Leveling…Again and Again

One statement from Blizzard in the past number of months that has shocked me was to hear that roughly 70% of created characters in WoW don’t make it past level 10. Being someone who doesn’t typically have an issue creating/leveling alts this really gets me thinking…what is it that stops so many people dead in their tracks? Surely a great deal of the¬†inevitable end of an alt’s life has to do with the poor quest design in the old world. I’m someone who doesn’t mind burning through a starting zone I’ve played 100 times previously, it’s all about staying focused on your goals ahead and not so much on how mind numbingly boring things might be along the way. I know many people who will almost automatically drag a new ‘toon of any race to the Draenei or Blood Elf started zone to take advantage of the improved quest flow but I’ve never really been able to get into the practice.

A great deal of these sub-level 10 characters must be bank alts…right? I view a bank alt as something that isn’t typically considered by most people just starting out. Usually someone creating a bank/auction house alt already has at least one level 80 character and is doing it as a time saver. This would automatically put the ratio of level 1-10 bank alts to level 11-80 characters at least 50% so surely this can’t be it. Simple pondering continues to point towards the fact that the game simply isn’t engaging enough for many people. I know for myself, the initial twenty levels or so on my first character were played through with the friend who dragged me into the game, I suppose if I had been stranded from day one I might have been much less likely to progress.

In a way I suppose it doesn’t surprise me that there would be a constant influx of new players who just don’t get it. Over the last year or two Blizzard has really started pushing WoW’s image into mass media, much to their success it seems. Blizzard needs to face the fact that no matter how many tutorial hints you put in the game, there is still quite a hump to get over for new players. This, compacted with the “broken” experience of playing some classes early on (druids and hunters come to mind) could easily be the cause for so many abandoned characters.

I would like to think once Cataclysm is released that the aforementioned 70% of abandoned characters will start to drop considerably. Not only will a lot of us more “seasoned” players be leveling new alts to experience the change in old Azeroth but the next wave of new players to the game will have a MUCH easier time getting around and a great deal more to do. A lot of this wishful thinking will be for nothing if Cataclysm doesn’t deliver. Regardless of how well Cataclysm is executed there will still be an initial surge of players and interest but for the sake of this game that so many of us call home I do hope that it all plays out as planned.

What about you, are you someone who has already conquered the leveling curve or do you find yourself unable to sway from your main, constantly hoping that Cataclysm will be everything we all hope? I like to think I’m somewhere in between, I don’t always enjoy leveling a new alt but I find that doing my best to stay focused on my goal for the character really does help. As we trudge through the next 4-6 months waiting for Cataclysm I really think that the best thing we can do is to be a little more outgoing…encourage new players who cross your path and try to be a voice of encouragement as opposed to one more douche spouting about someone’s low gear score.

- Cornelious

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