FFXIV has a simple mode of almost every dungeon: story mode. In story mode, the dungeon is very, very easy, however, there is always this weird contention in the FFXIV community over story mode dungeons being worthwhile or not. There is far more favorability, I believe from my observation, for story modes as FFXIV’s hardcore raid population isn’t the largest.
Here are the two sides:
Story mode dungeons, outside of the level grind, provide way too easy content that has little to no value to the player population, delay production of content releases, and hardcore players do not like having to finish the story mode instance before they can move into savage difficulty.
The default difficulty was far too much, therefore, introducing multiple levels of difficulty provides players who don’t have a specific interest in trying too hard to be able to explore the content, without having to server transfer around to find a guild who might be able to finish Alexander: Gordias raid.
Ultimately, we’re back at a discussion that occurred during Vanilla WoW, TBC, and Wrath of the Lich King. Casuals vs. Hardcores. This is a situation where those players who don’t have a lot of time to invest into a game would like to see the new content, while the hardcore guilds want to preserve the prestige and exclusivity reward that raiding provides.
If you upset the hardcore raiding guild population, you’ll often upset the far more vocal group of a games population, as they’re the most engaged, but they’re usually not the largest group. If you upset the casual population, you’re upsetting far more players, but they’re often not nearly as vocal unless you ruin their class or gameplay.
There is a very big dance around this concept, and we have a lot to work off of. In WoW, interestingly enough, making raid content too easy provided players with this depressing aura of “there isn’t much to do in the game” and even worse, focusing primarily on raid content in updates upset players far more with the lack of something to do than raid content that isn’t satisfying.
Even more interesting, and perhaps another discussion for later, demanding participation and advancement through only one system isn’t fun.
Interestingly enough, in my opinion, players rather enjoy having content they can’t necessarily complete, but having lots of other things to do like dailies, quests, events, crafting, and grinding tokens of some kind. Adding in more content that needs testing / patching / balancing / etc. can take away from the other fun things that make MMOs fun.
So, to summarize this: FFXIV has to make the same choice as WoW did. It will have to draw a line between hard and easy, casual and hardcore, and stick to it – focusing on providing compelling content across the board. Part of it is catering to the very small highly vocal group that demand cutting edge hardcore raiding content, while at the same time providing reasonable and fun content for the larger “casual” population.
We’ll see with 3.2 how things shape up in FFXIV and if it’ll make the same mistakes WoW did, or will distance itself by learning where to stop.
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