I want to post a more discussion(y) topic today. I was pondering the recent implosion of many endgame guilds today and was wondering whether an ICC style debuff could have prevented it. By ICC style debuff I am referring to the gradual nerfing of Icecrown Citadel over time by the buff that increased all health, healing and damage done by a certain percent. This started at 0% with the release of ICC but grew by 5% at a time until it maxed out at 30% before Cataclysm. A lot of the guilds on my server have broken up largely because of progress stagnation. They got stuck on a various boss, be that Cho’gall normal or some heroic boss. They got stuck for so long that many of their guildies got fed up and either stopped playing or left the guild in search of greener pastures. Most of these guilds were formed during Wrath of the Lich King and I suspect that many of their members were relatively new to the game and had never experienced raiding where there was not some sort of prize every week.

I remember leading a guild to a realm second Sartharion and three drakes. This encounter took us over 5 weeks to defeat. Just one encounter! Ok so we also got to steamroll through naxx and Malygos every week but Sartharion 3D was our only goal. It was incredibly frustrating wiping week after week on one boss. It was worth it though. When we finally downed him the euphoria was so much higher than anything I have felt after downing any boss in WOTLK or Cataclysm. Isn’t there some famous phrase about the “wait makes the win all the sweeter,” or something like that? These newer players are not used to having to work for something for a long time.

That is why I wonder whether it would have been good to implement an ICC style debuff for the first tier of Cata content. Now I know that many of you hardcore raiders who are working your way through the hardmodes will say, “good riddance,” to the more casual players that have “burned out.” I disagree. I think it is a great thing for these new players to be able to come into a game that many of us have been playing for 5 years and be able to experience the same endgame content as us. They will not get onto the hardmodes, perhaps, but they should be able to see the content that is produced by their monthly subscription. Indeed many of the, “hardcore,” guilds on my server are still struggling to progress much past 4/12 HC mode.

With Firelands fast approaching wouldn’t it make sense to make the content a bit easier for them?

I realise that the ICC debuff was only brought in because of the vast vacuum of new content between ICC release and Cataclysm but I think it could work equally well here. I am not asking for them to make it so that every raider will clear the raid instance or HC modes before the next tier is released, but simply to make it so that they feel like they are constantly making progress. If nothing else, then a constantly increasing buff gives them a reason to remain in the game in the hope that they will be able to defeat the encounter that they are stuck on in the future.

I guess it is quite a delicate balancing act for Blizzard to perform. They have to make the encounters hard enough for the hardcore through hardmodes and easy enough for the casuals with normal modes. At the same time they have to make sure that casuals don’t eventually get the same titles and loot as the hardcore as this would upset the hardcore whilst they have to make it so that the casuals can still progress in the game. At a time when Rift and other things are nibbling away at Blizzard’s subscriber base (albeit slowly) I can’t help wondering whether an ICC style debuff would have helped them to hold onto some more players. What do you think?