Greedy Goblin

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Who are the loud minority?

(from Read Azuriel's post about the same topic.

Since the East data is screwed by China not allowing WotLK published in time, let's focus on the western data. Continuous increase in the original WoW, in TBC and then stagnation in WotLK.

Surprisingly the stagnation happened exactly when Blizzard made the "accessibility" move, making raiding accessible to every living body. Literally. The WotLK raids allowed OK players to carry half raid of terrible players up to the Lich King. 5-mans became an AoE fest, they were literally soloable, allowing players to carry 3-4 terrible failures to emblems. So they gave everything the "casuals" wanted. On the top of that, they did not really lose the HCs. While they were disgruntled and whining, they did not leave WoW in masses. Yet the subscription numbers stagnated.

Cataclysm became much harder and remained surprisingly resistant to "nerf it FFS" whinings (content was only nerfed when it was outdated already). It shows Blizzard learned from its mistake. I'm not sure. I mean they definitely changed their system when it did not work, but I'm not sure there was a well-thought decision was behind it. It could be a simple "this did not work, let's try something else" blind guess. It works, revitalizing WoW without doubt. But multi-billion dollars decisions should stand on a stronger foundation. The WotLK fiasco shouldn't have happened.

I believe Blizzard did exactly what they tried to avoid: they listened to a very vocal minority. To understand it, let's look at two data from WotLK: Marrowgar10 was killed by 84K guilds by the end of WotLK. The Lich King was killed by 48.5K guilds. Now Marrowgar was a joke, especially at the end of WotLK. The Lich King can wipe a full geared lvl 85 raid if it has just one bad player who stands in the defile. Still, 57% of those who killed Marrowgar killed the LK. If we assume 20 raiders behind every 10 man kill, and consider that WoWprogress reaches 6M EU, US and TW players, we get the following data:
  • 16% killed LK
  • 12% killed Marrowgar but not LK
  • 72% did not raid
Now let's ask the question who would have suffered if Marrowgar wouldn't be a pushover and would be as hard as Magmaw?  58.5K guilds killed Magmaw, so 8.5% of the players (who killed Marrowgar but not Magmaw) would be at loss. During TBC subscriptions increased by 34%. I see no reason to doubt that another 34% would be gained if WotLK would follow the TBC philosophy. 34 is much bigger than 8.5.

Before I pinpoint the loud minority that screwed up WotLK and many new MMOs, let's categorize the others first:

The hardcore gamers are putting in enough effort and having enough IQ to defeat the endgame content, at least partially. If the game is tuned too hard, they complete less bosses. If the game is tuned too easy, they get bored. For this group the game is only considered "too hard" if they can't kill the first boss. They are playing for the activity, their fun comes from the flow of being competent and successful in a hard task. In BC they were raiding and happily trying on some boss in BT or SWP. In WotLK they were doing the same. Only 5K guilds killed HC LK so the claim that "hardcore gamers had no content in WotLK" was not true. This group was not affected by the raid design changes. On the other hand the "top item currency for 5-mans" forced them to do these grindy and uninteresting content.

The casual gamers are motivated by the same flow but they want to spend less effort. The game should provide some content which is hard but doable at their level. Since large-group play need more time and especially more scheduled time, it's not the best for them. In BC they were doing 5-mans. Or just leveling. If they felt really bold they went HC Arca or Shattered Halls. Without raider gear it was a heroic feat. In WotLK they AoE-d trivial 5-mans which was terribly boring. They also AoE-d leveling monsters. They couldn't regularly raid due to being unable to hold schedule. They couldn't join a pug raid either as they did not have the gearscore for it. They lost a lot by WotLK and I assume their numbers decreased the largest.

The socializers are using the game only as framework to socialize with other people, as their main motivation is peer acceptance. Collecting herbs is just as good as collecting epics for them, the point is to have someone to chat with. They were unaffected by the WotLK changes. They are unaffected by any gaming changes unless it makes the game totally unplayable for them. While these people are socials, I have no reason to hate them. They are harmless, we never see them unless we join a "freindly social guild".

