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Mass Exodus: A Post-Mortem on the Shrinking Playerbase in World of Warcraft

Updated Thu, May 26, 2011 by Xerin

It’s no joke that people are currently unsubscribing from World of Warcraft and there is this general feeling within the community that some players may not be enjoying the game like they once were. Others believe that it’s only natural for those who returned for the expansion to quit, like they always do, in between patches. There is a lot of speculation as to what is happening and if anyone should worry and even more uncertainty when it comes to the reasons behind the loss in subscribers.

Let’s look at the facts. Blizzard has lost 600,000 subscribers since Cataclysm launched. If we use the North American pricing scheme that comes to almost 900,000 in lost subscription fees and potential revenue from their premium services. This is a pretty drastic loss in subscribers and has gotten a lot of arm chair professionals talking about why this is happening.

There is a lot of speculation out there. For instance, Rift is destroying WoW currently, that Cataclysm is too hard, that Cataclysm is boring, or some other obscure paranoid theories like Blizzard is lying about the numbers or people are leading some kind of mass exodus from WoW. I’m not big on the silly stuff so let’s take a look at some of the real reasons this is happening.

Normal Patterns

A lot of players who had quit the game came back for Cataclysm only to meet disappointment. They thought the game changed drastically and the reason that they quit playing was now gone. They bought the expansion, logged in, leveled up, and found the same reasons that they quit before still existing. Being unsatisfied, they unsubscribed until there is a new reason to play the game.

This is perfectly normal behavior in all games and WoW is no exception. As a matter of a fact, you can attribute a lot of those lost subscribers to this simple pattern. It happened with TBC and WoTLK and it’ll happen in all of the future expansions as well.

Cataclysm’s Difficulty

Cataclysm is hard and it started out gruelingly difficult and different. Healers were having mana problems because they were used to spamming heals to keep everyone up and heroics were (and still) remain difficult much like vanilla WoW’s content. Some heralded this as the start of a beautiful thing while others seen it as a huge bottleneck for them to chew through content.

So, of course, when you reach a point you can’t advance any further in the game you don’t see the reason to pay out the money for a subscription. While I don’t see this as being a big influence on the overall subscription loss, it’s still a part of it.

Interesting read. I believe your level-headed view is probably closest to accurate. Do you really think GW2 and TOR will dent WoW's sub base?

I think it's possible, for sure, unless Blizzard WoW's the fanbase. A huge dent? No, of course not, but a dent none the less.

Nice article. Personally, i love the difficulty of cataclysm, however i do know many people who started playing a lot more recently than i did who are hating it. I think the biggest issue is that heroic 5-man instances are required to get your toon to an end game point. Heroic raids are not required to be played by the general player base in order to "see the game", however if you aren't running heroic 5 mans, you're not going to get anywhere. No rep to speak of, no loot worth picking up, I think this is detrimental due to the fact that the casual gamers dread running the instances because they aren't willing to "L2P", and yet because they feel they must do the heroics, it keeps them from even logging in. This also means that those of us who are skilled enough to handle the heroics easily are forced to play with those who are terribly undergeared and not skilled enough for the challenge. The way the ilvl requirements work to enter an instance are simply broken. It is so easy to cheat your way around it that it leaves a lot of players feeling like they are carrying others through everything, just because someone bought a few blues off the AH that they don't even plan on equipping.

Another issue i feel myself is the difficulty in working a second (or lord help me, a 3rd or 4th) toon to endgame levels. There are no BoA head/shoulder enchants, and grinding out the reps on the first toon was tedious enough. I just finished grinding Therazane to exalted on my second toon, and i have a 3rd about to be ready to start the long grind. This is simply annoying. Blizzard needs to start allowing toons across accounts to share the rewards that one toon works hard to unlock. This doesn't mean shared achievements or anything like that, but if they're going to raise the difficulty (understandable) they need to realize that people aren't going to grind through the same content 10 times on the same account.

