Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Casual players pay casually

Here is a headline that hopefully ends the "accessible gaming" nonsense in the MMO market:
Zynga's Profits Down by 95%


No, not down to 95%. Their quarterly profit dropped from $27M to $1.3M. Why? Because they published only two new games, so their revenue growth cannot match their cost growth.

Why? Because casual gamers are casual. They are loyal to no game, they try out this and try out that, they have some fun and move away. There is always another shiny. They do not want to hone their skills, they want to consume content. And "others" generate content faster than any single company could. "others" offer content for free or for some Facebook spam.

All games that are to survive long must cater their own hardcore niche players, who are loyal to it. Of course it doesn't mean that a game has to "survive". The old model of "develop a game, sell the box, and that's it" is still profitable. There is no subscription or item shop attached to Duke Nukem Forever, and it still makes profit as it sells. Players play the campaign, maybe some multiplayer with friends and that's it. This is casual gaming.

Playing the same game for years is not casual at all. The developers started to turn the WoW more casual when they saw the casual players in Vanilla and TBC. But that was a one time anomaly: these players played WoW simply because of lack of option. 5 years ago there weren't many (or rather any) games around that had huge world to explore, with nice graphics and above all: other people to interact. You can't "hang out casually" in an RTS or an FPS. You can play them alone in easy mode, yes, but that's not really social.

Despite WoW turned more casual in WotLK, the growth stopped because the competition were much-much more casual and social. This was the rise of Zynga. Zynga is dropping now because they thought that Farmville will last forever. It won't, as casuals are casuals and move away. In the casual market you make some shiny, sell it, make the next shiny. You can't sell the same thing twice, which is exactly the subscription and microtransaction model. Casuals might buy the box, but won't subscribe and won't buy items in the shop. When they consumed the freely accessible content, they move to the next.

To have a long-lasting MMO (either subscription or microtransaction), it must target a niche of hardcore players and cater that niche. When Cataclysm was tuned harder than WotLK, Blizzard seemed to recognize it. The dance-disaster came from the fact that the dance-lovers are not the same niche that loved TBC raiding, or would find the 1-85 leveling fun or even remotely entertaining. Niches are mutually exclusive. You must pick one and compete with the others on that market. You can't just change niches, you lose your current players, and have to compete with not only the competitors in the new niche, but also the prejudgement of the new target audience who believe that your game is not for them.

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

Do you think this issue passes over into non MMO games such as BF or CoD? They seem to retain a certain player base and are hardly a niche.

Clockw0rk said...

The headlines are deceptive as the drop in profits is due to Zynga focusing most of their revenue on hiring and internal expansion as well as only releasing two new games this year as you pointed out. Though I don't play their games I don't see them going anywhere fast; there is more competition in their market now; they proved that it was a profitable market and naturally many competitors have sprung up.

Farmville has only lost 4% of its Active users due to that competitive market...the arrival of Facebook credits has also hit Zynga's profits.

The loyal fanbase consists of everything from the hardcore raiders to people who login to fish for a few hours every other day...so long as they are still there they are the fanbase. I have people in my guild and have met others who play a few hours a week but have been around since Vanilla. The fans of the game that have been around for a long time include everything from the hardcore raiders to the casual players (and by casual I mean "Plays 10 hours a week or less"). Which is exactly the problem Blizz is still wrestling with; their loyal base has different interests.


In regards to there being no alternatives to WoW, at the time WoW released there were plenty of other options for MMO's; off the top of my head FFXI and Everquest 2. Also, why can't one "hang out casually" in an FPS/RTS?

And in regards to Farmville somehow stopping WoW's growth; based on http://i.imgur.com/HTidt.jpg the beginning of WotLK's decline began at Ulduar two months before Farmville's release. Plenty of things could have caused it, Farmville might have been a factor but was not the only one

Andru said...

I read the article.

The headline is a little too alarmist for my taste. In it, it showed that revenue has gone UP this quarter, with a only small decline of 4% in terms of activity. (This is not much different from Blizzards 600k/11 million. It would be interesting to see by comparison some other figures in entertainment media.)

It seems to me that the only thing Zynga did wrong was that they pumped up the expenses. (perhaps wrongfully expecting an explosive growth like in previous years) It didn't happen.

Now, It could be that the drop in both Zynga and Blizzard subscriber activity is a coincidence.

