Wednesday, April 25, 2007

On Styles of Play

This post over on Tobold's Blog got my thinking about the different types of players that Blizzard has to keep happy. Initially I think one can use three broad variables to look at players. Now, this is completely off the top of my head and everything therein is arbitrarily assigned.

  1. Amount of play time.
    Simply the raw numbers of hours you put it. I know several people in my guild play less than 10 hours a week, where as I probably play around 30 hours a week. I'm sure that individuals with minimal RL obligations could put in many more hours. I'd be willing to guess that the 'average' player puts in around 20 hours a week. If you wanted a numeric ratings, 0=5 hours of playtime, 10=40 hours of playtime. I'd put myself at 7-8 here.
  2. Frequency of RL 'interruption'
    As I mentioned, I probably play ~30 hours a week, however that time is very broken up with a variety of things. Wife needs a hand with something, son wants to play outside, food on the table, etc. About the only time I get more than an hour of uninterrupted play is if I stay up much later than my wife and son, and RL prohibits that accept on Friday night. On the other end of that spectrum is an individual who can realistically sit down and play for 5 hours with little more than a bio break. Again I'd suggest that the average player is somewhere between the two, perhaps being able to put in two uninterrupted hours when they do play. A rating here would represent the average amount of time one can play without serious interruption (one taking more than 15 min), 0=0 minutes without interruption (aka could be AFK at any time), 10=5 hours of playtime. I'd rate myself at a 4, I can reasonably expect 90 min uninterrupted.
  3. Attitude towards Warcraft
    Now, this one is a little bit more difficult to measure, and I may be presenting it all wrong. When I log into Warcraft it's to relax and have fun. I'm much less concerned about gear, advancement, or thinking I'm 'the best' than I am about just kicking back. On the other end of that spectrum are individuals who's basis for playing is advancement. I'd say that most, if not all, serious raiders play primarily for advancement. I'm not saying that's bad, just that it's not my thing. 0=Social gamer with little care of end-game, 10=extreme desire to be at the cutting edge of advancement. I'd assign myself at 4 here, I enjoy getting upgrades, but it's not my motivation really.
Now, of course this is an overly broad example and I'm sure there's plenty of cases that would contradict what I've proposed, particularly with my horrible category 3. However, I think they're good enough for the rest of my discussion. Blizzard has a vested interest in all ends of each of these spectrum. Let's see what is targeted by each type of activity in the game (for simplicity
  • Raiding
    I would say that Raiding is targeted primarily at those players who are concerned about in-game accomplishment (category 3), have large amounts of uninterrupted time (category 2), and moderate to large amounts of play time (category 1). I think it's most appealing for people at a 6 or higher in C3, but requires a 7 in C2 and 4 in C1.
  • 5-Man dungeons
    Appeals to a broader segment that Raiding. Takes less time (generally) and with fewer people involved can be more forgiving of interruption. I'd say it's targeted at people with between a 3-7 in C3, at least a 2-6 in C1, and a 4-8 in C2.
  • 5-Man non-dungeon content (particularly the new 2.1 content)
    More targeted at the 'casual' then the dungeon content, also generally requires less time. I'd say is mostly focused at 0-5 C1, 2-6 C2, 2-6 C3.
  • Daily quests and level 70 solo questing
    Again even more casual then above. 0-3 C1, 0-5 C2, and 0-4 C3.
So, with the examples above let's look at what patch 2.1 is offering:
  • The Black Temple, obviously targeted at the hardest of the hardcore raiders
  • Large amounts of non-instanced 5-man content, should be great for all the non-hardcore. As the content seems to tie into existing dungeons the appeal here should be broad.
  • Daily quests and solo content with the new factions, should be great for the most casual players out there.
I think Blizz is doing to hit a home run with this patch. BT may be coming too soon as only one guild has cleared SSC and nobody has cleared TK. But baring that I think the timing of the new 5-man content is nice as I'm sure it will appeal to a large segment of the non-hardcore population.

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