Add that to the fact that the daily quest hubs in Tol Barad are simply obnoxious to go through every day. I might not actually die doing those quests, but i dread the tediousness of it. Getting chased by endless streams of non-stop spawning mobs is just ridiculous. The opposite faction nearly always has the island when i'm logged on, which gives me even less of a reason to bother checking on it at all. I wasn't a Huge fan of the tourney that came out during wrath (jousting SUCKED), but at least the rewards were well worth the effort. The dailies in TB offer essentially the same gold reward as the tourney ones do, plus they are 10x more difficult, and the rewards are lame beyond belief. There is simply no reason for me to bother going there at all. When the Isle of Quel'danas (SP?) came out in BC, it was Fun, Exciting, and you felt like you were Accomplishing something by opening up new content based on the amount of work your server did. This is what we need to add a bit of competitiveness to the "daily quest grid". (not to mention, the isle was pretty! TB looks like the devs puked all over the map and put a broken castle in the middle of it! and why are we there? the lore goes something like "the horde want this ugly ass island, and so does the alliance. end of story)

The final Huge issue i see is the fact that the economy needs a huge overhaul. The gold inflation has reached a point where the only way you will ever see decent income is if you get lucky and sell off a 35k BoE epic. Selling anything else ends up leaving you with a profit of a handful of gold. (silver? copper? what's that?) Repair costs are high (even with the guild perks) and thus there is no reason to bother trying to sell enchants or gems or anything else that is a "small profit" item. It is far more profitable (and fun) for me to just go ahead and run through a lower level raid by myself, pull out my jeeves, and vendor everything i pick up. Doing dailies simply won't bring you enough income to be worth the time invested. One high end weapon enchant was selling for nearly 12k on my server right before 4.1 hit. 12k?! For an enchant? (not a recipe mind you) That's absurd. If the 12 daily quests in TB give about 12g each, that's around 144g for all of them. That means that i'd have to do those dailies for more than 83 days before i could buy the enchant for my weapon! Not to mention, each death costs me around 20g (give or take a bit), so after a night of raiding progression content, i've spent a good 250g (or more - damn you nef!) in repairs alone. What's the point of dailies? What's the point of selling a handful of gems at a profit of maybe 5g ea? Wrath came pre-loaded with all kinds of gold sinks. Toys in dal, teleport rings, mounts you could buy, etc. Caty has nothing like that. How about a teleport ring for SW?

changed the comment

now i'm a il 391 tank and 388 ret doing raids each week and soon we start the hc version cause tomorrow i'm pretty sure we get deatwhing with our guild

Why I canceled in a nutshell...Reasons 1-7

1) What an MMO should stand for?

Many believe the world Multi-player means that it's a game that you should have to group with other people. This is true.

But there is also another meaning, which is a game world that has 'multiple' players in it. This means it's populated, but doesn't mean the game has to require multiple large players to accomplish things.

WoW has issues with both.

The first is the grouping with others..especially large groups.

The requirement still of large groups of players (10+) to play end game content just needs to be dissolved/removed. This is a continuing theme per xpac and not many raiders I knew from WotLK are even bothering with Cataclysm raids due to organization burn out. In the end, this is supposed to be a game, not an organizational job, and when it continues to require scheduling and job like skills to accomplish, it's no longer a game to most. Many are realizing this more and more each day.

5 man challenging content should be what end game is about. Nothing more then 5 man content.

No more higher#s other then BGs or World PvP. The game needs to go back to small man content, which the majority can do (due to accessibility, not difficulty which is not the same thing), and you can put more of these 5 man dungeons out a lot faster then you can raid environments.

Somewhere along the way, accessible became confused with easy. Many want hard somewhat hard 5 man content. But they don't want to deal with the organizational headaches to schedule 10-12 people for gear/endgame for a video game

2)The rush to end game is another issue.

People burn out, play non stop and don't enjoy the content because they feel rushed and left behind.

This again is poor game design because vanilla didn't have end game early on for the most part so people enjoyed leveling and actually questing and playing whenever without the 'need' to log in every night and feeling they were being left behind or would fall behind. There was no end game early on compared to what the EQ2 developer guys brought with them.

The majority of people I know feel that they are continually 'up against' other players in the game due to 'falling behind'...this is a horrible feeling and the need to log in all the time is again because of bad game design. Some will say 'don't worry what others are doing' but we all know this isn't true for the majority of aspects of the game because it forces you to 'keep up' or fall behind.

The game shouldn't revolve around large #s of other players. It should revolve around you and your group and it should be a game world full of other multiple players that are just there, like in the real world we live, but in the end, don't matter to you for the most part. The game itself puts your enjoyment too much in the hands of too many other players...from groups to gear.

Tol barrad, Wintergrasp, city attacks, etc...if your server is lazy or doesn't care, it goes on and on...

It should be an MMO world full of other real people, doing their questing and adventuring, but never requiring you to rely on them for the majority of things.

