Don’t Worry, Blizzard Isn’t Dumbing Down World of Warcraft
So, as a World of Warcraft player and a person who follows the gaming world fairly closely, I tend to read a lot of forums. With the upcoming 2.4 content patch currently on the Public Test Realms (hereafter referred to as PTR), the WoW Test Realm Forum (found here) is a great place to see how players are liking the upcoming content and class changes.
Judging from the forum posts I have seen, one of the more controversial changes coming in the 2.4 patch is the removal of attunements for the Mount Hyjal and Black Temple 25-man raid instances, and the introduction of gear that can be purchased with Badges of Justice that is on par with Hyjal/Black Temple drops. At first glance, the non-MMO player would wonder why this, of all things, would be a point of contention. Personally, I wonder what mindset makes players think this is a bad idea.
A perfect place to see what I am talking about is this thread. A player named ‘Fsgadgdsafhg’ offers up the following opinion:
All the T6 raiding guilds old and new are dumbfounded and hung up on the insane devaluing of their arcievements. Everything we worked for raidnights after raidnights, week after week is getting handled out for frickin Badges.
Its one thing that attunements are lifted… Trashmobs and early bosses will take care of the trash guilds. But for christ sake why hand out gear, and now gems too for as much effort as running Heroics. How is it comparable to the countless hours of attunement process, the consumables,the effort?
At least pretend that hardcore raiders are important and introduce some kind of reward or recognition.
This represents what I believe to be a fundamentally flawed viewpoint. This represents the elitist, exclusionist attitude that many casual players have long said makes MMO’s less fun for them. The idea that giving more players access to dungeons or loot devalues the accomplishments of those who have already completed those challenges is ridiculous. Why? It’s simple.
Let’s say you hand me a list of guilds that play regularly on my server. With a small margin for error, I have a decent idea of the progression level of most of those guilds. I know that the Alliance side of my server has a number of MH/BT guilds, including 2 of the top guilds in the US. I also know that we have a few guilds on Horde side working on Black Temple as well. After this patch, I will still know who those guilds are, and what they accomplished. I will still know that Risen cleared Black Temple first on our server (Even if they are Alliance, you still have to respect that). No matter what my guild, or any other guild does after this patch, what came before still remains.
To truly understand why these changes are being made, the players have to step back and look at things from Blizzard’s point of view. Blizzard pumps a ton of time and design money into all the content they release, and as such, they want players to be able to experience it. Think back, if you will, to when Blizzard released the 1.11 patch (Patch Notes). They added in what is widely considered to be the best raid dungeon they’ve ever designed, Naxxramas. Unfortunately, due to the difficulty of the dungeon, the gear required, and the looming release of the Burning Crusade expansion, only a minuscule fraction of the raiding population got to experience it.
I’m sure you’ve heard by now that Blizzard plans to move Naxxramas to Northrend for the Wrath of the Lich King expansion, and to make it the first 25-man raid for level 80 players. In an interview with MMO-Gamer.com, World of Warcraft’s Lead Designer, Jeff Kaplan, talked about the move, saying,
“Now, in regards to some of the more difficult raid content, like Naxxramas, or like Black Temple, I think there is some validity to what you’re saying, that not enough people are getting to see the content. In direct response to that, we want to take Naxxramas, what we felt was possibly one of our best dungeons in terms of game design, in terms of cool encounters, great art, it had some of the best music out of any of our zones, and a lot of people missed it, and I think they missed it for a couple reasons: One, it was super hardcore, it was our hardest dungeon of original World of Warcraft, the other reason is that it came only a few months before The Burning Crusade. I think a lot more people would have gotten the chance to experience it if they had the time to progress, but since they didn’t, they missed it.”
As you can see, they want people to experience this content. They want people to see the fruits of the massive labors they’ve put into this content. Honestly, can you blame them? If you had written a spectacular novel, but your publisher said he could sell it to a few hundred people, would you be happy with that? I highly doubt it.
The same goal explains why the new badge gear is on par with tier 6 loot. Simply put, Blizzard wants these players to have a chance in these raids. No one likes to head into a raid knowing that you’re severely undergeared and likely to fail miserably. Not only this, but guilds who have just finished or nearly finished Black Temple can benefit from this as well, making their transition into the newest raid instance, the Sunwell Plateau, much more smooth.
The only people against this change are the hardcore raiding elitists who feel that it is sacrilege to allow guilds that are behind in progression a chance to see content that they might not have been able to see otherwise. These hardcore folks don’t want the vast majority of players to see this content simply so they can feel superior, and that’s just wrong. There are a ton of guilds out there that are playing through Serpentshrine Cavern and Tempest Keep right now, lacking only a Vashj or Kael kill to get into Mount Hyjal. Sure, those fights are difficult, and they help get you ready for the next tier of raids. But keeping those guilds from ever experiencing Hyjal or Black Temple is simply not good business, and Blizzard has the good sense to know it.
Now, this is not to say that all hardcore raiders share these sentiments. On the contrary, I believe the number of people harboring these elitist attitudes to be very small. I know a number of hardcore raiders who are wonderful, nice people, and I am proud to know them. They are willing to help out whenever they can if needed, and the community on our server is better for having them in it. It’s unfortunate that the vocal minority often gives these types of players a bad reputation.
Hardcore raiders make up a small percentage of the players in MMO’s like WoW, and they represent the least profitable players for the company running the game. However, they are often catered to as the ‘core’ audience in MMO’s. Luckily, this obviously isn’t the case in World of Warcraft, and the game and the vast majority of its players are better off for it. Let the folks in casual guilds get their badges, and their gear, and their shots at the top raid instances. They’ll have fun, and Blizzard will reap the rewards of a happy playerbase. That’s something we can all benefit from. Remember, it’s a game, and we play it to have fun. If everyone playing an MMO could hold that thought foremost in their mind, they’d be better off for it.
What do you think? Should Blizzard be opening these areas to a larger percentage of players, or should these high level areas be the exclusive preserve of the raiding elite?