reaction of ‘Kung Fu Panda!’) then having them come in as a playable race later on with their own continent would have been much less jarring.

    I really think what Blizzard needs to do is bring in more plot based event patches like the pre-Cataclysm events or the really old Scruge invasion event (except instead of limiting them to pre-expansion do a few a year). Use those to introduce new stories and put the spotlight on major characters so they don’t have to draw from Warcraft III so much. Even if they didn’t use them all for expansion ground work it’d be nice to have more events like Operation Gnomeragon.
    The Molten Front was cool but it was basically just a daily quest hub for the Firelands raid. It could have easily been The Panderian Front, establishing their home continent (currently under attack by Deathwing’s goons), giving us a preview of the Panderian Empire, giving them a reason to come out of hiding and teasing us a little through the concept of outsiders being limited to the Panderian Front raid and daily areas.

    All that said, Blizzard have stated that they want Mists of Panderia to be less about a big bad and more about the Horde vs Alliance conflict. They’ve also gotten better at MMO storytelling with Cataclysm. Hopefully that translates into several little stories that can fracture off into their own expansions and such.

  • Tremeos

    Not to derail such a facinating debate but, what was the inspiriation for that particular caricaturization style for The Fonz?

  • Iceholder

    Err, if they want to jump the shark, they’d need to add Zerg as a playable race in WoW.

  • Phaelin

    Bamboo Pandamonium premiered in Mega Man X8 in 2004, so clearly everyone is copying Capcom. Right?

  • Jakk Frost

    I think a lot of people’s problem with the Pandaren, apart from those who don’t know any better thinking it’s a Kung-Fu Panda rip-off, is the “cutesy factor”. As cartoony as WoW is, there’s very little “cute” in it, so it’s been cool to play, but once things get cute and cuddly, the cool is gone, so even if people enjoy it, they won’t admit they enjoy it because it’s not cool to like cute.

    As I understand it, at one of their previous Blizzcons, Blizzard ran a poll asking which playable race people would like to see added next, and Pandaren came in first place.