Tokens! And why Ulduar-10 is a problem

Tokens have been fantastically popular in recent MMOs. The wonder of tokens is that they perfectly map onto grindy play.

Why we love tokens:

  1. They’re less random. You know exactly how many times you need to kill a mob in order to have access to the gear you want. But you will not have to sit there and watch the retribution paladin ninja the drop … again.
  2. They’re less class specific. No more gloomily disposing of drops which are for classes that aren’t even in your group.
  3. You get to choose how you spend them. If the vendor sells a ring, some boots, and a cool new mount, you can decide your own priorities for which order you want to buy. No more pretending to be happy because some gloves dropped again when you already have 3 spare pairs.
  4. More choices on how to get gear. If tokens can be transferred to other players, then you can grind cash in other ways and buy the tokens that you need. Or pick and choose between token gear and stuff that you get via other means.

Why we hate tokens:

  1. They’re boring. It isn’t as exciting to kill a boss, grab your tokens and move on as it is to get excited over that rare drop that might just be there.
  2. They take up bag space. Some games do solve this by providing special token bags. But WoW, as an example, still has plenty of tokens that sit smugly in your bags.
  3. They force grinding. Somehow the grind seems longer when you know that you need to kill a mob 200 times than it does when your item of desire has a small chance to drop on any of those kills. Even though the random mechanic could mean that you have to kill a lot more in the end. It’s intimidating to say ‘OK, I only need to clear this raid instance 10 more times’ … because that sounds like a lot.
  4. It’s confusing to newbies to have to deal with lots of tokens, many of which are totally devalued. Congratulations, you just picked up a heroic token! You only need 199 more and you can buy a totally awesome item which will be of no use after you have levelled to 80. The grind only makes sense if you’re there at the bleeding edge when it is introduced. Otherwise, it’s encouraging players to put in way too much time for the rewards.

So tokens are convenient, and give guaranteed rewards. But the grinds which they reward can become quickly outdated and there’s no indication in game as to which tokens you should just ignore.

This is a general problem with content becoming outdated in MMOs but not being either removed or explained. So what should devs do about old tokens? They become a foreign currency, useful only if you are travelling in the old content ‘world’.

Usually with foreign currency, you just convert it to the currency you want to use. The agent takes a cut and you get some cash you can use in local shops. But this is a problem for MMOs, because they don’t want you to get cash for local shops by converting old currency. They want you to get it from doing the newest latest grind.

The problem with 10 man Ulduar

OK, so the problem with Ulduar tokens is this:

Currently there are two types of raid token in Wrath.

  • Heroic and 10 man tokens, which share the same vendor.
  • 25 man tokens which use a different, higher level vendor.

In the next patch, with the next raid (ie. Ulduar) there will be 10 man tokens, which will use the old 25 man token vendor. And there will be new 25 man tokens which will use a different, higher level vendor.

Now the current 25 man token vendor sells nice stuff, to be sure. He sells 2 pieces of the tier 7 set, which is a great way to fill out the set if you have been unlucky with drops. He sells bracers and rings and cloaks. All nice raid gear. But not quite as nice as the regular drops from Ulduar 10 man. And of course, he won’t sell any pieces of tier 8. You want that from 10 man runs, you’ll have to get lucky.

The new 25 man vendor, on the other hand, represents nice upgrades. He will sell two pieces of tier 8, and also other items with better stats.

The problem is not that 25 man raiding provides for better tokens, gear, and upgrades. That’s fine. The problem is that 10 man tokens are practically worthless before the raid has even gone live. Lots of people currently run both 10 man and 25 man content, I’m one of them. I already have all the 25 man badge gear that I want for Spinks.

I’ll say it again, 10 man Ulduar badges are practically worthless as things currently stand. Blizzard can’t and won’t add better gear to the badge vendor because they don’t want people to log into the new patch and be able to immediately go clean him out because they had lots of Naxx-25 badges saved. They won’t add in a conversion from 10 man to 25 man badges in Ulduar for the same reason.

I think it will be more difficult now to entice people to run the 10 mans. The gear isn’t bad (hard mode 10 man gear is very good) and it’s still a great way to learn the encounters and have a fun, sociable, raiding experience. But everyone likes to achieve a variety of different rewards for doing the same content — tokens, chance at a good drop, cash, reputation. And cutting down the number of rewards from one type of raid while increasing it in another (with the addition of the legendary weapon) could well tip the balance.


11 thoughts on “Tokens! And why Ulduar-10 is a problem

  1. “Somehow the grind seems longer when you know that you need to kill a mob 200 times than it does when your item of desire has a small chance to drop on any of those kills.”

