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Weekly World of Warcraft #3 - Over-Raided

By: Nick Arvites

Weekly World of Warcraft #23 - Goodbye to the Old Stomping Grounds
Will the new lands signal the end of the old?

Weekly World of Warcraft #22 - Burning Crusade First Impressions
Positive first impressions from our resident warlock.

Weekly World of Warcraft #21 - Thoughts from a Disgruntled Wyvern Windrider
Won't anyone think of the Windriders?

Weekly World of Warcraft #20 - New Year's Resolutions
Nick lays out some WoW-related goals for 2007.

Weekly World of Warcraft #19 - Calm Before the Storm
A look at the most-recent patch and Blizzard's next game.

Weekly World of Warcraft #18 - Casual Raiding Vol. 2
Another look at casual raiding from our brand new writer!

Weekly World of Warcraft #17 - South Park, Expansion Plans, and Updates
A look at the infamous South Park episode, and talk of the future.

Weekly World of Warcraft #16 - All Quiet on the Kalimdor Front
The calm before the Burning Crusade storm.

Weekly World of Warcraft #15 - How to Make a Crusade Burn
Burning Crusade will have a negative impact on raiding, but it should bring some good PvP changes.

Weekly World of Warcraft #14 - Should I Stay or Should I Go?
It's time to renew!

Weekly World of Warcraft - Raiding for the Rest of Us
Our first guest discusses how a casual player can raid successfully.

Weekly World of Warcraft #13 - I Still Hate the Baron: Clarifications & Responses
Clarification of last week's points after receiving a deluge of responses.

Weekly World of Warcraft #12 - Dungeon 2 Armor Complaints
I hate the Baron, and other .5 tier complaints.

Weekly World of Warcraft #11 - Undead Events
A deeper look at Patch 1.11 and the Scourge Invasion.

Weekly World of Warcraft #10 - Busiest Week Ever
You want more of this?! Patch 1.11, Diablo/Starcraft MMORPGs, and more!

Weekly World of Warcraft #9 - Mailbag Edition
9 out of 10 naked dancing dwarves agree: mailbags are good!

Weekly World of Warcraft #8 - Guild Woes
Guild improvements and raid interface changes discussed this week.

Weekly World of Warcraft #7 - PvBroken
What's wrong with PvP in today's World of Warcraft.

Weekly World of Warcraft #6 - Post E3 2006 Thoughts
We look at the addition of the Draenei, and various problems with Burning Crusade.

Weekly World of Warcraft #5 - Expansion Outlook: Pre-E3 Edition
Looking forward to next week's E3, and what the future holds for WoW.

Weekly World of Warcraft #4 - Class Warfare
Nick's perspective on playing the nerfed Rogue class.

Weekly World of Warcraft #3 - Over-Raided
The third in our series focuses on the lack of content for smaller groups.

Weekly World of Warcraft #2
The second in our series of weekly World of Warcraft rants focuses on crafting.

Weekly World of Warcraft #1
The first in our series of weekly World of Warcraft rants by our resident level 60 Rogue.

The views and opinions expressed herein do not necessarily state or reflect those of as a whole or any of its affiliates. This is simply one writer's opinion, and should be accepted as such. Weekly World of Warcraft is usually updated each Tuesday.

Last week's confirmation that Patch 1.11 will introduce another 40-man raid dungeon comes as no surprise to any World of Warcraft player. The 40-man Naxxramas brings the total amount of raid dungeons to six. Is there anything wrong with that? At a quick glance, no. Yet, probing the situation a little deeper shows a stark division among the level 60 population. Level 60 characters that are connected with large guilds or raiding guilds have no qualms with new raid content. In fact, for these players the content is something great and new. However, they make up a decisive minority among the World of Warcraft populous as a whole. There are more players that are in smaller guilds or less serious guilds than there are elite raiding guilds. On Internet forums, this divide is often referred to as "casual vs. raiders."

Numerous topics on this subject litter the official World of Warcraft forums. Generally, casual players complain on the lack of content and end-game gear, while the raider players tell them (among other things) to "learn2play" and to "stop wanting stuff for free." Here's the beef: raid guilds are almost always going to involve some sort of serious rules, leadership, idiotic DKP systems, mandatory playing or meeting times, practices, and all sorts of other time-consuming activities. While certain elements of the gaming population have no problems scheduling their lives around World of Warcraft, a large proportion does not see the point in joining a power-guild run by power abusing, Counterstrike-minded, hormonal, foul-mouthed kids who verbally abuse and "fire" members at a whim.

Here's the thing, I'm not advocating that the best loot in the game should drop in 5 or even 10 man dungeons. I am, however, saying that casual and small guilds have been essentially abandoned on the developmental side. When was the last new content aimed strictly at casual gamers or small guilds? Patch 1.10 added the .5 epic gear quests, which can conceivably be completed by smaller guilds. However, these quests are often too difficult for non-epic geared groups (particularly the 45 minute Baron run in Strathome Undead) and come almost too little, too late.

I am by no means dumping on mega-guilds, nor am I throwing 40-man raids under the bus. I have participated in a few of them, and they can be quite fun. I also think that the best loot should only be received after the hardest challenges. However, I will question the logic in constantly pumping out new 40-man instances that will only be seen by a very small percentage of the overall game population while not providing new instance content for smaller guilds and casual gamers. There needs to be more loot available to smaller groups and more drops in small instances. While one could argue that casuals could run larger instances in PuGs (Pick-up groups), this is simply not practical. Running a 5-man PuG is enough of a challenge simply because PuGs tend to flake out halfway through the instance. Imagine the logistics of attempting to find 40 pickup members in the looking for group channels in the capital cities. If organized, active guilds have managing issues concerning 40-man runs. How exactly is a PuG supposed to do this plus have a guarantee that all 40 members are going to sit through a six hour run?

Again, this would not be nearly as much of a problem if there actually was content for smaller groups. There is a distinct lack of max level content for casual gamers, and there is nothing new on the horizon for small group players. Is it really too much to ask for a few more good high-level dungeons for 5 or 10 man groups? Even on the same note, lower leveled players have been left out of a long time, especially in terms of new content. By this point, shouldn't a few new dungeons for the lower leveled players have been introduced? Lower level dungeons could firmly address the noticeable absence of lower level armor sets. By putting sets across the lower level dungeons, players would find the level grind slightly easier and get more rewards from running the various dungeons. Let's face it; new lower level content would give people an incentive to level up that forgotten alt that's been collecting dust.

World of Warcraft was touted as a breakthrough in the MMORPG genre because it would cater to both hardcore and casual divides. In fact, through its development and Beta testing, World of Warcraft promised to balance off the game to appeal to both the so-called "Hardcore elite" and the "casual" gamer. Somewhere along the line, this philosophy fell to the side. Perhaps it is a case of the loudest members getting the most content, but this excuse simply does not work for the plentiful amount of World of Warcraft subscribers who are wondering why they are not receiving any new content. Again, I support adding in more raid dungeons. There should be more content to cater to the hardcore niche of the community. However, the casual portion, which vastly outnumbers the hardcore niche, should not be ignored. Content is content, however, and I suppose it could be much worse. I could be writing an article about the distinct lack of new instances in general as opposed to the lack of instances geared towards smaller groups.

Even though this is a critique of the present content that's being released, I'm not really criticizing the large hardcore guilds in the game. I am, however, simply pointing out that the number of casual players greatly exceeds the number of hardcore players. The greater discussion of casual vs. hardcore is one that will be revisited several times, so it is by no means done with this article. However, the one thing that all players should be in agreement about is that there is a severe drought of new, small group content and rewards across all level spans.

Posted: 04/22/2006