3) Dailies and Grinding..PvE and PvP

I understand why dailies were put in. They were there to help the 'casual' player achieve gear that they couldn't get because of large man content.

To me, that is bad game design. You basically created a 'grind' system that in the end becomes boring and redundant and after a while burns the player out. Instead you could again stop designing content for the minority of players (10+ raiders) and put the game back to it's original roots and design of original main lead Mark Kern which was small 5 man content.

The introduction of dailies created again the feeling of 'left behind/falling behind' if you don't log in. You'll miss X badges or whatever. That just is not a good system. Dissolve it. Get rid of them. Dailies were one of the worst ideas added to the game.

Re-running dungeons is even worse...there should be a reason to go into a dungeon and complete it and then that's it. You shouldn't need to go back into that dungeon in the last form you saw it.

Now if you make the next time you go in 'different' then there is a reason to go back in. Otherwise, it's just another 'grindfest' for gear.

The re-running of dungeons over and over and over is just such a bad element, it needs to change. Everyone I know is absolutely sick of normals and heroics.

PvP grinding is beyond boring. You remove the PvP grind, you remove the botters. You then put everyone in the same gear and then you have people who actually like to PvP, PvPing and not getting burned out on the gear grind to just be competitive to actually PvP. Implement the arena realms on live and let people 'PvP' for fun and pick their gear. True PvP'ers will PvP. Others who care about gear only won't. GW2 is doing no gear for PvP.

4. Azeroth is dead.

Another huge issue is this: AZEROTH IS DEAD

It's is literally empty. It's not due to phasing. It's because there is no reason to be out in the world. There are multiple things that changed from vanilla to Cataclysm that caused this.

1. Flying Mounts: Great idea but they make the world smaller and in the end, you bypass all PvP encounters in the world on the roads, entrances, bridges, etc. In the end, the world becomes small and encounters stop happening on PvP servers. For PvE servers, basically the world is a ghost town when traveling. Flying mounts should be removed or should be on a daily cool down.

2. Dungeon Finder: Again, great idea but this basically ports people directly to dungeons, and in the process removes the 'world' aspect of the game and traveling. Gone are the days of leaving Stormwind and flying down to Booty Bay, catching the boat and ending up in Theramore and then flying over to Ferelas and making your way to Dire Maul on horseback. Dungeon Finder destroyed the 'traveling aspect' of the game which makes the world feel like a world. It destroyed the 'feeling of encountering others.'

People sit in cities and barely venture out. At this point, so much time was wasted designing the changed Azeroth, I personally believe your artists should be pissed at the waste of their hard work. Right now the majority of the game is sitting in a city and waiting for a dungeon que to pop.

The world needs to feel like it exists. It doesn't in its current state...at all.

Azeroth is a ghost world.

5. MMOs and servers need a community:

Most server communities are dead. From faction changes to server changes, the majority of servers never recovered. One side became the dominant due to this. The other suffered. Dungeon finder removes most of the need for those to even know who is on their server. Just like neighborhoods know each other, servers need the same but that is no longer possible due to these things and the dungeon finder. The greed for $$$ from Blizzard destroyed communities and server pops. Also too many damn servers.

5. The horrible 'Trinity system'...this is one of the top issues.

Tanks and Healers.

The whole concept is absurd. No mob would sit on a tank. No person would be in the back just spamming heals. This system is very boring and creates a very boring system.

There is a good reason there is a 45 min - 1 hour wait in queues...people find these 2 roles BORING. It is not a player issue. It's a bad design issue. Remember...'role' is different then 'class'..they are vastly different.

In vanilla, before the raid and heroic days, dungeons were completed by multiple styles of groups. There were no main tanks or main healers for most.

My group in the first year consisted of a ret paladin, a lock, a rogue, a hunter and a mage. We did the majority of dungeons up to strat and scholo without even having a 'tank' or a 'healer'....we controlled our way through and completed dungeons due to skill and strategy.

Tanking and healing as a concept is just failure....No mob would sit on a tank and just beat on him, especially multiple mobs and especially large creatures. A dragon being stopped by some tank is hilarious and stupid at best. Large packs of mobs sitting there on a tank while others beat on them is hilarious. The idea of someone sitting in the back and just spamming heals is also laughable to many.

The whole tank/healer/dps trinity system is bad bad bad. It's an excuse for poor game design and encounter design. If a tank goes down, wipe, if a healer does down, wipe...doesn't matter the skill of the other players...just really bad game design.

