Monday, 4 Mar 2024

Removing Caps Is A Welcome, Yet Imperfect Solution To WoW’s Valor Problem

Blizzard is removing the caps from Conquest and Valor with the weekly reset on Tuesday. This will allow you to farm Battlegrounds and Mythic+ dungeons to your hearts’ content, and upgrade your gear as much as you like before the end of the season. It’s also going to give you an opportunity to scale up your item level very quickly and access challenging content that would have been outside of your reach before. It’s a great decision by Blizzard that is being met with a universally positive reaction, but removing the cap – especially this late in the season – isn’t a perfect solution to the Valor Point problem.

The community has been mired in a debate about the Valor and Conquest point cap for much of the season, but as I’ve argued before, the cap is neither the root nor the solution to the real problem. Uncapping Valor will give players the opportunity to farm as much as they’d like – which all a lot of people cared about – but if this is going to be the new seasonal cycle, we’re going to find out real soon that the cap isn’t really the issue.

This isn’t the first time the cap on Valor and Conquest has been removed. In the final season of Shadowlands, Blizzard removed the cap entirely. This was meant to encourage an increase in play time – which is known to dip quite low at the end of an expansion – and give players an incentive to get back into WoW in the months leading up to the new expansion.

Blizzard almost certainly has similar intentions this season, though on a much shorter timeline. In the announcement, Community Manager Kaivax wrote “As before, we like how in the early season, these caps reduce the feeling of being left behind for many players when it comes to PvP and Mythic+ gear. However, once several weeks have passed, we want to see players feel free to quickly gear up alts or return to the game after an absence and feel as though they can catch up quickly without hitting caps.” That last part rings true, but I think the point about “the feeling of being left behind” is a bit of creative spin. The reality is that timegating progression stops players from getting too powerful too quickly and running out of things to do, and moving on to other games. The cap keeps players locked in to a weekly log-in schedule.

The flipside of the coin is that players eventually get burned out anyway, so now Blizzard wants to remove the cap to incentivize them to come back. Blizzard wasn’t worried about people feeling left behind in the final season of Shadowlands, because it needed to do something to boost engagement. We’re seeing the same situation here, just within a single season.

People are happy about the change now because it will make the rest of the season better, but as soon as the next season starts, we’re going right back to the same terrible system. If this is the way every season is going to be, you might be better off just waiting until the last month and starting once the cap is removed. This doesn’t make Valor points better, it just makes it less-bad for a few weeks each season.

I previously offered a few solutions, but I think the best thing Blizzard can do is make Valor points refundable. This way players can invest their points and make progress all season instead of holding out and dumping them all once the cap is lifted. Many players won’t make it that far into the season even with the eventual uncapped Valor – myself included – and it's a shame to earn all of that Valor and feel like it’s never okay to spend it. Making it refundable so that you can reallocate your points when you get a better piece that replaces one you’ve already invested in would really open things up and make earning Valor more rewarding, regardless of when the cap gets lifted.

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