As part of the preview of upcoming Guild Wars 2 content for 2020 yesterday, ArenaNet’s Andrew Gray made some comments on raiding I thought would be worth further exploration.
He said the biggest challenge in creating more raids is the fact that they attract such a small audience. But instead of just, you know, creating other content, ArenaNet sought to determine why so few people raid in the first place. Though Gray doesn’t discuss the studio’s methodology, he does say the devs concluded “the most common answer was that there is a giant leap in difficulty between raids and other endgame content, and there isn’t anything to help players work their way up.” Consequently, ArenaNet says it’ll be making the intermediary 10-man strike missions easier and giving them better rewards, all to hopefully “increase the number of people interested in raids.” (In the next sentence, Gray then seems to promise not to dumb it all down so much that the small hardcore audience is put out. Man, I don’t envy that dude’s new job!)
Anyhow, this morning I want to talk about raiding and this specific approach to trying to cater to non-raiders by trying to get them to raid instead of providing the content they do want. Maybe Guild Wars 2 is an especially hard case because it was originally sold as a game without that typical themepark obsession with raiding and powercreep and indeed didn’t get its first raid until 2015. And maybe this approach will work better in GW2, which has such an open PvE grouping system to begin with. But it’s not at all the only game to decide that people don’t want to raid because it’s hard, so obviously to get people to raid, just make it easier.
And yet, every time we have this discussion with our community, “too hard” – more specifically, “too challenging” – never seems to come up. I always see people talk about how much time it eats up, how annoyed they are by raiding guild toxicity, how boring raid mechanics can be, how unfulfilling and uneven raid loot is. Some people are just opposed to raiding being the pinnacle of MMO design and opt out. Still others have been playing MMOs for over two decades and feel like they’ve done their time in raids and want something very, very different out of their virtual world play. (I generally fall in that last group myself.)
I seriously can’t remember the last time I saw someone say, “Yeah, I’m just a crap player, and raids are just too hard for my skill level, but I’d do ’em if they only had a good LFR tool and dopey facerolly mechanics.” As Eliot once penned so eloquently, if challenge isn’t actually why people avoid content, removing challenge isn’t going to make it more appealing to anyone at all.
Let’s do some unofficial polling. Do you avoid MMORPG raiding – and if so, why?