Out of all the possible post-launch issues, I wonder if “the players are in the wrong place” was ever considered. On the one hand, a player choice, rather than a technical issue, would indicate that you avoided the usual MMO launch troubles. (servers being down, key game features not working due to bugs, bad engine performance) On the other hand, when you have customers leaving (or in this case, not subscribing) because of this social issue, it’s clearly a problem.
I am of course talking about Warhammer Online, and the current ‘scenario plague’ infecting so many of its players. Over-simplified, scenarios are too popular, and in turn they suck away too many players to their instanced content, leaving the actual game world barren. In a game so heavily reliant on other players, this is clearly a major problem.
It’s debatable whether WAR should have scenarios in the first place, and made all the more real with the consideration of a ‘no scenarios’ server option. Would removing scenarios (not from WAR entirely, just from those select servers) fix more than it breaks? Would gaining ranks be effected too heavily? And would open world RvR increase enough to justify their removal? Is the main issue that scenario’s give too much experience currently, or is the problem a bit deeper?
I’m not sure even Mythic has the answers to those questions, but clearly something needs to happen to re-balance WAR, and turn it into the game most players thought they were getting. When people are quitting because they don’t get enough of what they really enjoyed (world RvR), it’s almost a nice problem to have. Almost. On the one hand, if by tweaking some settings, you can get a good balance between scenarios and open world RvR, you figure those people will return. It’s not like they quit because you pulled a bait and switch, going from a solo leveling game to forced raiding (WoW), or a story driven game to a typical quest grind (AoC). But people quitting is people quitting, and in this case, they have a legitimate point. WAR was billed as an RvR-focused game, not as a selection of scenarios to wait for.
For some, myself included, the ‘scenario plague’ is somewhat of a non-issue. I don’t find them boring, I’ve generally been able to find groups for PQs and world RvR, and I don’t feel like I’m ranking up too slow because I’m not sitting in a warcamp in a queue. Do I think the RvR lakes could be a bit more populated? Of course, but I don’t seem to be playing in that same barren world that some players are reporting.
I always assumed scenarios should server the purpose of a quick, fill-in-the-gap break from whatever you are focused on (PQs, RvR, questing), and not be the main go-to activity for advancement. They should have the lowest time/reward ratio, due to how instantly accessible they are. How can a PQ or RvR lake compete with a scenario in terms of time/reward, when you are comparing something that must be found, travelled to, and done in a pre-made group, to something that is instant and solo-friendly? In their 15 minute time frame, a scenario should be worth no more than a single 15 minute quest, perhaps even a bit less than that due to the fact a quest is generally a one time task, while scenarios are repeatable. Open world RvR, especially around objectives and Keeps, should be worth enough to offset the occasion time you don’t find any action. If it takes me 30 minutes to get into RvR combat, and that combat lasts for an hour, the xp gain should be more than two hours worth of scenarios, give or take.
I do think scenarios are over-emphasized in WAR. Whether the majority of the blame should be placed on the players for trying to make WAR play like WoW, or whether the current game rules herd people into scenarios, the fact is WAR needs and will receive some tweaks. How quickly Mythic deploys those changes, and to what effect, will determine how many players stick around, and how many of those that quit due to lack of RvR will return. So far Mythic has a good track record of addressing issues quickly and effectively, but this will likely be Warhammer’s biggest challenge. Hopefully they are up for it, and deliver.