You cannot ignore the casuals

I’m not going to tell you not to be an elitist. If you want to, go for it; it’s your prerogative. What I am going to tell you is its all about the casuals, yes those people. those filthy, dirty, casual players who are in your game, messing with your stuff, taking your phat lootz.

So, why is it about them? Well, first off change your perspective. Do not look at things as the player (whether you are casual or hardcore)…put on the developer hat. Come at this from the game maker’s perspective. Actually, lets even change it from being a game…its bacon. You are a butcher selling bacon. You have awesome bacon too. Its farm raised local pig, organic and the recipe/process is a family tradition.  Everyone comes from near and far for your bacon. Its that good. But here is the thing…its rather pricey: $15 a pound for this here bacon. Worth every penny!

You have all kinds of customers, some LOVE bacon, they come in and buy 5 pounds a week! Some really like it, but its a splurge for them, they come in once a month and buy a couple pounds to last. Some are just testing the waters, they’ve heard how good it is, but aren’t sure so they buy a half pound and you may never see them again. Others still just cant afford to buy much, so they stop in and buy 2 or 3 slices at a time every couple weeks. You are getting the idea here, all sorts of bacon-buyers, many levels of commitment and purchasing power. BUT…there are 2 things to note.

They all get the same bacon, and they all pay the same price.

I already hear the question, how does this even relate to WoW and thanks jackass, now I want some bacon. Well, first off you should always want some bacon, unless you are a vegetarian; in which case you probably still want bacon but its a dirty secret you keep from your vegetarian friends who also secretly want bacon. Second off, WoW is the bacon. Oh, you guessed that part eh? Well, but you didn’t get the point, because you are still waiting for me to explain it to you. 🙂 Ok, I’ll lessen the snark…

Look, a retailer cannot provide an inequitable offering for a product and service within the marketplace. Its discriminatory. Its illegal. Its a problem. Especially if people realize its discriminatory and choose to do something about it. You as the butcher have to offer the same product for the same price to anyone who walks in…now, you can have your regulars or favorite customers and perhaps you give them a few extra slices for free. Maybe you dont even charge them every so often “Ceraphus, you’ve bought 152 pounds of bacon in the last month…here, have a pound on me!” Or honestly…maybe this mom comes in and you’ve seen her, you know she doesn’t have a lot of money, so you double her order, charge her half, and say “Happy Mother’s Day” as she replies, “But its August?!”, “So it is” 🙂

And that is exactly what Blizzard does with their game currently. The same gear/rewards regardless of the level you complete the challenge on. A conversation on twitter this AM sparked my thoughts about this. Its not a new topic or discussion, and I’ve discussed it before. At the end of the day Blizzard has to be equitable in what products and services it offers, at what level, and to whom. They have 2 roads ahead of them as all retailers do: Offer differing levels of service for differing prices (silver, gold, platinum membership for example); or offer the same of everything to everyone and vary the value of it based on how hard it is to attain. So in regards to raid gear we have LFR, Flex, Normal, Heroic levels of raiding content. Same content, just harder as you climb the difficulty ladder. Accordingly, the gear/rewards are also the same just better as it gets more difficult…LFR=bronze, Flex=silver, normal=gold, heroic=platinum. There are 2 sides to this equation.

First: as the consumer of this service model its equitable. If all I want to put my time and energy into is running LFR, then I can do so and get the same look and feel someone who runs the Heroic mode content. Is their gear better in terms of stats, yes. But honestly the stats only matter to the heroic mode player. If I already had the ability to down my level of content, having more powerful gear doesn’t matter. I had what I needed.

Second: as the developer I do not need to code multiple loot tables with all kinds of different gear. I can make it the same table of items, but make it scalable. Altering the stat amounts with a formula so that everyone gets the same item, just slightly more powerful based on the challenge. MUCH easier for maintenance. Everyone is happy, and more importantly I cannot be accused of discriminating against the more “casual” player and that I favor the elitists.

Well, not everyone is of course happy…because its WoW, and its Twitter, and its the internet. So, if you are peeved…if you are asking “Why should Blizzard care about the casuals?!” Well, first off don’t be an elitist douche. Second off, Blizzard cares about the casual player because there are A LOT MORE OF THEM. A FREAKING WHOLE LOT MORE!!!! Additionally, casual players from a marketing profile traditionally have more disposable income than non-casual players. Blizzard wants them happy, they are the bulk of their user base. Also, they cost less to maintain the relationship, but pay the same price as everyone else. They make more profit off casual players per head!!! OF COURSE Blizzard and any developer for that matter wants them happy.

If you got the whole point here, then good. You are looking at this issue holistically when it comes to the health of the game. If you don’t get the point or are still in your head trying to argue against it, then congratulations you are an elitist. I’m not judging you, you can be an elitist all you like. Just understand the rabbit hole that leads down.

Personally, I want everyone to have this good delicious bacon right here. Buy what you can afford, come as often or as infrequently as you like. There is always plenty of it. Its always the same price for everyone who walks in the door. And in my world, we pay it forward. I remember when a customer pays for their bacon, plus the person behind them. I notice when one customer allows another one to jump the front of the line because they are in a hurry.

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