Greedy Goblin

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Content providers vs M&S

The WoW subscription graph shows clearly what I always preached: catering to the M&S is a bad idea. However I couldn't really prove it besides claiming that meritocracy is self-evident. The graph itself is not a proof by itself, as correlation isn't causality.

However the recent experiment with the WoW group finder finally gave me the evidence I always wanted: Game developers must cater to good players because bad players want to play with good players and not with other bad players. All the people who applied to my raid on the group finder tool were asking me to play with them. If I kicked a dozen, I could easily refill the group with new applicants.

I am a very scarce resource in WoW and lot of players compete for the privilege to play with me. While this sounds outrageously narcissistic, this isn't my opinion, this is an observable fact: I create a group ad and people swarm to me. Theoretically they could apply to other groups, but practically they cannot, because there are much more people wanting to join than people wanting to create groups. Why? Because random morons and slackers can't lead a raid. At first they are too lazy to. Secondly, they have no clue, so if they would try, their group would fail. Their personal interest is finding a group that carry them into success and not create one with effort that will fail.

Unless a game is nerfed to the point where M&S can complete it alone, good players are needed at least in key positions. If the game is nerfed to the point where M&S can complete it alone, it will be completed fast and abandoned. So even themepark games need content creators as their contribution provides gameplay opportunity to dozens of lesser players.

With consequent nerfs and welfare rewards, Blizzard alienated the good players. They believed it's irrelevant as their stats shown that it's a few % minority. When they left, the M&S said "this game has no content" and left too. I hope the new tools are a realization to this and a fix that will turn back the years decreasing subscriptions.

PS: The Evil One wrote his Phoebe plans. Let me TLDR it for you:
  1. We had no idea what to do for weeks and stare at the wall desperately.
  2. We abandon 3 regions before PASTA makes us abandon them
  3. BLINK RMT is good RMT, we started our own clone
  4. We got drunk in Vegas from the money you pay us by clicking our links
  5. Join squads and serve!
  6. Buy more supers, they will be more important locally (this is actually a good advice).


S Riojas said...

At least the BLINK site was visually appealing and usuable. Their evening game site is far from visually appealing and does not appear very usable.

Oh yeah... supers... need to get my pocket book out.

Azuriel said...

I'm a little confused about two things:

1) How does organized raiding, an activity performed by a vanishingly small amount of the endgame population, correlate at all with the millions of subscribers lost?

2) Unless you are actually taking M&S with you into these raids, what content are you providing them? It seems like you would be doing the exact opposite of creating content: you capture the better players in the queue, thereby lowering the overall quality of the remaining raiding groups. Below X level, the raids will fail. So... less successful raids and less completed content for everyone else.

Not that I'm saying you should care about the M&S, but you aren't exactly creating content here. The total number of raid leaders increased by 1, but the net effect is likely less.

Gevlon said...

@Azuriel: In earlier WoW, 5-man dungeons were an endgame to the average player. Doing Shattered Halls heroic was something that gave a serious challenge to the common guys. This was usually done by a few raiders and a few commoners. When the raids were nerfed, the dungeons turned into AFK-able places. In current WoW you either do top level raiding or can do it while literally AFK.

I pick out those who are good enough to raid, but not good enough to lead (those are not in the queue, they make their own groups). Without me the queue would simply be longer.

I'm creating content for the average player who should be the target audience instead of the drooling morons.

Anonymous said...

I'm creating content for the average player who should be the target audience instead of the drooling morons.

This really depends on how you define "average". If you look at it from a pure financial point of view, Blizzard will see average as the largest cohort of subscribers they have. If this is casuals, for fun players... guess what? it makes business sense to cater for them. Moreover, it makes the ONLY business sense to cater to them.

maxim said...

Ah, that point where someone feels he has rediscovered the true and just way to order the world.

Wonder how long will it be until it all goes to hell again :)

In this case, there will be a natural tendency of segregation between "slcakers" and "common guys". And, unless a very clear and objective metric emerges, at some point this segregation will start shoving "common guys" into "slackers" camp.

Then some "common guys" who were unrightfully branded "slackers" will start making raids for themselves and less geared / skilled people. They will be objectively less successful. Then will emerge a certain status differential between raids - everyone will want to go to raid with that well-known experienced raid leader over someone perceived as scrub.

At the same time, known and experienced leaders will find themselves stable teams of trusted people and leave to form guilds...

Hmmm, this actually does seem like a stable loop, to be honest. I have seen loops similar to this one devolve, but it usually took years, not weeks or months.

I guess this might be good for an x-pac or two at least :)

Gevlon said...

@Anon: no, because "for fun" people aren't self-sufficient. If you'd magically stuff all of them into a game that is tailored to them, they'd "complete it" in a week and quit for "no more content".

