Monday, July 8, 2013

Why Raid Finder?

A couple of weeks ago, Rohan of Blessing of Kings asked Why LFR? in a blog post based off of an MMO-Champion forum thread, the premise of which is that normal mode raiders are abandoning normal mode raiding in favor of the Raid Finder. I'm not going to go over what Rohan wrote, because his post is short and to-the-point enough that it's probably easier to click the link and read it for yourself than for me to rehash it here, but I do think there are a couple of other factors that are worth mentioning.

First of all, the above tweet by Ghostcrawler indicates that Raid Finder players and normal mode raiders tend to be two different sets of people. There's certainly some degree of overlap, but by and large, players running Raid Finder are brand new raiders as opposed to former raiders. This calls the entire initial assertion into question, and considering Blizzard has access to far more data on the matter than the playerbase does, I'm willing to believe they know what they're talking about.

So, if normal mode raiders aren't switching over to using Raid Finder as the sole fulfillment of their raiding desires, what's happening to them? As odd as it may sound, I think the answer lies within a nearly year-old article posted on GamesIndustry International just after the launch of Mists of Pandaria - Blizzard's success isn't magic; just hard work and open minds. The article isn't terribly long, and I highly suggest reading it in its entirety, but the key point is essentially that Blizzard has always aimed for accessibility, and as World of Warcraft becomes increasingly accessible the vocal hardcore players become flummoxed over the fact that Blizzard isn't treating them like the influential "whales" that conventional gaming wisdom tells them that they are, and so they begin to complain about this process. The Raid Finder and other systems that are perceived as "catering to the casuals" become the scapegoat for hardcore players' ire, and I think this following tweet shows exactly that happening, as well as posits a more likely explanation for where these normal mode raiders are disappearing to:

In other words, players aren't abandoning normal mode raiding in favor of Raid Finder, but rather the available pool of normal mode raiders is drying up as the overall playerbase contracts. However, even if World of Warcraft's subscriber base continues to erode, there are still upcoming features that will likely serve to boost normal mode raid participation. Flex Raids will allow Raid Finder players to get a taste of more standardized raiding, and hopefully convince them to move up to normal modes once bitten with the formal raiding bug; and Virtual Realms will consolidate player populations, allowing raid groups greater access to players who are interested and available for raiding, but unwilling or unable to transfer realms to do so.

Hope is not lost. Keep calm and raid on.

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