Blizzard Wants You to Play Less, All the Time

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More big news about Cataclysm late last night with regard to the evolution of badges and emblems.

Again, here's the original post and a quick summary:

  • there will only be two "emblem currencies" for PvE: hero points (for easy content) and valor points (for harder content)
  • the way in which these are awarded aligns with the current Emblem of Triumph and Emblem of Frost
  • PvP will also have two currencies: honor (for battlegrounds) and conquest (for arenas)
  • there will be a cap on the number of high-grade points you can get each week (separate caps for valor and conquest I assume)
  • when a new tier of content comes out, all your higher-grade points get swapped 1:1 for the lower-grade points
  • there will be a way to convert the low-grade PvE points for low-grade PvP and vice versa, though at a less than 1:1 ratio
  • there are no plans to allow high-grade point swaps or low-to-high swaps

Some of this is just a terminology switch from what we know today. Yes, there might still be items available for Emblems of Heroism, Valor and Conquest, but since you can't earn them, only people who were away from the game prior to a new content patch (and thus have a stockpile) spend these. Everyone else just grumbles through the process of swapping Triumph to Conquest to Valor to Heroism in order to buy their raw epic gems and heirloom items.

What I find interesting (especially in the context of the announcement yesterday about raid lockouts) is that Blizzard seems to be pushing players to play less each week while maintaining a compelling reason to keep your subscription going.

We first heard about this when the Path of the Titans was announced at Blizzcon. The term then was "gated, not grindy". The cap on valor and conquest points means that if you do two raid dungeons and the daily heroic every day in a week, you'll probably hit the cap. As such, you will now be able to choose to run two raids and no dailies, one raid and a few dailies, or no raids and the daily every day while still earning a similar number of valor points. I suspect that the last option won't be quite on par - something like 70% of the cap feels about right.

So you're no longer going to be pushed to do every raid you can to get emblems, and so long as you're doing one raid, you probably won't get the full benefit of running the daily every day in addition. But you're not going to drop your subscription, because the whole thing resets once a week. Where you might be able to play 6 days out of the week and get quantifiable benefit every day today, you might get the maximum quantifiable benefit in 3 days in Cataclysm.

So what do you do with the rest of your time? Play another character is one option - perhaps we'll see more guilds where people have two mains rather than just one. You could also play something else - perhaps giving people time to play Starcraft 2 and Diablo 3 is part of this strategy.

The changes to raid scheduling and guild size that I mentioned yesterday need to be considered in the context of this announcement as well. I'm going to try to do some case studies of made-up guilds of varying sizes and player participation levels (i.e. a 25 person guild with a full bench, a 10 person guild who often only get 8 people signed up, etc.) to feel out what all of these changes mean.

Look for that in the next couple of days.

Until Next Time