Monday, January 23, 2012

Nerfs and Listening to the Hardcore

Kurn wrote a good post about the upcoming Dragon Soul nerfs. She is unhappy with the nerfs. I am on the opposite side of the issue. However, I want to address two specific points in her post.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — I like a challenge. I loved attunement quests, no matter how crappy they were to do (doing Jailbreak twice in a single night for Majik because he was a dumbass and died? Not fun.). I loved working out strats for encounters in Burning Crusade raids, which, at the time, were incredibly punishing (Vashj, Kael, Bloodboil all come to mind off the top of my head). We were nowhere near server first, we were over a year behind in most cases. But we persevered and worked through it. The only nerfs we took advantage of were attunement removals (except the BT one, because we needed the necks for shadow resistance) and the 3.0 nerfs because, dangit, we weren’t ready to stop raiding yet. (Still, we were 4/5 Hyjal and 5/9 BT when 3.0 dropped.) By and large, Vashj was pretty similar an encounter when we downed her (on June 2nd, 2008) as when SSC opened up in 2007. There had been no 20% zone-wide nerf. No stacking 30% player buff. Nothing of the sort. 

There was a measure of pride there. I still wear my Hand of A’dal title because of what it took for us to kill Vashj and Kael and finish the Vials of Eternity quest.

I remember Lady Vashj too. What I remember about Lady Vashj was that she broke the guild I was in. We went 3/4 TK and 5/6 SSC, but we broke on Vashj. Maybe she was beyond us, maybe we should have improved, maybe we should have practiced more or been better players.

Really hard bosses break guilds. Vashj, Kael'thalas, Vaelastraz, Ragnaros.  These bosses are known as guild-killers.

Broken guilds are not good for the game, in my view. Guilds that get stuck on a hard boss, with no respite in sight, die. These nerfs keep guilds from getting stuck. Small, steady nerfs keep people moving forward, keep them from being completely stuck forever.

To me, the choice seems to be between guild-killer bosses, or nerfing. I choose nerfing.

I’ve long felt that Blizzard is ignoring its population of older players. I have been playing WoW since October of 2005. This doesn’t grant me any in-game advantage, and that’s okay, but those things that I “grew up” with, like attunements, like keys, like epic class quests, like epic instances without the novelty of a “heroic” mode… those are the things that kept me interested in the game. Those are the things that helped grow the game to 11 million players. Precious few of those mechanics and concepts remain. Is it any wonder why people are quitting? Is it any wonder why I now believe this to be my final expansion? The game is unrecognizable. The playerbase is maddeningly lazy and unwilling to put forth the effort that so many of us old-timers did and their laziness is affecting us.

Honestly, when has listening to older players ever helped Blizzard?

Blizzard listened to us at the start of Cataclysm. "Wrath was too easy," we said. "Make heroics hard like in TBC!" "Bring back crowd control!" "Make raiding hard again!"

Blizzard listened to us, and was rewarded with a significant drop in subscriptions. It's obvious from their subsequent actions that their internal numbers were telling them that the drop in the subscribers was coming from the people who found endgame too hard.

Consider the idea that ignoring the older players is the right thing to do. That they are merely a vocal minority. In my view, all the evidence points to that conclusion.

I am obviously not the type of player they want playing their game. And that’s what’s so very shocking to me. I am a good player. I am a community asset. I am a guild leader, a raid leader, a healing lead. I write a blog dedicated to the game that has had hundreds of thousands of visitors and pageviews since December 31st, 2009 (and more before then, but I don’t have any data before 12/31/09). I co-host and produce a podcast dedicated to the game.

Kurn loved the original Cataclysm heroics. So did I. We both wrote multiple blog posts extolling the experience.  Many, many other bloggers out there did the same.

And what was the result of the best efforts of these "community assets"? Two million lost subscriptions.

Our set is not as important as we think we are. We are loud, but occupy a small, tightly bound niche. There is no reason that Blizzard should give our concerns any extra weight. If anything, the evidence is proving that our concerns should be given less weight.


  1. the notion that Vashj and kael weren't nerfed after a year is silly; they were absolutely nerfed. But back then we didn't call it nerfing - we called it gear inflation. Between 2007 and 2008 the sunwell patch hit, and that meant that everyone could get T6-quality gear for badges. In addition you could get really good trinkets from the Kael'thas 5-man.