Guild Wars 2 'gets it'..with these statements.

Support players want to be able to say, "Remember that one time when I saved you from certain death?" They want to stand in the line of fire and block attacks. They want to surround their allies with a swirling dome of air that keeps enemy projectiles from passing through it. It's not about clicking on a health bar and watching it go up, it's about being there for your friends when they need you.

We keep hearing other MMO developers espousing the "holy trinity" of DPS/ heal/tank with such reverence, as if this is the most entertaining combat they have ever played. Frankly, we don't like sitting around spamming "looking for tank" to global chat. That feels an awful lot like preparing to have fun instead of having fun.

Control is the only thing versatile enough to get away from the rock-paper-scissors gameplay of other MMOs.

The WoW system is boring...beyond belief. Dungeons are a grind and just same thing over and over. Grab mobs, AOE down, heal up, rinse repeat. Nothing exciting, nothing dynamic, same boring dungeons and fighting mechanics over and over.

Tanks and Healer roles are dying and they need to die a horrible death. It's a really stupid and boring mechanic and people are finally waking up to this..something a lot of us knew in BC.

7. Lack of Story.

There is no story in WoW. Say what you want, but the game is nothing about story.

It's about "!" points and killing X and gear gear gear. The story doesn't matter because whatever you do doesn't matter. You basically run things for gear. Not for a reason. Not for a greater good. And surely not for story.

It's level, queue up for Dungeon Finder, get in dungeons, run them, get gear, rinse repeat...with no real reason to even wonder...'WHY AM I EVEN IN HERE IN THE FIRST PLACE'...

You can say there is a story, and yes there is partially one, but the point here is the story DOES NOT MATTER.

The STORY SHOULD MATTER. You should be 'forced' to experience the reason you are playing and doing the things you do. There should be mandatory 'campaign' quests that make you understand what is going on. There should be no reason for you to go into a dungeon unless there is a 'reason' to go into it. And yes, if there is a reason to even go back into it (maybe the storyline changes, maybe you uncover another part of the dungeon, maybe a new threat has taken up in it)...but there needs to be a damn reason to do it.

You know what WoW is about now (and since late BC). It's about 'gear' and the 'purples'...and that is sad. It's not about enjoyment and adventuring like vanilla was. It's not about exploring the world and knowing why you are questing or going into Maradon.

It's about who can get the most gear (and gear is shoved down our throat from every quest giver, drop, etc) that everything else stopped mattering.

It's time to get back to a game that story is the #1 priority and experience that story. Gear shouldn't even matter. Gear should be the #3 or #4 reason. You shouldn't want to rush to end game. You shouldn't want to blow through content. You should want to take your time, experience the game, take it in. And yet the game isn't made like that anymore. It's made to rush and get you to max level.

Why?

Why waste all the hard work of your level/zone designers. 80-85 in less then 16 hours and 3 zones not even seen? 70-80 and 4 zones not even seen? If I was again a level designer, I'd be pissed at the developers who made the leveling experience such a easy joke. My one friend said 'Why don't they just make us 85...leveling is pointless and feels like it shouldnt even matter.'

Worgen? What a joke. 1-13 levels and then absolutely nothing. You can tell this xpac was patched and rushed.

WTF is the point of the new zones if you don't even need to experience them?

Why isn't each level extended and longer then the last? 80-85 was shorter then 1-60 vanilla.
Why rush people through all the hard work?

It's NOT A GRIND if you are adventuring and experiencing the story. 1-60 was FUN because we explored and quested and there actually was a story and it didn't matter how long it took to get to 60 because we were exploring and not rushing.

New MMOs will put the story back in these games as the 4th pillar. This is what WoW is missing. They are moving away from the gear and focusing on what is important..which is story.

In the end, the majority of my friends and I are pretty much done with this xpac. It's lacking any substance or feeling other then the leveling was too easy, questing was too easy, we hit 85 way too fast, and there is nothing to do at end game other then raid or roll alts or sit in a 45 min queue for heroics with no reason or point being in them.

It was a great run WoW, and I will miss you, especially years 1 and 2 when end game didnt matter for the majority, but I won't be back with this version of WoW anymore..

The next Gen of MMOs with SWTOR and GW2 are the future, just like WoW was 6 years ago. These 2 other MMO's are taking the next steps needed to put fun back in games....Guild Wars 2 more then SW because SW unfortunately is still doing healers and tanks.

Thanks for reading.

