I looked at Warcraft’s grind in my last post, but let’s look at it from another angle, the smaller game that requires a different level of grind.
Marvel Puzzle Quest is the latest game from the behemoths of the Match 3 types of games, Puzzle Quest. It’s a free to play game, so the developers have to do a different type of Grind. They have to actively grind YOUR dollars into their wallet.
I don’t necessarily blame them for it, it’s how they keep the doors open and releasing the content, but I think it makes an unhealthy disconnect between casual players and fanatic players (known sometimes by the somewhat derogatory term “whales”).
They too ration out content slowly (new storylines, new characters, etcetera), but lock the best of everything behind the pay gate. (want that shiny new superhero they just released? Well, you have a less than one percent chance in every pack you pull, but if you buy a 10 pack, your odds go up, and if you buy a 40 pack (the price of a AAA game), you’re guaranteed to get one!
And of course, because of the ongoing power creep as new and objectively better characters roll out, and because the reward system pits you against your fellow players for rewards from doing missions, it becomes a three tiered system, the whales spend big to have the latest and greatest and take all the super shiny rewards, the casual player spends a little bit now and then and just putters on, and the free to play player gets left behind.
There’s no problem with that, (if you pay more, sure you should see a better reward for doing so), but it leads to a much higher churn rate amongst the second two groups .If you’re not going to get the best of stuff and all you can do is see the same content over and over again and just muddle through, sooner or later, you no longer get the thrill it once had, and drop out of the race entirely. And whales don’t continue to be whales when all they’re competing against is other whales.
So they need to hand out JUST enough of a carrot to keep those second groups interested and keep the game a viable factor, otherwise it slowly eats away from the tail and to the head.
I don’t blame MPQ or its directors, just that I don’t think 11 years from now, we’ll see anyone talk about MPQ, it’s got a much more limited shell life then WoW (and WoW is a special case, granted, it caught lightning in a bottle that no other MMO has managed to do). But it does provide a pretty nice view of how we do more when given less to do.
The Grind lives on.