World of Warcraft's Cataclysmic Content Consumption Rate
The consumption rate of content is a big issue in World of Warcraft for two primary reasons. The first is that we do not want to go through an expansion too quickly nor do we want to take too long to see all of the content. The second is that we need to have something to do between patches and if there is no content to consume then we, relatively, have nothing to do. We, the players, need a balance that lets us have enough content that we avoid repetition, but at the same time not overwhelm the players. The later, though, has rarely been the concern with the large appetite of WoW players. This is a huge problem as players are saying they’re consuming content too quickly and the next batch isn’t until MoP launches later this year.
As an aside, I would like to note that I doubt Blizzard will take 10 months to get MoP out.
A Balancing Act
These two points have come up frequently lately as players fear the long wait until Mists of Pandaria launches. Right now we know that we’re not getting another patch before MoP and, with the beta on the horizon, there are doubts that Blizzard is going to shock us with a surprise patch. We also know that all of the content has been completed and with the nerfs in place, it won’t be long until your average player is battling hardmode Deathwing.
So with this large swath of time between now and Mists, what are players to do? It seems that Blizzard is counting on a few things. The first is the annual pass which will deliver Diablo III to players to play while waiting on MoP to launch while securing the monthly fee. A genius idea, of course, as players who jumped the boat to Star Wars: The Old Republic are still locked into their contracts. It also comes with beta access which means players will chew through the beta content a month or so before the game launches, speculatively of course.
The other is what will MoP offer us at launch for content? Are we going to have the same issue where the primary instance of the expansion is going to wait until a few patches later? Well, given that we have no ultimate end-boss, we can presume that there won’t be an ultimate dungeon. Which is smart, that is if Blizzard is moving into more frequent smaller patches.
The Long Wait
Let’s face it. We’re in a long waiting pattern now. Blizzard claims that the content isn’t finished, but for many “finished” is only halfway through. Thanks to the raid finder, players are now capable of finding their way through the content faster and gearing up for the “real thing” a lot quicker. It’s easier than ever to get through the content, but only thanks to the raid finder and not any major mechanic overhaul.
So that leaves us with a long stretch. Let’s say that it’ll be six months before we see patch 5.0 and we can presume we’ll be waiting the full six months without a content patch. Blizzard has been adamant that there will not be another content patch, so we’re going to have to sit and keep farming the Darkmoon Faire until then. Is this right though? What could Blizzard have done differently?
It may be a long time before this will be a reality, but players needn't worry, the alpha is already out.
Well, I have a few ideas. First we should have had the raid finder feature the previous patches dungeon at the decreased dungeon finder difficulty, but drop equivalent loot (like it pretty much does now). That makes perfect sense to me and keeps players wanting to finish the current tier of raid content. For the launch of the expansion continue with the same, except if you provide two raids, make only the lowest one the “dungeon finder ready” one.
Second, time released content is a totally cool thing if done correctly. A great example is the Sunwell event. The daily quest hub unlocked over time and the pacing was absolutely fantastic. So having a similar event in the last patch would do wonders to keep our entertainment value maximized.
Consuming Fresh Content
It’s interesting that there is a lot of attention being paid to how much content between here and there but not enough on how much content we’ll see at the launch and how often patches will be. Blizzard is being mum on details like this, and for good reason, since Blizzard is frequently changing their goals and milestones. Many see this is as a bad thing, but I’d rather have hard facts than false promises.
For the next expansion I have my hopes that Blizzard will return to a faster patch cycle, more frequent patches and smaller amounts of content, so that we don’t feel like there is nothing to look forward to so often. Cataclysm has been a very slow expansion, with only three patches in the last year, even if those patches have included more content than ever before.
With the current consumption rate of content and the long time before MoP, we’re probably going to see some player angst as they run out of things to do. I personally suggest that players who don’t PvP take a good look into it as it’s an unlimited source of entertainment or even just preparing yourself rot the upcoming expansion by farming resources that’ll be popular for new Monks / Pandarens.
The biggest thing I can share is that we, as the players, shouldn’t pressure Blizzard for timelines and instead enjoy our game for what it is now before the sweeping changes come in 5.0. Otherwise, 5.0 will come and redesign the game yet again and many will be nostalgic for what they have now.
How do you feel about the current rate of consumption? Too fast, too slow, or have you already unsubscribed until MoP? Share in the comments section below.