The ongoing debate about who will use the Diablo 3 auction house and why seems very odd to me. D3 won’t be an MMO, it certainly won’t be persistent, and the main activity for the game is bashing monsters/barrels to collect loot. Why in such a game one would feel the need to ‘skip ahead’ and gear up by buying something from someone else is beyond me. Double that when we are talking spending real money to do so. But then millions still play Farmville, so to each his own I guess.
Tobold’s post today about this topic circles back to the age-old “why is raiding hard?” question, and why ‘dumbing down’ that content hurts a game more than it helps.
In short, I believe that average players let themselves get dragged into raiding even if they aren’t very good at it or enjoy it very much not because they are offered shiny epics, but because they are offered new, and very different content.
As Tobold notes, hard content for the sake of being hard is a fairly weak motivator, and when you need to get 10/25/40 people motivated to wipe time after time to progress, doing it just to do it doesn’t work for most. Doing it to see more content, especially if said content is “highlight” stuff like Nef, Illidan, or Arthas, is pretty solid motivation. Shiny power ranger loot that makes those around the mailbox stop and stare helps too.
When you take away the “new content” aspect by making a Normal (easy) mode, and that mode gets one-shotted by all but the biggest PUG droolbuckets, you are seriously undercutting the lifetime expectancy of that content. You make leaving due to a lack of new content very ‘accessible’, and I don’t think that’s a great goal for a sub-based game.