Another lesson Blizz failed to learn

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.

5 thoughts on “Another lesson Blizz failed to learn

  1. We now have 3 horde, and 3 alliance guilds that are raiding on a joint server. The rest have left or disbanded. Things may be fine on the high pop, high progression servers. But it is noticeably felt here. We may see a few guilds clear heroic, but it’s been years since we’ve had any go more than 5 bosses in mythic.

  2. I am on kind of medium pop RP server, but we have routinely had at least 4-5 guilds that have cleared mythic in any given tier. That has not happened for 2 tiers now, and indeed even after a week of the new raid none (as of last night) have yet to clear even normal, and only 3 have cleared less than the first wing of Heroic.

    I know I open myself to scorn and derision from some, but raids are really just too damned hard now — there is too much time-sucking trash, too many mini-bosses, and far too many simultaneous mechanics in the fights.

    I still remember the original plan for raids when they introduced flex back in Mists. At that time, LFR was established to be “tourist mode” for non-raiders to be able to see the entire story line, flex/normal was designed for “friends and family” teams whose composition fluctuated from week to week, heroic was supposed to be for more serious progression teams, mythic was for hardcores.

    Now LFR is a challenge, and generally no throw-together friends/family groups can even come close to doing normal….

    1. I have not raided with the guild or done more than LFR one and done, since WoD. The change to my class has left me feeling like a sub par player. There are too many gimmicks with higher level gear sets, so that the difference in similar ILvL is too huge. I feel like I am a burden if I jump in, so I sit back and cheer on.

  3. I’m just doing the dailies when completing an invasion as typically you can do both at the same time. I’ll be a little behind but not enough to worry about. (Being a Human helps to mitigate it too. Might try to do a few extra when I have the Darkmoon buff if I can be arsed.)

    Good to see the rep increased per daily but doubling it would have been better. Like you I’m really frustrated they’ve moved away from WQs. They obviously got enough engagement in Nazjatar so I guess we’re stuck with them for a while now.

    It’s nice to see the CV reward increased for the Vision daily. Makes missing one or two less of an issue. Now we can only get one cloak upgrade a week I don’t feel any pressure to grind these. The cloak slot gives the least stats so not upgrading doesn’t hurt progression. One Corrupted item will impact performance far more than several cloak upgrades.

    On a positive note: it’s great to see the Vale restored this week 😊👍

    I spent a few hours last night getting the Ivory Cloud Serpent and it was lovely seeing the restored scenery. Even getting zapped by the giant void Worms couldn’t spoil it for me 😄

    I was surprised how much tougher the Stormwind vision was compared with Orgrimmar. The fire patches are terrible. Ran it with an experienced M+ crew and even they struggled! Also did it solo on my Horde alt and only got one medium area plus end boss done by the skin of my teeth.

    It’s nice to see something new in game, and it’s better than Islands or War Fronts (low bar I know). Hopefully with a bit more tuning it can keep the challenge while being a little less frustrating.

  4. A lot of the “true casual” players, such as myself, used to be players like you! We stopped participating in activities that have increasingly demanded time we don’t have, which you are now experiencing. I think that’s the natural player progression… life becomes more demanding as you age and games that do the same can’t compete when we have to make choices about our time.

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