But I have a nagging feeling it's the unease of the current economic storm that developed countries go through (Specially US and EU), which means that it has little to do with any game faults and more with uncontrollable market forces.

Of course, this does not invalidate your point. Hardcore gamers are much more loyal and place gaming on a higher priority list in their expenses. (At the cost of other luxuries such as tobacco, alcohol, going out and so forth.)

Regardless of the cause, a bit of extra research is needed. Hardcore players might be loyal and casuals might not, but the issue is oversimplified I think.

Squishalot said...

It's not a terribly strong argument, because profits are only the tip of the revenue.

From the article:

"However, the company's virtual goods sales and ad revenues were down by 4% on the previous quarter, and daily active users across all Zynga games also dropped by around 4% from 62 million to 59 million."

4% down isn't a huge issue. Also consider the other big elephant in the room:

"...Facebook's requirement this summer that all game developers adopt its own Facebook Credits payment system, which takes a 30% cut of revenue."

The bigger issue with this, and more associated with your casual gaming point, is the fact that Farmville dollars are no longer restricted to Farmville alone, and that the casual gamer is now free to play other games casually.

Then consider that Zynga has been rapidly expanding. There is a fairly decent lead time between hiring / development expenditure and game revenue. If the hiring has been taking place in the first half of this calendar year, we shouldn't expect to see revenues take off until similar times next calendar year.

What I'm more curious about is where Zynga is actually obtaining its overall revenue from, considering that virtual good sales and ad revenues are down 4%, but revenues overall are up 14%.

Anonymous said...

That's a very alarmist headline. Keep reading: "Zynga's total revenues for the quarter were up by 15%."

"a higher than normal spend on hiring, acquisitions and international growth" sounds like a pretty good reason to reduce profits. Zynga is still privately owned, so it does not need to turn a profit to impress shareholders. It needs to establish a strong foundation to impress bankers for the IPO.

And ... look, from another article: http://www.forbes.com/sites/insertcoin/2011/09/23/zyngas-profits-downs-95-ahead-of-ipo/

"the company’s valuation has actually now been increased from $13.98B to $14.05B."

There's more to a company than profit numbers.

Steel said...

“It works, revitalizing WoW without doubt” – a bit of premature celebration there, ha? The point is not hard vs easy, although the type of hardness does matter (twitch arcades are ill suited for the more older, mature players that would play an MMO). The main problem is the destruction of all the classic MMO elements in the name of accessibility. I won’t spend too much here since I have already talked to death about it, and anyways Syncaine writes far more complete and articulate opinions on this ( I recommend his bog to anyone here - it has helped me to get a new level of clarity ).

I will say this though – I now remember how I started playing WoW, in the winter of 2009. After seeing the commercials, I started reading about it on the net, and ended up at wowwiki, which was horribly out of date, with many articles still from the days of vanilla and TBC. I remember being absolutely fascinated about the mystique of it all, the tales of epic and superhuman level of effort, of teamwork, and accomplishment. “At the end game raiding level, It will take months to see a gear upgrade, and many will never see it” – hmm, I wonder if I wanted to do this… yes, I might. It described a new dimension of gaming experience that I hadn’t seen before, something special, something totally different. I really doubt that I’d be playing right now had I read – “oh yea, this game is 2 parts – a faceroll non-game of boring leveling, and then basically a series of 3rd person shooters”. I remember I was disappointed when I actually discovered how things worked in the “modern age” – wait, I’m getting epics just from grinding faceroll 5 mans? And that gear is higher level then the one I get in a raid (Naxx).?

What boggles my mind is that Blizz shows no sign of even getting it, instead they double down on digging the hole ever deeper. In the 4.3 notes – the last group quests and elite mobs that had survived the Cataclysm in Outland are nerfed to be able to be completed solo, and quest givers will be added at the entrance of all BC and LK dungeons, for maximum convenience. The raid finder will fully erase the last remnants of world and community. And we’ll be doing more barrel rolls in the Deathwing raid. Nice.

It will take an unfathomable amount of effort for Blizz to recreate that lost experience, and return to the winning formula. Just think about how much effort they put into remaking the old world questing into a boring linear faceroll non-game, and imagine having to change it back all over again. Can you imagine Blizz saying “sorry we screwed up, were changing it back to the way it was”, or having the courage to roll back features like LFD, the guild stuff, instancing of PvP, and bring back say, attunements, hard tiered progression, world impact events like the Scepter of Shifting Sands?

