Thursday, 2 July 2009

More Thoughts on Content, the Four Percent

Larisa, over at pink pigtail inn, observed that a flood of epics doesn't make up for lack of content.

You know what would make up for lack of content? More content.

Specifically, more content targeted at people who *haven't* already cleared Ulduar.

Blizzard's new raiding policy was based on the observation that only four percent of the player base ever saw the Sunwell. They realised that 80% of their effort was going into content that only 4% of their player base got to see.

Their response to this was to nerf the bejeezus out of endgame raiding so that a larger proportion of the player base could see the content on which they were spending eighty percent of their development time.

I wonder if it ever occurred to them to do the opposite. To devote the eighty percent of their development time that was previously devoted to raid content to providing content for the ninety-six percent of the player base who weren't raiding.

Let me put it this way. Suppose you ran a restaurant. Suppose you had a particular dish that required eighty percent of your resources to make. Suppose that making this dish was so expensive that only four percent of your customers could afford it. So you start to skimp on some of the ingredients, you're still devoting eighty percent of your time to making this one dish, but now you're producing a cut-price, watered down version of it. And sure, you're selling it to more people, but you had to take a couple of other things off the menu, and people are only buying it because it's there. So you aren't actually making any more money, and your customers aren't any more satisfied, particularly not the four percent who bought the special dish when it was expensive. All you've succeeded in doing is reaching the essentially arbitrary goal of getting more people to eat the only thing you're interested in making.

And that's the real problem. Only four percent of players saw Sunwell, but that four percent included pretty much everybody who works for Blizzard. It's almost like the rest of us exist only to validate Blizzard's desire to produce these big dungeons where plot happens. They don't want us to enjoy playing the game, they want us to look at their big giant bosses in their big giant fortresses and watch their damned cutscenes.

If Blizzard really cared about catering to the 96% of their player base who aren't in hardcore raiding guilds, they would stop focusing all of their damned attention on raiding. There's fourteen bosses in Ulduar. Since the average Northrend dungeon contains fewer than five bosses, the development time that went into it could have given us three whole dungeons. They could have stuck a couple of new quests into all the starting zones in the old world, or put some damned content in Azshara or done something - anything - for those of us who don't want to go down a hole with twenty-five other guys three nights a week.

9 comments:

  1. One quibble - 4% (or whatever) saw Sunwell. Far more than that raided - I raided in TBC, but never saw Sunwell (well, after 3.0 came down, we poked out heads in, and got them taken off). And a lot of people raided and didn't make it as far as I did (end of T5-beginning of T6). As I recall reading, the majority of the player base raided in Kara at one point or another. And that percentage that does raid needs something to keep them paying their subscriptions - were it not for raiding, I would have long since quit WoW altogether, and I know that's true for many others. 3-4 more Heroics wouldn't do the trick, as I don't really do Heroics anyway - they don't feel "epic" in any way. I loathe PvP, so that wouldn't do it.

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  2. Excellent article. One argument that is made in favour of Blizzard´s desire to speed up levelling is that when people are levelling alts they´re wasting time repeating content they´ve already done. In my opinion, a solution to this is to add more "old world" content with each patch. Make it so that most characters will not do all quests on their way to level 80. Give people more to look forward to when levelling a second or third time. I agree with you entirely that more content for the 96% is what´s needed. Blizzard ought to stop pushing people into the raiding straitjacket.

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  3. Sorry Kahleena, my failure in communication.

    Obviously I'm not suggesting that Blizzard should never introduce any new raid content ever, or that only 4% of the player base raided (although I'd be interested to know what the population was) just that it very often seems that they see "new content" as meaning explicily "new raid content" with the occasional piece of condescending shit like the Argent Tournament thrown in for us casuals.

    Similarly the *pace* at which Raids are released is clearly aimed at the ultra-hardcore (and, weirdly, the ultra-casual). They're already releasing Tier 9 when we're still arguing over whether the World First for Yogg-Zero counts or not.