~2500 word comment? EPIC. Gonna take a while to read through all of this, but I applaud your dedication to making a point.

One of the best posts I have ever read. I apsolutely agree with everything you have said here. All the reasons make sense and are thoroughly written with expert knowledge on the topic. I salute you sir, and propose you to start a blog on this issue. There you could track all the good and bad sides of WoW's changes throughout the years, and provide even more detailed input on the incoming fall of one of the greatest gaming giants in the industry...

Epic comment. I fully agree with everything. I stopped mid-WotLK because of burnout. Attending raids was my second job! The organization, the waiting for hours, the nazi guild leaders and officers... this was no game like vanilla WoW! This wasn't fun! This was WORK! Glad I never looked back.

Nazi guild leaders and officers, huh? I'll take it one step further. How about power hungry Nazi GMs who ban people who disagree with whatever agenda they got? Because believe me, this game is full of them.

The guild leaders and officers are not the only dictators in that game. So are the GMs, who will very easily boot you if they don't like you and you go against their agenda.

You guys are totally right on the problems of WoW and the MMO style they chose to follow. I would like to add that their balancing issues are incredible too. Like balancing pvp and pve spells has been big deal since the beginning of WoW.

PvP for that matter was totally uncool since they changed the original Alterac Valley. That was my favorite experience in WoW by far. An ongoing battle that you could go in and out of with pve encounters(giant elites in the middle), small resource gathering that could turn the tide by summoning mini-bosses, group dynamics, environment hazards(landmines); only thing missing was siege vehicles.

PvE and to a certain extent PvP(Grand Marshall grind) turned into a job as soon as you hit endgame, and if you were grinding for legendaries or that ONE piece of gear lol goodbye life. I used to love the 40 man raids at the start but then I started hating big groups more and more. WoW could have used more of that Diablo small group of badasses feeling. Also the lore in WoW is not bad at all but they present it very poorly and most people overlook it.

The thing that made me realize that I didn't want to play WoW anymore above all else was that it took too much work and too long to do anything that qualified as fun, whenever I logged in. Now I play my console games and I can play as long as I feel without peer pressure. I play games like Mass Effect 2 for 200 hours because its a world I want to immerse in and experience over and over differently, not because I am grinding gear or because my guild "needs me to tank, or I am out".

"Cataclysm is hard."

Can solo the bulk of this game.

SHO AM HAWUD

I loved wow but I stoped my acount for 2 months when cat came out, Restarted it again and then stoped again. I agree with alot of you are saying but not all. I just wanted to say for me one of the main problems I have with WOW is you work hard to get your toon setup to suit your game play and the next thing blizz messes with it. I had a realy great hunter, I loved to play and blizz messed it up, I had a warrior tank I loved to play and blizz messed it up. So I am not going to do dugons, riads and dialys to make my toon good and then find out blizz has distroyed it again. Also I love tanking. Its makes me feel like I am providing a service to others but I can see why others want to take some the hits.

I finished the normal mode raids about 3-4 months into the expansion and then my guild started Heroic Mode. It was boring. I don't want to kill the same boss twice. It is brutal. I felt like I was being punished. I play games to win, but Heroic Modes aren't fun. I know I am not the only one from my guild who left because the Heroic Mode grind was too much.

The same thing happened at the end of WotLK. My guild never finished H LK because after banging our heads against the wall for six months, most of the guild unsubscribed til Cata.

I won't be resubscribing unless the Heroic Raid experience becomes drastically improved. I had been with the guild for almost 4 years. Hard raid fights are good. Hard raid fights against a boss you have already killed is not.

I'm still in WoW although very dissatisfied with blizzard for many ridiculous changes since Cata.

The revamping of the entire talents system which I hate is one of the many reasons.

The fact you can't run all dungeons on non-heroics is another. Then when you finally gear up and you enter a dungeon you've never been to before, you're lost at times. This is especially brutal when running dungeons with groups from other realms as usually, no one wants to help when you're lost in certain areas or not sure what to do. It just doesn't make sense not to be able to run all of them on non-heroic modes so you learn them well before heroic runs.

I could go on and on but I would be here several days and I don't have the time.

Soon as The Old republic comes out, I'm gone. No two ways about it.

I fogot to mention something I find very disturbing.

They've removed all mana regenerations on all casters which is one of the more insane issues plaguing WoW at the moment.

This entire mastering issue stinks.

I've been playing for almost 5 years. I still love playing. Just being honest.

