Back in the ancient history that is Mists of Pandaria, there were a large number of daily quests players needed to do in order to gain rep with certain factions, gain needed profession recipes and gear, and even to unlock additional factions that would in turn require constant, daily quests in order to obtain items that would enable proficient participation in other end game activities such as raiding.
Players rather loudly expressed their frustration with this system, mainly because failure to participate daily resulted in falling behind in character raid prep, in a way that could not be recouped — for every day you did not log in and complete the dailies, you would “fall behind” by that number of days in completing the faction/profession/gear progression. This was especially hard on players with real lives, families, jobs, and so forth — players who typically had more time to play on certain days of the week and were unable to log on at other times. In other words, casual players — even semi-casual players — were significantly penalized, and pro players and those with large amounts of discretionary time on their hands were advantaged.
Blizz claimed to understand this, and they embarked on designs to lessen it. They partially succeeded in Warlords of Draenor, though some would argue they transferred the daily burden from faction quests to garrison duties. Moreover, the general lack of dailies led to WoD’s “no content” rap. Legion’s emissary quests were a reasonably decent evolution, because they basically gave players three days to complete a series of “daily” quests. I remain a fan of emissary quests, and of world quests in general.
Unfortunately, having implemented what seemed to be a fix for required daily grinds, Blizz proceeded to add new, multilayered daily grinds to the game in Battle for Azeroth. For example, we have the daily mini-vision, something Blizz could have set a weekly limit on, but which they chose to make a once-a-day quest. Even more sneaky is the BFA trend — begun in earnest in Patch 8.2 with the new zones of Mechagon and Nazjatar — where a large number of recurring quests necessary to advance faction rep (and in turn major quest lines such as Pathfinder) are back to the (blue) daily quest model and do not count as a world quest (and thus not as part of emissary quests).
In short, Blizz has returned to the hated Mists daily model, but now they have added this to the very 3-day model they designed in order to get away from the daily one! It is a net increase to the Mists grind model.
One can only surmise that the Legion emissary and world quest design was not giving Blizz the kind of “player engagement” metrics their corporate masters require.
Sure, there is no absolute requirement to log on every day, no requirement to gather the tokens to do the things to advance one’s cloak — indeed no requirement to get the cloak at all — unless you want to engage in end game activities. Then the price of admission is this new round of daily quests, ones which cannot be skipped without falling behind. So these grinds are not “required”, unless you want to do almost any other end game activity.
Certainly there are WoW players left who are happy not engaging in structured end game activities, who are very content to log on once or twice a week at their leisure and pursue transmog collection or pet battles or just running old content. I admire that, I really do. These are true casual players, and I mean that as a compliment. My impression, though, is that there are fewer and fewer of these players with each new patch and expansion. This is unfortunate, because these are the very players that made WoW the gold standard of MMO’s it used to be.
There are also players who are so immersed in the game that they routinely spend 6-8 hours or more logged in each day. They might be actual professional players — streamers, world-first era, esports types — or they might simply be people with both an interest in the game and the luxury of time to devote to it. For these players, adding in some additional daily requirements is probably not much of a burden.
But there are a lot of players remaining in the game who are like me — we love doing end game content, we take pride in our proficiency and progress, but we simply do not have the option of spending hours logged in each day. For us, the evolution of daily and weekly requirements — just to be able to participate in the end game — is toxic, and it becomes more so with each new patch. We love the game, and we have remained loyal to it for years in spite of some pretty big rough spots, but Blizz seems bent on eliminating us.
This was driven home to me last night as we struggled with some of the end bosses in the new raid. On normal mode! There are indeed some significant tuning problems in the raid, but the extreme number of mechanics for each boss seem to be a direct result of Blizz driving casual players away from end game content, thereby ensuring the raiding population consists almost exclusively of pros and elites, who demand ever more challenging difficulties at all levels. (The same may be said of M+ now, which is evolving into a pros-only endeavor at almost any level beyond +5.) Average mechanics do not attract streaming fans.
Not really sure where I was going with this post, but I am frustrated with the burgeoning playing time requirements just to be able to do the same things I have always loved doing in the game — things I used to be able to do playing maybe 10-12 hours a week and not every day, but which I today cannot even hope to do without spending at least 20 hours a week (not even counting raiding time) and logging in every day.
If Patch 8.3 is a preview of Shadowlands, that is very bad news in my opinion. I do not feel like I am in the process of leaving the game so much as the game is in the process of leaving me.
See you on the other side of the weekend.