Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The Recruit-A-Friend Program

You've probably seen the buzz on Blizzard's new Recruit-A-Friend system. If you recruit a friend, you get:

  1. An exclusive in-game zhevra mount.
  2. A free month of play-time.

While the zhevra is interesting, these incentives are pretty standard for referring someone. The really thought-provoking part is that both accounts (veteran and new player) are linked, and there are some in-game benefits:
  1. Characters on both accounts can summon each other once per hour.
  2. While adventuring with your linked friend/family member, you will each gain triple experience.
  3. For every two levels the new player earns, the new player can grant one free level-up to a lower-level character played by the veteran player

Some posters I've seen have spun this as Blizzard catering to multi-boxers, or rushing new people through old content so they can hit the level cap. While this may be true on some level, I think Blizzard is aiming for something different. I think this is their effort to solve the Paradox of Levels, as immortalized in this comic from Penny Arcade.

This is especially problematic in this situation as the veteran player is very likely to have a main high-level character. Basically, Blizzard is trying to encourage the new player and veteran to team up as much as possible and level up together. The veteran is unlikely to jump ahead, as she will probably revert to playing her main character when the new player is not online. And if the new player jumps ahead, she can boost the veteran's low level character up with the free levels.

Playing together with a friend is probably the strongest incentive that will cause a new player to stick with the game. This system encourages the veteran and new player to play together until close to the endgame, at which point the new player has caught up to the veteran's main character, and levels have ceased to matter.

I wonder if this is a potential forerunner of more formal "levelling pacts", or mechanisms which encourage groups of friends to stick together near the same level, and keep people from being left behind.

6 comments:

Typhoonandrew said...

I really like the fact they are doing it, and would love to see the whingers logout. Nothing wrong with the offer, and it does not disadvantage current players.

I suppose you might be pissed if you signed up a few days before the offer, but really - sheesh.

Baristan said...

Such a link may somewhat solve the “left behind” problem while levelling, but it will not prevent it in the endgame.

Once at the level cap its much harder for a random player to keep pace with his “hardcore” friends as being part of a raid will make it almost impossible to them to play with the random.

Even with the new 10-men-raid-line in WotLK this will not change much (assuming that time for the 10-men is the same as for the Lvl70 10-men) as someone raiding the 3rd or 4th 10-men-instance will very unlikely change back to the 1st inline to gear up a friend.

Part of the problem is that characters change more with items than with lvls, a lvl66 & a lvl64 character both with blue stuff have much in common, than two lvl70s one in blue dungeon set and one in T2. Between those two is a much larger difference in capabilities and ingame goals.

With some breaks I play since the European release of WoW and in the beginning I was heavily involved in raiding MC, BWL etc. and spent a lot of time online than I reduced my playtime and from that point on it was extremely hard to play together with my RL friends with whom I started WoW.

Tharok said...

What I want to know is why can't the veteran player link to another veteran player?

Yes, yes... its all a ploy to get more people in the game, and thus make Blizz even more cash... but for those of us who already have reffered our friends, this seems like a slap in the face. I would LOVE to get triple XP while leveling up with some of the friends who've just started in the last month or two. Or be able to summon eachother. *sigh*

It's a good idea, but its still unsulting to the rest of us.

Paul said...

Blizzard is smart, they throw out a bunch of fancy incentives that look great at first glance. But, say your a lvl 50, you recruit a friend, the triple XP doesnt really play in your favor, as you will be gaining no Xp if your adventuring with a lowbie. Other than that, Blizzard is always doing wonderful promotions for WoW. Thats why its one of the longest running MMO's out there today.

Larísa said...

Some people will always be left out. If you come new to the game without knowing anyone at all in it you'll get a pretty rough ride up to 70 (/80). I know because I did it myself. My sister played it but left as soon as I started to. So I was on my own, struggeling with the learning curve as well as endless hunting for xp, terrible economy and no friends to ask for help with group qs.

This thing will give an incentment to players to recruit friends - yes. But it won't make life any easier at all for people who approach the game out of their own interest. The ones that already have a harder ride than the ones who have friends in game... That's a bit unsatisfying.

Alex - aka Firelight said...

I got my Zhefra!! Woohoo!