I was a firm believer in the opinions of writers who decried the old ways, the “soul crushing” grinds, the attunements, the “horrible” tiered system, the “stupid” class imbalances, the enormous amount of effort it took to get anything done.. They all wrote about how horrible it was back then, and how good things are now in the “modern age” of accessibility. But now I see how every single one of those elements had a proper logic to it, and created the mystique that drew me to the game in the first place. That image, that I never experienced, still is the one thing that keeps me playing today.

Coralina said...

I have been a hardcore and a casual and circulated in both worlds. I know huge numbers of “casuals” that have been playing for 4 or 5 years and despite the lack of content for them in Cataclysm are still playing now.

Of course many more of those casuals walked out this year and haven’t come back. That isn’t because they burned through content, got bored or were generally fickle though was it?

I think that like a lot of the players on the WoW forums you are trying to find justification for why the game should be tailored to your own personal tastes which as a raider makes you are rapidly dwindling minority.

With the current subscriber percentages participating in the raids, if Blizzard employed an independent outside consultant to come up with a strategy I am sure he would suggest scrapping raids entirely and focussing the development budget on frequent releases of new 5 mans (tuned for the median or mode of the population and around 30 mins max in length) and MF style quest zones.

Ultimately catering for the dedicated core can be a great idea but it is the road to ruin when in the case of WoW your dedicated core are such a small minority.

Interesting that Clockw0rk is suggesting a decline around the time of Ulduar – a raid that on my realm killed off large numbers of casual raid guilds as it was too punishing. Many kept raiding Naxx, others stopped raiding and didn’t restart until ICC.

In fact large number of the players on my realm never raided Ulduar at all aside from FL, indeed at the start of Cataclysm it was by far the most pugged raid in /2 ahead of even King Slayer achieve runs.

At the time of ICC when the Weekly Raid quest was introduced the joke was that Ignis was still completely unpuggable on my realm despite players decked in welfare T10. Even the trash in front of him overcame most groups and I resulted to guild runs for that quest. During the ICC days most Uldy pugs stopped just before the cat lady…

Perhaps this was a prelude to Cataclysm and a warning sign Blizz were foolish to ignore.

Steel said...

@Coralina – Ignis completely unpuggable – are you talking about the Ignis that Gevlon’s experimental guild did in blue gear? Yes, he was indeed unpuggable.

Anyways – “if Blizzard employed an independent outside consultant … he would suggest scrapping raids entirely and focusing the development budget on frequent releases of new 5 mans (tuned for the median or mode of the population and around 30 mins max in length) and MF style quest zones.” – can someone please explain to me why in Vanilla and BC, where all raids had attunement keys, resistance gear requirements, real gear checks (Vael, Brutallus) with gear that was only available as RNG raid drops, and required running the previous tier dozens of times until all your 40/25man raid roster was fully geared, which required running the tier previous to that dozens of times, and on and on and turtles all the way down, and that’s when it didn’t require a massive server effort to just unlock the raid gates, and so only a fabled one-figure% of playerbase got to even see the insides of SWP or Naxx40, and entire guilds were “stuck” in Kara or MC, and walking around in full epics was god-like, and 5mans were brutal, trash infested and/or massive requiring 6 hours to clear, requiring CCs on each pull, LOS pulls, fears-mindcontrols-stuns-manaburns all in the same instance(hi Sethekk Halls), and running them meant no LFD or even summoning stones, and only warrs could tank only priests could heal…, etc etc etc – why did subscriptions increase, why did WoW thrive and become the top MMO of all times, and by such vast margins? I’m sure if Blizz had employed an independent outside consultant… he would have suggested to make the game more accessible to every warm body, in order to have “mass appeal”, scrap stuff like attunements, keys, break tiers with badges and give free gear to everybody, homogenize all classes, nerf all raids and 5mans 2 months after release, make most content soloable, add convenience with cross realm finders so that players would not be “forced” or “manipulated” into communities, and basically do what the forums tell you, oh wait, it’s …. it’s what they basically did. Nvm then.

This is madness, death spiral logic, that is a core feature of mankind apparently, and Blizz’s design is just an instance of it. They make disastrous changes that causes the game to go down, which is the justification to make even more disastrous changes. Just like “you need to borrow more money to solve problems that were caused by borrowing too much money”. Or like Cho’gall said: “What madness have we wrought... I can't take much more... Brother, it merely begins!! The master's eye sees all that was and all to be, or not! Gone is the dawn. Come shades of twilight! Come madness! Come Havoc! Come infinite night!” (300+ wipes on HC25)

Anonymous said...

