We can haz shinyness?
@TennisMikey I've talked before about how DPS didn't seem to affect population in this particular case.—
Greg Street (@Ghostcrawler) January 22, 2013
@Aulper7 Great question and we don't have an answer to share yet. We are looking at more exciting visuals.—
Greg Street (@Ghostcrawler) January 21, 2013
Firstly: Whoever you are, @Aulper7, you are incredible at asking questions that Ghostcrawler feels compelled to answer. If you taught a class, I bet hundreds of WoW tweeters and GC stalkers would sign up for it.
On topic: Despite the small number of words involved in this exchange, they provide us with what might be a telling insight into what the class design team (or at least GC) feels drives rogue population trends. Patch 5.2 seeks to increase rogues’ viability in competitive PvP (thanks to changes to an array of talent changes, Preparation going baseline and the PvP set bonus granting extra energy), as well as a little bit of their PvE utility (largely thanks to Smoke Bomb becoming a group damage-reduction cooldown). But if it’s not enough to offset our persistent unpopularity as a class, what can Blizzard try next?
It’s dangerous to read too much into a tweet, and GC did just talk briefly about how he feels they need to work on rogue rotations, but this suggests he’s looking at the idea that more aesthetic fixes might make a difference where mechanical changes have thus far failed to have an impact.
I greet this with skepticism. Yes, visuals are really important in a game as graphically oriented as WoW. And yes, rogues have long been one of the most “low-key” classes aesthetically — even among melee toons, who are traditionally less flashy by virtue of the fact that they can’t cast pretty, ranged spells that fly spectacularly through the air at their target. (Even the newly buffed Shuriken Toss does little more than make the rogue look like it’s a highly caffeinated cat batting at a string.)
But do people stop playing their rogue — or stop leveling it, or decide not to even roll one in the first place — because the spells they cast aren’t visually exciting enough?
I have a hard time believing that people would abandon or ignore a class for quite that superficial a reason. I’d think that deeper gameplay issues — such as the lack of any AoE ability prior to level 66 (though this will change with the Blade Flurry adjustments in 5.2, potentially making Combat feel required while leveling in dungeons) — would be more behind that kind of thing than a more abstract lack of “cool-looking stuff” involving our abilities.
Could I be sorely underestimating the power that visuals have in keeping players interested in a class?