Yesterday’s post about repeatable content had a side conversation in the comments about the % of players who use ‘end-game’ content, be it raiding or PvP, in a themepark. That topic then begs the question: what about all those who never hit the level cap?
I’d break that group into two: those who stick around for a bit, and those who don’t.
The don’t group is easy; they just did not like your game enough to stick with it. It’s not a group you should ignore, but it’s not a group end-game changes or additions is going to effect. Let’s ignore this group for the sake of this post.
The second group is interesting. They are players who sub/play for multiple months, but for one reason or another never hit the level cap. Here perhaps end-game changes might impact them, but I would think mostly in either a neutral or positive manner. If they don’t like your change, it has no impact on them since they are not using that content anyway. If they do like the change, perhaps they hit the cap and experience it.
But as a customer group overall, your MMO is doing its job in terms of giving them something to do, and they seem to like doing it (otherwise they would be in group one). Expanding non-endgame content would benefit this group, and if the devs notice they are losing a lot of players right around this transition (hit the cap and quit), it’s something to address, but again if we are talking about focusing or changing end-game content, this group is basically a non-factor.
And so when someone states that only 2%, 5%, or 10% of players raid, are they including the above two groups in that calculation? Because if they are, what’s the point? Someone who only plays WoW for the leveling game is not going to care how accessibly you make raiding, or that you reduced the raid size from 40 to 25. But the players who are currently raiding? Oh, they certainly will care.
And raiders or end-game PvP’ers are in it for the long haul. They are, in many ways, your best customers. They reuse content at a crazy pace compared to those who only like leveling or solo content, they create much of their own momentum with guild events or raid schedules, and they provide that all-important social ‘hook’ to keep people subbed, at times long past the point of actually enjoying said content (how many raiders will continue to play because of their guild, despite not really loving the current raid? Contrast this to how likely a solo player is to stick around if they hit a zone they don’t enjoy.)
Of course to discount that end-game players are also often very vocal would be wrong, but amongst all the noise a lot of valuable information can be found (bugs, exploits, suggestion), and it takes a skilled developer to properly filter it all and ultimately provide content and updates that are best for the game, sometimes going along with the players, sometimes going against what they are asking for. Always giving the players what they THINK they want is often worse than totally ignoring them.
Anets recent scramble to add a resist gear grind and progression raiding/dungeons is not aimed at those who are enjoying the leveling game. It’s not aimed at those happily queuing for WvW or sPvP (it actually hurts that crowd). It’s aimed at the end-game crowd, because Anet must have noticed they were losing those players at a rapid clip, and whatever their business plan is, they clearly don’t want this to happen. So much so in fact, that they are willing to (and have) upset some of their core base (GW1 fans) and backtracked on their manifesto. You don’t do something like that unless you MUST retain a certain group, which should tell you a lot about the importance of the end-game crowd, even in a non-sub MMO like GW2.