The l33t are also socials but their focus is not on peer acceptance but peer respect. They are the ones who go AFK front of the bank on whatever colored drake. They are lootwhores and "i pwn lol" bunch, but still not harmful (if the RL/GL has iron fist) as they know how to play and ready to do it right if it's the only way to their precious loot. In BC they were in HC raids and then walked around like peacocks in Shattrah. In WotLK they were very upset as everyone got the same loot easily few months after they got it with "hard work". It was "work" for them as their fun comes when they finally got the gear/achievement/mount and can show it off.

Now let's see the nasty ones! They are the social M&S. They are exactly like l33t in motivation, but "casual" in effort and skill. They want to be observed as l33t, without any merit. Many of them couldn't raid in BC and were loudly demanding "accessibility" and "chance to progress their character". They were the only winners of the WotLK changes as they had (nearly) the same gear as the best raiders.

So the changes themselves affected the groups the following way:
  • Hardcore games: slightly negative (had to run 5-mans)
  • Casual gamers: negative (no challenging content for them, either trivial tasks, or raiding that they have no time for)
  • Socializers: neutral
  • l33t: negative (they are now not looking better than anyone else)
  • Social M&S: positive (they are now not looking worse than the hardcore and the l33t)
The above is already bad enough, but there is worse: you get what you pay for. If a game is changed negatively for a group, that group decreases, if positively, increases. There is consensus among bloggers that the "community" became worse. The reason for it is the proliferation of social M&S. Let's see how it affected the different groups:
  • The hardcore wants to raid. They already have to put up with the loot drama of the annoying l33t, but at least they bought something to the table. Now a bunch of M&S wants to get in and their welfare gear makes them look good candidates. Also their presence made the 5-man experience even more annoying.
  • The casual wants to play on his own level. Now they did not only have less content but they have to share it with the M&S. WotLK bought the rise of gearscore. The M&S who grinded gear insulted and excluded the casuals (despite did less DPS in better gear). In BC such event was impossible as the M&S had no way to grind gear.
  • The socializers want to be accepted, included. But the M&S insulted them for their low gearscore. In BC having gear was a privilege, the best had it, the average didn't. In WotLK it was baseline, if you did not have X GS, you wasn't even a human being. It forced the socializers to get gear just to be accepted, filling 5-mans with unmotivated, unskilled leeches (further deepening the problems of HCs and casuals).
The reason why I'm writing this is that Blizzard is making the same mistake again. By trivializing 4.0 raiding content by nerfing and by luring 4.2 geared people to 5-mans, they destroy content for casual players. Unless you have enough time to do scheduled Firelands raids, you can only do boring, trivial grinds.

I'm also guilty in the above mistake. I also overestimated the number of M&S socials, for the same reason: they are loud. If I met a casual gamer, even an unskilled one in a 5-man, I did not remember him. He may damaged below the tank, but he usually had low gear and listened to advices. I remembered the unenchanted, ungemmed gogogogog moron who also did less than the tank but clearly had the gear to do more and behaved obnoxiously (as he must protect his ego from our criticism).

What is the optimal system that makes the most people happy? The chart tells it clearly: the vanilla-TBC system was close to it. It makes casuals, hardcore, l33t and socializers all happy or content. The only changes I would make was already made: the 10 man raiding allows easier raid organization and with every tier, new dailies and 5-mans are created for casual players.

How does a blocked player (who can't kill a certain boss) improve his character in this scheme? He doesn't! The "need" of constant character progression is a myth created by the loud M&S social minority:
  • Hardcore does improve his character as a byproduct of killing new bosses
  • Casuals want content (aka want to do something with his time), not gear
  • Socializers can't care less about ingame stuff
  • The l33t doesn't want to progress, he wants to be better than peers. If the others can't get ahead of him, he is happily walking around in the same gear all year. 

The PuG update: while others stopped raiding waiting for 4.2, we:

There was one more new person, but she misses Halfus and Vali, so no achie. Also, the DPS #1 was a subtlety rogue. I guess it tells clearly that we are casual raiders who play for the content itself.


Squishalot said...

"What is the optimal system that makes the most people happy? The chart tells it clearly: the vanilla-TBC system was close to it. It makes casuals, hardcore, l33t and socializers all happy or content. "

You can't draw that conclusion from the data without a comparison to what the subscriber data for a 'normal' game that doesn't get updated is like. There will always be higher uptake in the initial 12-24 months, and lower uptake after a game has existed for 7 years.