    What that meant is that after about a month of dailies where they unlocked the vendor everyone's ilvl average shot up anywhere from 5 to 10 points what it was before. That right there? that's about a 15% nerf to difficulty. Sorry.

    I kind of prefer that kind of nerf to the blanket nerfing we've seen, but so it goes. I prefer the BC model anyway - the long, linear progression. But yes, it isn't accessible and it's much harder on guilds and whatnot.

    I'm just not, at this point, convinced that any model works for the casual player to enjoy raiding. And anything that attempts to make it more friendly will invariably ruin what made it good in the first place.

  2. Sure, but timescale is completely different.

    You're comparing new content fully two tiers later, to a series of nerfs that start about 2-3 months after a times after the current tier is released.

    Vashj didn't get "nerfed" until midway through T6 (removal of attunements) and then when the Sunwell patch came out.

    That so different from the ICC, Firelands, and Dragon Soul nerfs, that they aren't comparable at all, in my view.

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  4. I don't want to be one of those in the crowd that just says "But it's only 5% and you can turn it off!" as a dismissal of the feelings of those like Kurn but I can't help but feel myself tugged that way. If they are enjoying the difficulty then turn the debuff off and progress that way...if they get stuck turn it on again.

    Is it the prestige of being exclusive that appeals to players like Kurn? Having gear or mounts no one else does? Titles? Or is it the feeling of success that comes with victory? Or something different?

    Blizzard doesn't want guilds (or even players) to get stuck, they don't want to have what happened to Rohan's guild repeat itself since given their dropping subscriptions I and the complaints about difficulty in the tiers in Cata I suspect that was the issue.

  5. The timescale is different, but the result is the same. And for most people the timescale is about the same anyway since it was linear raiding and you couldn't just jump into the latest tier of content without backfilling tremendously.

    My point was simply that no one has been doing content without nerfs since vanilla, and the only questions are 'how big' and 'how often'.

    The ICC nerfs were very, very gradual and happened, IIRC, something like 6 months after original release. They're very comparable, especially since only one guild got the last boss down at 5%. Firelands nerfs were complete fail from the getgo. Just a horrible implementation. DS nerfs look fairly reasonable to me, if not a bit fast - though with the amoutn of guilds that have downed it it's not that special any more.

  6. I disagree, Kalon, the timescale is important. Wiping for too long on one boss is what causes the guild to break.

    Obviously, the nerf has to come before the guild breaks up. So the timing is critical. Vashj nerfs came significantly later in the lifecycle of the instance.

    Of course, it's complicated by the linear raiding, and possibly the PvP gear, and a host of other issues. But imo, the basic point holds. Nerfs from later tiers come too late.

  7. Also, the ICC nerfs started 2 months after the instance was fully unlocked. ICC came out beginning of December, and was fully unlocked at the beginning of February. The nerfs started at the beginning of March of that year.

  8. Isn't that why we have 3 different levels of difficulty now?

    If they are going to nerf everything anyway, why don't they just release only one mode (hardmode) and nerf that over time. Then use the free time to actually balance those encounter within the raid to avoid having such huge steps between them.

    This whole design with 3 levels yet still nerfing doesn't make any sense at all.

    Personally, our raid is on the verge of finally killing spine HC, a sudden nerf would just be a kick in the nuts and ruining any effort we already made. And I don't really believe we are alone here.
    Why should anyone try really hard to accomplish something if it's going to get nerfed anyway?

  9. And btw, the whole design doesn't have to do much with "listening to the hardcore".

    Casuals (i.e. plays casually, not bads) are probably screwed the most. Those are the players that just didn't get the time to defeat those challenges before they get nerfed. Feeling like raiding only every now and then? Too bad, every time you try it, it's easier. Get a hardcore raid schedule, clear the content ASAP within its release or don't bother at all.

  10. Rohan wrote: And what was the result of the best efforts of these "community assets"? Two million lost subscriptions.

    I'm sorry, Rohan, but I don't grant you all the credit for all the weakness in Cataclysm.

    I will agree with you that dungeon and raid design surely put some people off the game. But there were so many other weak points in Cataclysm:

    - Quests on rigid rails, disappointing to people who like to skip quests or choose different quest paths when leveling alts.

