Raiding – Who’s It For?

I used to raid back in the day.  You know, when we trash meant something and you stayed logged on to farm mats.  Oh, what glorious days it was to raid 5 hours a day, 5 days a week and then farm the other 2 days!  Kids today have it much to easy.  What with the CoD, Destiny, D3 pop-in and play gamestyle.  Where’s the challenge of getting 20-40 cavedwellers to wake up from their late nap to log in? And then proceed to ignore all instructions for the first 45 minutes?  Oh, too easy I tell you, much too easy!

Some odd Wildstar numbers for you here.  So from the horses’ mouth, 120-150 20 man raids, 7 40 man raids that have cleared 3 of the 9 bosses.  The math comes to around 4000 raiders.

Let’s look at WoW for a second, where Raiding is arguably, no longer the top-tier end game activity (pet battles!).  Here’s the link and it accounts for data ~6 months after the raid released.  7.3 million character, 2.3 million accounts, looking at the final tier of raiding, SoO.  70% completed the first boss on LFR, 40% flex, 20% normal, 10% heroic.  50% completed the last boss on LFR, 18% flex, 13% normal, 0.8% heroic.  Assuming the “accounts number”, WoW’s hard mode attracted ~1% of the playerbase.  I’ve mentioned before that WoW’s heroic is pretty close in difficulty to Wildstar’s default raid level.

Back to Wildstar.  Assuming the same 1% ratio (and that’s a very large assumption) they are sitting at around 400k subs, which I think is a pretty decent number.  Of course, it takes magic math to get there.

But the crux of the argument is that their design vision, hardcore 40 man raids, are being consumed by a tiny, tiny fraction of the playerbase.  You’re leaving 99% of the rest of playerbase with next to nothing to do as end-game currently consists of either daily grinds, or getting into the raiding sphere.  Hate on WoW’s LFR as much as you want, they’ve found a way to get 50-70% of their playerbase to USE the material they’ve built.

Now you’re going to LFR for 1 of 2 reasons.  First, and I’m going to assume this is the minority here, to see the story/content through.  Raids, since BWL at least, have had pretty decent narratives.  If you didn’t raid Icecrown, then you’re probably wondering what ever happened to the Lich King after having seen him every 15 minutes while leveling.  Second, they do it for gear.  Gear for gear’s sake, or to get into the real “raiding” that starts at Flex.

Flex for a minute. This to me is the smartest move WoW ever made when it comes to raiding.  There were many months of tweaking, in order to avoid breakpoints but today’s implementation is near perfect.  Solid enough challenge, built for social guilds and allows you to take a night off with the missus.

Back on point, raids are by their very nature exclusive.  They require not only a decent amount of RPG-savvy (stats through gear + good build + good tactics) but also coordination of multiple people over long periods of time (3+ hours).  Sometimes the latter is the hardest part and calling a raid off because you only have 32 people instead of 40 happened often in vanilla.

So while Wildstar has it’s own little problem in that they need something for people to do other than raid, they also need to look at how they can make raiding more accessible so that they aren’t spending millions on content that only 4000 people get to see.

8 thoughts on “Raiding – Who’s It For?

  1. I think that 1% is the wrong number here.

    You mentioned that 20% of WoW players have killed the first boss on Normal mode. This means that 20% of players are interested in raiding. That they have not killed Garrosh on Heroic doesn’t mean that they aren’t trying to. They just haven’t progressed that far. But 20% of the WoW playerbase have shown enough interest in raiding to step beyond the simple LFR tool, and beyond the come-all-ye raiding of flex, to take a place in a raid team (even if they didn’t get a regular spot).

    Now to Wildstar. This defined itself, in opposition to WoW, as hardcore. People didn’t sign up to Wildstar to play pet battles. So if 20% of the WoW player base tried normal or harder raiding, and managed to kill one or more raid bosses, you can be sure at least 20% of Wildstar players have the same intention.

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    • I agree in parts.

      To reach normal mode raiding in WoW is fairly easy. There are no real large hurdles to that event and you have multiple paths to acquire gear to get in. (today, before timeless isle and LFR, that’s where Wildstar is). That 20% want to give raiding a shot, that’s pretty good. That 1% ever try for heroic…. well you got to ask yourself is that worth it? 1% of 2.3 million is 20,000 players, so maybe?

      You’re right in that Wildstar wasn’t ever aiming for a casual crowd. They got some but a whole TON less than what WoW has. Though, in game I would say that the % of players that bought the game and are raiding is much, much lower than 20%. Just to get into the door is a multi-week attunement that breaks people. Then you need to clear the 20 man content to have a chance at the 40 man. Which only a couple servers have the population to try.

      Still, let’s say 20% are in the 20 man raid, the “easier mode”. Let’s say there are 3500 people in that raid group. That leaves you with ~17,500 players. If that’s all that’s left in Wildstar…holy potatoes.

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  2. Interesting post.

    However, I do have to point out that with WoW, one has to take into consideration the large amount of subscribers that hasn’t upgraded to the latest expansion to begin with, the subscribers which have Cataclysm or lower (though they later on in MoP bumped the Battlechest to Cataclysm, making all subscription accounts either Cata or MoP).

    While the information on exact numbers is sparse, with MoP at start only (iirc) selling 4 million or so boxes (on a then-subscriber base of around 7 million iirc) I wouldn’t be surprised if this group is sizeable enough to significantly lower the figures used.

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    • The numbers only include accounts that were active during that time. I find it odd that someone would be playing WoW after SoO was out for 6 months and not be playing MoP. Also, only US accounts, as the asian ones didn’t get it.

      But yeah, it’s far from an absolute.

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  3. As much as I loved raiding back in the day, I’d much prefer a new MMO that focused on giving me challenging end game dungeons to run, or – at most – “raids” that are simply twice the regular group size (hopefully 12 since I prefer 6-man groups).

    I am over the scheduled raiding and giant undertakings that make me feel like a manager. I am not over something like say Karazhan or even Zul’Aman bear runs. I want better interplay amongst various roles and subroles, not a ‘everyone fend for yourself’ the boss has all the mechanics game. Give me crowd control and having to pull intelligently and all that fun stuff!

    That’s more exciting to me than 20+ strangers beating their heads against a boss for three weeks.

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    • I think that’s one thing that SWTOR did rather well, smaller more intimate content, with distinct roles. Neverwinter’s dungeons are also pretty neat with this concept. GW2 is a dodge fest and the rest are still aiming for way too many people in a raid. WoW’s flex may be finally balanced to also support this (10 – 25 players) but the content itself is still raids.

      I’m going to throw it out there but if Wildstar had launched with a Flex-like system, even with the current difficulty level, it would have made a world of difference in player populations. Quite a few guilds and servers died because they couldn’t hit some arbitrary magic number.

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