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WoWJan 23, 2018 9:53 am CT

Recruit-a-Friend experience boost has been nerfed


Patch 7.3.5 changed the way leveling works in World of Warcraft like no other patch has ever done. Yeah, some zones have a minimum level still — because that jerk bear in Western Plaguelands has to always be scary to Tirisfal newbies — but whole continents now scale to a max level rather than funneling you into a specific zone. Of course, with leveling changes, Blizzard’s had to reevaluate all forms of experience gain — and that includes Recruit-a-Friend.

Because of the new leveling system, the Recruit-a-Friend experience bonus didn’t quite line up with “the best experience for players new to World of Warcraft.” As a result, Blizzard has nerfed the experience bonus players will receive, effective immediately. This nerfs both the RAF experience boost itself as well as the bonus’s interactivity with heirloom gear.

There’s more to discuss below, but first, check out the exact changes being made:

Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment (Official Post)


  • The XP boost has been reduced from 200% bonus to 50% bonus*, effective today, January 22, 2018.
  • If you’re already actively participating in the program, fear not! If you either sent or received an invite before the change went into effect today, once the invite is accepted you and your friend will still receive triple XP* (200% XP bonus) until the link between your accounts expires (90 days from the date the new recruit’s account was first created). Please note: RAF invites expire after seven days.
  • Heirloom gear XP bonuses will no longer stack with the RAF boost (i.e., the maximum XP boost you will see from today onwards is 50%). If you were already on the program, Heirloom gear will still stack.
  • All other rewards are unchanged and yours to enjoy:
    • Summon your friend once every 30 minutes.
    • 10% bonus reputation from kills that grant reputation.*
    • Level granting: for every two levels your friend gains while the accounts are linked, they can grant one level to one of your characters.
    • Recruiter rewards, including game time and epic mounts.

Naturally, the response to these changes has been overwhelmingly positive, with nearly everyone praising Blizzard for making a more cohesive leveling experience th–

Okay, just kidding. People are pretty angry about this. And the first time reading through the changes, I wasn’t all too keen on them either. But let’s stop for a moment to think about this one.

To get it out of the way: Yes, this will probably push players to buy a character boost rather than level a character and, yes, this does slow down what used to be an incredibly fast leveling experience. But — at the risk of angry comments — that also means players will be… experiencing the content. Hang on, hang on, let me defend myself more first.

Who is Recruit-a-Friend actually for?

Recruit-a-Friend has, to my knowledge, primarily been used for players to earn new mounts/pets and to level alts extremely, ludicrously fast. And this does throw a wrench in that. But Recruit-a-Friend is not meant for that. It is, first and foremost, meant to recruit brand-new players to the game — players who have never seen the content, possibly ones who have never played an MMO in their life.

As Blizzard states in the blog post, even with the new leveling changes, the old Recruit-a-Friend bonus would have meant “new players going into dungeons could find themselves overwhelmed by multiple new abilities gained over the course of a single instance run.” As a brand-new player, that’s a lot to take in.

Yes, I do realize the goal of recruiting a friend is to get to playing current content with them as quickly as possible. But the game does come with a level boost if your friend ultimately decides to buy the full game. Whichever character that friend is leveling will either give them a slow, digestible introduction to the game or they’ll choose to boost that character and take in all the abilities the super-high experience boost would have given anyhow.

On top of all this, I am genuinely curious when the last time those of you who are upset by this actually used Recruit-a-Friend and if you used it to actually recruit a friend who had never played the game before. If you’ve used this recently or frequently, and you’ve used it to bring in a totally new person, my follow-up question is this: How did that new player feel about the rate they were thrown content?

I realize I sound like a bit of a shill right now. Maybe I am. Like I said above, my initial reaction to these changes was not a positive one. But ultimately, whether I agree or disagree with them, they won’t actually affect me. I’ve used Recruit-a-Friend once or twice since it came out almost a decade ago, and they were both to “recruit” someone who already had experience with the game.

UPDATE: Blizzard has posted the following response to the concerns being raised:

Originally Posted by Ornyx (Official Post)
Thanks for the feedback and thoughts so far.

The Refer-A-Friend system is intended as an option for players who want to invite a friend to play WoW with them and experience the game together. When it was first introduced, we gave it a hefty bonus to experience gain as a way for both players to reach endgame content as quickly as possible.

Nowadays, purchasing the latest WoW expansion includes a free character boost, so the need to rush your friend to max level is no longer there; you can jump into the latest content with your friend right away. This meant that the only players who were using the Refer-A-Friend system in its intended way – leveling alongside their friend – were those who had decided that they wanted to experience that content together. We realized that, for those players, the 300% XP bonus was a disservice; we were cutting that shared experience short by making them finish it far too quickly.

Now, we certainly recognize that the majority of people using the Refer-A-Friend system before these changes were doing so in order to level alts quickly. If anything, we take that as a strong indication that the system needed to change: the best method to level a character in WoW shouldn’t be “buy a new copy of the game, put it on a separate account, send it a Refer-A-Friend invite, level a new character, and then transfer that character to your primary account when you’re finished.” That’s messy, at best.

That said, we’re certainly taking the feedback about the rate of leveling alts into account as we move forward with the game’s development. We’ve been happy with the changes so far, but if leveling is too slow, we’d rather address that in the game itself than have Refer-A-Friend be some kind of bizarre workaround to an outstanding issue.

Probably not the answer you were hoping for, but there it is. If anything changes, it’ll be the standard leveling rate rather than the RAF bonuses.

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