Comercial direction which WoW goes for right now is what made me unsubsribe. While it remains without a doubt that WoW in its current states more solid and interesting systems than any other game up till now, what really makes WoW succesful... and ironicly terrible at the same time is its complete lack of any solid consequences on any kind of misbehaviour to the point where blizzard actually caves in and modifies the game to the point where every 15$ counts, even if it comes from a lonesome douchebag who makes others people miserable.

Vote kick system is one of such examples... 2h CD for being kicked to often may sound reasonable when it is justified by the fact that some people are kicked way to often unjustly... but its only one of side effects of spoiled players allowed to play just because they pay like everyone else. Supposely there is a lot of people who are kicked "just for lulz" or by elitists often enough to put on something like that. Something I have never saw back in 3.3 when Dungeon Group Finder was introduced. Instead I very often saw people whining on the forums they have been kicked unjustly only to be followed by remarks regarding their sub-optimal but more often un-optimal choice of glyphs and talents to the point where they were better of to visit appropirate sites before heroics. That was the case most of the times. I played long before 3.3 (2.1 to be exact) and I could tell by then one thing... if you sucked... it meant you sucked. But by that I didnt meant that you had to have no life and be devoted to the game as there is a common stereotype about those players that pointed that out. It meant simply to optimize your play a bit and learn more about your class and rotations. Something blizzard should teach themselves by default given the fact:

- they made the game complex (mainstream unfriendly)
- want to make the game appeal to all kind of gamers ( mainstream friendly)

With all these facts it was clear that players judged players and community of fair effort (which didnt meant all-nighters as many exagarate it out) for fair rewards. But appearantly WoW... or I should but better... MMOs in general are apropirate material for casual log in and fool around as if it was some sort of burger service... cheap, good, MUST leave you satisfied.

Ofcourse I couldn't disagree with this anymore and so fair community with fair rewards for fair effort was clearly standing in the way to such burger service... and that is why I believe 2h kick CD was born.

With that comes the "multi-culturalism" of WoW where decent gamers were essentially forced to carry "casuals" to the point where many potential good players burned out pre-maturely because of:
- chill its just a game (dies on obvious thing and drags everyone else with a wipe)
- dont tell me how to play (does something completly wrong and forces others to cover for him)
- Dont like it? dont play ( and thats exactly what made me quit)

Now some of you might point out that I should play with my guild only right? Well here's the deal... IT'S NOT ALWAYS POSSIBLE! Besides even with having a always guild/friend group ready, I see no valid excuse to lower the standard of gaming community to the point where it is now.

Still the more decent players were adleast always ahead of the "casuals" who were unable to achieve the caps the later could right? Not untill the recent change with VP Cap... appearantly it irked "casuals" that they were not equal to those "no lifers" in their weekly possibilities. Strike that! Going even to the point where decent players and their harder content was less optimal in VP farming then the easier mode of 2 same dungeons done 7 times a week to the point of puking boredom.

This is what essentially made me unsubscribe from the game. Cattering to the masses for the sake of mainstream.

Well not an easy problem is it for wow. Trying to be everything for everyone is simply impossible without leaving some folks feeling left out. On one hand they have a contingent of super loyal hardcores and on the other they have super casuals who want to gear up and see end game content. THe two just don''t seem to mix. Not saying I have an answer but it seems to me one resolution is making for more difficulty levels (I know it ain't easy). Why not employ 4 levels of raid difficulty:

1) EZ - Built for casuals. They can see all bosses and content. This maybe is on the level of heroic dungeon difficulty. High end blues drop and the rare epic. This provides a broader base of content on which to give people to level up. They are just not stuck with running dungeons. Give folks the opportunity to see content and learn basic fight/boss mechanics, even if you are a noob :-). It would be a great intro to raiding. Maybe hold out the final boss from being played as a incentive to get to the next level..

2) Normal - Just like todays non-heroic mode raid

3) Heroic - Just like todays heroic mode raid

4) Insane - This would let the super elitists jerks put their toons where their mouths are. No room at all for any mistakes. Only rewards here are pets/mounts and specialty items. Not gear. The really great players should be able to do this in heroic gear and prove they are as great as they say they really are. This is all about finesse. This also makes this content relavant well into next content upgrades as folks will always want the pets/mounts etc. even if their gear eventually out paces the instance as new patches arrive.