    Perhaps this could be alleviated if there was a small chance of extra tokens dropping, or a special uber token that is worth more than others. I don’t play WoW anymore, so I don’t know if that’s already in place, but it seems like it might add some of the excitement of random drops to token grinding.

    • I could imagine something like that, definitely. In LOTRO I remember you can farm tokens to level your weapon up, and there are different types of token that can drop — if you are lucky you get one that gives the weapon a lot more xp.

      I vaguely remember reading that Keep Take Loot is on a rep system in Warhammer now?

  2. My issue with it as it stands is that it defeats the entire purpose of badges.

    They used to be there to enable people to move onto newer content with new characters without having to grind through old content that no one was playing anymore. While this wasn’t as much an issue as it might’ve been in BC with Kara and ZA to fill in the gaps, along with the fact it tooka good long while to get geared for those two, Naxx 10 is pretty much ignored entirely, being both too hard and having gear that’s barely better than heroics and I doubt you’re going to see many people setting foot in Naxx 25 for the next 3 or 4 months, the place having being battered down more than anything since MC. So I wonder if we’re going to see a chunk of people sitting in limbo.

    • I think we’re all (I mean, in my guild) beginning to wonder what the purpose of badges really is right now.

      Is it to help people gear up for current content? Is it to help people fill in gaps in their gear if they’ve been unlucky with drops? Is it to buy extra shinies like mounts or things to give alts?

      And I’m wondering how newer level 80s are going to gear for Ulduar too, because I really dont’ want to be running heroics and Naxx-10 to help people out forever.

  3. The Emblems of Valor in Ulduar-10 just continues the badge problem from Naxx-10. Why do I need Emblems of Heroism when I already got everything I wanted from running heroics? I started buying BoA items for my alts. I had everything I actually wanted from Emblems of Valor months ago, so I started selling BoE bracers on the AH instead. There really aren’t that many things to buy with either type of emblem.

    IMO, they should have made a separate emblem for each tier, and/or added a LOT more items to buy with them. Emblems are supposed to fill in gaps in your gear when you’re unlucky, but that’s pointless when there’s only a few items to buy that are any good.

    • I agree, separate emblems for each tier would have helped a lot.

      I feel as though they’ve gotten badge and achievement crazy in Wrath. But fallen down on the side which says ‘ok, what are these badges worth to you as a player?’ The 10 man Naxx vendor did seem more appealing, you could buy pieces of T7 for your offspecs, gear for alts, PvP gear (to some extent), and even swap it in for blue gems or frozen orbs.

      Eventually you run out of stuff to buy but at least there was a time when people had lists of things they wanted?

      I think Ulduar-10 needs a badge sink. Something cool we can buy with those badges.

  4. Pingback: WAR: A Token Post « Bio Break

  5. Why can’t raider exchange their old tokens for the new ones?

    Why can’t a heroic running non raider exchange their worthless tokens for a step up?

    The issue with tokens is that it’s a currency without freedoms. Blizzard dictates what players are awarded based on how they play rather than how often. They do not want players who do not raid to ever get the same loot as the raiders do. They do not want raiders to ever go back to old content to receive new rewards. If they were to look at it differently and allow more freedoms, it would improve the community. A player running strictly heroics could earn a 25man slot item even though it would take them 6months to get it, and by that time the end raiders are already a few tiers away anyway with a new expansion down the road. Reversely, a raider that sometimes finds himself sitting on extra old tokens can exchange them up to his current level of tokens. It would also make it worthwhile to join a heroic when there is simply nothing to do.

    The details above are irrelevant and simply an illustration of the point. It’s all about progression. People need to feel like they are progressing to keep them focused and involved. Some of these old gaming philosophies that predate second generation need to be questioned and abandoned.

    After 12+ years playing and working in the industry I’m very well of the marketing techniques to keep players playing. This top down reward system with an ever expanding market isn’t working anymore. With more and more online games coming available, it’s just a matter of time before this will be implemented. This is actually being thrown out to the powers that be for Blizzard’s next MMO.

    Making innovative content is key as well as allowing players choices.

    • You make some really good points here, and much better than I would have done.

      I’ve felt more channeled by the game in Wrath than in just about any other MMO I have played. I can see the advantages to it (more people likely to be doing the same things at the same times) but the game feels so much smaller in scope these days. And more forced. You’re right, there’s no freedom in how you get to your end goals. People are obsessed with their idea of challenge and it’s silly to make everyone fit into the same box. Plus there’s a large gap now for people entering the end game because everyone else has moved on, and not allowing heroic badges to buy upgraded gear makes it harder and harder for the new guys to catch up.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s