    - Zones with excessive phasing, disappointing to people who like the illusion of inhabiting a world, but who now find the illusion broken.

    - Professions and recipes had poorly planned ingredient supplies, disappointing people who like to craft but who find that the web of the economy was twisted and imbalanced.

    - Quest technology over-reached itself, and large numbers of quests were buggy. Some still are buggy - I ran "Defending the Rift" on an alt last weekend, and needed to ticket a GM to get un-stuck from the sub and to get placed into the correct phase to talk to the final NPC.

    - Before the recent price cuts, Cataclysm was remarkably expensive for a new player to buy. This too would have lowered subs, by choking off the supply of new players who balance out retiring players.

    I'd be happy if I could point at a single thing and proclaim it to be the sole weakness in Cataclysm: "Rohan and Kurn tricked Blizzard into making raids too hard!"

    However, I can't single out just one area. So many parts of Cataclysm are weak. Instead of being a superb game in multiple aspects, this expansion has been merely average across all those areas, and "average" is a let-down compared to what people are used to.

  11. Isn't that why we have 3 different levels of difficulty now?

    A Normal-mode guild stuck on Deathwing for a month (or whatever) is not going to find the suggestion to beat it on LFR difficulty useful.

    I agree with Rohan that a guild collapsing due to lack of progression is one of the ugliest, most soul-destroying moments in a videogame. In my experience, it is jarring enough to launch you right out of the game permanently; not only have you failed, the guild fails, along with all the social capital you accumulated with these people over months and months of play.

    Some people can dust themselves off and trade up, but when I was faced with the prospect of starting over, I decided to start over in a different game entirely.

  12. Kael'thas Sunstrider killed my guild too back in the day :( That was a sad day. We actually killed Vashj though.

  13. What also killed guilds is the breakdown from 25 mans to 10s with the loot lockout.

  14. I really enjoyed the difficulty and the attunements we had to make. Sorry but that by itself made the difference on new recruits : had they done their attunements in order to join for the Raids, or would they just slack & wait for other to do it for them ?

    That, by itself, was proof of what kind of person was playing the game.
    Raiding Guilds that aim for Heroic content have little to no interest in slackers, and attunements were part of the process of finding the good players.

    Sorry Rohan, but the lost subscribers to WoW isn't on fault of the community for asking CC & difficulty (what a joke it was…) back for Cataclysm.
    What is making WoW losing their playerbase, is in fact right the opposite : lack of difficulty.

    If I play a game & I find it too easy to complete, that I have nothing else to do beside the daily-whack-a-gnoll stuff, sorry but that game just goes on a shelf and I pick a new one.

    Difficulty is just an illusion for Cataclysm, at least it did its job since people actually whinned about it.
    Just look on the 3 Frozen Halls dungeons for ICC : they were killing groups on a regular schedule. Should a player mess up in there, the group was on a perillous edge of a wipe.
    Look in comparison to the 3 Hour of Twilight dungeons for Cataclysm : they're just bags of loot. For hell's sake, you can even tickle the « boss » they won't engage -_-' …

    Bringing a nerf to Dragon Soul this early is really, really a bad idea and a poor plan from Blizz', and THIS is what's getting the good player bail out from WoW, not the opposite.

  15. I welcome the nerfs to normal mode but I think they may be coming a little early. I am part of an ever shrinking guild that runs 10 man DS 1-2 times a week. We are still making gradual progress, but have spent the last couple of weeks stuck at Warmaster Blackhorn. We are still all gearing up from the earlier bosses, so each week we come back a little bit stronger as a group, but that effect is lessened each successive week as more and more loot is DE'd.
    Our goal is always to finish the normal mode content before the next tier/expansion is released. We just did it with Firelands although the nerfs were extreme (we went from 3/7 to 6/7 in a week leaving only Ragnaros challenging us).
    I'm not sure nerfs are warranted as much in heroic modes, as to me, that is the area where the elite compete to get the furthest.

    In summary, nerfs to normal mode are welcome, allowing our average skilled group to complete the normal mode content before the next tier. If MoP is very close on the horizon, then bring the nerfs sooner but gradually, otherwise let progression occur naturally.

  16. Comment got a bit long, so I turned it into a full blog post, but the short if it: some people may be stumbling already, but it feels too soon to say people are hitting walls, and if blizzard has data on such walls, surely specific nerfs to those would be better than a blanket nerf? Too soon, Executus, too soon.

