Sunday, September 4, 2011


In general, I think that if players play something it can't be that bad. Thus, to make a good game one should try to make players play it a lot. In my opinion a grind can be a good grind if the player accepts it. However, not every tool that increases /played is a good one. Loss aversion is not.

When World of Warcraft introduced daily dungeon quests in TBC I welcomed them. I liked that running dungeons would gain me some advantage, because I thought that too few players were running them. I soon changed my opinion when I realized that I forced myself through one dungeon every day.

When Blizzard introduced daily quests I understood their desire to use some techniques of the fabulously successful leveling game in the endgame. And I understood that there needed to be a limit. Daily quests seemed like a useful thing at first. I soon changed my opinion when I realized that I forced myself through daily quests every day.

What really happens with dailies can be explained with loss aversion. Players feel as if they miss a sure gain when they skip a daily (/weekly). By introducing an artificial limit of how often an activity can be conducted per day (/week), Blizzard also introduces a potential permanent loss. If you don't do a daily today, it will be lost forever. Thus, you feel like you really should do the daily.

This is a completely different situation than the typical grind. Since you can always grind as much as you want, you can advance your character at your own pace. What you don't grind today, you can still grind tomorrow. This leads to players playing not as much. Just like you are much less inclined to do your homework today if you can still do it tomorrow.

But it also leads to players who are more probable to play when they actually want to play; and not to avoid losing something.

I am relatively unafraid when it comes to making players grind for something. If they do it they probably like it. Loss aversion, however, is different. It burns players out. Players play even though they hate the content! Now, the moral aspect is one thing. But even for the long-term success of the game, I don't think this makes any sense.

At the end of the day, the company is not interested in players playing. It is interested in players paying. And players who don't play, don't cost a thing. This, of course, assumes a monthly subscription-based business model. Microtransaction-based business models depend on using cognitive fallacies, anyway. Expecting them to not use one as prominent as loss aversion is fatuous.

But a monthly sub model is perfectly fine, if players play only when they feel like it. From the company's point of view, the important thing is not that they play a lot, but that they remember a fun time from the last session and always feel like there's still something worthwhile they could do in the next one. Some goal to strive for. As long as they feel this way, they won't cancel the sub; irrespective of how much they actually play. In fact, the less they play the longer they need to consume all the content (hint).

Thus, to use dailies the way today's WoW does, doesn't make a lot of sense to me. Sure, it makes players play more. But why should Blizzard care? Players don't become more satisfied customers by doing dailies! They rather burn out and stop playing as an act of liberation. These players are much less likely to renew subs or return after they canceled them.

Edit: Sunken cost fallacy didn't exactly fit. I replaced it with "loss aversion".


  1. Dailies are the devil.

    The problem is that they are repetitive and mindless, without placing ridiculous demands on a player. Think of a mob grind, of maximizing your per-day gain from it: you'd have to literally play for all waking hours, an absurd notion, so instead you grind however much you want. In contrast, the daily is so reasonable, so of course you will do it, today, tomorrow, every day, until in aggregate it has become unreasonable to expect.

    Then there is the crafting problem. When gold-getting was based on materials, farming a variety of mobs, the devs could have unusual crafting materials, making markets more interesting. Now players are not farming mobs, so mobs cannot drop anything important. This dilutes the variety of crafting.

  2. Dailies are the result of a lack of faith in the product itself to generate goals.

    I used to like them insofar as I got a sense of progression doing them, while also avoiding have long periods of time in which I aimlessly was logging on "for no reason." Logging on every day and doing the same activity also increases the likelihood that you will socialize with people - just like normal jobs.

    But as you say, it got to the point where I began feeling worse than before if I skipped doing them; enough to the point where I started developing avoidance behavior towards even thinking about the game. At which point quitting makes sense.

    Besides, the more people play the game, the more likely they are to run out of novel content, and thus "beat the game." I made 6 alts over the course of Wrath, so alt-making was not an option in Cata when I grew bored - Cata was hideously designed when it comes to alts anyway, given the linear questing and (initially) punishing heroics/raids which encouraged mains only.

