Wait, what?

Today’s post concerns another example of Blizz’s slapdash approach to this entire expansion.

Since the launch of WoD, there has been a steadily growing tendency by Blizz to make nearly every reward in the game dependent on RNG. Everything. Even profession recipes, for crying out loud.

The corollary to this tendency is that player effort counts for less and less. No matter how good you are at raiding, tier gear — as well as any other decent gear — is a function solely of blind luck. You can run every wing of LFR every week to get tome drops for the legendary, patiently waiting hours and hours for queues to pop, but this kind of commitment to the game means nothing in the end, because tome drops are just a matter of luck. You can spend hours in Tanaan and get dozens of pieces of Apexis-upgradable Baleful gear, but the chance of them having performance-enhancing secondary stats useful to you are completely luck-dependent.

You can work your butt off figuring out how to configure your ridiculously complex ships to finish just one more reward mission for that stupid level 3 shipyard requirement, which you have to have in order to have any hope of completing yet another legendary ring requirement, but in the end even if you get a 99% success probability, your mission can fail and you can lose the epic ships you worked for two weeks to level. Oh, and that’s assuming you don’t get blockade after blockade, forcing you to take a day to break the blockade just to get another shot at a reward mission. And of course success at breaking blockades is  a matter of chance also. As are the chances of completing the legendary missions even after you get your level 3 shipyard.

You can run old raids every night on multiple alts month after month after month and not get that mount drop you covet. Or your guildmate can run it once out of boredom and get the mount. Because it has nothing whatsoever to do with the amount of effort expended, only sheer luck.

Player involvement and player expertise are no longer rewarded. Player luck is. The game is becoming nothing more than a lottery, with ever-diminishing odds.

So it was with some astonishment that I read a Blue Post from July 24, outlining some pretty significant hotfixes being made to PvP gear. (Emphasis mine in the partial quote below.)

[Initial changes]

… We feel that this change will allow there to still be a benefit to earning the Champion’s Strongboxes over the course of the season, but due to the fact that you’ll still want to complete your set bonuses, that benefit will be a little extra flexibility in gearing choices instead of simply having Versatility items another player may not have won. This also greatly increases the chances of earning a desirable item from your Strongbox (at least, until you have everything you want from them) by reducing the overall number of possible items you could get.

Thanks again for all of the feedback on this topic. We’re hopeful that this change will greatly improve the gearing experience in Warlords Season 2, and are taking all of your feedback to heart as we plan for future seasons.

 [Additional changes]

… First, we’re going to make the remaining non-set armor pieces available on the Conquest vendors. They’ll still be available through the Champion’s Strongboxes, but if you’d rather not leave earning them up to random chance, you’ll be able to purchase them for Conquest points instead. With this change, the only items that will only be available through the Champion’s Strongboxes are the random-stat Accolade trinkets (which cannot be put on the vendors due to some technical hurdles). We’re aiming to make this change with this upcoming weekly reset.

Note that, as a result of this change taking place, we no longer plan to make the Champion’s Strongboxes purchasable with Conquest points for players who have earned the Wild Conquest achievement. Since nearly all of the items in the Strongboxes will be directly purchasable with Conquest points themselves, we feel that this would just add unnecessary frustration or confusion if players were to spend their Conquest on a Strongbox instead of just buying the item they wanted.

Now, I don’t do PvP, so I can’t speak to any of the gear problems that were being addressed by this hotfix. In fact, I usually don’t even read any of the Blue Posts about PvP. But this one caught my eye because it is a repudiation of the concept of RNG-based rewards for PvP play. 

Excuse me? The rest of us live with RNG dictating every aspect of our game experience, but PvP players can’t possibly be expected to endure the horror of “random chance” for their gear?????  Blizz jumps through their collective butt to “greatly improve the gearing experience” for them? Are they so delicate that Blizz has to protect them from the nightmare of “unnecessary frustration or confusion” if they are not allowed to just buy the item they want? Would they just wilt and collapse from the sheer trauma of not being appropriately rewarded for their success?

