Home > Cataclysm, Endgame Content, World of Warcraft > “WoW Evolved” or “The Problem with Overtuning Content”

“WoW Evolved” or “The Problem with Overtuning Content”

The Game is Evolving, But the Players are Not

The problem with WoW’s current raid progression is that it simply isn’t accessible. Innovation after seven years of being the market leader implies that boss fights need to continue to evolve beyond tank-and-spanks and massive-mob-rushes, but it also has the added drawback of increased complexity. Ordinarily this shouldn’t be an issue, as players continue to learn the more they play and the more they encounter more complex fights. But WoW is an MMO, and that implies players come and go, and the average skill level fluctuates.

I read recently that there are several times more inactive WoW subscribers that once played WoW, than currently active (10 million +) WoW subscribers. I myself have unsubscribed four or five times. This effectively implies that aside from a few hardcore players, most of WoW’s core players continue to rotate. Raids see new players (or older players that haven’t played in a while) returning to newer, scarier, bigger, crazier boss fights. What I am trying to say is, the game is evolving and metamorphosing, but perhaps the player isn’t.

“Overtuning” Content

A very tiny percentage of the raiding population in WoW (which itself is a small portion of the overall population, I’d imagine) has conquered the Firelands raid, a fact most bloggers, including Spinks, agrees with. When most of the player base in your MMO is unable to even see (let alone down) the last boss of a raid instance before you are gearing up for the next raid tier, there is a problem. I have no factual information to support this, but this heavy-duty overtuning may well be the reason WoW has been losing a steady (not worrisome, but steady nonetheless) stream of subscribers since Cataclysm released.

The solution does not lie in nerfing the instance to make it more accessible to more players (as is apparently due, this very week), or introducing a “lower difficulty” setting (*groan*), it is to revisit your design principles and ensure that your instances are more accessible to the raiding population to begin with. This straddling the fence with content that is ridiculously difficult, then incredibly easy, and then painfully difficult again has us all confused. Hell even Tobold would like Blizzard to stick to their guns for once.

Blizzard recently said the Deathwing encounter will be the longest and the  most complex encounter in-game. So clearly the message isn’t getting through, but until the instance is actually released, I suppose there is always hope.

  1. Paul
    September 16, 2011 at 7:43 am

    The message will get through when Deathwing has terribly low uptake, even after being nerfed. At this point most people have put the book down and won’t be picking it up again.

    I expect the brains behind this expansion’s design to be Blizzard ex-employees soon.

    • September 19, 2011 at 5:10 pm

      I don’t think the folks will get fired. They have a tried and tested formula that they have evolved considerably over the course of time and tried to perfect. The problem with “tried and tested” is that sooner or later the formula starts to get stale, and most of the time, a “patch-it-up” effort ensues instead of reexamining the base mechanics.

      Until Blizzard decided to reexamine the way it designs instances, this trend will continue unabated. Better get a healthy supply of duct tape!

  2. September 19, 2011 at 4:44 am

    Yeah, I’s still tryin’ fer ta reconcile the “players will be challenged as never before” text what they’s taggin’ ta the Tier 13 armor pics with “we’s nerfin’ T12”. Someone somewheres ain’t gettin’ the memo.

    Is folks leavin’ ’cause is too hard? Buggered if I know. People been leavin’ since I started adventurin’. Blizz’s been nerfing raids abouts that long too. Black Leather Undies was makin’ solid progress in T11 when the GM and half the guild done quit, so ain’t always cause and effect. Now Parallel is focusin’ on farmin’ Nef and Chogie these days, and onlies hittin’ FL when we got all the top dogs availables. Means we prolly won’t get more’n three or four bosses soen before 4.3, but that’s always been the sort of guild we is, so no conclusions there.

    • September 19, 2011 at 5:11 pm

      Thank you for one of the most interesting comments ever posted on this blog.

      I am assuming Parallel is your guild. What region/realm/faction?

      • September 23, 2011 at 3:02 am

        Yer welcome 🙂

        Parallel be Alliance on US – Kael’thas. Is not “me” guild; is just where most the Alliance members of Team Ratshag hang ’cause they can tolerates me bein’ “interesting”.

  3. September 19, 2011 at 8:45 pm

    I think a lot of factors have driven the decline in subs (and raiding in general), and I think you’ve hit on most of them, for sure. The ‘hardcore elite’ excepted, people raid to hang out with guildies and kill stuff. Creating an “easy mode” raid with the LFR finder doesn’t give people what they want, I don’t think. I think people want less complex raid bosses, no respawning trash (what an annoyance), and fun. Crazy, I know.

  4. September 20, 2011 at 6:48 pm

    Blizzards COO recently informed people at the Tech conference that WoW will launch two more expansions in the next three years (along with four other titles for Blizzard in general). Whatever the woes for WoW (and I think they stem from many things) I’ll give my personal take on why I have quit for the 37th time. (slight exaggeration).

    As a ex raider (from way back in EQ1 days) I am a ‘progression’ player. I like to make my character better. About 2 months a year, I resub to WoW, progress as far as I know I can (without being able to make a raiding commitment) then unsub. There is just nothing for me to do at that point. Wait 10 months or so, resub, max out, unsub.

    I’m pretty sure I’m done for good now. I quit a few months ago (before firelands) after I tradekilled, tokened, purchased, dungeon ran, etc the best gear I could get for my characters. Then they launched daily quests (which I hate more than anything) that now grant even better gear. At least through instance running I had something enjoyable to do. Questing my way ‘to victory’ is a big turn off.

    I believe Blizzard is struggling to find the right gear grind that slows enough players through their content, while balancing accessibility to keep players just interested enough to keep subscribing. As long as Blizzard focuses on their character gear-as-advancement position, they will never find that balance.

  1. September 19, 2011 at 1:02 pm

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