An MMO can only survive if people spend lot of time reaching hard to reach goals while repeating the limited content.

@Maxim: no, because the cross-server system groups so many people that you can't learn the names, so "elite" cannot form. People will be judged by mostly ilvl which is a weak, but usable signal for past performance.

Anonymous said...

An MMO can only survive if people spend lot of time reaching hard to reach goals while repeating the limited content.

Not true - you can reduce the difficulty of the goals and incentivise (with gear or whatever) until you reach the threshold at which your "casuals" will keep repeatedly coming back.

Spent the weekend talking to a dude that works for a big company building casual MMOs..this is exactly their business model. Simplify and simplify and simplify to the common lowest denominator, maximize the number of "morons" who keep paying microtransactions or subscriptions. It works a treat. They make millions. Are they compelling games I want to play? no. but they survive just fine and make huge amounts of cash. Huge amounts of cash are what all game devs are really after. They couldn't give a shit about "content" and "challenge" or "competition"

maxim said...

This implies people are just using the system and not whispering each other - if only to congratulate each other on performance or to whine about poor-doing guys.

The only way to avoid form cliques is to turn everyone into NPCs.

maxim said...

@Latest Anon
The argument here is that you don't sustainably make large amounts of cash for decades without embracing some core gamer aesthetics, such as "challenge".

Anonymous said...

Well obviously, you do. Think about the biggest games out there. They are easy to play fun games with very little in the way of challenges. Games like Call of Duty, even if you lose you gain heaps of rewards, games like Minecraft where you are building whatever you want - only challenges you set yourself. Look at all of the biggest selling games, and they are relatively free of challenges. Look at game where they try to make it challenging though and there's not even a comparable market size.

WoW isn't dipping in size because of the choices they've made, it's dipping because that's the natural progression of MMOs. EVE is the same, the playerbase is now in a decline, not because "EVE is dying", but because it's how the market works. You can't hold a peak forever, and without developing a completely new game, there's no effective way to revamp the old one into a new peak.

The sad truth is that "hardcore" gamers tend to play a game for a while, complete the major challenges then move on. The longevity of a game is fundamentally based around how well that game can cater the the majority casual market who are willing to part with cash for lower levels of content.

Azuriel said...


Arguably (and ironically), challenge is only meaningful in the context of social ties, e.g. guilds. Who exactly is playing WoW for decades because raiding is hard vs because they like the people they play with? Challenging content might give them something to do together, but it's not strictly necessary if there is enough other things to do. After all, nobody raids all the time.

Gevlon said...

@Azuriel: nobody plays all the time. If you plan to play 10-12 hours a week, you CAN raid all the time you play.

Iiene of Kul Tiras said...

I don't think the drop is because the difficulty is too easy, I think it's because it's nearly 10 years old.

Here's ONE example. When you started a char in Vanilla... you only had to get through 300 skill points to max a tradeskill. Now you have to do 600. Why?

Having 90 (Soon to be 100) levels to quest through is great for the utter noob... the player who has never seen the game before AND wants to do the quest /explore game... but that's one time only. For everyone else you have to basically retire the old content.

That said, the two changes they made to raiding recently are great...

One: You are not locked out of a boss, simply prevented from looting it.

Two: Cross realm raid tool.

Right now? At the end of the previous expansion? It can't be used to it's potential as too many people have absurd iLevels from Ordos and Celestials, even people that couldn't raid to save their lives.

Once the expansion starts, I plan to use it a lot. I'll be looking for:

A raid started by the main tank. None of this "Looking for 2 tanks" crap.

A raid specifically killing the boss I want to kill at that time.

The great part is, I can do this and STILL raid with my casual guild, I just won't get loot from a boss I already did that week.

Anonymous said...

the evidence I always wanted

wait. what about your countless remarks "F1 pushing monkey w/o FC they will suffocate". that's the same evidence. FC asks X up and the handholding starts.

WoD info looks good so far. Since pre patch the forums are full of tears. Never thought that Blizzard had the balls to do this.

Anonymous said...

Wow, you say correlation doesn't equal causality AND YET YOU THEN USE THAT EXACT POINT to prove your point

Let me be clear - ANY time ANYONE creates a group in group finder, they will find themselves swarmed with applications. There is no way for the participants to screen the leader. The leader screens others. You have taken on the de facto responsibility for the success of the group.

That doesn't immediately make you a good player.

I've been in AWFUL groups via group finder already. AWFUL. Groups where the leader, decked out in a mix of ragtag gear was effectively expecting a successful group, because group finder.

Creating a group does NOT make you a good player

Players applying to your group DOES NOT MAKE YOU A GOOD PLAYER