An Introduction in Place
Hello there, dear reader!
In all likelihood you are a new reader, considering the fact this is the first post in this blog. So allow me to welcome you in the most heartfelt of manners and introduce myself.
Take a man who’s proletarian by day and a wizard (or another fantasy archetype) by night. Then add into the mix a slight amount of weekend philosopher and basically what you have is me, Waxwind.
Here in the Weekly Wizard I will attempt to pick a subject related to Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Games (or MMORPGs for short) each week and write down my thoughts on it. I cannot say how I will succeed in keeping up the pace yet, nor can I promise the best of quality in the whole of the video game blogging world, but do trust me when I say that I will be trying my best.
In this first post I want to give my take on a topic related to a very recently released game: WildStar, and the niche it appears to be aiming for: the hardcore raiders. So let us jump into it.
Why the hardcore need the casual – even in a PVE focused game
For this first entry I want to discuss the apparent post-release subscriber loss of the recently released WildStar. The specific issue in question is: is catering only to the hardcore the mistake WildStar made?
I would consider myself a pretty hardcore gamer. I am not strictly a raider, but if I play a game and that game includes raiding as it’s endgame, I am going to delve into it. That being said, hardcore content is not the only content I partake in, and to be honest, I can see WildStar has little to offer for anyone to whom raiding either isn’t enough to keep them interested, or who want to do raiding but cannot invest the time into it.
At maximum level WildStar has very little to do outside of raiding for the PVE-minded. And herein lies a problem – the casual gets there and gets bored. The game also bores me, a person to whom raiding is not enough to make a whole game worthwhile (because I except a virtual world and not a lobby game filled with minigames from a title calling itself an MMORPG, but that is a topic for another time.)
If the developers wanted to cater only to the hardcore, why would they care about the loss of casuals then? They have their niche nailed down, right?
Unfortunately I don’t think it is that simple, and this is my point: raiders are a very special type of a niche. While not all of them recognize or would admit this (and while a minority them are unaffected by this), a large part of raiding is showing off. That’s right, it isn’t all about how awesome the boss fights are. Partly, sure, but for a great if not for the most part it’s about you being able to show off you’ve completed those boss fights.
And to whom does the raider show off to? The casual. If there are no casuals, there is nobody to show off to, except if you are in a world first guild, in which case you at least get to show off to the rest of the hardcore raiding population, which in WildStar is already dwindling – dwindling in my opinion partly because there are no casuals to admire them.
The original World of Warcraft had plenty of content for the casual to consume outside of raiding, which isn’t the case for WildStar. Granted, at the time alterantives were few, but playing WoW for the first time actually felt like living in a virtual world no matter how little time you invested in it (and why this was the case is a topic I want to cover in another post). But the same isn’t the case for WildStar, where the casuals do not become as attached to the game and so they leave quickly. And when there are no casuals, the people to show off to, the hardcore raiders get bored.
While seeing new boss mechanics can be fun, few are prepared bash their heads against a fight that takes multiple hours of practice per night for a week or two just for the sake of it. Nay, most people are only prepared to do it if they can brag about it, most likely to a semi big audience – and not that there’s anything wrong with it, it’s just how humans work. And lastly, few people care even about world first kills in a game with a population as small as WildStar’s.