As I’ve been slowly approaching Northrend on my mage, I’ve been looking more and more into what the expansion has to offer. There’s been a lot of talk about how this is the “easy” expansion and, to be honest, it’s certainly looking that way. The raid bosses are easier and they’ll never be as hard as the last raid we saw in The Burning Crusade. Heck, all the raid content in the game has already been beaten and we’re only 9 days out here. Now, I’m of the full understanding that most players are not at the cap yet. I grasp that more content will be added. I accept that Naxx was in the game before.


Yet I wonder.


By making everything easier to attain, does it hurt the longevity of the game?


If it was just raiding, I wouldn’t be considering this right now. But reputation is easier to attain as well, meaning that heroics will be farmed far more often. Open world PVP should receive a spike with Wintergrasp, thereby making honor, and PVP gear, easier to attain as well. Five man dungeons are quicker to run and, by most reports, easier than BC’s to start which makes their loot rewards easier to get as well.


What’s happened is the time to reward ration has been decreased. In doing so, more doors are open to more people. Now, I directly benefit from this. I’m not a raider (although I probably would be if I had time) and by most definitions I’m pretty casual about my gaming. I’ll now be able to take part in more and progress quicker. I’ll say this though, with my playstyle, it took me a while to push through Outlands. I liked that. It wasn’t frustrating slow but it took effort, as it should be.


It’s a balancing act. Rushing people through content will only leave them with nothing to do quicker. Making it too slow will leave them feeling unsatisfied. Giving out gear upgrades to those who can devote more time makes casuals feel like second class citizens. Blizzard is trying to walk a fine line and I respect that. So far, they’ve been pretty good about keeping everyone satisfied and coming back day after day. But, even as a casual player who benefits from many of the recent changes, I still wonder where this is going.


As early as WotLK is in its life, a lot could and probably will change. I wouldn’t count on Blizzard suddenly switching their total focus from the raider to the casual though. They’re leaning in that direction but, make no mistake, they want everyone to remain hooked on their game. We’ll have to wait and see where this trend leads us.