Why casuals, that are the largest percentage of WoW players, should be happy to pay for content that don't cater to their interests?
In WotLK, the 5 men were easy enough for casuals to complete in PUGs with random strangers and Naxxramas and ICC were puggable too (or at least some bosses were).
Come Cataclysm, and instances suddenly became a nightmare to pug and there wasn't a Naxx equivalent raid.
As Coralina wrote, a WoW with no raids but with a couple of puggable instances released every 2 or 3 months would have a much higher retention of the most represented demographic.
The minority composed of raiders could then simply leave or switch to "casual mode" as many (me included) already did during these years.

Paul said...

@Steel: Vanilla brought in many median players who have since left when they realized the end of the game was denied to them. Perhaps if the game had been suited for them from the beginning, they wouldn't have left, and WoW would have 20M+ players right now.

Steel said...

@Coralina, Anon & all other commenters “Why casuals, that are the largest percentage of WoW players, should be happy to pay for content that don't cater to their interests?”

Wrong question from the start. Missing the point of Gevlon’s post completely (most of the comments).

“The MMO genre was built around living in a virtual world. It’s not a ‘casual’ genre by design, because by design the parts that really make a game an MMO require time to be put in. You don’t get great communities, solid guilds, or heated rivalries when you jump in for 30 minutes and log out, no matter how ‘quality’ those 30 were. A well designed game like EVE will allow those 30 minute players to co-exist with those who drive the content, but while the game would continue to function without the 30 minute players, it would not without those who push things forward.

As the genre has expanded (or fractured, really), solid options for the 30 minute player exist. A game like Global Agenda is a pretty horrible MMO in the traditional sense, but it provides great content in small, random, pick-up-and-move-on bites. It works despite failing horrible in areas like server community, but then again it’s also F2P and won’t scratch that traditional MMO itch. For the 5 minute player we have Facebook, etc.

History has very clearly shown that when games get traditional MMO design right, they profit. UO/EQ/AC/DAoC/EVE/WoW (pre-Cata) and others have all made boatloads of money for their designers, specifically because they keep you entertained for months on end. It’s also no surprise that more ‘casual’ WoW clones, ones that minimize the core MMO basics in the name of ‘accessibility’, burn out so fast. Not only do these games fail to capture the core MMO audience, but the more casual players they intended to attract move on quickly because, well, that’s what casuals do. By definition they don’t get super-invested, and so when the next shiny comes along, they chase it. That’s fine if you are selling a one-and-done $50 box, but it’s not going to work out when you hope to collect $15 a month, or even when you try to sell ponies or potions in your item shop.”
http://syncaine.com/2011/09/22/2000-hours-with-eq-5-minutes-with-the-kids/

Steel said...

TL;DR @all the “casual” commenters:

You are trying to play the wrong game. And Blizz is trying to make the wrong game. An “MMO” cannot exist as just a collection of team-arena, variable difficulty, 3rd person shooters, loosely connected under a fake world interface, with textchat added. That model cannot work as a stable, sustainable subscription based game, that keeps players involved and playing for years.

Right now WoW is running on massive inertia. Or a better analogy would be vast but finite stores of fossil fuels. It’s not generating enough sustainable energy in this current form. Had this game been launched in 2004, it would not have become the world's most successfull MMO

Anonymous said...

What if Blizzard uses WoW as an experiment (innovation for future projects) as well as a cash cow? The best teams work on other projects.

They have a huge test system (millions of players). They can make conscious decisions about in game strategies and test their effectiveness. I can see how this would be a good in the long run.
What do players find fun? What will create a larger participation?

The players in WoW have invested time/effort/rl currency. Most will be loyal test subjects regardless of the changes Blizz makes.

Coralina said...

@Steel

You get todays red herring/strawman award unless you can quote me saying it wasn’t possible in blue gear. That is a bit of a WoW forums tactic mate.

However my guild at the time those quests were launched could no doubt have cleared it in blues. That isn’t the question though and you well know it.

The Ignis quest turned into an absolute blood bath on my realm. These were /2 pugs that were wearing the generous emblem gear provided at the time. My realm is halfway up the EU rankings so it is neither good nor bad. Just average.

