Nowadays the most efficient (and therefor most commonly used) way to get gear as a non-raider is through a combination of the following:
- Dailies (VP + Rep)
- LFD + Scenarios (JP, VP + Drops)
- LFR (VP + 'Drops')
These occupations require neither human interaction nor skill. This makes the game feel extremely dull and 'grindy' if you can't (or don't want to) raid. In fact many of my casual friends are complaining all the time about a lack of content and challenge. Many have quit already vocally complaining about 'Mists of Grindaria'.
One way to solve this problem is to try and throw out new content rapidly. That is what Blizzard is doing right now (patching has never been faster) and it isn't a bad solution at all. More content is always great. However I doubt that Blizzard can keep this speed up and thus a longterm solution needs to be found.
I think challenge modes (the new 'heroics') offer a great solution. Currently the feature is extremely underused due to a lack of interesting rewards. Most people that do challenge modes are only interested in gold times and not in finishing the run. This limits the feature to pretty much the top 1% (or less) of players.
So how does that solve the issue of 'no community' and 'no content' for non-raiders? Simple!
Most people don't realize it but if the currency system was slightly changed we would have an exact replica of the gearing system in late TBC and Wrath.
Gearing up a character would follow four linear steps:
1.) LFD (Blues + JP) 463
2.) LFR (T1 epics + JP) 476/483
Step 3 would offer 4 different combinable paths for PvE:
3.1) Normal mode raiding (T2 epics + VP) 489/496
3.2) Dailies (T2 epics at exalted for gold) 489/496
3.3) Challenge modes (T2 epics + VP) 489/496
(You could only finish a challenge mode once a day. Similar to how specific heroic dungeons work.)
3.4) Professions (same way they work now).
4.) Heroic raids (T3 epics + VP) 502/509
The attentive readers probably notice that no gear available to casual players is taken away or diminished in value. VP may only be available through 'difficult' content (such as CMs + Raids) but since dailies no longer require VP to buy gear they are of minor interest to players that do not want to participate in such content anyway.
- Less pressure to do dailes.
(Everyone I know hates dailies ...)
- An additional opportunity to gear up.
(Again, no existing gearing opportunity is scrapped or changed.)
- Content that requires skill similar to normal mode raiding and gives similar rewards.
(Do not confuse clearing CMs with getting gold times, VERY different.)
- Players might feel forced to clear CMs.
Response: Players don't currently feel forced to clear normal mode raids, do they?
- CMs might be more rewarding than raids and thus kill normal mode raiding.
Response: If one piece of loot (for the 5man group) seems too rewarding per run (which to me it really does not) a system similar to LFR could be used.
- Additional pressure on the very hardcore.
Response: Maybe for 1 or 2 weeks. If you want to be that 'hardcore' you have to deal with it.
Challenge modes are exactly like old heroics. Why not give non-raiders a 30m - 1h rewarding experience that requires some sort of skill?
Please leave feedback and vote. Thanks.