Now, before the hate mail gets started, let me say that I have no enmity for those players who prefer PvP to PvE. It is a play style choice I can respect. I personally am neither good at it nor interested in it, but that doesn’t mean I have it in for those who are. And I understand that Blizz has not done well by them in this expansion, they have been misled, forced to deal with major PvP-specific class imbalances, and left unable to play because of horrible queue times.

Well, join the club! PvP is not a special snowflake. If I have to suck it up with frustration, confusion, random chance and a terrible gearing experience, then PvP players can too. Their expertise in the game should count for no more than mine does, and if it is unacceptable for their rewards to be left to blind luck, then it is unacceptable for mine also.

It is not fair to tag all PvP players as prima donnas, but Blizz certainly seems to cater to their every little desire, whereas legitimate — and similar — PvE concerns are routinely ignored. This gearing change is one example. Another is the way Blizz has gone to great lengths to alleviate the long Ashran queues — even going so far as to allow players to queue as the other faction if the wait is too long, a creative and unprecedented solution. The rest of us? We deal with 2-3 hour LFR queues and Blizz does not even deign to admit there is a problem, much less go to any effort to fix it.

Hey Blizz! Pretend I am a PvP player and fix my gearing experience and my queue times, too!

About Fiannor
I have a day job but escape by playing WoW. I love playing a hunter, and my Lake Wobegonian goal is to become "above average" at it.

4 Responses to Wait, what?

  1. Casually Odd says:

    I wasn’t sure where that blue post was going at first and after I read it, I was shocked to confusion.

    Am I reading it right that they are creating a gearing path that doesn’t rely on RNG? If you fight lots of BGs (or whatever) and never get a good drop, you can go spend points that you collect from doing that to purchase the specific item you wanted?

    So the thing so many of us liked in previous expansions, it might be all Grumpy talks about, and something that would vastly improve PvE life…and so far it is only going to be on PvP gear?

    Am I getting that right?

    As to PvP, I can’t say much, I’m much like you. Although, to be fair, I can often feel a similar way about high-end raiding stuff. For something that only a small percentage of people do, it seems like Blizzard puts a lot of resources into it. I am told that what comes out of it keeps the community alive but I’m skeptical.

    The thing is, even then, I’m not really mad at the PvP community/raiders. It falls squarely on the shoulders of Blizzard. It’s about providing good content to all of your players. What makes it more frustrating is that, as far as anyone can tell, what appear to be the majority of players aren’t the key focus.

    I really wish Blizzard released players stats (mean, median, and mode of characters, levels, etc, player time, amount of gold etc) so that we could better understand our community as a whole. I’m sure that would have some downsides too, but at least it would give us direction. If raiding really is huge (or even substantial) then it deserves the resources. If PvP really does add to the game, then again, it should get the focus. But if those things (and others) aren’t that big of a deal, then they should at least be able to explain other ways those areas deserve attention (driving story, inspiring community interest, etc).

    Could you not leave soapboxes lying around? I seem to be prone to climbing on them?

    • Fiannor says:

      No, this change us not a fault of the PvP community. They have been doing the same thing all of us have — legitimately complaining about some terrible game mechanisms. As you point out, it is Blizz who chooses to ignore what we all believe to be the majority and cater to the minority.

      And yes, you are getting it right — PvP and only PvP is getting a gearing path that does not rely on RNG. Of course, I can hope it is a harbinger of things to come for PvE, but I very seriously doubt it.

      Climb on all the soapboxes you want, I have plenty!

  2. Grumsta says:

    From what I’ve seen on Twitter, Blizz have been pushing WoW as an eSport, so it’s the most public and high-profile aspect of the game currently.

    Perhaps this is why they’re rushing to fix the problem for this community first? Trying to arm up a raid team of 15-20 is hard enough, doing it with ultra-competitive small PVP of five will skew the RNG effect even further.

    I fervently hope that a similar mechanism finds its way to PvE as early as 6.2.1 – it is desperately needed.

    • Fiannor says:

      I have no idea how much of the company’s (just Blizz, not bigger corporate) revenue is now coming from the whole eSport venture, but I know it is enough that it was mentioned in the 2015Q1 earnings report, and featured as a promising avenue for future projections. In fact, I have been thinking about writing about this trend, because it has some very significant implications for those of us who play for fun, not professionally. Perhaps, as you point out, we are already seeing some of that fallout.

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