Blizzard clarifies Challenge Mode Realm Best titles [Updated]

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Blizzard clarifies Challenge Mode Realm Best titles [Updated]
Challenge Mode Entrance
Lead Encounter Designer Ion "Watcher" Hazzikostas has taken to the official forums to provide more clarity on the removal of Realm Best Challenge mode titles. As ever, you can read the full post after the break, but in summary, if you're really unhappy about the removal of the titles, it's not good news.

Watcher explains the various options they considered, giving a title to everyone who'd ever been realm first, which was dismissed as too problematic for the next season. He also explains how leaving the titles with those who held them at the end of the season would not work because if those players changed servers they'd lose the server-tied titles. Response has been largely dissatisfied.

It seems to me, and I may be wrong, I am not a WoW dev after all, that it would not be so huge a feat to create a new title for those players at the top of the ranks at the season end. Challenge Modes have been compared to arenas before, and this could work exactly the same. A title like "Mystical Challenger [Name]" could be applied in the week following the end of the season, attached to the character not the server, just like they do for arena Rank One. And just like arena, players would have to vy for those realm-best top spots right up to the last weeks. The Arena comparison makes a lot of sense to me, so let's keep it going.

Hit the break for the full post, and an update posted after time of writing!

Thanks for all the feedback, and I understand that while much of the news was positive, most of the people who have worked tremendously hard for the realm-best titles are justifiably upset that they will not be permanent.

The realm-best titles were added with little fanfare in Patch 5.4. It's possible that they were a flawed idea in their conception, but the hope was to foster a bit of competition within individual servers, and to encourage people who had long since finished up their Gold medal collection to revisit the dungeons and try to dethrone the current champs. The titles were by nature transitory, where any day you might log in and discover that someone had beaten your time, and that you'd lost the title. We added Feats of Strength, which were permanent, to recognize and commemorate the fact that you held the title for a time. These Feats of Strength remain among the rarest in the game.

If we'd wanted to add a fixed Platinum Medal tier with additional rewards, we could have done that, but the point was to encourage friendly competition against people you see standing around town on a regular basis. We're also aware that while essentially any class composition can get all Golds, balance breaks down at the extreme high end of the spectrum, and we wouldn't want to set a formal benchmark that some groups couldn't reach even with expert play.

Looking ahead to Warlords, we were left with the open question of how to handle the realm-best titles once the current set of Challenge Modes ceased to be available. By default, if we kept the titles as-is, the final players who held them on the day the servers went down for patch 6.0 maintenance would have kept them. Unless they ever transferred servers. Or unless their realm got connected with another realm with faster record times. This is because by definition, the titles are tied to a specific realm, and were always meant to be. Keeping the titles around with that level of inconsistency and uncertainty was not an acceptable outcome in our eyes.

We considered an alternate option of letting all players who have the Feat of Strength for ever holding a best time, however briefly, permanently keep the title associated with that dungeon. The major downside there, as I noted on Twitter, would be the precedent it would have set going into the next Challenge Mode season. Should the first group on a server to get a Gold Medal in the Shadowmoon Burial Grounds (one of our upcoming dungeons), the first week of the expansion, earn a permanent title, while another group a few weeks later that clears the dungeon four minutes faster (but not a new record at the time) does not get that same reward because they waited too long to stake their claim? We also do not want to encourage groups to seek out less competitive servers just to grab best times and thus permanent titles.

The groups that set records this time around will surely be top contenders in the Challenge Mode season, and you do have a unique Feat of Strength to record your accomplishment in Mists. That said, we clearly should have settled these questions sooner, so as to better set expectations.

Update: Since time of writing, Watcher posted another clarification. Looks like we will be getting a title after all!
We do recognize the effort and skill that went into seeking and obtaining realm-best times in the current Challenge Mode season. As noted above, the titles were a mid-season addition this time around, and we did not do a great job of setting expectations and ground rules for how they would be handled going forward. Because the competitive landscape was already well-established going into patch 5.4 when the titles became available, setting a record time was particularly challenging, and anyone who managed to set a realm-best time has accomplished something worthy of lasting recognition. We are going to add a new title, Mistwalker, which will be awarded in patch 6.0 to any character who earned one of the "Challenge Master" Feats of Strength during the Mists of Pandaria Challenge Mode season (this title will not be account-wide).

The dungeon-specific titles will still be removed in patch 6.0 as previously announced. As setting record times for a fresh slate of dungeons will not initially be nearly as difficult (by definition the first group to complete a given Challenge Mode in Warlords will have the best time on their realm), we will not be awarding any permanent titles for setting record times in Warlords. There will be a new set of dungeon-specific titles for Warlords Challenge Modes, which will indicate the current record holder(s) on a server, and which will be removed if and when that Challenge season ends.

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