If anything, even the stagnation, as you put it, should be tempered by the fact that active players of other games are likely to fall off, with subscriber numbers actually being expected to drop off (i.e. game is past its time). The fact that subscription numbers remain stable suggest that the majority of people are still generally happy with where WoW is at - at least, happy enough not to unsubscribe.

A subscription game should follow a mountain-style curve. There is an increase at the start when the game is released, it should plateau eventually, then drop off as players move to other, newer, more interesting games. The fact that the WoW plateau has not ended suggests that its target market is fully saturated, that it cannot enjoy further organic growth (for example, the player base cannot continue to by 4mil players a year if there are not 4mil new players a year willing to play a MMORPG), and that there is insufficient incentive in other games for players to move away from WoW.

All in all, Blizzard are doing things relatively 'right', from a business perspective.

Anonymous said...

Good break down on the different levels of gamer. Glad to see you are finally differentiating between casuals, socials, and M+S.

I am stuck somewhere between casual and hardcore. I raid twice a week. 4 hours a week total and have downed everything on regular mode. Anything more hardcore then that is too much time required for me.

That said.. Lord do I wish we could go back to TBC. Even though people more harcore then me were running around in gear that let then walk all over me it was a better balanced game. And the gameplay itself was far more interesting.

Though I agree with almost all your post I think you are deluding yourself if you think Cata raids are any harder then Wrath raids. The only bosses that are at all hard are Chimerion, Nef, Council, and 4Winds (the last two just for the unique mechanics that make it interesting).

Yaggle said...

I could not have said it better. We casuals do not feel entitled to gear and do now want endgame made easier. M&S does. When I meet great player in great gear, I do not feel jealousy, I feel admiration. I think things are back to the way they should be.

Azuriel said...

First, the edited graph is from me (I edited the one from MMOData), so a link back would have been nice. A link would have also been nice considering I deconstructed the argument that accessibility/difficulty had some major effect on subscription numbers in the same post already.

1) The stagnation also happened exactly when Blizzard introduced the Barber Shop. Clearly the Barber Shop killed WoW. The stagnation also happened exactly when Blizzard introduced achievements. Clearly achievements killed WoW. Subscription rates and accessibility/difficulty design has incredibly weak correlation when no other data is given.

2) There were more than just two moving parts going on in the game, and we have NO IDEA the reasons given for people leaving, or even from which segments. Hell, if we are basing our conjecture on where Blizzard is devoting resources, the most logical argument would be that new players are where Blizzard was losing customers (since that is where the vast majority of Cataclysm content design was centered). Difficulty/accessibility is only truly relevant at endgame, unless new people are leaving because the game is boring; I find that unlikely, but it's possible.

3) WoW sub numbers peaked in early 2009. The world economy nearly collapsed in early 2009. Do you honestly think that would have zero impact?

4) Take a look at this other graph from MMOData. It shows that before WoW, the MMO market was ~8 million people. Today, it is ~21 million. Total MMO subscriptions has remained steady at 21 million for over a year and half. At some point, you must acknowledge the possibility of market saturation.

5) Blizzard did not remain "surprisingly resistant" to nerfing - that is pure revisionism. Not to keep linking to my own site, but I detailed the history of nerfs to content, starting from 1/7/11 when Zarhym said "We don't think it was a mistake to start with the difficulty we did," and Ghostcrawler's "WoW, Dungeons Are Hard" post on 1/24/11. Less than two weeks later (2/4/11), heroics were nerfed across the board. If you want to talk correlation, perhaps you should look at the quotes I pulled from GC and friends and match the general dates of the Activision-Blizzard investor call when they talked about losing 600k subs.

6) This is Bashiok at the end of May, responding to player angst over the nerfing of T11 content in 4.2:

By looking at actual stats, actual progression, time spent playing, where, and to what extent, we can see that most people are looking for more accessible raid content, so yes, we absolutely are able to tell without a doubt that the plan we're enacting is actually what players playing the game want and need, and are not just listening to people on the forums.

Do you still maintain the ludicrous, unfounded position that Blizzard is listening to a "vocal minority?" Or would you like to augment your stance to "they're looking at the data they have incorrectly?" Or perhaps go with Syncaine's stance of "the B Team is dumb and doesn't know what they're doing."

Anonymous said...

1) First boss should be significantly easier; guilds die if no "progression." You can make the 2nd hard but first should be easy.

