That said, I want to get one thing straight up front. I know some of you (my valued readers) prefer the 10man format. I think it's clear to everyone that I prefer the 25man format at least for progression raiding. These positions are what they are; preferences. I still think many 10man raiders aren't going to be so happy with the 10man format when it is more progression focused, but on the 10 vs 25 matter, I think we can agree to disagree. We are unlikely to change any minds as to which size is better, and it is useless for us to try.
This time, I will try to argue against the over all philosophy, rather then the strength of the formats. This time, I want to take a look at the stated reasons for the change in philosophy.
The Removal of Obligation:
In a recent forum post Ghostcrawler said:
We thought the LK design was asking raiders to raid more than they wanted to. When you see a boss twice a week, you just burn out on the fight that much faster.To expand on that, because there were multiple raid that dropped emblems and such, Blizzard had to balance the game around the maximum possible emblems per week. As a result raiders felt obligated to run as many raids per week to get the maximum number possible to pick up gear quicker. Players have also expanded on this reasoning by saying 10man raiders feel an obligation to raid 25man raids for the better gear.
As an broad overall goal I completely agree that players shouldn't feel obligated to participate in an activity they don't enjoy. And I can see how having two versions of the same instance my cause that sense of obligation. The primary reason I've done the 10mans is for mounts and achievements, but in the early days of each raid tier I also wanted to get as many emblems as possible to get my tier sets as quick as possible. So, I can see why limiting all raid formats to a single ID is a good thing.
What I don't understand is why this sense of obligation means that the two raid formats need to be relatively equal.
Choices Reveal True Preferences:
When I posted on this subject last April one of the common responses I got was "I enjoy 10mans more but I raid 25s for the better gear." I find that statement to be nonsensical. Does this person truly prefer 10mans over 25mans? In my opinion they do not, and their actions prove it.
While this person may prefer the 10man size over the 25man size, their actions prove that they value the 25man gear more then they value the 10man size. So they are not being forced to participate in an activity that they don't enjoy. If that was the case they would stop. What they are really saying is that these raid formats don't allow them to maximize their raid enjoyment. They would be happier if they could get all the rewards of the 25man format but in 10man size.
It is a very reasonable desire to want Blizzard to design the raid structure around our own wants and desires. That is pretty much what I'm asking for here and in my other posts on the subject. I want Blizzard to design the PvE game around the 25man raid. We can disagree on which is better but we can't blame each other for wanting what we want.
In an ideal situation Blizzard would create two equal but different formats. Which is exactly what Blizzard is attempting to do. I think it is a noble desire, but ultimately impossible goal because of two key issues.
The Slippery Slope:
Assume for a second that they can make the two formats completely equal. Having a 10man format and a 25man format may be great for a lot of us, but what about the people who would really prefer a 40man format? Every couple of days a new post pops up on the forums asking when Blizzard is going to bring back the 40man raids so there is obviously interest in the size. Shouldn't the people who prefer the larger size have their preferences and desires be satisfied also?
What about the other direction? I don't have access to all the participation data that Blizzard collects, but I would bet money that more players participate in 5mans then participate in both 10mans and 25mans combined. Why should people who prefer the 5man format not be able to kill Arthas in their desired group size? You could easily argue that would make the game much more accessible.
True Equity is Impossible:
Balancing a fight around 10 people and 25 people is probably more difficult then a lot of people think in my opinion. Having more more people, less space, and more adds requires more decision making and a greater opportunity for error, but lets assume that Blizzard gets it perfectly right and tunes the 10man and 25man versions of the fight to be perfectly equal in fight difficulty.
Even if Blizzard is able to tune the fights to be perfectly equal it is impossible for them to make the formats perfectly equal. I know some of you refuse to believe it, but a 25man is more difficult to organize then a 10man, and it impacts more then just the officers or raid leader.