  3. I have certainly changed and no longer like dailies.

    In particular, I agree with Azuriel. One of the things Cata is way under criticized for is the alt experience; very poor design.

    And even if you do get alts, then the daily grind is exacerbated: 300+ Firelands dailies quests for my healer, DPS, LW, Engineer and Tailor means 1500 quests. I do the math and don't log in.

  4. Another advatage of grinding is that you have choice. You can choose what to grind, where to grind and which mobs you attack and which you avoid. Tyr's Hand is a good example which contained groups of mobs which were impossible to kill alone, so you had to avoid them or form a group.

    Dailies on the other hand tell you exactly which mobs to kill and how many of them.

    You're standing aroung between the wrong spiders waiting for the right to spawn and hoping that another player aggroes the wrong one and not you.

    Same with the dungeon. In TBC you could select the dungeon you like to run. The daily dungeon quest told you exactly which dungeon is the daily dungeon which slightly increaed the reward (only one tier of badges) but you were fine skipping it and do another dungeon or do non and two the next day. The reward was small but significant enough to increase the chance to be able to run less popular dungeons.

    And I think Blizzard must force it's players to play more because of the broken realm design. The less people play the less likely it gets to meet other people. They can either merge realms or force people to play more. I don't think dailies are stupid from the Blizzard PoV, it's the best thing they can do to avoid merging servers.

    Same for quilds. The less people play, the less likely it gets to meet someone online.

  5. I liked dailies when they were first introduced, as an alternative way of making money compared to mob grinding. Back before gold seemed to rain from the skies and before dual spec, being able to support your epic mount fund by playing Simon Says for a bunch of ogres felt nice. It was also completely optional so despite of the daily quest limit, I never felt any pressure to max it out.

    The problem from my point of view was that Blizzard kept increasing the rewards over and over in an attempt to make people do more dailies.

    First it was just: do these dailies and eventually you'll get a netherdrake mount. Whatever, you didn't need that for anything, it was a pure vanity thing and I didn't care for it.

    Then it was: do these dailies to be able to buy a shoulder enchant like any good raider. Or become a scribe. Ouch?

    Then it was: do these daily dungeons to gain currency for the best gear currently in the game. Dailies or GTFO! Unsurprisingly, whether something is a choice or you feel pressured into it makes a big difference in terms of fun levels.

    The Firelands trend of making "linear" dailies (something I hadn't even thought possible) only makes it worse because it also takes the choice of at least limiting yourself to your favourite dailies away from you.

    I've actually gone back to Shadowmoon Valley now and started working on the Netherwing dailies, four years late. I'm happy that getting an ugly dragon is an insignificant thing in the greater picture, and at least I can get through most of it by doing nothing but the Booterang quest every day if that's the way I want to play.

  6. Really thanks for the post and I hope the guys at Blizzard read it.I have made a numerous of threads about dailies both in MMO - Champion and Official forums.Dailies made me hate the game, I ll not say why, you already described it in your post..

    I really miss those days of TBC and the Repeatable quests..

    Sporregar - Repeatable slain quest
    Consortium - Zaxxis Insignia
    Aldor/Scryers - marks
    Cenarion Expedition - Unidentified plant parts

    I can't even imagine how bad it would be if I had to do all these once a day, but EVERY DAY!Now you login and BEFORE you can actually play how you like, you have to do the dailies...

    By doing Heroics 7 per week is really a good step, not perfect, but in a right direction. And yes I like grinding when I CHOOSE when, what and how I ll do it.It is really psychological, but fun is psychological also...

    I stopped playing Aion when they turned their repeatable quests into Dailies and now in Wow I didn't even stepped into fireland dailies, I ll just won't do it whatever the cost in my guild ask me to do them I refuse..

  7. The problem that I see with dailies is that they went from being an option towards how to get something done to being the only option of how to get something done.

    Even in BC, you could choose to buy things that would increase your Aldor or Scryer rep, if you didn't feel like doing the dailies. Same with Sons of Hodir in Wrath.