2) guilds were quite fluid in LK before rep and perks. So 100 LK guilds killing something is probably a but fewer unique subscribers than 100 Cata guilds.

3) My anecdotal evidence is that to me WoW seemed pretty vibrant during LK and seems to be shrinking now.

4) I was shocked to find that Blizcon tickets which usually sold at high scalpers prices are eBayed for below face value.

My personal opinion is that Cata was a bad business decision made worse by doing it while Rift launched.

Ironically, the main point of agreement of all sides is TBC was better.

We shall see.

Gevlon said...

@Azuriel: link fixed.

Please note that WoW west subscriptions INCREASED even in the last months of TBC and then flatlined at WotLK. Clearly something happened that moment.

Also, the "whole MMO market stangnated": the whole MMO market is accessible so actually there is no way the player can go for decent game.

Nerfs hit old content, when 5-mans were nerfed, only casuals and M&S played them.

Also, I'm not questioning that there are players who are struggling in 4.0 raids but I assume Bashiok misinterprets them. Most of them are NOT social M&S who will be happy with the nerf, they are casuals who will once roflstomp the nerfed raids and then will have nowhere to go and unsubscribe.

Squishalot said...

@ Gevlon, what makes you think that they'll roflstomp the 4.0 raids and unsubscribe, when they've been subscribed for the last 6 months and failing on current raid content? What reason is there that they would stay subscribed for 6 months unable to do current raid content, but will unsubscribe when they can't do the *new* current raid content?

Also, it's pretty obvious why subscriptions increased at the end of TBC - it was in preparation for WotLK. Wrath was well known to be the big major expansion that rounded off Warcraft lore for those who played Warcraft 3 and cared at all about the game story. Everyone who wanted to play WoW was already in WoW, getting ready for the new content.

You're being inconsistent.

@ Azuriel - thank you for being a voice of reason. I believe that the only way you could draw any sort of conclusion is by monitoring churn rates (i.e. volume of existing players leaving and new players joining), not overall subscriber numbers and changes (i.e. net volume of leavers and joiners).

Caramael said...

As a player fitting the casual gamer group, I couldn't agree more. I've recently resubbed to check out the troll heroics and join your PVP efforts.
The heroics already feel too easy. I've healed groups rushing through the troll heroics without any cc; not fun, no challenge.
I guess 4.2 will indeed completely trivialize the heroics again, just like what happened in WotLK.
Imo Blizzard should revert to the pre-badge gear system. I don't need raid gear to have fun and I don't need morons in my heroic group.

John said...

Azuriel - thank you for being a voice of reason.

There is no voice of reason!

Everyone has their own agenda they want to promote. Azuriel does it, Gevlon does it, Syncaine and Wolfshead do it and certainly also Tobold does it.

With no reliable data available, no amount of number crunching will falsify anything. All one can do is try to formulate a plausible hypothesis and use that as a basis for argumentation. In that sense both Azuriel's and Gevlon's suggestions seem equally plausible. Now it is up to the interested reader to make up their own damn mind!

I, for one, find Gevlon's analysis more plausible, partly because it matches my own intuition and partly because it is in line with other bloggers (Nils, Syncaine, Wolfshead). That is not to say, though, that Azuriel's view has no merit. Tobold might agree.

Tazar said...

I'm playing wow since wanilla and TBC sucked. Maybe you do not remember how many times you had to run normal dungeons just to get rep for HM. Especially on second character. No dungeon finder so you spend like 1 hour or more on trade chat to get group together (later in the expansion). No change to get into better guild without key to their last raid becouse noone was willing to make lower raids just to get you the key. Only exception was when guild lost main tank or so they just had to return back and progress with new char for the keys. PvP was "balanced" play rogue+mage, warrior+druid or just loose. Win trading in arenas and a lot of other problems.

WOTLK brought a lot of good things for the game and Cata as well.

I agree with Squishalot that actually WOW not loosing players is great achievement for company.

Anonymous said...

The casual category ("couldn't regularly raid due to being unable to hold schedule") benefit from having a pug-able raid.

I think their interests are being slightly misrepresented here.

Anonymous said...

Analyses like this which attempt to link trends in subscription numbers to game design decisions are often unconvincing to me. Too often there is no consideration of other causes, such as economic troubles, nice summer weather, or market saturation.

