Monday, October 24, 2016

Legion Hype: Patch 7.1 & The Pacing of Content

The first content patch for World of Warcraft: Legion goes live tomorrow, after maintenance. What makes this interesting enough to post about it again is the strategy that Blizzard's following with this patch, a strategy heretofore only done at the launch of an expansion or in very specific situations. In short, they are attempting to extend the lifespan of their content by delayed release and other forms of gating.

When the patch goes live tomorrow, only a fraction of the content on offer will actually be available. The final raid for the first Legion tier will not be available until at least nine weeks after, and you must do it to gain access to said raid (The Nighthold), so that's one hell of an artificial barrier to content access meant to keep things going for a while. In addition to that, there are new World Quests, new rewards to chase, and other player-retention mechanisms meant to keep you logging in for something other than the latest raid or PVP season.

Yes, it will be nice to have a small raid (Trials of Valor) to tide us over until most players are in The Nighthold, and a new dungeon is also nice to have even if it's not immediately accessible, but I suspect that the devs still don't get what folks are after here. Players want content that grants continual significant character progression; if doing the thing doesn't make their character stronger, it's not worth doing and doesn't count as content at all.

That's the source of a lot of "There's nothing to do!" complaints: nothing there makes your man stronger anymore, so it's usefulness is gone and player burnout makes doing it all against on alts not-fun very fast. Pacing content releases properly means both ensuring that such stuff comes out on a regular basis, but not so frequent that the spoils can't be enjoyed once gotten. Quarterly patches, with new raid tiers and their PVP seasons every six months, seems ideal; why this is not industry-standard by now is beyond me.

We'll see if the devs got the memo presently.

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