Gates, and pay no attention to the man behind the curtain

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Today’s topic is gating in WoW. Up front, let me say I really don’t have any strong feelings about it one way or another, although in general I tend to come down on the side of letting players set their own pace. But it’s not a big thing with me.

I started thinking about the practice while reading some of the 7.3 PTR notes, and it strikes me that in Legion Blizz has moved in a big way from what I would call “soft” gating to hard gating for most major content.

I define soft gating as setting up a series of quest lines (actual quests, collecting currency of some sort, achieving rep, etc.) as prerequisites for some goal, but — and here’s the key — players are free to pursue these as intensively as they wish. Someone willing to devote 16 hours a day to the game would be able to achieve the goal much more quickly than, say, someone who only plays a few hours on a weekend. From time to time Blizz does put some brakes on the progression, as for example when they gated Mists reputation behind dailies and weeklies, but the idea is that a soft gate implies no direct timed release of progression steps.

I define hard gating as Bliz actually withholding any chance of players progressing towards the goal, releasing a snippet at a time. Prime examples of this are the Suramar final series of quests and the Broken Shore content. It appears that the Argus content will also be hard gated. No matter how many hours you wish to play, you simply will not be able to see all of Argus until Blizz says you can.

Hard gating is not new to Legion, but it seems to me that in Legion Blizz has adopted it as their preferred way to control end game content, and they have introduced it within patches instead of primarily as a cross-patch mechanism. What do I mean? Well, look at the legendary ring quest line in WoD. This was basically a multi-patch gate. You could go to a certain point initially, then the next progression series was introduced in the next patch, and so on. So this was hard gating, but pegged to each new patch. Contrast that with Legion, where quest lines and even (in 7.3) action areas are hard gated within the patch. It is now almost standard operating procedure.

Hard gating content within as well as across patches helps Blizz to continue to brag about the HUGE amount of content they have in Legion — always something new! Well, of course, if instead of implementing an entire patch you piecemeal it into the game, there will in fact be something new every couple of weeks. It does not necessarily mean there is any more content than in previous expansions, just that it take longer to experience it.

Add to this practice the introduction of a never-ending grind for something (like AP in Legion), along with a buttload of dailies world quests and a gimmick to keep people running dungeons, and voila! Lots more content!

I am not criticizing Blizz’s Legion approach to content, just pointing out the man behind the curtain gives us a big hint that the Great And Powerful Oz is possibly pretty ordinary. Legion is more minor reconstruction combined with a lot of hype than it is actual additional content. It works, don’t get me wrong, but I see it for what it is.

Anyway, as I said at the beginning, I don’t have a strong opinion one way or another on Blizz’s stepping up of hard gating. It is just another part of Legion’s content curtain.

6 thoughts on “Gates, and pay no attention to the man behind the curtain

  1. I really was puzzled when they announced patch 7.2 as the “biggest patch ever!” (right?). It did not feel big to me, at all, since it came in such small portions, which, I guess, is why I felt a little demotivated about it.

    I am not against all kinds of gating – I do like, that it helps those of us who cannot play for 16 hours a day, not to feel so “out of the loop”, but those “sudden” breaks in quest lines ruins immersion a tad for me, honestly!

    Especially when the quest is not really in sync with it – it could at least end with “Thanks for all you have done, we have our working hard on , return to us on , where we hope will be back from their with an answer on what to do next”, if that makes sense.

    1. I think I do not really mind the gating, but I do think Blizz is bordering on taking it a tad too far in the name of stretching out content. I am mainly annoyed when they do things like give you one really stinko quest per week in Broken Shore, for weeks on end. Especially when those quests are not-very-creative variations on “Kill 100 demons”. 🙄

      1. Yeah, you are very right about that; Especially when those quests involve doing something we have already done for weeks already. I imagine Broken Shore feels a little better if you do it now, when all of it has been released.

  2. My take on it is that they are setting up the hard gates to prolong the tier to a desired duration, but also giving you things to do while you wait it out. If you could zip through 8 weeks of story in 4 days you would sit and complain there is nothing to do. I think the idea may have merit, but at this point the world quest AP grind has gone on for too long. Even invasions are not even fun the 2nd or 3rd time

    1. For sure. I understand why they are doing it. In some cases, though, they are getting pretty lazy about it (like my example to @Alunaria). I know there are a lot of players who complain about not having anything to do the instant they zip through new content, but I am not one of them. Still, they whine very vocally, and this is one way Blizz can quiet them.

      Absolutely agree with you on the AP grind, and the only invasions I ever do any more are the one initial one on new alts.

  3. There is a white board in Irving called Player Progression with a timeline and ticks for each day and week. I don’t mind either but it feels like there is a predictable rhythm to the game which takes away a lot of the urgency of an invasion. Our quest givers are on us all of the time, “quickly quickly” but the player hears “next week, next month”.

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