As a side note to my bard challenge I wanted to throw my two gold pieces into the discussion about instant class leveling options such as the one that everquest2 currently offers and the one that world of warcraft is going to offer in their up and coming expansion.
Currently WoD is going to offer 1 free 90 character per account when you pre-order and there are some murmuring about having the ability to buy extra 90’s in the in game store. Although on the surface this sounds like a nice way to reward players who are working on their fifth alt is it a good idea, does it mean that WoW has given up attracting new players and has decided that there is nothing to do to halt their declining subscriptions?
Consider once this goes in what the new player experience is going to be like when combined with an entire new world that is going to have most of your player base exploring.
- Empty old world cities and zones as there is no need for the existing player base to run these any more.
- No market for low mats (currently if your character is above 60 when you use the boost your professions will be automatically raised to 600 – this basically kills an entire avenue of income for new players.
- Except for transmog runs old world leveling dungeons will be empty which means longer queues and less chance for people learn how to run group content below 90.
The impact for the existing player base is less but still I think that allowing to skip 90% of the content in a game is a bad thing for the long term quest, lore and general connection with the world. Although some people would be concerned that a character who gets to 90 cannot learn to play their class in 10 levels but imho the game normally changes so much when you finally reach level cap that the leveling experience does not count for a lot of your skill at the max level – esp in raid situations.
In Everquest 2 you can instant to 85 (max level is 90) this however is countered by the ability to mentor down to a lower level and it does not come with any professional skill boosts so the market for mats through out the level remains unchanged. This allows instant characters to experience lower content with friends who want to join up and level normally without feeling abandoned by their friends.
If WoW is to grow with new players – if this is even possible for a game of its age (although you would think that with the investment in new character models that would be one of their goals) then it needs to look hard at the impact of allowing their existing player base to remain separated from new players in most interactions.
Add the fact that a major feature of this expansion is a housing feature in the new world you can see the new player experience being a rather solo/lonely one.
Things they could do
- Have the instant boost require a character of 60+
- Require the instant 90 feature to be unlocked when your first character reaches level 100
- Not boost any professions
- Add a mentoring system that allows players to mentor down to a new players level, adjust their level to run old content as a challenge or generally much about in old world at tjhe correct level for the content – you could add some achievements for this
If they go with the current plan (from what we have been told) then I think its a strong signal that Blizzard believe that attracting and retaining new players is not something WoW can do.
In no way am I saying this is doom and gloom for the existing player base but it seems like a bit of a swan song for warcraft.