We are talking about minority core groups versus the mean or mode and in this case the mean/mode in their disorganised groups couldn’t down Ignis wearing a mix of T9/T10. It actually proved unpuggable until near the end when they had the outputs to use the zerg tactic.

The rest of your post fails from the beginning because you are still living in the past and the most crucial point of all has not yet dawned on you:

Forget what happened in TBC/Vanilla!

Those players have GONE. The population of Warcraft now is not the same as the population was then. A lot of those players grew up/burned out and moved on and were replaced by a different demographic. Therefore you cannot draw any conclusion with regards to those days because the business model in use back then was catering to a different customer base. As Blizzard found in 4.0: if you apply the 2007 model to the 2011 customer base you lose a million subs in six months.

In fairness Gevlon made that mistake right at the start. He referred to hardcore players out of context. “Hardcore players” means Paragon who put in more time and effort. It doesn’t make them a “hardcore customer” though. Hardcore customers are those that keep coming back for more even if it is only a few hours a week. As raid progression stats demonstrate, Gevlons “hardcore players" are heading the way of the dodo, whilst the good old faithful players are still there.

Why are the old faithful still there? Well unlike "hardcore players" they don’t get burned out! Also if they get a girlfriend or have children they don’t have to stop playing because their type of gaming and play times were already compatible with “having a life”. Hardcore "playing" is GENERALLY speaking not compatible so as those players grow up it is inevitable that they burn out or quit for a more enriching real life.

The real “hardcore” niche were not Paragon clearing FL HC but my friends who after 5 years in the game were silently and without fuss plodding away on the Molton Front after they put the kids to bed. They are "hardcore customers" and are the type of player Blizz wants to create and attract. Harcore customers are mostly casual but companies attracting casual players shouldn't aassume they will automatically become hardcore customers.

Ben Kennedy said...

This post seems to divide the population into two groups, the "casuals" and the "hardcore", but I don't think this is the case at all. During BC, Blizzard was dealing with two population groups - raiders and non-raiders. Raiders had to basically play the expansion continuously to have the gear to be able to see the end bosses. Due to attrition, the number of players to actually get to the end of the game was small, and you were punished for taking a break. Financially, it was a waste of resources to create and publish content that only a small group of people would see.

The changes made in wrath allowed them to carve a new niche out of the playerbase, the "casual raider". Contrary to the assertion in the post, there are a lot of people who like raiding that did not want to put in the kind of commitment that was necessary in BC days. The changes that Blizzard made was not to cater to the oblivious Farmville-esque content consumer. Rather, the changes were target to people who like the idea of raiding and are willing to put time into it, but not the kind of time that the BC raiding model required.

This explains the changes to raiding. The 10 man raid was born because they are easier to organize. Because people like to take breaks or try out new characters, they added the ability for players to gear up to the current raid content via 5 mans. To keep the "hardcore" interested, they added real heroic modes in Ulduar. Since then, the game hasn't changed much at all.

I'm sure what all the whining about "dancing" is about, or how cataclysm is somehow different than wrath. It isn't. Since Ulduar, you have the same three same clusters of players - the non-raiders who never step foot in raids, the normal-mode raiders who like raiding but are not interested in near-perfect play, and the heroic-raiders who compete for server and world firsts. I think Blizzard has done a good job catering to all three groups at this point.

stubborn said...

Gev,
Your argument is flawed. I agree that niches are mutually exclusive, but I disagree that games must pick only one. WoW has been so successful for so long precisely because it did not cater to any one niche (and still doesn't). Each niche can be catered to, in separate dining halls (to extend the analogy) with a lobby in between (the major cities).

Steel said...

