Rohan over at Blessing of Kings has been pondering the differences in WoW's endgame between extended players (dedicated raiders) and transient players (occasional raiders and non-raiders). While I acknowledge the differences between the groups, Rohan's suggestion to use the LFR tool --and make those fights easier-- doesn't sit well with me. I couldn't put my finger on why until I saw the WoW login screen mentioning the Diablo 3 beta and I read Spink's post on the Diablo 3 Character Builds.
Blizz is losing some of its subscriber base, and I suspect it
is the transients that are leaving in greater numbers. Why? Because of the changes Blizz has come out with lately: the Call to Arms feature and the upcoming Looking for Raid tool.
Who benefits the most from Call to Arms? The people who run instances. Who are the majority of people running instances not named Zul these days? Not the extended players; they've moved on.
Likewise, the LFR tool is targeted at a very specific group: the transient who wants to be an extended player but can't due to other issues (can't raid when their guild has raid times, etc.) It allows these transients to become extended by bypassing the old raid pugging mechanism with a minimal amount of fuss.
But what about those transients who want an endgame of their own, separate from extended-style raids?
That's where Diablo 3 comes in.
Diablo 3 is geared toward transient players, while WoW is designed for extended players. Trying to create a separate endgame for transient players in WoW is like the proverbial square peg in a round hole, it just won't happen because the design philosophy is different. In WoW, the entire point of endgame is the raid, and anything else is just not happening. If you want to have a transient endgame, Blizzard has a nice software product just for you: Diablo 3.
Sure, extended players will play Diablo 3 too, but the main target for the game are those transient players who want an endgame, something that WoW won't satisfy.
If Blizz can keep departing transient players within the Blizzard product line by selling them on Diablo 3, then Blizz'll be fine with that. It all comes down to money, and as long as the money stays within the family, then things are good. Blizz won't have to worry about declining subscriptions with WoW if Diablo 3 is a smashing success and people pay gobs of real money for items to use in the game.
Besides, there's always Titan.
EtA: Corrected a grammar issue in paragraph seven.