Tuesday, July 15, 2014

WoW Analysis: The History of Bonus Valor Rewards

Over the last couple of weekends, Blizzard has been giving World of Warcraft players a hearty buff that increases Valor Point gain by 100%. This is likely due to the community buffs added to Diablo 3 that received a degree of success (the legendary item droprate buff in particular). While these buffs are greatly appreciated and likely a part of why World of Warcraft has had a lot of life breathed back into it lately (aside from the pre-expansion rush to recruit and gear up for Warlords of Draenor), there is something similar to this that I would like to address, mostly related to Valor Point acquisition. With that said, this article will be part history lesson regarding the acquisition of epic quality currency used to purchase equipment (namely Badges of Justice, Emblems, and Valor Points) followed by a brief analysis of the two systems that were implemented to acquire Valor Points.

Valor Points initially started out as Badges of Justice in the Burning Crusade. These were earned in most of the PvE endgame content and used to purchase gear, with higher tier equipment costing more Badges. One of the most notable systems for acquiring Badges of Justice was the daily heroic quests, which would give several Badges of Justice for completing a specific Heroic dungeon, which were new at the time and considered very difficult.

Daily heroic quests also made their way into Wrath of the Lich King, though the system was more streamlined when the Dungeon Finder was introduced in 3.3. The quests were removed entirely and instead the first completion of a random Heroic dungeon through Dungeon Finder awarded bonus Emblems of Frost, the higher tier Emblem currency of the expansion.

Finally, Cataclysm revamped endgame currency, creating a Valor Point/Justice Point split for PvE and Conquest Point/Honor Point split for PvP, with the former of each currency group being used for stronger equipment than the latter. Item costs were also normalized to cost around hundreds or thousands in terms of points. Valor Points, like before, were gotten by doing raids or a random Heroic through Dungeon Finder. However, Valor Point awards for random Heroic dungeons were changed to a weekly basis, awarding Valor Points seven times per week instead of once per day. This Valor Point awarding system was switched back to a daily basis in Mists of Pandaria, though subsequent runs in the same day would award a lesser amount of Valor Points to compensate.

Seven Per Week or Once Per Day?

This brings me to the two most recent systems implemented to award Valor Points: the Cataclysm "seven per week" system and the Mists of Pandaria "once per day" system. First of all, let us consider the pros and cons of each system:

In the former system of seven Valor awards per week, there was increased flexibility in how players can run Heroic dungeons for Valor Points. Players could do all the runs on the day of the weekly reset (Tuesday or Wednesday, for instance) or do all seven runs during the weekend when more people were likely to play due to having time off work and the like.

However, this also meant players may burn out and end up doing nothing for the other days of the week, potentially turning them off to the game. It is also worth mentioning that such a binge of Heroic dungeon runs is a bit unhealthy if no breaks were taken.

The latter system of daily bonus Valor awards and additional Valor awards with each run has the advantage of allowing players to earn Valor on a daily basis and gradually reach the cap, rationing out their play time over several days. In addition, players can still grind Heroic dungeons, Scenarios, and Heroic Scenarios (when they were added) to cap out Valor Points faster.

However, the grind to cap out Valor Points quickly compared to the "seven per week" system required more runs overall, especially considering Heroic dungeon rewards under the "seven per week" system awarded 150 Valor Points compared the the rewards now (80 Valor Points for first Heroic dungeon completion, 50 for Scenario, and 150 for Heroic scenario). In addition, a buff was awarded if the weekly Valor Point cap of 1000 was reached to increase Valor Point gain on other characters the player owned on that realm. Ironically, there was also additional incentive to reach Valor cap, giving people a reason to grind Valor Points, but punishing players if they couldn't play every day and needed to do a bunch of Heroic Dungeon, Scenario, or Heroic Scenario runs in a single or a few sittings.

I personally like the former system a lot more, though I can understand the approach used in Mists of Pandaria due to the addition of Scenarios. However, the "seven per week" system could probably be implemented in place of the daily bonus rewards that are in place now, awarding the additional Valor Points up to seven times a week for Heroic dungeons, Scenarios, and Heroic Scenarios, and then awarding a lesser amount of Valor Points for subsequent runs, granting the flexibility of the first system to the second. I really hope this system or a similar system is considered in the following expansion.

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