Other suggestions (not saying it is easy to produce)
1) More quests, more quests, more quests... :-)
2) Make archaeology fun and either allow better gear drop possibility or put this on a reputation/token system where a person knows they are spending their time in a worth while manner and not just hoping that the drop gods will favor them (The rng on archaeology sucks btw). Very frustrating for the person who only has a few hours a week to devote dur to school/family etc..
3)More single person obtainable achievements. The raid achieves, especially for old raids are becoming very hard to get as no one wants to go run uldy or ToC for example..
4) I know no one wants loot to fall like rain but drops need to be better. It just stinks when you spend hours downing a boss and 2 daggers fall that only rogue could use and well there is no rogue in the party. We need more token based drops where the party always will get something useful. And no selling it for mucho gold is not the same. I never understood why the bosses never dropped other richest besides gear. I always thought it stupid. Bosses should be rich in gold and gear. Gold can be directed to the guild or dispersed amoung raid players...

If they made changes like this I would come back happily...

I was a dedicated player, until Cataclysm. I've been playing since the start of BC. I did not take breaks between expansions/patches. These are the reasons I've left the game:

- The content was all rehashed ideas other than a few select quests while leveling up, even the locations weren't new for much of it. "Lets destroy this area, make it new and call it something else!" - tells a story that Ghostcrawler et al aren't finding much in the way of new ideas.

- The boss mechanics, while some were interestingly combined with others, none of them were new. I dont think we've really seen a new mechanic since BC, have we?

- The removal of anything that took time/dedication to achieve. 100 mounts? You needed somewhere around 8 rare drops prior to Cataclysm. Now you can probably get 20 just in cataclysm reward currencies. Remember the grind to get those keys that you had to get to be able to get into places like Kara? They dont even exist anymore. ZA/ZG mounts? Put a new skin on it and let everyone have it. The collectors like myself have nothing unique anymore, spare possibly the Ruby Shades or Ashes of A'lar. Spare the "Stood in the Fire" achievement, I suppose - but there's still plenty of time to get that if you haven't already.

- The "heroic mode" content that was supposed to be for the "hardcore raiders" was actually more geared toward what we called "casual raiders" back in BC. The easy mode raids are for the brain dead. Seriously the hardest thing to do on some realms is control a niche on the auction house. Before Cataclysm was released people were saying we probably wouldn't be able to solo dungeons until the next expansion - if ever. Go look at how many people have videos for soloing the new dungeons. Obviously not as difficult as we thought they were, are they? What made them difficult was (and I hate to blame it on them, but it's mostly true) the people who started playing in WoTLK thinking they could just plow through it in 10 minutes, and the tanks/healers feeling they were entitled to whatever - this point is continued in the next.

- Player IQ (or age, or a mixture of the two) has dropped to a point to where just sitting around watching chat isn't fun anymore. Go take a look at Goldshire on Moonguard if you need an example. Yes, it has been RP heavy for a long time, and RP heavy is fine, but it's just ridiculous now.

- Killing, wait, no, DESTROYING 25man guilds. Sure there are still a lot out there, but many who play on the medium sized realms can't think of a single 25man guild that is doing well. Take for example Alexstrasza (a well known realm that has been around forever), now it's been a while since I left but when I did there were 2 25-man guilds. One on the horde side that was doing quite well progression wise, and one on the alliance side that was a late night guild. Both were hurting for people. The lack of respect Blizzard has shown in this expansion for 25man guilds is disgusting, but then can we say it's a shocker? How long has it been since there was a 40-man raid?

- On the technical side of things, with as little as they really had to do with putting in new areas, etc, you'd think they would've had more time to fix glaringly obvious bugs in the system. They're really starting to remind me of Microsoft, but the difference is with Microsoft you can call them and talk to someone about your issue within a few minutes (granted, it costs a little bit). With Blizzard you're lucky if you have a reply in a week - and really lucky if you get it within 2 days. Then when you do get a reply to your ticket the CSR responding will only partially read your ticket and give you some off the wall reply that has nothing to do with your issue or close the ticket without a response at all.

- And finally (that I'm going to post here anyway) ... where is the lore? The lack of lore this expansion makes it hideous to think that this is an RPG at all.

I think WoW itself has lost it's way. It is no longer cohesive and is like a lumbering Jenga game about to collapse after having most of it's foundation removed and arranged elsewhere. I don't think it's impossible to cater to more than one group, but they haven't been going about it very well, and now their game has so many holes in it... whole areas, half story, and quests that no longer even make sense. However, that is not exclusively the reason I left. Personally for me, the reason was the addition of Holy Power, in the end.

