World of Warcraft is played in different ways by different types of gamers.
I got to thinking today, after watching folks starting out in Warhammer actually, what’s driving these folks. So I thought about the kinds of people I’ve run across playing World of Warcraft.
There is the roleplayer. I’ve seen low level characters hanging around Brill obviously following their own storyline. There were two, once, up in the Zeppelin Tower. Troll and Tauren ladies. They were apparently searching for someone whose last known whereabouts was the town of Brill. I think the actual quests in the game were secondary, at best, to their “game.” Blizzard crafted a stage for them, provided them costumes, and a backdrop, and they lifted the curtain and proceeded with their own thing, oblivious to anything and yet working within a living world made very vibrant with all the other people playing around them. They’re the RP in our MMORPG.
There is the achiever. There’s a certain zen feeling in working through something, step by step. Some steps are easy and entertain you. Some steps are there to train you. Some steps are directive and guide you to more steps. Some steps are a challenge in order to establish you deserve to move on. Some steps provide a reward. And so you move step by step until the steps run out, the carrot being the rewards, the stick the need to keep moving. Some steps lead you off on parallel tracks that eventually rejoin with the main one. You can even back up and do the tracks you’ve missed. And, ultimately, at whatever pace you’ve set, you will reach an end-point in terms of levels. And yet there might still be rewards to get in terms of gear, training, and abilities. I think I’m the achiever type. And I think the Achievements that are being added to the game directly address this kind of player.
Then there is the type of player that will single mindedly head to the end point. They will calculate the most direct means, and the fastest way through it, to get to the final point reachable by anyone in the game. Blizzard really caters to this type, and/or encourages it, so we have the kind of development we see.
That is to say there’s two types of achievers. There are those looking to achieve broadly, and those looking to achieve a pinnacle.
Then there is the the person who will simply sit in the same postition for as long as they can. Not because they deserve the position, but simply because they’ve got the time and nowhere else to be. There was a Hunter once, named Longarm if I’m not mistaken, who held the highest PvP rank for the longest time. This was back when Blizzard rewarded those with the committment to basically ruin their lives, or share their account, to be on 24/7 in the same battleground to become High Warlord. And then sit on the rank for as long as they wanted. Nowadays these are the people who trade in full Season 1 sets, earned with honor, not arena points, for full Season 2 sets. They want nothing more than to be in that battlegrounds and watch the honor points, and badges, tick in. This is kind of like an achiever, but worried neither about broad accomplishments, nor reaching a pinnacle, but a limited set of accomplishments, like upgrading one gear set when they can. So three different types of achievers.
There is a player interested in socializing. They aren’t role playing. They aren’t worried about how much they might achieve, either broadly or in reaching a goal. They’re just hanging out with friends or family members. Hanging out and doing stuff together. No rush to get anywhere, no desire to be the best cook in the game with the most recipes collected. They’re happy to be with friends. This is like Instant Messenger with mounts.
Then there is the competitive e-sport gamer. I think most would be happy just to buy an account, already fully developed, and try their best to pwn folks. The whole 1-70 thing is a waste of time. The story is the least of their concerns. This is just an environment for them to display their gaming prowess. Guild Wars already has this mechanic. You can create a level 20 character and immediately start the pvping. Everytime I see Blizzard speeding up the 1-70 experience, first the 20-60 levels, and now I’ve heard the 60-70 level as well, I cringe because it seems to cater to their end-game being the end-all be-all of the point.
Oh, yeah, there’s also the Griefer. I failed to mention that type. Basically to ruin your game and make you, personally, feel bad.
And that’s what I can think of at the moment.
You’d think if you catered to all these different types, you’d get more customers.
For the roleplayers, offer a more real world. Let us open the dresser upstairs in that Inn in Brill, and put something into it. That lost locket that the Lady Darbanville misplaced once. Might make her less bitter about being made undead if some thoughtful soul might recover it for her. Is a more interactive environment possible?
I think the Achievers are being given a game feature with the expansion directed squarely at them. I have not messed around with it much, but will it be possible to see the achievements of others by examining them?
The stay in one place folks were forced to actually do something, and I’m all for that. I think they’re rewarded in that as the arena seasons advance so too is the gear made available.
Blizzard’s got the end-game crowd in hand. They might need to push their expansions a little faster though to keep up with the players.
I think WoW appeals to a lot of different playstyles and therein lies it’s success. It’s not just that it’s solo friendly. It’s not just that it rewards afk-botting. There is a lot there for folks of every sort.
Ah, well, I’ve rambled enough.