    The problem with nerfs like these happening when content is still current is that they only fully affect you after it's already over. When you look back and realize that kill you wanted so bad is a little empty, now that you think about it. When it starts to nag at you that hey, maybe you COULD have done it without that extra few %, come to think of it, but you can't go back now that the box has been opened and the shrinkwrap is off.

  17. The Decline of WoW began long ago. Subscriptions stopped increasing by significant totals all the way back in T9. WoW hit 12.5 mil subscribers during Ulduar, and never got that high again. The drop was accelerated in Cataclysm as Blizzard released an unfinished expansion that inconsistently yoyoed the quality and difficulty of content back and forth wildly, alienating both sides of the player base. Add in the fact that WoW has always had a relatively high churn rate, they recently commented that something like 40% of new subscribers quit in less than 2 months, a good chunk of the cataclysm drop off could be attributed to barriers to entry choking off the incoming flow of players.

    The problem that I have with blanket nerfs like this, the ICC buff, and the Firelands gutting is that it's a poor and lazy substitute for releasing a properly tuned instance.

    Look at Ulduar, the primary instance when WoW was at its peak. It was never hit with blanket nerfs. Ignis, XT, and Mimiron were nerfed, and Hodir got yoyoed a bit, and they zeroed in on some bug fixes on Yogg and Algalon, but they never went in and said "everything's 15% easier now". They took the time to look at individual encounters, and tune them in to the level that they were intended to, and this created the finest raid they ever made, with a smooth difficulty curve ramping up from the lootmobile, to Alone in the Darkness, a strong contender for the most difficult encounter in the history of the game. That was Blizzard getting it right. Firelands and Dragon Soul is Blizzard getting it wrong.

  18. The problem of guilds collapsing isn't due to what a niche of oldschool players may ask for though; one should be careful here, also with the "what good has it done them to ever listen to us?". how they react on critique and what approach they choose to fix/improve matters in the game, is still the designers choice and responsibility to analyze thoroughly. but if there's one thing I feel Blizzard's devs have often neglected, it's to ponder longterm factors/thinking vs. short-term thinking in WoW.

    one big issue I personally see is how Blizzard implemented , nerfed and tuned parts of the game while actually not listening just to the hardcores, but everyone (all the time, sometimes at once). the issue of overall game and raid difficulty (also see Klepsacovic today) is the best example: leveling up and reaching 'raid level' got increasingly shorter and easier (with less hurdles, less attunements, less selective mechanisms), while raid difficulty got more unforgiving than ever on individual level. makes no sense?

    it's contradictory and speaks of a very poor, inconsistent overall concept. it's as if they keep giving a little bit to 'this crowd' and then a little to 'that crowd' in order to keep everyone happy. but in truth, the middle disappears this way and both ends of the spectrum drift further apart. seriously, in retrospective I'd rather have seen them go for one 'side' for real and make a good job for one crowd at least - than have some of today's bizarre compromise which is made up by uncompromising features (ironically vanilla was a much better compromise in so many ways..).

    as for your choice Rohan, I can see where it's coming from - but we shouldn't have to make that choice in the first place. there should be checks and balances in place early into the game to prevent such drastic means later on. but maybe it takes an altogether different MMO from WoW to do this.

  19. When I first read "older players" I interpreted that as a statement about their age not the longevity within WoW. In that context, I agree with Rohan. If I want to prove I don't have the reflexes of a 20 year old any more there are plenty of FPS I can get my ass handed to me in in, I don't need the dance to prove that.

    More broadly though, I agree with Syl's last comment. What I see is increasing reactivity from Blizzard without sufficient consideration of the Law of Unintended Consequences. If you can get to 85 in three weeks but then can't do anything once you're there it's no wonder people ragequit.

    The unfortunate reality for all you hardcore folks (I guess I count since I've been playing since the January after vanilla release), is that you don't pay the build for Blizzard but Blizzard won't come out and say that. If nerfing is what it takes to keep the genuinely older (40+) in the game, then nerfing you're going to see because after all this IS still a business

  20. .. eh.. "pay the bilss" would make that sentence make more sense

  21. When I first read "older players" I interpreted that as a statement about their age not the longevity within WoW. In that context, I agree with Rohan. If I want to prove I don't have the reflexes of a 20 year old any more there are plenty of FPS I can get my ass handed to me in in, I don't need the dance to prove that.

