If a raid falls in a forest and only 1% hear it, does it make a subscriber?

| Tuesday, September 6, 2011
If a raid is only attempted, let alone completed, by a small portion of the population, can it still be worth it?

Let's start with an assumption: players who are in a raid are still playing because of that raid. This is obviously a terrible assumption, but if the physicists get to assume a spherical cow in a uniform magnetic field, then I get to assume this. Based on this, a raid that is only seen by 1% of players is only retaining 1% of players. But I doubt that is the entirety of the effect.

There can be the opposite effect, if an inaccessible raid driving players away. This is not the effect of them running out of content or burning out, but of them receiving a message, real or not, that they are not wanted. While otherwise happy with the game, they get the idea that the game is not for them, and they are driven away by it.

Even that effect may be opposed as well, with players who, while they do not, and possibly will not, see the 1% content, are motivated by it. They keep playing because of it, to get to it, even if they do not actually get to it.

The second and third groups are what I'm interested in. They are both groups which do not directly experience content, but are nevertheless affected by it, psychologically. Between the two of them, plus the direct 1%, is there a net gain of subscribers?

There is another factor that I've left out, the budget, which could shift the equation. If the 1% content is consuming too many resources, it may deprive the second group of content, making real their belief that the game is not for them.

It is a simple fact, that "x% of players did y content", but by itself it is not particularly useful. We would also need to know, if players stay despite not using that content, because of the content, or if even more leave because of not using that content.


Stabs said...

I found earlier this year (in Rift but I think the comparison holds) that a lot of players have much lower tolerance of the intensity of raiding.

It's not so much that people receive a message that they are not wanted, it's that people receive a message that they must up their game to continue. Listen to vent not your own music. Learn the fights rather than just tag along. Accept blame rather than just bailing when embarrassed.

People are far less willing to do this now than they were in 2005.

Nils said...

What I have been say for .. forever. May raid groups were never at the egde. At our best times we killed Illidan just before WotLK came out. But those raid dungeons we didn't see, were our main motivators. If anything we were sad that a new expansion came so early.

Kring said...

> There can be the opposite effect, if an inaccessible
> raid driving players away. This is not the effect of
> them running out of content or burning out, but of
> them receiving a message, real or not, that they are
> not wanted.

I think it's much more important what the message is people get and less what amount of content they are able to run.

Content they can't run might have an impact on this message but I think there are other, more important, effects. e.g. No one wants to get the message that you do not deserve any of "the cool stuff".

Small things, that in my opinion have a much bigger impact on the message are:
- not offering a blue dungeon set. (You do not deserve a set! Not even a blue one, maggot!)
- not offering anything special for your play style. Only last seasons raid rewards.
- offering the last tier rewards for dungeon badges but not the whole set for dungeon badges but some parts only for raid-only tokens. (You do not deserve a set! Not even the old one, maggot!) (That was fixed)

Syl said...

Well...I have no problem personally with missing out on some content. but then, I can't say I was ever in a hard-pressed guild like that.

so, I actually can't know how sucky it is for someone who plays in guilds that miss out on a lot all the time. I'm not sure we can say that it's "always motivating" to lag behind, quantity and timing will play their role...and the way things are progressed.

A clear mistake in my eyes was making instances so completely obsolete with each patch; people didn't miss out because they couldn't have still done them, but they didn't have to do them anymore. so the missing out factor is at least somewhat self-inflicted (although it gets clearly less meaningful if the game removes all requirements for it).

Klepsacovic said...

@Stabs: "Pay attention" really is an off-putting message. :)
I think there may be something to this. I play Starcraft with a couple friends. One is a former WoW player like me, the other never played it. The former player understands a lot more when I say that I am sick of min-maxing in games, that if I wanted to spend time researching I'd go back to raiding, while the other is the one pushing us to play better. Sorry, but we're forever bronze!

@Nils: I'd say most were never at the edge, not until LK brought the progressive obsolescence model. The new expansion is bad for those who felt like they could still progress, but probably a good thing for those who were stalled and frustrated and needed either a content nerf or just new, easier content. I wonder which group is bigger and which will quit more often if they do/don't get an expansion.

@Kring: Good point. I'd said that a ways back, that the lack of a blue set in LK and Cata didn't feel right. BC and vanilla both had blue sets, and vanilla even had the upgrade chain. It's a mix of message and content. Having the sets says that it is okay to be in that content, at least for long enough to get the set, which is longer than the alternative, you are allowed to be here until you can farm heroics and raids. It's also content, in that it adds some incentive to keep doing that level of content, whereas otherwise someone who cannot progress beyond it will run out. That is just skinner box content rather than actually something new, but I think that's better than nothing at all.

Anonymous said...

I think the perfect balance was struck with TBC...I think Bliz failed to realize that, even though not all players were experiencing the content at the time of release, the notion if it being there as an end goal was that you always had something to strive and achieve for. Running the same boss again in HM is not as satisfying as moving on to the next tier after you guild was geared and ready to go, together. Trivializing tiers through content updates is not the correct path beacuse people who completed the content on time and struggled through it feel slighted and the folks who didn't get to it don't ever get to experience it. It was FUN moving up the tiers, and it was fun gearing from Dungeons -> Heroics -> Entry Level.

Maybe I miss it because of nostalgia more than anything, but i just have a sense of the consensus of blogs/forums/etc. that that was the best of WoW.

Anonymous said...

tBC was far from the perfect balance. I went into WotLK thinking that if this was tBC all over again, I'd be stopping my subscription. Fortunately, Blizzard didn't screw up like that until the next expansion (at which point I left).

Klep: I am definitely in your second group.

Klepsacovic said...

@neowolf2: Maybe I should have had a fourth/zero group: people are left because of a lack of content due to inaccessibility. The problem isn't the message like in group 2, but the lack of content/inaccessibility is a problem, regardless of message.

Given that new group, would you put yourself in group 2 or 4?

Or maybe group 2 is a sub-group of group 4, of people who recognize the lack of content for them and attribute it to developer plans rather than a vague "that's how it is". So group 4 thinks there is a lack of content while group 2 thinks there is a lack of content and that is unlikely to change.

Anonymous said...

Still #2. I agree the game is unlikely to change, at least in this expansion, so... out I went.

What changed for *me* in Cataclysm was having sufficient insight to know early on that the expansion wasn't going in a direction I would like. In BC I didn't realize that early enough.

What made it even worse for me was the realization that the devs were acting out of incompetence. I am sure they did not expect the kind of reaction they got. So, not only did they ruin the game for me, they did it for no good reason. Had they gotten a good response I would have still left, but I would have respected them more for what they did. As it stands, not only do I not like them, I have disdain for them as well.

Injera said...

"There is another factor that I've left out, the budget, which could shift the equation. If the 1% content is consuming too many resources, it may deprive the second group of content, making real their belief that the game is not for them."

I think this is really vital. By creating such a long tail in the progression curve in Cata they deprived the majority of raiders of beatable content. I wonder what the reception of Cata raiding would have been if they had shifted the difficulty curve of the bosses over by 3 bosses; e.g., if you were 3/12 you'd be 6/12, 9/12 would be 12/12, 5/13 HM would be 8/13 HM, etc.

It would have made only a minor difference in terms of top progression, creating a bit more competition for the top 1-2%, but would have given the vast majority of raiders a lot more satisfaction.

If you look at a snapshot of wowprogress numbers on the eve of 4.2, a plurality of all raiding guilds could kill Chim but not Nef on normal. How many of those guilds had become accustomed to full clearing normal modes over the last 1-2 years? I can't imagine the tuning of Sinestra v. Cho'gall HM really matters to those players.

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