Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Poll: Endgame Vs. Leveling Content

Here's a little poll to follow up on something I thought of over in the comments at Unwize's post on WoW and LOTRO's old content revamp policies.

Which of the Following Would You Like Added To Your Favorite MMORPG?
-Repeatable max-level content for your main?
-One-time leveling content for new players and alts?

Polling will be open in the sidebar at for approximately a month.

Devs Defending Their $15

During the TBC era, Blizzard chose to focus four of the expansion's eleven new outdoor adventuring zones, and two of the expansion's three new cities, on level 1-20 content for the new races. Pre-60 content was also a major focus of one of the three major content patches of the TBC era. By contrast, the only new content for characters below level 68 in the Wrath era through two of its three planned content patches (barring some 11th hour pre-PTR unveil of old-world revamp content for patch 3.2) is the brief starting quest area for new Death Knights.

My guess is that this is no more an accident than easier raid difficulty or the addition of the Death Knight class. But why would Blizzard reverse course so dramatically on pre-60 content? Gevlon describes the changes to raid difficulty as Blizzard doing "the goblin thing, defending their $15". My suspicion is that Blizzard's internal metrics showed that spending time on the pre-60 world was not an efficient way of defending their $15.

Blizzard did not add any additional content for level-capped solo and small group players (or 25-man raiders for that matter) for nearly a year that passed between patch 2.1 and 2.4. Given the chance to add new quest hubs to the game in patch 2.3, they chose to focus on a low level zone instead of new content for level 70 players. The thing is that level 70 repeatable content, provided players are willing to take part in it, can last a level-capped player with nothing else to do for months. The new Dustwallow quest lines provide several hours of additional content for players who have other alternatives for their leveling needs.

I'm sure players used the content once it was available. The real question is how many chose to make new characters specifically because of the new content (as distinct from exp curve changes that also went in with that patch)? How many chose to stick with those new characters once they'd used up the new content and got deposited back in the old world content that they weren't interested in repeating before patch 2.3? Collectively, how much additional time did players, new or old, spend in pre-60 Azeroth because of these changes? How does this number compare to the amount of additional time - and subscription fees - that would have been spent on new level 70 daily quests?

Given Blizzard's actions since that time, I think we can guess what answer they arrived at, based on their internal numbers.

However much we complain about the state of pre-58 Azeroth, it was good enough to get millions of players through to level 58, and, as Saylah discovered, more players are still signing up over four years later. Low-hanging fruit like adjusted level curves or lowered mount requirements are a very good investment in the task of helping new players catch up. More time-intensive revamps, when they come at the expense of content for players who are out of things to do, may not be.

Then again, perhaps you feel that it isn't worth doing repeatable content grinds that will be reset in the next expansion. That's why I'm curious to hear what all of you think. Happy voting! :)


Anonymous said...

Something I'd like Blizzard to do it take some of the best quests and make them repeatable. Rescuing baby murlocs, jumping onto the back of a drake to beat up its rider--those are a lot more fun than the "kill 10/15 scourge" ones they've been adding. They did some good work, let's get some more use out of it.

Malchome said...

There are several things Blizzard needs to do before completely forgetting about improving the leveling process.

New Raid ID system. The raid ID system is actually preventing raids now rather than encourage them. People are now too unwilling to help people new to raiding because they don't want to get locked into a raid of fail.

Another thing that needs to happen soon like before next expansion is an improved grouping and organization mechanic. What I mean here is a scalable Guild system. Guild Alliance A is parent to Guild B,C and D which D is made up of guilds E and F.

If the tree has a shared calendar and communication channels it greatly increases the ability of multiple small guilds easily grouping together for content rather than spam the hell out of the various other Trade/Local/LFG channels.

Fish said...

Leveling alts is actually pretty efficient for keeping players if you think about it. Once you have reached the level cap, yes, you can run endgame content, but leveling alts is much more time consuming, and once they reach the level cap, they can run endgame content as well. However, in order to really take advantage of this, blizz needs to give players an incentive to do so besides players like myself who just like having a ton of alts.

whatsmymain said...

I'm torn on this one. I love leveling alts but with the state of things the way they are that is soon coming to a close. Playing a new class was enough incentive for me to level through content I allready did. I really enjoyed playing the new starting zones and dustwallow marsh... the first time. But after that I went with the path of least resistance playing in zones that didn't require so much traveling.

I'm down to my lvl 26 warlock right now. There is a good chance that the mount changes coming in with the next major patch won't come before my lock is in Outlands.

So as much as I would love to see new zones in the 1-60 era the reality is that unless they create new classes and give additional character slots per realm... I'm never going to see it anyway.

Also.... adding new content to the beginning of the game is allways for old players, not new ones. New players don't need brand new content because it is all new to them. This argument exists because people don't want to level an alt doing the same quests they have allways done. Not that I really blame them but I would rather have blizzard spend money on endgame content to keep me busy longer. More specifically they need more new 5 mans and harder heroics.

Loredena said...

Keeping in mind I burned out on WoW twice without ever making it to max level....

I voted for lower level content. Why? I have ONE max level character, despite being an MMO player since shortly after EQ launched in 99. I have a ton of alts, or alternate-mains, on the other hand. Plus, in EQ2 I can mentor down so the content is viable for all my avatars. Daily quests get boring, fast.