I've previously talked a bit about some of the problems with LFR and now Flex - particularly as it relates to normal or heroic raiders being compelled to run these modes for gear upgrades (tier and trinkets being the prime culprits).
It's particularly interesting when you consider the problem Blizzard faces when it comes to lockouts. If someone is doing LFR and wants to try Flex raiding, Blizzard wants to encourage this - it'll keep the player engaged and hopefully develop some social bonds. So LFR cannot share a lockout with Flex. Likewise, if someone is doing Flex and wants to try normal raiding, Blizzard wants to encourage this - it'll keep the player engaged and hopefully develop more social bonds. So Flex cannot share a lockout with normal. And if LFR can't share a lockout with Flex and Flex can't share a lockout with normal, LFR can't share a lockout with normal either.
Quite a pretty pickle. And, of course, the people suffering from this are people going in reverse. What do I mean by that?
No one is worried about LFR players being compelled to do Flex or Flex players to do normal/heroic. People are worried about normal/heroic being compelled to do Flex and/or LFR. In other words, the problem is when we start at the top and go down, not start at the bottom and go up.
So can we find a solution? It seems difficult, but there was a very interesting idea proposed by someone named Thels that I ran across while reading this post (relevant section quoted but the whole article is good):
"The idea I’ve liked the most so far is one proposed by Thels. For
lack of a better term, I’d call it the “Cumulative Loot System.” In
short, when you kill a normal or heroic boss, you also automatically get
your personal loot rolls for LFR and/or Flex. You could imagine
various permutations of how this would work; maybe a normal kill gives
you your LFR roll, while a heroic kill gives you both LFR and Flex
rolls. But the simplest case is just that you get both rolls on any
normal or heroic kill.
What I like about this solution is that it directly addresses the
problem at the source. The problem is that players clearing normal and
heroic feel compelled to run LFR and Flex for additional chances at
marginal upgrades. The complaint isn’t that the LFR and Flex loot is
“too good,” or “more than LFR deserves,” strictly speaking, though I’m
sure we could find a small subset of players who would argue those
points. The problem is that the extra LFR and Flex clears require more
time on top of an already demanding heroic raiding schedule, and that a
player with the skill to do heroic modes doesn’t find these watered-down
difficulty levels fun.
Rather than trying to take anything away from LFR or Flex raiders,
this solution instead just gives “extra” or “free” loot to heroic
raiders to remove the additional time sink. And I think that’s a much
wiser move at this point in the game’s life than trying to impose more
restrictions on the LFR and Flex raid population, which even now
accounts for the vast majority of raiders."
To make this explicit, the following would happen:
If you kill a boss in LFR, you get your LFR loot.
If you kill a boss in Flex, you get your Flex loot. If you have NOT killed the boss in LFR, you also get your LFR loot.
If you kill a boss in normal/heroic, the boss drops his or her items. If you have NOT killed the boss in Flex, you also get your Flex loot. Additionally, if you have NOT killed the boss in LFR, you also get your LFR loot.
This means that as long as you'd kill a given boss on normal or heroic each week, you have no incentive to do Flex or LFR. The more I think about it, the more I like it - and it can be summed up like this:
There is always an incentive to move up and never an incentive to move down.
It is the perfect carrot - if you can kill the boss on a higher difficulty, you get those benefits plus all of the benefits from the lower difficulties.
Now, this solution isn't perfect. If Bob needs tier shoulders but needs to sit on the boss during the week, he would still need to go do Flex for that boss. But even when he does Flex, he'll get the LFR chance too.
Best of all, none of this should effectively change what a player chooses to do each week. People who were going to do Flex and LFR will get that loot as long as they do normal - so it does nothing but save them some time. And since they're already investing time in normal/heroic raiding, those aren't the players who need extra time sinks.
It is an extreme incentive to do higher difficulties without taking anything away from the lower difficulties. And that seems to be Blizzard's desired type of solution right now.