If raids gave no gear, would people do them?

| Tuesday, July 7, 2009
To be fair and balanced, two months later I must do the logical followup to If arenas gave no gear, would people do them?

As with the arena post, I'd say the answer is "Yes and no, somewhere in between known as 'a lot less.'"

Can we test this?

The upcoming badge changes will make heroics into the new old arenas: unrated places to gradually build up high-quality gear. Will people leave raids for heroics? People left arenas for Naxx when that became the easy source of gear. Or will people use heroics "as intended" and use them to more quickly get ready for raids?

Perhaps the the question can be better phrased as "If there was an alternate system of advancement, would people choose it over raids?" Obviously that depends on the system and the person, but heroics, arenas, grinds, and buying accounts have clearly shown that some people will choose small content, PvP, grinds, or RL money over raids as a way to move ahead.

I do have a small fear that people will gear up from badges, look at early Ulduar loot and choose to wait for later bosses with upgrades; but then the lack of early raiders will make it harder to get to the later, rewarding bosses. This would confirm that some people do raids purely for gear rather than the challenges or some amount of innate fun in the process of raiding.

From a design perspective this might be a pointless question. If a game is based on gear, it makes sense that the relevant challenge would give the gear for the next one. In other words, raids must give gear. If they did not and we used purely a badge/heroic system, then you'd have a system where people are forced to spend a great deal of time not raiding in order to prepare for raiding. Whether it is gear or a thousand gold of consumables for old Naxx, grinding to be able to raid is just not fun.

In the end I always come to the same conclusion: A lot of people would, a lot wouldn't, and alternative character advancement is part of what makes WoW popular.

9 comments:

Stabs said...

Short answer: Yes

Long answer:

First, if someone really wants to make a great character they can't just run heroics for best in slots. Most of the best in slot gear will still drop in raids.

So if there's an implication here that the new badge system will kill raiding, I don't think that is what will happen.

It might impact 10 man raiding or at least reduce it significantly. it depends on players' perceptions of the gap between badge loot and 10 man loot.

Raids are very vulnerable to fall-offs in interest due to loot issues. The High Warlord gear bonanza at the end of the level 60 game killed raiding except the most casual pugs. If some people want to pursue the solo/small group options and some of your raid group want to raid then the raiders will be disappointed. Raiding only happens when all your raiders (pretty much) want to come to raids.

Obviously it depends to some extent on your community and the smaller the community the more variance. Some small raid groups will carry on playing the game the way they enjoy without troubling too much. Some will be crippled by lack of interest, especially if the Colliseum is a wipefest for them.

I'm sure Blizzard knows that the only way you can survive dicking about with your incentive structures is by making a loot pinata so I expect 3.2 to be something of a loot pinata.

Frankly I'm not very interested in the content. Looking forward to Icecrown, probably won't play much WoW before then.

LarĂ­sa said...

Hm... my spontanious reaction is that I'd probably raid even if it gave no gear at all. But as you point out, there's a limit how much gold you're prepaired to grind for repairs and consumables in order just to raid without any reward from it whatsoever except for the enjoyment...

So... what if raiding didn't give any gear, but didn't cost anything either, if repairs were free and flasks were free...? How many raiders would still be around?

Scott said...

I enjoy the fun of being with a group and downing bosses, but I also like getting gear. Running five bosses in Ulduar over and over, while only getting one piece of loot that I can't even really use (better than 7.5, but don't want to break the four piece set), is pretty disheartening.

I like that they are changing badges so that people will have access to higher level gear, but there is something that I would like to see even more: Being able to buy boss loot after X number of kills.

The achievement system already keeps track of boss kills, so the tracking system is already in place. I'd like to, after every five kills of a boss (or so), be able to buy a piece of their loot. That way, my participation in the battles get rewarded, even if the RNG has a vendetta for me.

Now, would I continue raiding if no gear dropped? I highly doubt it. Even after I was geared up from Naxx, I continued to run it, but it was to help gear up other people. Once Ulduar came out? I have no real interest in running Naxx anymore. I PuG'd it a couple times for new guilds that are just starting to gear up their members, but that's it.

I will run raids until there is nothing to gain from it, either by me, or people I know. I don't really consider downing a boss just to say you downed it a considerable gain.

Green Armadillo said...

I don't think players will entirely abandon the entry level raids, though there may be much more of a focus on optimal emblem/time, requirements that players link achievements and outgear the content, etc etc. Why do heroics for shards and Conquest emblems when you could be doing Naxx-25 for Conquest emblems and best-in-slot ilvl 213 gear that is superior to the intentionally sub-optimal Conquest rewards?

Hana said...

The way the system is currently set up, you have to raid to get the gear in order do the raid. If Ulduar didn't drop gear and I could only use Naxx and badge loot to raid it then I might as well park myself in an early grave because there's no way my guild would make it through. We're not Ensidia or any other top-of-the-line guild.

But, supposing raids didn't drop loot at all under a different reward system that only dropped emblems, I would think that the number of emblems dropped would be increased to compensate. People have to get their gear from somewhere. With more emblems and possibly more items to purchase raiding would just be a different in the way loot was handed out. Emblems would just be a different currency.

If gear itself is removed from the equation, say there isn't an increase in difficulty from one raid to the next I'd still raid, but not nearly as often. I'd probably go through a couple times to check it out, maybe build up a pretty looking set of gear, and then tool around with alts.

B-Rab said...

I gotta throw my hat into the ring for the yes', but not without some thoughts about why. I'm pretty sure if raids gave no gear at all, the population that ran them would be pretty small, in fact, I think that the population of WoW would decrease quite a bit as well. I would like to say I don't raid for the loot, but there is a part of me that does. That's why we do hard modes. The loot, despite the crappy rng that has left me with the same shield since naxx 10 back in december, is an incentive. Yea, blah blah comraderie, blah blah fun, blah blah friends -- these are other incentives, you all know them as well, but look deep into your soul and you will find that little bit of the dark side that makes you smile when you do get new gear, or cringe if you lose a roll on a piece you need.

B-Rab said...

I guess I never finished why I said yes, ha, sorry. People will still go to see and do new things, but the population base for them week to week would be many, many times smaller.

Klepsacovic said...

@All: I want to respond to each of you, but I feel like a wrote this so poorly that no one quite got what I was aiming for. Please interpret that as an attack on me, not on any of you.

What I was trying to get at was a system where heroics drop all the loot/badges and the costs scale up while clearing a raid increases the amount of badge drops, so clearing Ulduar gives faster gear, but not better gear. This has two implications. First, raids would be almost entirely for challenge rather than explicit reward. Second, raiding would be less self-contained and the constant heroic farming required for raid progression could end up similar to the consumable farming for old Naxx.

I thought that the badge changes could give a small taste of this. I didn't mean to imply that they would kill raiding, except in the limited scenario that I described, which we could potentially see something similar from BC arena/badge gear affecting raids.

Fish said...

I would rather not raid at all, but since there is occasionally gear for me and it rewards badges, there is SOME incentive to go. If those two were not present, it would remove my incentive entirely. I would just wait till the content is like Onyxia now, almost soloable, and see it then.

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