Samus said...

As I commented on Tobold's blog:

"According to WoWWiki, on 10 June, 2010 WarcraftRealms was reporting over 6 million active 10-85 characters. Now, they are reporting only 3.87 million. WoW player population in NA and EU has dropped by 35.5% in the last year."

MMOData stops showing "WoW West" early in 2010, because Blizzard stops reporting that separate data in early 2010. They stopped reporting because that's what MMORPG companies do when their numbers drop dramatically.

I think it is reasonable to predict that either SWTOR or GW2 will have surpassed WoW in NA and EU players a year from now.

Squishalot said...

@ John: I am not saying that Azuriel's blog post on the same topic has any merits. All I'm saying is that Azuriel's response in this blog post is entirely sensible. You cannot draw any reasonable conclusions from the data in that table alone. Gevlon is drawing a conclusion. Therefore, I have to conclude that although plausible, his approach is unscientific and needs to be observed as such. Azuriel points out precisely why Gevlon is being unscientific, and I applaud that.

I couldn't care less what their agendas are. If an argument is flawed, by definition, the conclusion is flawed, even if it describes things correctly. Gevlon may be right in describing the optimal system, but his argument to come to that conclusion is flawed beyond belief.

Jumina said...


I checked my server on WarcraftRealms and got this:

There are too few Horde entries for this realm to give reliable results! Please help today by submitting data for this realm!

And the numbers are obvisouly wrong.

Looks like there is decline in WarcraftRealms contributors.

Samus said...


Yes, they miss some players now, and they missed some players before. You are only saying it does not include 100% of the players. That is true now, and was true a year ago.

However, as a sample size it is much, much bigger than necessary to be statistically accurate. Surveys function by only taking samples of a few hundred or a few thousand.

So while you are right that there are currently more than 3.87 million characters 10-85 in NA and EU, it is also safe to say the number of players is down 35%. There is a margin of error, but with millions in the sample that margin is very small.

Lyxi said...


Neither GW2, nor SWTOR are yet launched. Both of them smell strongly like vaporware to me.

Getting past that, GW2 will not be subscription based. It's kida foolish to affirm that, mainly because, iirc, GW 1 has over 9 million copies sold (And GW is not sold in China(PRC), it is however sold in Taiwan(RoC).). Does that mean that it has no players than WoW? Unsure, because there's at least a part that bought both GW and playes WoW.

The same will probably happen with GW2. (I gotta hand them to Anet, this is a VERY smart move, since they're inching in WoW's market share without taking them head-on.)

Now, on the topic at hand, I am completely unsure what to believe. The only thing that I can think of is that Blizzard tried 'easy' and didn't work, and now they try 'hard', and it doesn't work.

What then? The only conclusion I can come with is that design choices are massively undercut by other circumstances. The strongest I think is the economic crisis which threw a spanner in the expansion of internet accesibility.

But we lack a controlled experiment, and we lack Blizzard's data, and we even lack an unified theory. It's bonkers, you can't just claim that one theory is better than others based on the same data other competing theories use to claim thet they're better.

Sheldon said...


"There is no voice of reason!
With no reliable data available, no amount of number crunching will falsify anything. All one can do is try to formulate a plausible hypothesis and use that as a basis for argumentation."

Bullshit. If there is no reliable data available, one always has the option of saying "There is no reliable data, and until there is I have no desire to waste my time coming up a hypothesis which would probably be nothing more than my own personal biases based on limited anecdotal experiances."

See how easy that is?

Anonymous said...

Subscription numbers prove nothing (personally, I blame the yetis in Storm Peaks) so let's get to your point:

"The reason why I'm writing this is that Blizzard is making the same mistake again. By trivializing 4.0 raiding content by nerfing and by luring 4.2 geared people to 5-mans, they destroy content for casual players. Unless you have enough time to do scheduled Firelands raids, you can only do boring, trivial grinds."

By making T11 raids easier, they're making it more puggable, less difficult and more accessible to casual players. If you can pug 3/6 in BWD in an hour with a low chance of failure, that's not too much for a casual player to enjoy. It means that we will have more to do than just run heroics. The new daily quest hub might also be appealing to casuals, depending on what they are.

If anything, casual players come out on top with this patch.

Samus said...


