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Breakfast Topic: Should WoW broaden its appeal or narrow its core audience?


The old girl has earned her silver hair -- World of Warcraft has been out since Nov. 23, 2004. If you've been playing WoW that entire time (or even before that, since the beta), as I have, you've witnessed quite an evolution. As Matt Rossi so passionately writes, WoW is no artifact trapped in amber. It must change to survive -- and so it has, and so it will.

The question before us this morning is how it can accomplish that best. Case in point: raiding. In the early days, endgame raiding was a pastime enjoyed by a relatively small proportion of WoW players. Barriers to raiding included the hefty time investment, a limited number of raid guilds and content, relative inexperience among the player base, and the challenges of organizing 40-man groups in a less developed player community with fewer organizational tools, rules, and protocols. Despite those limitations, endgame raiding still clearly represented the pinnacle of player involvement in the game. You wanted to "really" do WoW? You raided.

Today, we sit at the other end of the spectrum. With the raid finder tool, every player can raid. Pickup raiding can be fast, easy to access without a group or guild, and approachable even for first-timers. Despite that, raiding is no longer the assumed goal of every player. Other playstyles have become commonly accepted alternatives. Endgame raiding is not necessarily WoW's niche, the "point" toward which its players strive; accessibility of its entire range of content has become the game's hallmark.

With subscribers in the double-digit millions worldwide, offering something for everyone in WoW is obviously a winning strategy for Blizzard. But is this the direction you'd like for your beloved Azeroth? Do you think the game tries to be too many things to too many people? Does WoW's maturity mean it should reach ever wider to welcome as broad a player base as possible, or should it embrace a narrower core audience to secure its legacy?

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