    More broadly though, I agree with Syl's last comment. What I see is increasing reactivity from Blizzard without sufficient consideration of the Law of Unintended Consequences. If you can get to 85 in three weeks but then can't do anything once you're there it's no wonder people ragequit.

    The unfortunate reality for all you hardcore folks (I guess I count since I've been playing since the January after vanilla release), is that you don't pay the bills for Blizzard but Blizzard won't come out and say that. If nerfing is what it takes to keep the genuinely older (40+) in the game, then nerfing you're going to see because after all this IS still a business.

  22. I actually liked the aspect of having guilds collapse on harder bosses. It gave off the feeling of having an ecosystem and natural selection at work. It was actually a very important component of a successful raiding structure for pre-cata WoW.

    A server has so many guilds, some better then others. Every guild has members of different skill levels as even the worst of guilds have at least one or two solid people. When the less-good guilds collapse the stronger members move on and move up, filling an open roster spot of a higher level guild. That is how I moved up in the raiding system. My first guild collapsed on Vael so I joined a guild that was working on Nef. A year or two later that guild collapsed on Gorefiend so I joined a guild on another server that was working on Illidan. Then THAT guild collapsed on H-LK so I joined a guild that had wotlk on farm a month before cata started (which is basically as high as I could go).

    It was a long journey and I met a LOT of different people over the years (with some of whom I still keep in contact with outside of game or with RealID). I also vastly improved as a raider since I kept raising the bar for myself as I moved up the raiding guild food chain. Its exactly what I want in an MMO.

    But now. Now things just get nerfed hard and nerfed fast. Its all become single tier episodic content. Everyone can do everything on their personalized difficulty setting. Token heroic modes that barely matter with gear that looks the same as everyone else.

    All because we don't want to hurt anyone's feelings and gotta make sure everyone gets to see everything. Thanks.

  23. "Blizzard listened to us at the start of Cataclysm. "

    Yup, they didn't listen to people like me who said "You know, Wrath was pretty much perfect, just keep doing that. We liked having quick heroics as well as the harder ICC ones. And those separate 10 and 25 man raid lockouts worked brilliantly for casual 25 man guilds, definitely keep those."

    So we left :)

  24. Maybe straying a little, but just firing up a couple 1.12.1 and 2.4.3 servers would make an awful lot (I would dare to say millions) of subscribers downright giddy.

  25. ...I would probably resub if they did (I reside in the New Eden sandbox now, getting MAH LAZORS on).

  26. I could not agree with this post more. I am a casual raider, I am the reason that content gets nerfed. I am not a bad, I just don't go into a raid with optimal raid composition because I play with friends and family... and I still want to see content.

    I hated the difficulty of Cata. It was not to difficult for me, I finished most of the heroics the first week the content came out and even got some of the achievements... but it was way too difficult for about 2/3s of our guild... what happened after? tons of unhappy people.

    The people that got into raiding during wrath cried foul because they had never had to "relearn" their toons. It was sad to see so many people leave the game simply because they could not play with their friends anymore... raiding was a completely different story. We did ok on tier 11, and even got 1 hardmode done, but then Firelands and its RNG really hurt us.

    What most raiders don't consider is that casuals enter every raid a little behind the curve. We don't have heroic pieces and sometimes not even full 4 sets. Things that become quite trivial with gear inflation are just not accessible to us.

    The moment your tank or healer get a 4 piece, it makes the raid that much easier and farming content that much quicker. Our progression goes more like a new boss down every could of weeks, to your everything on normal done the first week. That is a lot of gear that we get to stay behind on.

    The added burden is that with less bosses down, and less gear one bad night of raiding or a bad roll can discourage a player... that is what got me out of the whole progression game. Loot drama and the like.

    I agree with your point of view that listening to the hardcore raiders about how to change the game is bad... now if the conversation was only about hardmodes or the buff only applying to normal, I could see things more Kurn's way. I just don't think that you can ever make everyone happy, and with that said even if its just 1 million of us, we are pretty happy with the nerfs coming.

  27. I am a general player, do not raid with a group.. I think that Blizz has done enough with end game.

    I think they should leave it alone. I feel totally satisfied going to LFR and seeing the content. Nerf that part of the game and leave Heroic and Regular alone. I would think most people would be happy with that.