The only thing consistent between WotLK and Cata was the attempt to push casual players through raids as the only real PvE end game. In both cases, 5-mans and heroics exist but the reward structure and mentality from the dungeon finder make them just another part of the grind to get to the "real" end game.

You cannot be proud of completing a heroic, you are expected to run through 7 a week. If you can't, you suck. If you struggle, you suck. There is no progression and no appropriately challenging content for casual players, which are the vast majority.

Jumina said...


Again no. There is nothing what could be said about these numbers.

If you want to make proper statistic you must choose your sample very carefully. Volunteers, contributing to some site I never heard of after 5 years of playing WoW, are very poor sample. If I put voting form on some popular news portal the results won't be the same as is average opinion of the whole nation.

Themistocles said...

I'd like to make a comment about the nerf-anation of Rift dungeons.

Yes, it was bad, and I stopped subscribing because of it.

However, it was actually necessary, assuming The Gersh was going to continue to be allowed to completely break class-balance.

A properly made pre-made, with one cleric healer, one mage chloromancer, one tank, and two dps, that were not Rogues, could fairly easily complete the Tier 1 dungeons.

HOWEVER, many boss fights pre-nerf REQUIRED two healers, and this was not made clear. Out of a five man group. I had several clerics get very upset at not being able to handle it at all even though properly geared/spec'd/playing mostly good. Then we double cleric'd it.... and it was still fairly hard.

Of course, it is much easier with 1 cleric and 1 chloromancer. The REQUIRED pre-made configuration for Tier 1(and Tier 2 was harder).

Also, Rogue DPS was very poor. VERY POOR. And you had to be melee. Anything short of cookie cutter spec+properly geared+in melee+proper rotation and Rogue DPS was very, very poor.

I say this as someone who tanked as a rogue. I MUCH preferred tanking, as it was not humiliating. It was doable. Success was possible.

Rogue ranged DPS was very poor period. Many Boss's REQUIRE DPS'ers to be at range. Or spend a very large amount of time running around doing nothing.

Could a PUG with 1 cleric 1 tank and 3 Rogue DPS complete a Tier 1 dungeon in Rift?

Probably not. In fact, almost certainly not. It took much mockery but I finally shut up the whining Leet on the Rift boards after the nerf.

I was ticked that rather than FIRE GERSH they had instead chosen to nuke content into the ground. And the Leet provided cover for Gersh with their "Rogue DPS is OKAY". Well, NO IT IS NOT. And there is only four classes in Rift, so that was a big deal.

The single most played class was Rogues, and most people playing them wanted to DPS. Making DPS *bleep* was an absolutely tarded action.

Gersh should be fired.

Anonymous said...

Alas, there is an increasing insulation in internet discussions. Most of the news and blogs you read agree with your opinion of Bush vs Obama, WoW vs Rift, Microsoft vs Apple, harder vs accessible raids, not because you are right but because of your selection of your information providers.


Which also brings up the point: what % of the WoW 12 million customers ( or say 15? 20? million who have subscribed for over a month since TBC) posted in the WoW forum last year? My complete guess is the ratio of customer to forum or blog posters is somewhere between 100 and 1000. All the self-selected forum posters are insignificant statistically. (I.e., how many more people do you think bought sparkly cats than posted on a blog?)

Besides, when people like Syncaine become disillusioned, they write impassioned prose about their issues. When people like Tobold's wife grow disillusioned, they just unsubscribe. My guess is the WoW forums tend to considerably overstate the, for want of a better term, Syncaine/Gevlon perspective.

Bizdis said...

Actually, speaking as a casual, I did have just enough time to raid every week. I could do ICC 10 every friday, and ICC 25 if I was very lucky. I appreciate that it was easy content, but I could at least raid. Now, Zandalari heroics are all I can do, as guilds will not pug, and I can't keep to a raiding schedule. I excluded regular heroics as they are trivial now.

The only real nightmare of WOTLk was a lack of separation. An idiot could easily AoE themselves up to 232/245 epics, and then 251 epics from frost badges. There was no way to separate an idiot who had his hand held by the guild leader, and couldn't step out of the fire from a casual. I wasn't any good at raiding, but at least I had a "bone to chew on." Currently there is not enough casual content, and I decided to play a game that can give me more success with a fairly limited play schedule (this isn't whining, WoW is what it is, and I shouldn't be complaining that my coffee doesn't taste like tea).

