Announced as an addition for the next patch (and this is not an April Fool):
Any time the Dungeon Finder queue is longer than a few minutes for level-85 Heroics, the Call to Arms system kicks in and determines which role is the least represented. In the case of tanking being the least represented role, the “Call to Arms: Tanks” icon will display in the Dungeon Finder UI menu <…> Regardless of your role, you’ll always be able to see which role currently has been Called to Arms, if any.
Call to Arms is meant to lower wait times by offering additional rewards for queuing as the currently least represented role. <…> Every time you hit these requirements (there is no daily limit) you’ll receive a goodie bag that will contain some gold, a chance at a rare gem, a chance at a flask/elixir (determined by spec), a good chance of receiving a non-combat pet (including cross faction pets), and a very rare chance at receiving a mount.
They go on to discuss why they decided on these incentives, and note also that the pets and mounts come from a variety of sources, but (this is the main thing) they are already in the game.
Understandably, players prefer to take on that responsibility in more organized situations than what the Dungeon Finder offers, but perhaps we can bribe them a little.
It will be an interesting experiment on a scale that only Warcraft can organise, so I’ll be interested in hearing how it goes.
I know enough people that quit running heroics in any role because they didn’t enjoy them, even with the gold and tokens that are given as rewards, to wonder how many tanks can be lured into LFD with a few random shinies. I’m sure it will improve the number of tanks queueing, but I wonder by how much. It certainly wouldn’t have enticed me to tank if I wasn’t in the mood. I don’t need the gold and I don’t care about the pets or mounts – if it was a tank specific mount that might have been another question :)
Also, to get the reward you need to queue SOLO for LFD. That means you can’t bring your favourite healer with you (or favourite dps player/s) and really do have to take what the random generator provides.
There is a whole other question about whether it’s really a good idea to reward people explicitly for playing needed roles. It tends to attract the people who are most interested in the rewards rather than in the role. Plus it’s generally unfair and if the game is that dependent on unpopular roles then it’s time to look at why they are so unpopular.
In this case: why is tanking instances so less popular in Cataclysm than it was in Wrath?
I’d suggest that it isn’t because tanking is harder than it used to be, it’s just that the dungeons are longer and less popular than they used to be. And the easiest way to get dragged through a dungeon you dislike (esp. where you don’t want to learn all the pulls) is in a dps or healing role. Also, it’s far easier to gear as a dps first in instances and then work on the tank gear – so even a lot of keen tanks will want to do a lot of runs in dps mode on hitting 85.
My other issue with the bribes is what happens if one role is least popular, and another is just a little bit more popular, and the third role is massively over subscribed? Surely there should be some reward for healers even when tanks are most in demand? Or should we just penalise dps even more than long queue times for LFD would imply, pour encourager les autres?