    I think the reason that "Hard Heroics" of Cata failed is because the game requires you to run these 10,000 times. If I only had to run those once and I then had a full set of gear I would have no problem with them. Lets say my legs came from the Hyjal ones and Chest from Deepholm.

    However since I have to run them every single night and if one person does not run from the thing the whole party dies... not fun..

    I like the new heroics since they are short and unless the DPS is doing 4k or the healer is horrible I can finish them easily with no chance to fail in a reasonable time.. So when nothing else is going on I grab my main and a couple alts and have fun gearing.

    I like them also because the content is pretty good.

    I refuse to run the old Heroics anymore so as a semi-goblin I BUY every scrap of material I can find in the AH or craft with my BS and even if my mage is rocking an AGI trinket I am in the new heroics. Usually this works out. XD.

    As a matter of fact my mage had to run only 4 new heroics before ready for LFR and has already gotten a helmet drop! YAY MAGES! I also do not see her doing any less DPS than most people in LFG/LFR.. normally I am right up there with the top.

  28. @Clockwork:

    Not using an optional buff = lower server ranking.

    Higher server ranking = easier time recruiting/better recruits.

    It's just not an option to turn it off for any guild that is in the top 10 or 20.

  29. I'm not sure I understand the argument against the optional nerf.

    Do these 'hardcore' types gain pleasure not by beating bosses, but by other people NOT beating bosses?

    How pathetic.

  30. This post has a lot of correlation=causation in it. I agree that the hardcore/vocal minority don't represent the will and wants of the majority, but some of the statements are just fallacies:

    "And what was the result of the best efforts of these "community assets"? Two million lost subscriptions."

    Who knows, if not for all the "community assets", maybe there would have been four million lost subscriptions, or they never would have hit 12.5m total subscriptions in the first place.

  31. @Kadaan, that's possible, but I deem it unlike. Blizzard has better information than we do. They know who's quitting, and they'll have done research to find out why.

    So look at Blizzard's actions. What did they change in response to the loss of subscriptions? They completely backtracked on the whole harder difficulty thing.

    They also know how many people quit because of the Firelands nerfs. Given that they are still pursuing nerfs, that implies that higher difficulty does more damage than nerfs.

  32. T5 killed my original guild. From 5th or so in MC, to 4th to clear Kara ut the glacial progress of T5 was the end. You kill some bosses, lose a few people, then you can't kill what you could before, you get better and kill them again then lose some people. Rinse and repeat.With the additional issue of if you actually got vashj or kael then your members where hot targets for guilds that where actually in t6 because nobody liked running atunement runs for recruits.

    I spent a year in t5 and I still mamaged to finally get into t6 prior to the removal of the attunements and gear nerfs - just.

    But as said when our guild died a lot of players just stopped playing perhaps half the guild. Some have come back for short periods since but they are no longer raiders.

    The current nerds? I think they are too soon. But the basic idea I agree with.

  33. Cataclysm lacked end game content. With raids the Only thing to work on, you hit the wall a lot faster.

    10 and 25 split has accelerated people dropping out. In 25 if you don't progress, you may be forced to switch down to 10's. In 10's if you don't progress fast enough you may loose irreplaceable members.

  34. "The only nerfs we took advantage of were attunement removals (except the BT one, because we needed the necks for shadow resistance) and the 3.0 nerfs because, dangit, we weren’t ready to stop raiding yet. (Still, we were 4/5 Hyjal and 5/9 BT when 3.0 dropped.)"

    I was 5/5 Hyjal and 9/9 BT when 3.0 was released but I don't think I was in a very good guild because we didn't kill Calecgos in SWP. What Kurn is writing is nonsense. Every raid boss in TBC was nerfed several times. She wouldn't be able to down even T4 bosses if they weren't nerfed.

    I play with some Vanilla and TBC veterans but no one is complaining about nerfs. Seems to me only some wannabe HC players are complaining.

  35. I just want to mention that the people who talk about the difficulty, or lack thereof, absolutely infuriate me. I just want to know how many of these people have actually beaten everything before they made that pronouncement.

