A cup of coffee and three dailies, and what does my morning bring? This:
And that is me done, pretty much, with Northrend rep grinds. Oh, there's a few that I don't have at Exalted: Frostborn, Explorer's League and Frenzyheart. I'll probably do the latter eventually, but for now I need pets from eggs and I'm not insane enough to try and get Exalted with the Frostborn through one quest a day.…
I've been playing WoW since the day it launched in Europe, and this is the very first time I've been "up to date" with the current level reps.
And that's got me thinking. I've argued before that WoW is now aimed far more at people like me, people with one main character and a handful of occasionally-played alts. Ones without vast amounts of play time, and who can get one or maybe two nights' play a week. People who are somewhere close to average in the player base. I was really struck when, at Blizzcon, someone asked about extra character slots and the Blizz employee seemed surprised that it was an issue. Apparently, people who have used up all their slots with played characters on a realm are pretty rare. Yet, amongst the blogosphere, the lack of extra character slots was an issue.
The chances are, if you're reading this, you're not the average WoW player. You've taken the time to track down and read blogs on the subject - that probably puts you a distance ahead of 90% of the player base. If you're a blogger, you're in a tiny percentage of the population, because you're seriously committed to the game AND to writing about it. You are not the average player.
The average player is probably about where I am - heading into Ulduar weekly, doing some Heroics for sweet T8 loot, and starting to tidy up most of the solo content in the expansion. It's increasingly looking like I'll be "done" with Wrath by the time Cataclysm hits, with maybe enough time to get a second toon to 80.
And that's why I don't subscribe to the "WoW is in decline" feeling you see expressed in the Blogosphere whenever another big name blogger quits. Almost by definition, if you're a big name WoW blogger, you're not an average player. And Blizzard is, more than ever, tailoring the game to people who are average. That means that the above average players are going to burn through that content quickly - but then, that's what the hard modes and weird-ass achievements are there for. For a small group, for the one who are dropping late-instance bosses a few weeks after new raid content is added, that may not be enough. But I have a feeling that they're a small, small part of the player base.
I'm actually enjoying the game more than I have ever done right now. Dailies in the morning, heroics with my guildies in the evening, raiding once a week most weeks, and some work on Loremaster when I have time left over. It's great fun, it's the right balance of time (my other half isn't grumpy about my playing any more), and I genuinely feel like I'm making progress each week, be that bosses down, new gear, reps done or cute little pets acquired.
I have a feeling that Blizz have WoW in a really sweet spot right now, one that will keep a very large number of players happy for a very long time to come. If they can up the pace of the expansions a little - getting Cataclysm out by the spring of next year and the next one by the summer of 2011, I think WoW will cruise into it's tenth anniversary with big numbers still playing.
Right now, I certainly hope so.