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Feb 20, 2011



So, what do TN’er think of withdrawing titles in an MMO – on the face of it, it seems to break a bond of trust between publisher and player.

I think the bigger sin is that this policy was inconsistent with other titles. They didn't take away the Explorer or Loremaster titles because new content was added, although they did change what was required to achieve them by adding the new expansion content. I think if Blizzard had been more consistent then you wouldn't have seen as much outcry, even if they had withdrawn previously earned titles. Sure, there'd be grumbling, but there's always grumbling.

A violation of trust, though? I think that's a bit harsh, assuming the requisite consistency. I suspect this is just a designer coming up with a (flawed but) cheap and easy way to keep people interested in the content longer. Seems a lot of people are hitting 85 and not particularly bothered by chasing after the content as the have in the past.


This policy toward titles is similar to what they do with gear. New dungeons drop new gear that is in turn required to dominate the new dungeons. This completely devalues the old elite gear. Players have to re-gear their characters. And yes, they do complain about it.

In the context of titles, this would be essentially like creating a new title called 'Super Exalted' that could be obtained only if you had Exalted AND had gained exalted status with these other factions. I wonder why they didn't do that. There would still be complaint, but nothing like the torrent that has been unleashed. Taking away the title is like taking away current raid gear. Of course there's an explosion.

More broadly, Blizzard is simply confronting the allocation problem common to all economies: Since happiness comes from things like progress and relative status position, you somehow have to sustain a rat race where everyone feels like they are moving upward, both in absolute terms and with respect to others. Meanwhile, the aspirations of the players are always adjusting to the current state of the economy. And finally, losing or dropping down in the hierarchy makes people more upset than gaining by the same amount.

Advanced industrial economies are much worse at this than Blizzard. Look at the rows in Paris (and now Madison, Wisconsin) over entitlements.

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