    My 10s, before it fell apart, bitched and complained about Dragon Soul being far too easy, when we were having troubles beating Zon'ozz and Yor'sahj. When we were having troubles beating Ultraxion. When we couldn't even get past Blackhorn. On Normal. All the while also claiming that there was nothing new about the content. That even though there wasn't another boss quite like these guys, it was somehow so derivative.

    So you know what? I can't speak for your own experiences, but most of the people that I have seen talk about how easy things are haven't actually seen the content at it's hardest. So if stuff is going to be nerfed to make the investment in the content worthwhile, a few months after it was released? All the better for it. Raiding is not an elitist club anymore; it's not a maintainable investment, and they've stated that multiple times in the past. If high end guilds want to have higher challenges, there's Heroic modes or imposing their own limitations.

    A favourite anecdote of mine is that the first Chinese kill of Illidan was made with guys wearing T3, but when was the last time you saw a top end NA guild tackling content with clearly outdated gear? If they're bitching so much for a challenge, why arn't they challenging themselves more?

  36. The biggest failure at the start of cataclysm was the new 'triage' healing model. In order for that to work, characters and therefore mobs, needed a lot more health.

    Instead of dying in 5 seconds, each mob took a lot longer to kill, so that the healer's mana got stretched. While this made healing more interesting, it meant the new heroics took forever to complete.

    I would disagree that the heroics were too hard (ok, maybe Stonecore was), rather that they were way too long, especially for LFD parties, who are intolerant of anything that requires patience.

    The latest heroics show that the 'triage' model has been consigned to history, and we are back to a more Wrath-style game.

    The other big boo boo they made, was nerfing the levelling game into complete faceroll, where one button spam could win you any encounter, but suddenly expect people to know their class inside and out once they hit level 85.

    LFR is a continuation of the faceroll model extended to raiding. Once people enter normal modes with their shiny LFR gear and find the difficulty level has increased, they can't get past Ultraxion without learning how to play properly, and so the nerfing cycle continues.

  37. It was never a matter of difficulty.

    It's about accomplishment and motivation.

    When raids no longer feel like an accomplishment, then you lose the motivation to do them. There's no point trying to get gear if the gear is meaningless.

    The game simply lost its purpose. It no longer builds community and it no longer offers meaningful challenges.

    The most fun I had in cataclysm was the hard heroics at the start and the fishing contest we had in our guild.

  38. I'm one of those lost subs, but not because raiding or heroics were too difficult. I quit because the overall quality of the game was far below what I had come to expect from Blizzard Entertainment.

    Cataclysm was a poorly produced product, for reasons that are far too numerous to go into in a comment.

    The shift from the era of Tom Chilton to the era of J. Allen Brack has not been kind to WoW...and Greg Street needs to seriously stop changing class mechanics and the talent system.

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  40. You assume the majority of players who quit were casuals who couldn't deal with endgame content, but my group of friends quit during Cataclysm, too. They were hardcore players, either Gladiators or in good raiding guilds.

    Some quit because of poor balance, others because there wasn't enough raid content. We agreed WoW didn't feel like a world anymore, just a bunch of minigames on which it was easy to burn out.

    Your entire post is based on the assumption Cataclysm is more hardcore, but the developers spent a very large amount of resources redoing the old world and making leveling a more enjoyable experience. How about raid finder -- is THAT hardcore?

    The answer isn't to ignore hardcore players. Just look at the dungeon challenge preview -- if the devs get creative enough, everyone can be satisfied.

  41. I couldn't disagree with you more. I don't think any of the expansions (or patches) after Sunwell was catering to the "old guard" at all. Thus, the loss of 2M players had nothing to do whatsoever with catering to veterans.

    Rather the opposite, the veteran players are what made me *want* to be a veteran player and get into a good guild so I could see Hyjal and BT. That kind of motivation is what drove new players to WoW in mass numbers.

    The failure to deliver meaningful linear progression (e.g., releasing patches while making certain ilevels obsolete, like in WotLK on), IMHO, is what drove many players like me (who had become veteran by WotLK) away from the game. For example, how many people ventured into Ulduar after ICC hit? Cataclysm was the last straw. I didn't even care to get better gear, or see the latest twitchy lol-dungeon.

    So it is two-fold: The failure to deliver meaningful linear progression and the loss of veteran players.

  42. "@Kadaan, that's possible, but I deem it unlike. Blizzard has better information than we do. They know who's quitting, and they'll have done research to find out why.