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  4. I definitely don't disagree re: the inadequacy of stuff like the Argent Tournament, as you know. 2.4 was, I thought, a great example of a "new content" patch - massive new quest hub (where the quests advanced teh story), a five-man regular/heroic (one that really felt like it *mattered*), and a raid for the ultra hardcores. It would be nice if they could take that as their imspiration for future content patches (only not stupid, like the aforementioned Argent Tournament).

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  5. Unfortunately I think Actiblizzard's professed goal is forcing us "to go down a hole with twenty-five other guys three nights a week." It's akin to the last couple of chapters in a really good book, if you don't read em and just close the book, what the hell you start reading the book fer anyway? Or in better words a culmination of the long journey you have thus far accomplished. Because Actiblizzard puts SO much work into those last couple chapters, they most likely would be happy if we as customers would be so kind and take part in reading said chapters, plus with group dynamics being what they are, you just might feel like you are letting down your team if you don't continue to raid no matter HOW SILLY THEY ARE!. Having just now read your comment to Kahleena, I can only agree and say the AT can suck Khodo balls. A bit more imagination in the next couple patches is all we can really hope for, that and that Pony Ghostcrawler promised us.

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  6. Its true that raiding used to be an activity for a minority group, but I dont think that is true anymore. Using sites such as guildprogress.com and wowjutsu.com gives some indication on how many people get into raids, even though it gives scewed numbers cause its favours guilds who actually register on the site, it neglects guildalliances and PuGs etc.

    Anyways, according to guildprogress.com 29,3% have killed Flame Leviathan. 4,57% have killed Yogg Saron. It does sound fairly low.
    However, on wowjutsu.com it tells that 95,4% have done OS and 93,7% have done Naxx (normal). The entry level raids can be seen to have been enjoyed by quite a few players (if not 95% you can atleast not say that raid content is only consumed by 4% of the playerbase).

    WoW is the nr1 PvE raidingMMO in the world, and it seems that most of those who hit level 80 do enter some kind of raid. Not everyone will see the inside of Ulduar, but with both 10 and 25 man beeing available - and multiple raidinstances beeing open for play, it has become part of the level 80 type of play.

    What I hope for the future is more casual raidinstnaces. Instances that dont take massive amounts of time. Currently its no problem picking up a PuG for Naxx10, but unless they are experienced and wellgeared players you are unlikely to finish in one evening. What we need is raidcontent with 5-6 bosses, so that a Pug group can do it in ca 3 hours (while ofc a trained guildgroup can have it done in 1).
    Point is: The casual (and majority) player is now raiding, and its important that the new content is designed to cater for casual raiding.

    How about giving each wing in naxx a different instance ID? Wouldnt that be nicely bite-sized for a PuG?

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  7. guildprogress.com records the progress of 94,332 guilds (at time of writing).

    Assuming each of those guilds has one hundred unique, active members (which is, I think, a generous estimate) that accounts for 940,000 players. Less than 10% of the population.

    88.12% of guilds which registered on guildprogress.com have downed OS-10, but that in no way suggests that 88% of *all* guilds have done it. Guilds who register for progression tracking sites are *vastly* more likely to have downed raid content than those who haven't.

    Either way, though, I think we're still basically arguing the same point. The fact that raiding is becoming more popular (which it is) doesn't actually mean that anybody is being *better catered for* by current raid content, just that Blizzard has succeeded in pushing more of its player base into raid content.

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  8. "It's akin to the last couple of chapters in a really good book, if you don't read em and just close the book, what the hell you start reading the book fer anyway?"

    The problem with that analogy is that the last few chapters of a book function the same way as the rest of the book. Raids do not function the same way as the rest of the game.

    It's more like a media tie-in. A TV series finishes, and the loose plot threads are addressed in a series of novels, or movies, or comic books. You shouldn't feel that not watching Serenity means you wasted your time watching Firefly.

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