I don’t want to go over that again, nor does anyone want me to.
All that said though, the “popularity” of LFR is still up for debate as far as I’m concerned. I know Blizzard have said that it’s one of their most popular features and that removing it will never happen because it’s now allowing those who couldn’t raid otherwise the chance to see raiding content. I think that’s fair enough, really. And sure, according to WoW Progress, that’s exactly what’s happened – more people than ever before have gotten the chance to kill the end boss of an expansion, despite a dropping rate of subscriptions.
But is that really because of the access LFR provides?
What else could it be, then?
I’ll quickly get this out of the way; I think LFR is bad for the game. Not because it allows “scrubs” to raid, but because it has some other unfortunate accompaniments that I dislike. I’m fully against forcing legitimate raiders into it because set-bonuses, weapons or trinkets are so strong, but I’m equally against the limits placed on encounter designers who now have a ludicrous five settings to tune mechanics for. That said, I completely sympathise with those who don’t wish to commit to a raiding schedule but would like to enjoy raiding content; LFR allows them the opportunity to do so.
That said, however, I’m still not sure that makes LFR the resounding success its painted as. Unfortunately, the feature was released with an otherwise wholly underwhelming patch that was going to be followed by the pre-expansion lull. This is a bad setting for it because, ultimately, the community got the LFR queue at a time when there was potentially nothing else to do.
Is LFR seeing involvement because people want to raid but otherwise can’t, or is it seeing involvement because players are out of other activities to get involved in?
Funnily enough, it was Ratshag over at Need More Rage who really made me focus in on this. There are loads of blogs I enjoy for loads of reasons, but Ratshag is effectively a casual player who clearly loves the game and much of his content is infectious as a result. He levels characters, he runs transmogrification, he works on reputations, he collects pets & mounts, he does a bit of PvP and he runs some dungeons. The persona of his blog suggests he also role-plays. But look at the raid achievement pane on his character page:
This isn’t an insult or slight, the point I’m making is that we have a player who clearly loves the game, writes about it vociferously and has a hugely positive take on all of his activities. He manages this with nary a meaningful boss kill to be seen. Clearly, the ability to raid content at a meaningful level holds no real excitement for him and he can thoroughly enjoy the game without it. Blizzard can argue that he’s exactly the type of person LFR is aimed at, and his LFR activity suggests that to be the case, but is that what we’re seeing? Did he do LFR because he wanted to see the content, or did he do it because he figured he might as well in lieu of other things to do?
Now, it’s no secret that I don’t like the author and he doesn’t like me. We see eye to eye on practically nothing. For that reason, I’m not going to be presumptuous enough to suggest why he bothers to do LFR. But given the length of time his blog has been running for, it’s clear that raiding makes up next to nothing on his weekly “to do” list.
So this IS an LFR whine!
Well, no, not really.
As already hinted, I don’t mind players who want to see a bit of the raiding scene finding a schedule that suits them and using the queue for it. I support queues in general. What I’m saying is that Blizzard is putting a lot of effort into getting non-raiders into raids, when that’s really not what they want. Hell, normal mode is barely considered “raiding” nowadays because it’s set to make sure as many people can kill things as possible, and MoP is likely to bring back the PuG raids of WotLK.
Overall, what I’m trying to say, is that raiding is already accessible enough without LFR and that Blizzard should be concentrating on other content for more casual players, rather than shoving everyone into raids. I can understand the desire to let more people see endgame bosses, but it’s more likely they’re not raiding because they don’t want to raid and leaving them with nothing else to do isn’t really fair.
Honestly, I’m really interested to see how this goes come the expansion. With the amount of new things being added to the game, I get the distinct impression that raiding numbers will drop like a stone. People will be levelling up with far more quests than in Cataclysm, there will be more dungeons than in 4.3, PvE scenarios are being launched, there are challenge modes to consider, the Lorewalker search, a new set of achievements, an updated set of primary and secondary professions to get through and (of course) the pet battle system. Even leaving out the Tiller’s Farm which I think has been canned altogether for the expansion launch, there are truckloads more things for non-raiders to be doing.
Now, of course, that’s not how it’ll be viewed. I recall the Grumpy Elf talking about what defined a “raider” recently, and I view it similarly. I have 10k honourable kills and some PvP achievements, but I’d in now way consider myself a PvP player. Equally, those who jump into LFR for something to do because it kills a bit of time, dishes out some valour and rewards free loot shouldn’t be considered “raiders”. Blizzard are unlikely to make that distinction because it would harm their argument that LFR was a resounding success.
But I’ll be keeping an eye on activity in the first few months of Mists of Pandaria.
I honestly reckon psyduck will see more action than the Sha of Fear.