    So look at Blizzard's actions. What did they change in response to the loss of subscriptions? They completely backtracked on the whole harder difficulty thing."

    So, when Blizzard does something that doesn't work, it's because they listened to a group of people foolishly, but when they do something new, it's obviously correct and based on their infallible insider information.

    Do you even see the massive self-contradiction in your argument there?

    The rest of your argument is too reductionist to be taken seriously. For someone like myself who could do the dances in their sleep, the dps/hps requirements of Cata were very easy compared to BC. For someone who couldn't learn the dances, Cata would be much harder to get carried through than earlier content. To claim that the "hardcore" are responsible for Cata's failure is inane. The hardcore are concerned with heroic raid difficulty, not with 5 man difficulty or normal raid difficulty. What self-respecting hardcore player would ask for more country dance elements and easier dps/hps requirements, in content that he doesn't care about? That's sublimely ridiculous.

  43. So, when Blizzard does something that doesn't work, it's because they listened to a group of people foolishly, but when they do something new, it's obviously correct and based on their infallible insider information.

    Because one is action, the other is reaction.

    Did Blizzard make Cata heroics harder in response to people quitting because Wrath heroics were too easy? No they made them harder because they and a lot of the more vocal audience thought it was a good idea.

    Did Blizzard make Cata heroics easier in response to people quitting because Cata heroics were too hard? Yes, yes they did.

    See the difference? One is action without a triggering event, one is reaction to a triggering event.

  44. What I don't get is: Why are people griping if the nerfs can be turned off? I have played the game since TBC, which I thought was too hard. Not that I couldn't do it, it just wasnt fun. Dying is not fun for me. Failure is not fun for me. I have plenty of real life endeavors that I can fail and "grow" at. Video games should be a way to blow off frustrations, not create it.
    I believe I am in the majority. Thankfully, it seems Blizzard is coming back to that conclusion. I still to this day think Wrath has been the best expansion. DK's, ICC, even though ToC was kind of lame, I really enjoyed the argent tournament.

  45. I think proof of Blizzard's 'reactions' to revert what they started in Cataclysm will be in the numbers released for Q4 in February.

    Taken from MMO Champion:

    Q1 2011 - 600,000 subscribers lost
    Q2 2011 - 300,000 subscribers lost
    Q3 2011 - 800,000 subscribers lost

    Q1 shows when Cataclysm was released. Q3 should be just after Firelands was released.

    Currently, all I gain from these numbers is that there's been MORE people departing from WoW AFTER Blizzard's decision to start catering to casuals and not the hardcore raiders with the major Firelands patch. I'm quite curious if Q4 will show a slow down or a reversal of this trend. That might give more credence to the fact that their 'reactions' are actually working.

    However, I have to agree with some of the other posters: people are leaving WoW not only because of what they've been doing to their yo-yo philosophy on raiding difficulty but also because of other major reasons such as new MMO's of higher quality being released and the fact they're trying to please too many people and end up not pleasing everyone in turn.

  46. Falrei, your argument is nonsense.

    The 800K loss in Q3 included at least 400K (and probably a bit more) loss in China, which got Cataclysm on July 12. They started with 4.1.

    Moreover, even the western losses in Q3 cannot be attributed to nerfs. One could just as well attribute them to raiders who failed to clear T11 before 4.2 and just gave up. Quits are a lagging indicator; it may take a while for a guild to fully fail or for an individual player's hope to be extinguished.

    And even with the nerfs in 4.2 (which really only hit a couple of months in, with the blanket nerf), the heroic 5 mans were still as hard as before. Grinding them just wasn't fun for many players, even after the LotD buff.

    You hardcores (or hardcore wannabes) are desperate to avoid the obvious -- that Blizzard tried to cater to you, and it was an unprecedented disaster for the game.

  47. I think the reactions were caused by a lot of people taking this personally - I can say I did. I eventually realized the nerfs are quite inconsequential but Blizzard seemed to say the raiders were either good enough to not be challenged by the bosses or needed the challenge decreased in order not to quit, i. e. people who thought they liked challenge were mistaken.

    I wish they acknowledged the people who are not good enough to clear DS HC by this time but do not want to feel to be carried. I understand telling a customer they're wrong is not easy but I think they could have done better than saying we deluded ourselves into thinking we're better than we actually are.