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  1. #1

    A Better Axis than Casual: Hardcore

    Since WoW came out, almost every discussion has revolved around Casual V Hardcore and what those mean. It has never been remotely accurate, but with all the discussions on Shadowlands content, I think it is even less so now.

    For those familiar with politics, there is the political compass - a grid with four spots that loosely group people along social/liberal and economic/cultural values (or whatever other terms you choose). For the MMO genre and wow in particular, I think this is far more accurate than just Casual V Hardcore.



    I have instead arranged players in four groups, Hardcore/Casual and Hobbyist/Lifestyle. I think this adds a lot more nuance to the playerbase, though obviously there are plenty of players who aren't quite this easy to define.


    The Axis

    Casual: I’m broadly defining casual mostly in terms of what content someone does. For example, world quests are casual but mythic raiding is not. This is usually correlated with playtime, but not as much as some people think.

    Hardcore: In this context, hardcore players enjoy competitive content – dungeons, raids, and pvp. I’m not going to split hairs on what specific difficulty counts as “hardcore,” but pretty much anyone who aspires to AoTC/KSM and certainly anyone who gets CE is a hardcore player.

    Hobbyist: This type of player enjoys WoW but does not prioritize it compared to most things in their life. They play when they can, and sometimes for several hours, but they will almost always do something else when possible. If they have a choice between going to the work party and raiding that night, they pick the party. If they get busy, they stop playing WoW altogether and probably don’t even think about it.

    Lifestyle: The lifestyle player prioritizes WoW very highly in their life. That doesn’t mean they would instantly drop anything to play, but that given a choice between options, they would pick WoW. They think about the game often when they aren’t playing, and they gain a strong sense of identity/achievement when accomplishing goals in game. Note that Lifestyle players are not necessarily “good” – many of them don’t participate in truly competitive content at all. But they still make an effort to play very often, and they schedule some parts of their life around the game

    Player Types

    Casual Lifestyle, aka “The Grinder”: a type of player I'm sure everyone knows (and I think it is well-represented here). Basically people who play a lot - usually every day, often for hours at a time - but don't do anything difficult. They do world quests, solo content, farm transmog, whatever. A lot of these folks have played the game for a long time and are absolutely part of the core audience, but their desires conflict with other groups.
    -What they Want: Aside from the obvious stuff like collection content, puzzles, mounts, etc, what this type of player really wants is a grind - a way to slowly but consistently progress their character without doing much if any group content. The mana pearl grind or similar things is more or less good for them. So was original AP, farming for legendaries, and similar types of content.
    -What they Hate: Raid-logging design, competitive game focus. Grinders dislike a raid-focused design and the competitive mindset because that isn’t why they plan the game. They will gladly spend hours upon hours farming a mount, but they don’t care the slightest about killing the [Current End Boss]. Design that prioritizes raid-logging feels to them like their content is being stripped away. They specifically want some amount of solo chores and progression.

    Casual Hobbyist, aka "The Noob": The often-invoked unicorn gamer who doesn’t read forums or Discord and is genuinely surprised when a patch drops. Casual hobbyists may never even reach max level on a single character in an expansion, and even if they do, they probably don’t do much afterwards.
    -Want They Want: This is probably the hardest group to reach because they are inherently ephemeral. They usually bounce from game to game the moment something is boring, and it is very difficult to design “sticky” content to pull them in.
    -What they Hate: Casual Hobbyists will typically quit the instant something gets boring or difficult. If leveling is too hard, they drop the game. If it’s too easy, they also drop the game.

    Hardcore Lifestyle, aka “The Tryhard”: This group is what people will typically think of as elite M+ and mythic raiders, though many people who do that content aren’t actually all that “hardcore” in a traditional sense. But this group definitely includes Echo/Limit and almost anyone who specifically schedules their real-life schedule around the game in order to progress through difficult content, whatever that content may be.
    -What They Want: more raids, more dungeons, more challenges. The perfect wow for this group would be shorter seasons with more content they like. They tend to feel like anything designed for solo players just wastes developer resources that could be spent on new dungeons. They ESC/Spacebar through all story content and probably can’t name more than a few NPCs in the entire game.
    -What They Hate: Any system that requires them to do world or solo content to increase character power. Needing to do solo quests to grind renown or unlock progression is the anathema of this group. They despise Artifact Power, Torghast, and especially Pearl-farming. Hardcore Lifestylers do not want to raid log – this is what separates them from Hardcore Hobbyists. They want to play the game a lot, but only in challenging content. If you could grind anima/AP/soul ash purely by doing dungeons and never questing, they would be happy.

