Thursday, April 7, 2011

WoW Tank-Finder Incentives

Blizzard has announced plans to "bribe" (as Tobold points out, their words) players to tank 5-man heroic dungeons in an effort to address "unacceptable queue times currently being experienced by those that queue for the DPS role at max level".  The bribe will consist of gold, stuff that can be bought or sold for gold, and a chance at rare cosmetic pets or mounts.  This is like giving an aspirin to someone who just walked in with a gunshot wound; I don't know that it will cause significant harm to the game, but I also doubt that it will solve the problem. 

What It's Not: Gear
Blizzard chose not to include gear on the list of rewards, and I agree with their reasoning.  Tanks (and, to a lesser extent, healers), already get groups faster and thereby obtain all of the existing loot faster than DPS can due to shorter/instant queue times.  Paying out more "valor" currency per dungeon run will help existing tanks finish getting all the gear they want and then stop running dungeons entirely at a faster rate, but my guess is that people who are both interested and capable of switching to tanking for faster currency gain have already done so. 

Perhaps adding raid-quality DPS loot (tank loot is not an incentive for people who don't want to tank) might convince more DPS to make the jump, but that way lies the item inflation that trivialized the group content of the last expansion.  More to the point, as I've argued in the past, offering this type of incentive does not magically convince players that they like an activity that they previously disliked.  Instead, this is precisely what leads players down the road of viewing gameplay as something to be gotten over with as quickly as possible, with all the negative community effects that brings. 

What It Is: Optional
So, instead of gear, Blizzard is offering minipets and non-raid dungeon mounts (of which there are about five in the game).  I don't have a problem with this, but I suspect that many players who actually care about this sort of thing already have large collections of each.  In order to increase the tank pool, you would need significant numbers of DPS who are capable of tanking and enjoy having cosmetic stuff but don't enjoy obtaining them through the currently available methods.  I'm sure the number is non-zero, will it be enough to reverse a trend that has seen queue times triple or quadruple since Cataclysm? 

This problem begins and ends with the fact that modern holy trinity based MMO's require players to tank and heal in proportions that do not reflect player willingness to assume these roles.  I have yet to see any evidence these "bribes" do anything to resolve this problem.


  1. I wonder if Blizzard would consider making the mounts and pets 'account bound' instead of the normal 'BoP'? I only ask because I see this move as making tnking more desirable, but what if your main isn't a tank?

    My last year of so of WoW was spent playing healers. If I was still playing, even if I got on one of my tankable classes I would really rather have the rewards on my shaman who can't tank. If my shaman can't get the rewards than I wouldn't really have much incentive to play on a tank alt.

    All academic since I don't play anymore, but I can't help wondering.

  2. In the Magister's Terrace there is a boss fight that resembles a pvp match in that the encounter is impossible to straight up tank. If Blizzard can create an encounter for a single boss I see no reason why they can't create encounters that would allow the dps to "tank" an encounter or mitigate the use of a tank specced character if not entirely remove one from the needed group. This is a foolish work around ... this will bring tanks into heroics ... since every undergeared tank that is only just barely ready to do the content will rush forward... it will not entice those of us geared up already to go back.

  3. Problem: not enough tanks

    Cause: tanking is hard, often made harder by dps errors (wrong target, breaking cc, overpull, pet issues, etc.)

    Blizz Solution: offer incentives for new tanks

    Effect: crappy dps who cause tanking to be harder than it should be are now incented to try tanking.

    Result: good healers and dps end up PUG'd with new, crappy tanks who don't understand role--lead to wipes, frustration and less good DPS entering PUGs.

    Law of Unintended Results: longer queue times as dps and heals drop group when PUG'd with undergeared tanks.


  4. As you said, this is a social fix to address a design problem. As pointed out, the people who already enjoy tanking and are good enough at it are probably already doing it. This will only draw people who don't like tanking groups or people who aren't good enough.

    I predict the end result, in addition to more terrible tanks, will be more prima donna tanks expecting groups to worship them for deigning to get into queue. After all, Blizzard thinks they're important enough for a special goodie bag, right? It'll be interesting to see if the bonus shifts to other under-represented roles.

  5. I find this whole discussion as it pertains to LFD fascinating as my main MMO right now (Rift) is having its own issues regarding grouping tools right now. Do we want an LFD tool? Single server? Cross server? And for better or for worse, what happens in WoW affects pretty much the entire MMO industry. So what we see here could be the "future" of Rift and other similar MMO's.

  6. I doubt this will convince people who don't like tanking that they should start doing it, but it might increase the number of tanks in a different way: by convincing people who already enjoy tanking and want cosmetic items to sign up more often, and/or to continue signing up after they have all the armor they want.

  7. Funnily enough Blizzard announced today that the mounts and such would be 'account bound' so I could tank on my druid and ship the rewards to my shaman. However, they also confirmed that the drop rates for mounts and pets in the bag will be the same as the drop rate for said items off the original boss. If LFD groups continue to take an hour or more for most players then why shouldn't tanks just go solo the old bosses? It seems you could cut through several 'baron runs' or such in less time than a dungeon run.


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