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The Casual Life by Wintyre Fraust

An older, casual player's perspective on MMOG's in general and GW2 in particular.

Author: Meleagar

Powergamers Really Don't Understand Casuals

Posted by Meleagar Sunday July 8 2012 at 8:49AM
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In previous conversations, it's become apparent to me that powergamers not only do not understand casual gamers; they often are skeptical that there are that many truly casual customers playing MMOGs. I've mentioned in prior columns that it may take many casuals a year or more to level a character up to max level in most MMOGs and I was met not only with skepticism, but the opinion that perhaps those players should be playing some other kind of game - that MMOG's aren't suited for those that only invest 5-20 hour a week in their gaming activities.

IMO, a "powergamer" is a player that invests huge amounts of time in an MMOG and is focused on one thing - getting to max level as quickly as possible, and then grinding end-game content for whatever exclusive, superior rewards the game has to offer.  A "casual" player, IMO, is one who is not focused on getting to maximum level and generally finds themselves unable to participate in end-game content anyway because of time & lifestyle conflicts, and often also because they are often unwilling to play the game according to any min-max template or are unwilling to develop a professional-level knowledge of any game.  Casuals do not play games primarily to "get to the end" or "beat them", so to speak. They play the game to enjoy the content of the game.

Obviously, if the content of the game is deliberately constructed to specifically serve the interests and enjoyment of powergamers, it cannot help but be less enjoyable for casual players.  That's just a fact of life; if you offer a first class service, those that cannot afford it will feel slighted when they must use 2nd class options. Casual players are regulated to enjoying "as best they can" the content powergamers rush through to get somewhere else, and that "somewhere else" is a place that casuals don't spend much - if any - time in:  the endgame.  If a game is going to serve the interests of the powergamer in the long run, then most of the development team must be focused on providing more end-game content. This means, necessarily, giving the casual players the short-shrift on content updates and expansions.

Why? Because ultimately, in standard end-game scenarios, everything except the end game is just what powergamers rush through. If you're targetting powergamers, why develop an area that is going to be completely abandoned in  month or two? Why invest further time in it?

Powergamers ask why  casuals are concerned with end-game content if they aren't going to experience it anyway; the answer is simple. I'm concerned with end-game content because if it trivializes everything everyone else does in comparison to what a few do, achieve or acquire as powergamers, then I cannot help but feel like a 2nd-class player.  Right or wrong and all pop-psychology aside, it doesn't matter why I feel that way, the fact is that I do. In every MMOG I've ever played, I've felt like the game company considers me a 2nd class player, because all the best content is reserved for those with a different playstyle.

Now, I'm not saying it is wrong to develop games that cater to powergamers (as described above); of course it isn't.  What I'm surprised by is the number of powergamers who seem to be bent on preventing the existence a game - like GW2 - that specifically does not cater to that kind of playstyle; doesn't design the game to favor them or significantly reward them.

They - many of the powergamers posting on this site - apparently believe that no MMOG can substantially succeed unless that game significantly and exclusively rewards them and their playstyle with superior content, denying that there exist enough "casual" players to support such a game. The cannot even understand why anyone would be interested in playing a game other than, ultimately, to grind end-game, progressive, superior content.

This is why powergamers really don't understand the appeal of GW2, or casuals in general; they don't believe there is a significant number of MMOG players out here that play MMOGs for completely different reasons than they do, and see MMOGs in a completely different light than they do.  Apparently, they think it is a big waste of developer money and time to go to all of this effort and not even include what is, at least to powergamers, the only meaningful part of the game.

I think on August 28 and in the months to follow, the powergamers are going to be in for quite a shock.