    Now, you have to do dailies to essentially get ahead. You can choose not to, but if you're waiting on raids to get you enough Valor Points to help you buy gear, you're probably in for a long wait. You can't gear without them.

  8. Dailies worked for me for a while because there was a strong "beating the system" vibe to it. It's raid loot but I don't have to raid! How awesome is that!

    Of course it's a fallacy and as loot is relative it doesn't matter if my dailies give me 200 more dps while they also give everyone else 200 more dps as effectively we've all stood still. No active player has progressed relative to any other active player.

    But it's a very well-crafted illusion drawing on deep-seated notions about the colour purple and the value of bigger numbers.

  9. Agree with most of what has been commented here. Another negative aspect of dailies is that they cluster players in the same area, which means you have to compete for mobs or resources. So not only are you forced to go to a particular area but you're forced to battle with the rest of the player-base as well.

    This effect of concentrating players in certain areas based on dailies adds to the feeling of an abandoned world in the daily-free zones.

    I can't begin to count the number of times that I asked a friend online to come and do something with me in the world only for them to reply that they had to run their dailies first. I remember thinking that it was beginning to sound like a job.

  10. dailies....eugh....

    I wonder if there was ever a cheaper way of keeping your player-base 'busy' - they could just as well have created a rat cage with a reward-lever inside, it would've come down to the same thing (just more honest).

    worst thing is it works.

  11. Syl wrote:
    "worst thing is it works."

    For a while, Syl. After that it comes back to kick the designers' asses. A sub model relies on player remembering a fun last session and having something to look forward to do iduring the next one. These two things decide whether they will renew/cancel the sub or not.

    Dalies make me remember a not very fun last session and while I do have something to do for the next one, I really don't look forward to it.

    It is relatively unimportant how often players actually play in a sub based business model, as long as the servers are busy enough.

  12. Well, I've evolved beyond the "need" for dailies. I'm logged on and I have time? I'll run it. I have something better to do? I ignore them, in any case I can always run them tomorrow.

    My progression in the Firelands quests was slower, I've missed countless jewelcrafting dailies and truegold transmutes. So what? I've not really LOST anything, you know? :)

    As for running the daily (weekly?) dungeon for emblems: I already get them by raiding. And if I don't, well, that's too bad, I'll be missing one piece of equipment which will end up disenchanted in a couple of months. Should I be worried?

  13. @Nils

    That's true Nils, at least for you and me and other gamers with maybe a below-average reward/item-focus. I've ignored daily grinds very early into WoW, couldn't care less unless it was REALLY something worth wile (aka goal 100x times better than journey).

    but peer-pressure plays a big factor here too, especially for people in guilds and raiders. if dailies are the only way to get that zomg-gear-we-need-so-much (even if they really don't need it, but you know my opinion on pioneering vs. min/maxing), they will do it because they "have to" and all their guild mates do it, too. it creates a vicious circle - while your personal fun might be zero, your guild is more important than you (!)and so you keep doing it.

    that falsifies feedback...and puts a big delay on the reaction you described.

    And I still don't understand why people would call an ongoing attunement chain a timesink and not dailies. /eyeroll

  14. I suppose I'm one of those rare people that actually loves and enjoys dailies. ^_^;

    While I'm happy that there's a cap to how many dailies you can do in a day so you have to choose whether you want, for example, to grind the Argent Tournament or the Fireland Invasion events, I like having something routine to do every day. It may feel like a job, yes, but the feeling of having earned something out of a certain amount of work is just as enjoyable in WoW as it is in RL to me.

    Then again, not only I do find comfort in routine in RL, I also do not under any circumstances feel like I *have* to do my dailies so, if don't want to do them, I don't do 'em and to hell with fast progression. ;p

  15. Always nice to see somebody voice a different opinion. Thanks Maddy. I guess dailies work for you if you don't feel pressured to do them and just enjoy having the same to do every day.

    The big question is, of course, how most players feel? And. unfortunately, without some statistics our ability to answer that question is severly limited.