Breakfast Topic: Does exclusive content appeal to you?
If there’s one thing that’s fairly undeniable, it’s that World of Warcraft has made great strides over the years to make itself more accessible to a largely casual playerbase. Long gone are the days of attunements, single raid difficulties, and even exclusive loot. Today, the overwhelming majority of in-game content is accessible to the playerbase in one form or another. Indeed, Ra-den in Throne of Thunder marks the last type of “elite player only” encounter — and even that was advertised as being an “optional” boss compared to Lei Shen. Lately, a question I’ve been asking myself is: Does the lack of exclusive content or special rewards dissuade today’s players from moving up in the game?
When considering what attracted me to endgame content back during Wrath of the Lich King, I remember being motivated to apply to higher ranked guilds, improve my own performance and generally “get better” at the game due to the fact that I had no other options if I wanted to see content: I couldn’t PUG my way to the Lich King (not when it was fresh, anyway), and nor could I count on being able to find an easier version of the boss. The same also applied to loot: If I wanted, for example, to obtain the Flare of the Heavens trinket on my Mage, I needed to find a team of players capable of taking down the 25 player hardmode version of General Vezax; there were no “lower item level” options that held the same reward.
I don’t deny that opening up difficulties such as LFR/Flex, allowing raid content to become more accessible and generally creating more diversity in difficulties allows for a much wider range of players to carve out their preferred niches. What I do wonder however, is whether this harms player motivation to actively improve or seek higher levels of difficulty. For instance, does the appeal of “slightly higher item level gear” truly hold an appealing reward? Does the promise of “harder mechanics from the exact same bosses” alone hold enough sway to persuade people to make the jump? I’d be very interested in hearing a variety of personal perspectives on this, especially from people who have been raiding for a long time. I haven’t mentioned PvP much here since I’m not well versed in its history, but feel free to chime in!
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