    Hardcore Hobbyist aka “The Social Gamer”: This group is also a bit unusual because it seems like a contradiction. Hardcore hobbyists can be achievement hunters or mythic raiders, but they tend to be the people in your raid who miss a lot of events (because they aren’t prioritizing the game). In many cases, they are only “hardcore” in the sense that they do competitive content, but they may only play a few hours in a given week. They are often primarily social gamers who have friends that carry them through their weekly dungeon, and otherwise they only show up to raid.
    -What They Want: Content to do with friends, especially raids. Some HH may enjoy dungeons or pvp, but for the most part those aren’t as social as raids. HH want to show up, shoot the shit with friends during raid, and then log out for the week.
    -What They Hate: Time-consuming content they feel obligated to do in order to play with their friends. Grinding visions, grinding sockets, basically any world content. Most Hardcore Hobbyists want to be raid loggers because the game is not their priority. If the chores become too extensive, they just quit.


    Fundamentally, I think most of the arguments and discussions here revolve around people in different player groups believing that content designed for another group makes the game worse for them. For example, it is basically impossible to design a game that will make Hardcore Hobbyists and Casual Lifestyle gamers happy - they want essentially completely opposite things.

    Aside from the content drought, I think the major issue with Shadowlands is that it can't make these audiences happy. The Hardcore Hobbyists absolutely despise Torghast and the Maw, and even though the amount of "mandatory" chores is lower than ever, it is still too much Meanwhile, the Lifestyle players, especially casual ones, feel like the game has been hollowed out on the altar of raid logging.
    Last edited by Tyris Flare; 2021-06-23 at 04:57 AM.

  2. #2
    yup, i usually went from HH to HL between expansions. i plan to stay HH until my friends quit or i won't have time for it.

  3. #3
    Old God Soon-TM's Avatar
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    @OP interesting categories, I read the post and I'm pleasantly surprised. According to your categories, I have been constantly bouncing between HH and CL, depending on whether my job schedule and RL obligations allow for extremely time consuming (at least for me) activities such as raids or not.
    Quote Originally Posted by Fitsu View Post
    Shadowlands could have had half it's timegated, grindy, restrictive, pointless mechanics removed and replaced with nothing and it would have just been a straight up better game for it.

  4. #4
    Grinder here and I can confirm that it's exactly what I want. More specifically I want to be able to run LFG/LFR/random BGs to get a currency/badges/tomestones with a weekly cap in order to be able to buy a piece of high quality gear weekly to bi-weekly.

    I enjoy group content a lot but only if it's matchmade. Premade groups or schedules is a deal breaker and so is content that is stressful.

  5. #5
    Them Right Wingers are hardcore.

    Hardcore Hobbyist aka “The Social Gamer” sounds about right for me.
    Last edited by Daedius; 2021-06-23 at 03:40 AM.

  6. #6
    Absolutely hardcore hobbyist. Been this since wotlk. log to raid, kills stuff, be done with it.
    no way I am doing dailies. I hardly touch world quests. if I need money, sure it is inevitable but thank god guild free repairs. and gambling between bosses.

  7. #7
    Good post. Moderate CL here. WoW is the only game I play, and I usually put in about an hour per night. Haven't done any organised raids since Ulduar, gave up on LFR after Legion. Solo all the way since.

  8. #8
    The Undying Lochton's Avatar
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    I find this an interesting post except for the lacking component of time within casual and hardcore. I do not find a player hardcore if they only log on once or twice a week for a few hours, even if they raid mythic. Just like I don't see people as casual if they log 5+ days a week of active playing for a few hours.
    FOMO: "Fear Of Missing Out", also commonly known as people with a mental issue of managing time and activities, many expecting others to fit into their schedule so they don't miss out on things to come. If FOMO becomes a problem for you, do seek help, it can be a very unhealthy lifestyle..

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Gehco View Post
    I find this an interesting post except for the lacking component of time within casual and hardcore. I do not find a player hardcore if they only log on once or twice a week for a few hours, even if they raid mythic. Just like I don't see people as casual if they log 5+ days a week of active playing for a few hours.
    Did you even read the post? Hardcore Hobbyist = someone who plays difficult content, but rarely. Casual Lifestyle = someone who plays easy content, but all the time.

