There are still two more games available from my giveaway - hopefully the recipients are enjoying Neverwinter Nights. There's already been some evidence of new blood in the game's community, which is always nice to see.
Last December I wrote about the idea of "optional" in WoW. A few days later, I set up some polls to try to collect some data. Then I got completely sidetracked by other stuff and never got around to actually doing something useful with the results.
So let's change that!
To recap, the purpose was to find out what people were willing to do to obtain a very nice item (a best in slot heroic ring at the time). To figure out the point where it crossed from "I'd be stupid not to get the ring" to "I'd have to be crazy to get that ring."
I imagine most of you aren't surprised to hear that people have differing opinions. However, you may be surprised to find out just how wildly these opinions vary. First, the graph for how many Mogu people would be willing to grind for the ring:
I want to emphasize that the x-axis is NOT a linear increase - those three spikes (about 1/3, 2/3, and near the end) are at 100, 1k, and 5k+ respectively. So what does this mean?
Well, if the ring required killing 200 Mogu, fully 32.7% of the respondents would think you'd have to be insane to get the ring. If you could kill a Mogu every 15 seconds, that would be less than an hour to obtain the heroic ring - yet this is considered to be too much by a good chunk of the population (what's even more revealing is that the people who respond to this poll are more likely to be more "hardcore" than people who never read forums or blogs - which means it's far more than 32.7% in reality).
This probably seems shocking to people used to potentially wiping dozens or heroic times on bosses to get two items (not that the loot is the primary goal, just as a reference point).
Next, we hit the median at 500 Mogu - at this point, about 50% of people think getting the ring is an obvious no-brainer - yet this is over twice many mogu as would be reasonable for about 1/3 of the respondents.
The next big spike is the 1000 Mogu mark. And even at the 1k mark, fully 41% of the respondents think you'd be stupid not to get the ring. Five times the amount of Mogu that 1/3 of the population thinks is reasonable.
And then, of course, 13% think you'd be justified in grinding out 5000+ Mogu (at four Mogu a minute, that's 20+ hours of grinding total).
No wonder we have so many complaints and arguments on the forums (in terms of actual complaints and not trolling) - if Blizzard puts in ring that requires you to kill 500 Mogu, half the population of those that responded to this poll thinks you'd be crazy to get the ring and half the population thinks you'd be equally crazy NOT to get the ring! The first group can't understand why the latter group feels compelled and forced to grind out the Mogu and the latter group can't understand why the first group thinks it's even a valid choice whether to get the ring.
Now let's look at the graph for gold (in terms of how much you'd be willing to pay for the ring):
We notice that the graph is more of a bell curve (with two peaks, but at least there were SOME people in the middle). However...those two peaks are at 5k and 50k. Basically as many people think you'd be an idiot to spend over 5k on a BiS heroic ring as there are people who think you'd have to be an idiot NOT to fork over 50k for that kind of upgrade.
The median in this case is at the 10k mark, as a point of reference.
It's easy to see why we could have such disagreement over the use of the words "forced," "optional," and so on when people have such vastly different perspectives. There are plenty of people who think something is completely optional and plenty of people who think they are forced to do something - when talking about the exact same thing.
As you can imagine, this puts Blizzard in a difficult situation - unless they do something very drastic (like require 20 Mogu slain or 20k Mogu slain), a large chunk of the population (or at least the forum/blogging population) will think it is forced to do something no matter where the bar is set and another large chunk of the population will vehemently disagree.
In a sort of interesting twist, by making more content more accessible, Blizzard makes more people feel compelled to do it and gets more complaints than they might if they added nothing at all.
Which is definitely true in regards to valor capping and coins - my primary issue with them as a heroic raider (finished world 404 overall, 247 for 10 mans on two nights a week) is that we compete for rankings which then determines who we can recruit. Meaning that, yes, in a vacuum, adding coins and item upgrades is nothing but a boost for our team - but if they give a more of an advantage to our competition than they do for us then we were better off in a sense without the boosts even existing.
Complicated issue to be sure.