Coralina. “Yes, he was indeed unpuggable” – you misunderstood my intentions here. I didn’t mean this in an ironic way at all. I was wiping on Ignis (and Anub’rekan, and Jaraxxus) pug weeklies too, and in full triumph badge gear, having grown in the 5.5k GS culture of late Wrath. But then I found Gevlon’s little blue geared antics, and it gave me a different perspective.
You also seem to have missed the part where I said it’s not about “hard vs easy raid, though the type of difficulty does matter”. I’m talking about basic mmo design – community, immersion, artistic depth – and how wow right now lacks the unique gaming dimension of an MMO.
You are right though that the player base has changed, and that those customers are “GONE”. But the question here is, I guess, did they leave because Blizz changed the game (for the worse), or did Blizz changed the game (for the worse) because those customers left, and so Blizz had to cater to the new generation. I am a firm believer in the former, but I’ll agree that to one degree I’m biased though.
I’ll say one thing though; WoW 2011 is a very strange, mutant and disjointed game design and experience. You have a boring, faceroll SINGLE-PLAYER SOLO leveling non-game lasting for 85 levels, with leveling dungeons that are also a faceroll followed by a series of technically hard, arcade-dance-twitch group shooters. Hard for a while, then they get nerfed to faceroll mode, and then the next one gets dropped. Plus low production values, no community, and lack of any deeper meaning or involvement. Interesting game design... let’s see if it succeeds – Gevlon’s (and Syncaine’s) posts are about how it just doesn’t/didn’t. I know for sure I would not have started playing it had I understood that this was indeed the truth at the time.

Anonymous said...

Well said. Gevlon. I reckon one of the main strengths of WoW is that ironically it can cater to many so-called niches. You can have fun doing PvP as well as PvE/raiding. You like economy? Boom! You've got yourself AH. The idea behind it is that it's for everyone despite the belief that you can only have fun with high-end content. About Zynga, I believe that they lost so much profit due to no real improvement (unlike we see in games like World of Warcraft). Just my two coppers.
What worries me is that WoW seems to be nearing it's mid-life or is already past it. However that doesn't neccessarily means fewer players. At least not for now. Actually I often see Agamaggan's population as Medium , not Low. And not only in prime time hours.

jtrack said...

I think you have a different definition of "casual" than I do.

One can be "casual" in their investment in a game (as you describe).

But I also think their are "casual" players that ARE committed to playing WoW. They may not raid, they may not PvP, they may just dabble around the edges.

Blizzard need to understand their largest player base better, that I agree, but it MAY NOT be raiders from the BC era... as you suggest... it may be players that just piddle around doing not much of anything.

If that's the case, they should not NICHE more raids of BC style but more things for the largest "staying" playerbase... yes...

However, I don't think necessarily it was BC raiders.... as the WoW Insider Queue answered today... most players don't raid.

Azuriel said...

"[...] why did subscriptions increase, why did WoW thrive and become the top MMO of all times, and by such vast margins?"

That's easy. It's because NONE of the hard stuff had anything to do with the millions of subscribers pouring in. WoW was one of the first MMOs that let you solo to the level cap without making you feel like a 2nd-class citizen. It is precisely the casual, dumbed-down content that got them the subscribers. In the height of easymode Wrath raiding content, less than 24% of the playerbase actually killed ONE raid boss. A smaller percent (17%) killed a single raid boss in Cataclysm, and fewer still in TBC and on down the line. Do you honestly believe that the other +80% included people like yourself drawn to the unobtainable?

That model cannot work as a stable, sustainable subscription based game, that keeps players involved and playing for years.

It has and it will.

I also think there is a bizarre underlying notion of what a MMO should be anyway. Has no one asked whether a "stable, sustainable subscription based game that keeps players involved and playing for years" is even possible? Or wanted?

People change. I'm not going to make the "wait till you have kids" argument because that is neither here nor there. At a certain point, no matter how good something is "objectively," you might simply get bored with hotkey MMOs. Or realize that Battlefield 3 presses all the right buttons. Or whatever.

Point being that I don't care how long-term an MMO lasts - I care about an MMO being good while I'm playing it. If design decisions made by Blizzard (etc) shortens the total lifespan of the game, but makes it more enjoyable for the time I play it... well, son, I support shitting on your parade.

Anonymous said...

Zynga's profit didn't go down - just the rate of profit growth.
I suspect that social gaming is poised for steady growth.
In particular, native client games on google plus (think WOW in a browser) will probably be pretty successful.

Jumina said...

@Azuriel

Your numbers about how much players actually raid is the most interesting statement about current WoW. If this is true then look at what Blizzard created:

1) easy, streamlined and rich questing zones for real casuals who don't want to raid or participate in group activities.

2) Hard and interesting raids for the hard core raiders who make a lot of advertisement for free on their private pages and put videos on youtube.

3) Some new battlegrounds for PvP community.

4) And now Blizzard will insert LFR for the whining players who want to raid but are unable to handle even normal dificulty and must wait for nerfs. Perhaps they hope with this new feature they will not have to nerf the next content so soon.

Sounds like they are very clever.

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