    I think community perception is skewed that all raiders are Hardcore Lifestyle players because they only ever see streamers doing Mythic raids, for example, but every guild I've ever been in is full of people who want to be hardcore hobbyists - we want to play the game and challenge our skills, not our patience or our ability to devote stupid amounts of time to the game outside of the 6-9+ hours of prog raiding per week.

  10. #10
    The Undying Lochton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nzx View Post
    Did you even read the post? Hardcore Hobbyist = someone who plays difficult content, but rarely. Casual Lifestyle = someone who plays easy content, but all the time.

    I think community perception is skewed that all raiders are Hardcore Lifestyle players because they only ever see streamers doing Mythic raids, for example, but every guild I've ever been in is full of people who want to be hardcore hobbyists - we want to play the game and challenge our skills, not our patience or our ability to devote stupid amounts of time to the game outside of the 6-9+ hours of prog raiding per week.
    Nope, I've read it. And still meant what I said. I do not believe people are hardcore just because they do high-end content for a few hours. Then again, I guess I am more thinking in the old ways where hardcore would mean time invested.
    FOMO: "Fear Of Missing Out", also commonly known as people with a mental issue of managing time and activities, many expecting others to fit into their schedule so they don't miss out on things to come. If FOMO becomes a problem for you, do seek help, it can be a very unhealthy lifestyle..

  11. #11
    I admire the effort, but this is a classic case of trying to come up with a complicated solution where there is already an existing, much easier one.

    Casual is someone who doesn't play a lot, hardcore is someone who does play a lot. That's really all there is to it. The idea that these two descriptors somehow refer to the type of content you are doing is wrong and dates back to the times when there was nothing to do in the game besides high end activities.

    If someone plays a lot and mostly raids, they are a hardcore raider.
    If someone plays a lot and mostly does pet battles, they are a harcore pet battler.
    And so on.

    No rocket science and graphs needed that most people will never use. Also, trying to pigeonhole people into these "types" and attach weird characteristics to them is just downright offensive. You realize that are many people out there who do literally everything right? Like, they get hall of fame titles, gladiator mounts and also collect everything in the open world? Claiming that collectors don't care about current content at all just kinda shows you don't know too much about the subject matter. I mean, you realize that large part of collecting in WoW are the seasonal unobtainables that require you to do different levels of endgame content right? Doesn't sound like you do. The same applies to all the other 'categories', by the way.
    Last edited by Azerate; 2021-06-23 at 07:02 AM.
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  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Gehco View Post
    I find this an interesting post except for the lacking component of time within casual and hardcore. I do not find a player hardcore if they only log on once or twice a week for a few hours, even if they raid mythic. Just like I don't see people as casual if they log 5+ days a week of active playing for a few hours.
    I think a way to describe the lack of a time component is that everything defined in this model can be independent of time in terms of what drives you, and any relation to time is a result of what it will take to achieve your end goals. For example, if you're a high-end mythic raider, a lot of your time is front-ended, but for most of an expansion you may not even log on other than raiding or sales runs. Meanwhile, those that aspire to mythic raiding in guilds that have attendance issues or less-than-skilled players that you cannot replace will likely spend more time on the content than your top-end mythic raiders. Under this model, both would be considered the same quadrant, but their time investment varies wildly. However, I think the definitions still indicate time in some places, which leads to the model's weakness...

    I will say a weakness of the model is that you can occupy different sections of the model at the same time, and it begins to break down how the model works. Basically, it assumes balkanization that may not be accurate to how players really are. For example, I know many players who would fall under the Hardcore definition, but fall under both Lifestyle and Hobbyist extremes at the same time based upon definitions. Maybe some definition tweaks would be in order, or you would have to account for further delineations or add a time axis (which may make the model 3D, but harder for some to visualize).

    Ultimately, I think it's a misconception that people have of players in WoW, especially on the high-end of mythic raiding. While people who do mythic raiding on the high end will generally approach the content in a more serious fashion than someone who does LFR, all the people between these extremes really aren't that different from each other. Basically, it's another aspect that the model doesn't account for and people misconstrue when it comes to people's attitudes and ways of tackling content, and that's skill. How skillful you are at the game will drastically change how you perceive the game and what you desire beyond what the quadrants define.

    Honestly, I think the premise may be slightly flawed in terms of how the model is based, especially if it relates to a 4-quadrant political model. Especially when people tend to skew political definitions to justify their own ends and make their models work . I've seen better models for political/governmental structures in relationship to the freedom of/desired by people, and it's more of a parabola than a 4-quandrant model, and that may work better to some degree. Could even add a second parabola with a different power function, and where you fall between the two would indicate actual time spent pursuing your chosen end-game... or even make it more of a Venn diagram using the same concept depending upon how you base your parabolas (or maybe try a basic Venn diagram). Basically, you could make it so you could have more refined/additional categories while including time as a variable. May get a bit abstract for some, but it would still fall under a 2-D model technically... although once you add more degrees of freedom, while you get closer to a more representative model you also stray away from easy visualizations that people can comprehend.

