Sunday, 12 September 2010

Warcraft and Inflation

So... Saturday Night, Sunday Morning... I was on Shut Up We're Talking, well we were recording it, so thanks to Darren, Karen and especially Richard for putting up with me talking over them, you can get to the show notes for that episode here.

However, the reason for this post on my humble blog however is just to stop you lovely people out there deluging Darren & Karen about the numbers I quoted on the show...

The topic of my rant was Inflation in the game World of Warcraft, by inflation what I was talking about is the level difference between your character and the items that said character can wear. This is a sticky icky fluid sort of conversation, and I've had comments back from the populous at large which are pretty evenly bifurcated along either agreeing with me, or calling me a whining bitch.

I don't think I'm a whining bitch, but that night on the show I had a microphone and you didn't, SO YOU WILL LISTEN TO EVERY WORD I HARD TO SAY!


Yes, so my figures that night came out of this... at level 60 in the original game the first real “end game” content; in my opinion; was Blackwing Lair in there you could pick up level 81 items. Your character at that time would be level 60... so this gives me a calculation of:

( 100 / 60 ) x 81 = 135

This means 35% over and above level 60 for a level 81 items.

Later in the vanilla game they released AQ40, in there you could pick up a level 84 item. You could pick up a spectrum of lower level items in both places, so these are the elite items, the top of the shelf specials (oh la la). So level 84 gives us:

( 100 / 60 ) x 84 = 140

Which is 40% value for that level, between the two then we have 40 – 35, so 5%... Five percent between one “end game” scenario and another in the same game, these two instances came in patches 1.6 and 1.9 respectively, there is just over 7 months between those patches, and also it took a little time for people to get to grips with AQ40 (remember you had to open the gates and complete AQ20 to attune yourself, so say that took 8 weeks [being generous]) this gives us about 9 months between the two states of play... 5% over 9 months... is 0.55% a half a percent...

I consider that a gentle inflation rate, I think anyone with the BWL or PVP reward epics could compete in PVP with someone in the AQ40 kit, I think there's no massive advantage to anyone, and the game play showed this by showing skills being greater than great (in my opinion) at that time.

Of course then Burning Crusade was released, to level the playing field Blizz gave everyone quests in the Hellfire area to equate their gear to level 84+ and everyone started the march up to end game, which came in the ultimate form of Sunwell Plateau, now in there you could pick up level 164 items. And time wise there was 17 months between the intro of BC and the intro of the Sunwell Raid, of course remember we all had to get the rep and complete Registrars Terrace too, so this gives us a calculation of:

( 100 / 70 ) x 84 = 120 = 20% the start point, to cancel out the change of level cap, I'll recalculate.
( 100 / 70 ) x 164 = 234.28 = 134.28% over and above level 70 for the items.

So the amount of inflation is 134.28 – 20% = 114.28% over the life span of the BC Expansion.

Well, if we calculate this out as the time between the introduction of the BC expansion and the last patch for it we get a span from December 2006 to July 2008, that's 19 months. This comes out as 6.01% (Now let me just stop you there, in the episode of SUWT I quoted a value here of 1.25%, that was because I forgot about Sunwell and based my calculation around an item not from the end game, but from where I got tired and stopped playing... my bad, the value is 6%... imaging when you listen to the episode I say 6%... not 1.25% during my rant).

Okay, so half a percent to six percent that is a rise, it's tempered somewhat by a level up gap too, I'm not forgetting that, but I'm not a statistician, I'm just a player with an opinion.

Lets now take a look at Wrath... in there we all got the same free for all give away of items to level the playing field, we then all rushed to end game, I'm going to pick Ice Crown Citadel (25) as the end game, in there you could pick up level 284 items.

So, normalise the previous cap ( 100 / 80 ) * 164 = 205 = 105% inflation.
To End game ( 100 / 80 ) * 284 = 355 = 255% inflation.

Take take them apart 255 – 105 = 150% total inflation, and how long was this over... how long from intro of Wrath to Ice Crown?

Well, that would be October 2008 to December 2009 that's 17 months that's 8.8%. Now in the podcast I quoted a value of 16%, this was actually based on my character, whom I changed NOTHING on when levelling from 71 to 80. That character had the 164+ level items from BC PVP and Raids and was happy to stick with them... so my actual inflation was calculated over the amount of time I spent raiding, which would I estimate be from around May 2009 to December 2009... that's only 7 months... that makes my experience of the inflation rate around 19 to 21%...

This is where my rant, which you can hear in the podcast came from, because I could legitimately experience this HUGE spike in the levels of items, I could get by as I was, I changed nearly nothing from my hard worked for gear from level 70 raiding in Black Temple & Karazhan and working the PVP system.

As Darren says in the show “This is the difference between what you have now and what you have at the end of the game”... this is correct, this is where my 19% comes from, unfairly calculated I admit, because that was just what I experienced by holding onto my level 164 items doggedly.

And that poses questions in and of itself, how come I was easily able to compete with the PVE levelling and instances in my old gear? The answer is simple, those items were already over inflated in power for a level 70!

By the time items became worth upgrading to the statistics on them had to be so stupidly out of whack I was flabbergasted. This had a negative impact on my appreciation for the game, it was totally unbalanced.

And that has repercussions for how the game will develop in the future...

PLEASE NOTE: I did not intend to represent the value of 19% as the inflation flat value in Wrath, I really didn't get the point across of this being my experience, it was a topic about balance, and this was my showing unbalanced... inflated items from level 70 made 71 to 79 levels easy, and so as Karen says... "The on ramp to get everyone playing" was easy... and then to drop the level 284 items on us made my experience of the inflation curve so dramatic.


  1. Oh noes, maths. I think I'd enjoy a game that had scalability and used a more creative approach to progression beyond gear resets. I'll play Cataclysm, but I'll continue to look for something better.

  2. I'll continue to try to write something better... then I'll do awful customer service and have endless server down time... it'll be like a Doc Brown style trip to 2004.