Unfortunately there is no way to structurally balance this additional difficulty. The only way to balance it is to provide additional rewards for the additional difficulty which creates another inequity. While I think extra emblems, boss drops, and gold are fairly limited rewards, I know that some of you disagree with them at all and given the proposed structure I think the disagreement might be loud. There is GC's comment on the topic:
We're still messing around with the numbers because we want a system that works not only at launch but once there are multiple raid tiers and perhaps weekly raid quests and the whole nine yards. A very general idea (meaning it could end up being different) is that a group that can clear a 25-player raid can earn all of their points that way, while a 10-player group may need to supplement that income with more Dungeon Finder runs.So, if I understand this correctly by running 25mans I will get my my maximum emblems for the week, but 10man raiders will have to run something extra. Since loot is balanced around the maximum per week, Blizzard is basically forcing 10man raiders to do something extra that they may or may not enjoy. I know a lot of people do the daily 5mans for the Emblems of Frost, but that doesn't mean they want to. To me, this just looks like another form of the obligation Blizzard is trying to avoid.
Tell Players to Choose:
Since true equity is practically impossible, and they won't be able to please all of the players anyway, I don't understand why Blizzard feels the need to try. The Utopia that Blizzard is trying to create won't work. Either the rewards for 25s will be to great, and it will remain the defacto standard of raiding, or they won't be enough and the 25man format will gradually die.
In my opinion, Blizzard needs to draw a line in the sand and say "This is the game we've created. These are the ways you can play it. We hope one of these formats fits your wants, but unfortunately we can't create a customer version for every player, so you are going to have to choose the format you like most or choose not to play."
With single lockouts the player has to make a choice. They can no longer continue with this indecision of saying, I raid 10s because I like the size but I also raid 25s because I like the gear. They should choose if they like the 10man size or the 25man gear more and wear the choice as a badge of honor. If they choose the 10s they can say, "I'm a more casual player. What is important to me is seeing the content and playing with friends." If they choose the 25s they can say, "I raid for the competition and the challenge." Of course, these attributes are not unique to either format, but if one emphasizes them over the other, then players can make clearer choices without feeling like they should be doing both.
I realize that this argument might not go my way. It is quite possible that Blizzard could say "Your right Graylo, and we think 10man raids make for a better game," and get rid of 25s much in the same way they got rid of 40s. That would suck, but at least we would all know where we stood. I could choose if I wanted to try the new format or go find another game that better suited my needs. As it is I feel like I'm stuck in limbo.
A Response from Blizzard:
I made a very similar argument to the one above on the official forums, and got a response from Ghostcrawler.
We sort of tried that, Gray, and they all chose 25 (meanwhile telling us that they wanted to play 10 but felt stupid for doing so since they were missing out on gear).(src)
Yes, they have tried it to some extent WotLK and there have been some issues. However, does that mean that the entire concept is bad or that the implementation was bad?
I would argue that the real problem with the two raid formats in WotLK is that it didn't ask players to choose, or provide them with a way to show that they choose. Ten man strict guilds are constantly being devalued because many people assume that they run with some 25man gear. Well, have 10man specific achievements that will only trigger if you use only 10man gear. The 10man title achievements show that Blizzard has the technology.
It's also important to remember that people will say a lot of things, but don't always know what they are really saying or what they really mean. Actions in the end tell you a lot more about the players desires then what they tell you on a forum. If a player chooses the 25man format for 13 extra itemization points then it is obvious that the raid size really isn't that big of a deal.
It seems to me that Blizzard is trying to find this Utopia where the 10mans and 25mans can co-exist equitably and in harmony, but I think it is impossible. The structural differences insure inequity on some levels, but even the balancing of two fights has proven to be difficult at times in WotLK. Since we now that Blizzard can't please everyone, why try?
Instead of trying to make the two formats more equitable, why not try and emphasize the differences, and force people to find the system that suits their needs? Maybe if Blizzard provided 10man raiders more ways to be recognized for their achievements, the 10man raiders would feel better about their accomplishments and not feel like they need to do 25mans for gear. If they still felt the need to do 25s for the improved gear then it is obvious that the raid size is really not that important to them.