Pay to Not Play

A discussion popped up on Twitter today about the potential ‘Blizzard Store XP boost‘, among a few people that I follow (@HamletEJ, @Anafielle, @Rank4HT) and comments were made that it would be a welcome addition because in current day wow, leveling an alt is a monumental undertaking. I’m exceedingly bad at Twitter because it becomes such a struggle for me to put together a coherent point while respecting the character limit. So I put together a brief post elaborating on my thoughts about the topic here.

At its core, the argument is a bit of a rehash – Blizzard themselves struggled with the issue before Mists of Pandaria was launched. At one end of the spectrum is the experience that directly preceded MoP – Dragon Soul: no daily grinds, no VP capping but for a bit of gold, no lesser charms, little to do in the end game after you were done with your weekly raids. At the other end is the solution Blizzard came up with, with all of those things along with Challenge Modes, Brawler’s Guild, Pet Battles, Heroic Scenarios, and in 5.4, Proving Grounds and Flex Raiding to boot. The struggle was between whether or not it was better to assume having an alt in order to fill up playtime versus having enough to do on your main so that most players would be satisfied without an alt.

When it comes down to it, the paid experience boost is a mechanism for making and having alts. Blizzard could just as easily offer free levels, or even offer level 90 characters in their real money store and the result would mostly be the same (outside of little perks like populating the world still with the experience boost). I completely understand the motivation for having an alt, perhaps more acutely than others because I’m a player that pretty much only raids and doesn’t do much else in the game. Raiding is what I enjoy, so being able to do more of it, whenever I want, must be better, right?

Actually, I don’t think so.

The reasons for this aren’t all that complex. Simply put, you can have too much of a good thing. Blizzard often has to protect players from themselves, and this is no exception. Raid anything too much and it gets stale and boring, and players quit when they’re bored. They don’t quit if there’s a lot they haven’t experienced in game and they haven’t gotten around to it. They quit if the game is monotonous and there’s not enough to do. The work Blizzard is putting into making T14, T15, and T16, 16, 13 and 14 bosses, respectively, is instantly undermined if people are running instances 5, 6, 7 times a week. No number of bosses within a tier will stop a player from getting bored if they kill it 100 times a tier in addition to however many wipes of progression.

Someone else in that Twitter conversation (@graceofair) mentioned that they’d be okay with the XP boost but maybe not something like ‘Pay for Lesser Charms’, and I actually have the opposite sentiment. To me, the experience boost is a key to do something for the second time easier, whereas buying Lesser Charms is a key to doing something for the first time easier. If I only have 15-20 hours a week to play, and I only enjoy raiding, it would probably be best if I joined a 15-20 hr/week raiding guild and didn’t have to do anything other than raid. Having to do 6 hours of other stuff in order to raid the remaining 9 isn’t the most appealing.

Note: If I misrepresented anyone’s position, I am an idiot.

Current News, Flex Raiding and Design Choices

First, I want to apologize for the long hiatus from writing – moving, acclimating, and working at a new job essentially sucked all my free time away to the point where I can hardly muster the time to raid the requisite hours a week with my guild, let alone write and research topics for a blog. Secondly, I want to say that moving forward this should change – the tier is almost drawing to a close for me personally, and if we can boil things down to a 1 night farm I’ll be able to turn all of these ideas I have in my drafts sections into fully formed posts.
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This is a Warlock-centric blog, but this is not a Warlock-centric post. I had the time to write this today because I don’t have to do any research, any log-sifting, any math for it. Yesterday night, Blizzard unveiled one of the new features we’ll be seeing in 5.4: Flex raiding, a scaling, cross-realm Easy Mode raid that doesn’t share a lockout with anything else. All this morning I’ve been reading through the full gamut of opinions –  “why do we need a 4th difficulty?!”, ‘waste of time, Blizzard could’ve fixed PvP/fed all of Africa’, ‘sometimes we have 9 people, sometimes we have 15 people, this is perfect!’ – in an attempt to understand how I feel about it myself.

I feel pretty good about it, actually.

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