    Regardless, I'll give an A for effort!
    Last edited by exochaft; 2021-06-23 at 07:14 AM.
    “Society is endangered not by the great profligacy of a few, but by the laxity of morals amongst all.”
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    ― Alexis de Tocqueville

  13. #13
    I think these axis are definetly needed. "Hardcore" has always implied time, but it has a lot of other connotations as well - like effort. Casual Lifestyle is a much better description of somebody who just plays wow a lot, without putting much effort into it.

    As for someone who both does cutting edge raiding and does all the collection type stuff - they enjoy both hardcore and casual content. Not everybody does.

  14. #14
    Quite a nice breakdown. Much better than the "Casual" and "Hardcore" where it means essentially nothing. I looked at this and was "awww shit, here we go again - calling mount farmers hardcore" but I read the list, and it does a really good job.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Gehco View Post
    Nope, I've read it. And still meant what I said. I do not believe people are hardcore just because they do high-end content for a few hours. Then again, I guess I am more thinking in the old ways where hardcore would mean time invested.
    ??????

    That's literally the idea the post is trying to eliminate. Swap the names if it makes you feel better - measure time by "casual" vs "hardcore" and then change the difficulty names to "hard" and "easy", the point is the same. There are far too many people who play this game religiously, to the extent it's like a second job, but never step into content harder than LFR. You can't call those people "casual" because the label is far too broad - they play "casual" content, but their time commitment is anything but "casual". Similarly, I'd call people who raid log Mythic "casual" players because they only play 3 hours a week to clear Nathria, but that content is far and away not "casual" in terms of difficult to the majority of people.

    It's been proven time and time and time again that the two shitty labels we currently use cannot accurately describe most WoW players, or even gamers in general. We need a new model, and something like this is fit for purpose. Like, this game has players who play 30 hours a week to solo old raid and dungeon content for transmog and mounts, and players who play two nights a week to clear Mythic raids. It also has players who play 5 hours a week and exclusively level alts, and people who play 40 hours a week and clear Mythic, PvP to Glad, and then push 20+s for the rest of the week. It's impossible to put those four players into only two separate baskets.

    The OP is trying to suggest that we need an x axis of "difficulty" and a y axis of "time" to define playstyles, rather than the current one-dimensional continuum. He's 100% correct.

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Gehco View Post
    Nope, I've read it. And still meant what I said. I do not believe people are hardcore just because they do high-end content for a few hours. Then again, I guess I am more thinking in the old ways where hardcore would mean time invested.
    That's the whole meaning of the post tho?
    Imo time invested wouldn't mean a shit unless you have something to show for it. So a person who does 8hrs of herbing a day wouldn't mean a shit to me. But thats a whole point of the OP.

  17. #17
    I would be HH but I am the one doing the carrying, not the other way around. And I hate to farm stuff in wq or open world content or choreghast. So I am a mix of HH and HL it seems.
    Last edited by Specialka; 2021-06-23 at 08:08 AM.

  18. #18
    It is wrong to put PvE Co-Op as a "competitive" activity. When you run a dungeon or raid you are working towards the same goal. Outside of the world first race and the M+ tournament which is indeed a competition you are not competing against other players. Even the M+ rating that is soon coming is not making M+ a competition, it's entirely there to gauge player skill so that players of same skill come together, but they are still not competing against each-other. If you truly believe raiding or m+ is a competition between players you are not grasping the concept of pve co-op.
    Last edited by Qnubi; 2021-06-23 at 08:10 AM.

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by Qnubi View Post
    I find it hard to believe that PvE Co-Op is a "competitive" activity. When you run a dungeon or raid you are working towards the same goal. Outside of the world first race and the M+ tournament which is indeed a competition you are not competing against other players. Even the M+ rating that is soon coming is not making M+ a competition, it's entirely there to gauge player skill so that players of same skill come together, but they are still not competing against each-other.
    Replace competitive by challenging, there you go.

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by Specialka View Post
    Replace competitive by challenging, there you go.


    Yes, but OP starts off by describing what hardcore is, and then goes on that PvE Co-Op is a competition, which is factually wrong.

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