I was primarily a solo player, and my greatest joy was my Ret Pally, galloping across plains doing quests and fighting random monsters. When HP was added, I hated it completely, and no matter how I tried, I couldn't enjoy the controls like I did pre-cata. Even now, I would pay a full month's worth just to have a few days to play on my old Pally. I haven't had as much fun on any mmo since, although I have been enjoying a couple of others.

After the Pally changes, I didn't play for a while, but then, I decided to try to adjust to my Dis Priest as my main instead. I used Priests for soloing, duoing, and healing the occasional pick-up dungeon. I've never really cared about dungeons and raids that much, but it was fun to do every so often. However, somewhat as Sparta was saying in point 5 of his very nice post, I never just healed when I played healer. Healing was priority of course, but I was always moving and helping however I could. I never felt right standing still and doing nothing.

Cata changed that and I found myself "conserving mana". Not to sound too negative but... let me tell you how exiting that is.... >,> I hated it too. Also, I had prided myself on no one ever dying in my groups. I wanted to save everyone, I enjoyed it. Not that I don't think it was a bit TOO easy to do in WOTLK, but Cata went from one extreme to the other. Not only was healing boring, soloing was rediculous, having to sit after every single kill. Duoing was ok, but by then I was disgusted with Blizzard.

I don't disagree with what they were trying to do with Cata in the sense of making it harder, I just disagree with the methods they chose. I agree with making my classes more challenging to play. I disagree with changing the principal on how they worked.

I do agree with many of Sparta's points as well, especially about the fast leveling and story. The devs spent all that time revamping quests, only to make them passible in a matter of days. I outleveled any new area well before I set foot on it. That was the final straw of me canceling altogether. I didn't play for the dungeons, I played for the experience of the exploring the world, for fulfilling quests, and for the classes I enjoyed. I wanted more challenge in those areas. Cata missed it for me on every point, and left me without a class to play. That is why I left.

I think WoW itself has lost it's way. It is no longer cohesive and is like a lumbering Jenga game about to collapse after having most of it's foundation removed and arranged elsewhere. I don't think it's impossible to cater to more than one group, but they haven't been going about it very well, and now their game has so many holes in it... whole areas, half story, and quests that no longer even make sense. However, that is not exclusively the reason I left. Personally for me, the reason was the addition of Holy Power, in the end.

I was primarily a solo player, and my greatest joy was my Ret Pally, galloping across plains doing quests and fighting random monsters. When HP was added, I hated it completely, and no matter how I tried, I couldn't enjoy the controls like I did pre-cata. Even now, I would pay a full month's worth just to have a few days to play on my old Pally. I haven't had as much fun on any mmo since, although I have been enjoying a couple of others.

After the Pally changes, I didn't play for a while, but then, I decided to try to adjust to my Dis Priest as my main instead. I used Priests for soloing, duoing, and healing the occasional pick-up dungeon. I've never really cared about dungeons and raids that much, but it was fun to do every so often. However, somewhat as Sparta was saying in point 5 of his very nice post, I never just healed when I played healer. Healing was priority of course, but I was always moving and helping however I could. I never felt right standing still and doing nothing.

Cata changed that and I found myself "conserving mana". Not to sound too negative but... let me tell you how exiting that is.... >,> I hated it too. Also, I had prided myself on no one ever dying in my groups. I wanted to save everyone, I enjoyed it. Not that I don't think it was a bit TOO easy to do in WOTLK, but Cata went from one extreme to the other. Not only was healing boring, soloing was rediculous, having to sit after every single kill. Duoing was ok, but by then I was disgusted with Blizzard.

I don't disagree with what they were trying to do with Cata in the sense of making it harder, I just disagree with the methods they chose. I agree with making my classes more challenging to play. I disagree with changing the principal on how they worked.

I do agree with many of Sparta's points as well, especially about the fast leveling and story. The devs spent all that time revamping quests, only to make them passible in a matter of days. I outleveled any new area well before I set foot on it. That was the final straw of me canceling altogether. I didn't play for the dungeons, I played for the experience of the exploring the world, for fulfilling quests, and for the classes I enjoyed. I wanted more challenge in those areas. Cata missed it for me on every point, and left me without a class to play. That is why I left.

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I really don't understand racism in the real world. People are what people are, regardless of skin pigmentation or where their ancestors came from. There's really only one real-world race - the Human Race - and I loathe everyone equally.

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