Anonymous said...

Actually, speaking as a casual, WOTLK had some advantages because I could join a pug raid for ICC and see a few bosses. I eventually saw everyone in Naxx, though never in a single raid.

Blizz seems to be doing something smart by nerfing the earlier raids and requiring them to start the legendary. I'm hoping this means they'll be strongly pugged in 4.2.

Admittedly, I'm not happy about the lack of new 5-mans in 4.2

Coralina said...

I love your descriptions of the different types of WoW player, that was a good read.

However I think as others have said you are reading too much into those graphs.

I'd have expected to see the same profile had WOTLK been the original game, TBC been the 2nd expansion and Vanilla been the 3rd expansion (i.e. reversed).

To me that graph reflects exactly what I would expect to see from any product when it approaches saturation.

It could be explained another way (note that is no more or less likely to be true than your theory):

By the end of TBC pretty much anyone that liked MMORPG's and the fantasy genre had heard of WoW, tried WoW or were playing WoW.

The only area of growth was for Blizzard to move mass market and start enticing a wider audience outside of the usual MMORPG stereotypes. They went for the non traditional gaming groups that the console makers have so successfully courted recently (Mr T and Ozzy adverts). These new players offset the churn of the original players who had grown out of the game so you didn't see much further expansion. No one plays for ever and the Vanilla boys were starting to drop off regardless. Blizzard did well to maintain subscription levels.

All they did with Cataclysm is start reverting back to the TBC forumula. At that point it was only logical that the game would drop below late TBC numbers due to the loss of Vanilla players and the new demographics for which the game no longer was targetted.

As I say though that is no more likely to be correct than your theory. The one thing we do know and that you should remember at all times Mr Gevlon is this:

"correlation does not imply causation."

E.g. Looking at those graphs I think it is obvious that the decline in WoW has been caused by Swine Flu (remember that?). I mean it is obvious! The timing says it all!

You get the point!

Have written the above I just noticed Azuriel had pretty much said most of it but as I've wasted so much time writing this I will post it anyway!

stubborn said...

Very interesting analysis. I particularly appreciate that you defined each category of gamer in one place (I'm sure you'd done it before, but perhaps more spread out).

From my own experience, I'm clearly in the "casual" category (unfortunately), and I agree with your analysis of the changes to players like me. I did go through ICC (finished it at 15 buff, though), but since then I've simply not had the time. Everything in LK was a boring grindfest by the end, and the new dungeons I felt were just about the right level of challenge for me, but woefully too hard for many of the other M&S out there; this made the dungeons almost unplayable to casuals who didn't have full guild groups, making the expansion far less enjoyable. The troll dungeons enhance that effect; in the old heroics, you might be able to carry a player, so if my buddies and I (4 of us) had a fifth terrible moron, we'd still get through it. In the Z heroics, though, the same is not true; one bad player makes them impossible.

That may be an interesting avenue for your discussion, then. How are the networks developed by the various types of players (guilds, etc) effecting the game experience. I'm sure if I had a full guild group every time I did a dungeon, I'd be a lot happier.

Good post.

Anonymous said...

"The only bosses that are at all hard are Chimerion, Nef, Council, and 4Winds (the last two just for the unique mechanics that make it interesting)."

Bold, unnecessary statement. Difficulty depends on many factors: group composition, individual skill, group skill, gear, addons, and raid difficulty (10m, 25m, 10m HC, 25m HC).

Some people find Chim hard. I don't. Some people find Council hard. I found it challenging on 25m because lightning rod can wipe you, and there is not much space. Some people find Al'Akir hard. Yet warriors, mages, hunters, goblins, priests can use movement altering effects even when they are doomed to fail on slipstream.

I'd say Cho'Gall HC, and Sinestra are harder than Council, Conclave, or Chim. If you look on the success rate on Chim on WoL, it is actually high. Omnitron HC, is not, since there are far more mechanics which kill too many people.

Anonymous said...

I would go further and say the start point wasn't WOLTK but patch 3.4 in TBC when they allowed Heroic badges to buy Raid equivalent gear. It stopped players from bothering to raid Gruual, TK and SSC. And forced players to grind out heroics and kara runs for badges. This started the trend in WOTLK of making previous raid content pointless and thus reducing available content.