Posted by: ariedan | April 13, 2009

The Great Debate: Casual VS Hardcore

Casual raiding has been a hot topic all over the internet since the release of Wrath. People are debating its definition and whether or not you can be a successful raider as a casual player. I figured since I’ve experienced both sides of the raiding spectrum, I’d expand on my opinion of the two play-styles.

Casual: Defined

The term “casual” in the World of Warcraft is relative. Every person I’ve spoken with has defined it differently. Some people use the term to describe how often they play, others use it to describe their interest in end-game, and others wield it like a nasty insult, a derogatory term reserved for people incapable of understanding their respective classes and end-game in general. Then, to make matters worse, there are sub-generalizations for the term. Some people who have no interest in life at 80 would call themselves casual and say that anyone who raids is hardcore, even if they were to only raid a few hours a week. There are those people whose only interest in this game is seeing the content first and being the best, and would call anyone not as dedicated casual. It’s a hard word to define, and I don’t think the great debate over the world will be over anytime soon.

So how do I define casual, then? To me, casual isn’t a derogatory term, nor is it a term to describe whether or not someone enjoys leveling or end-game. It’s not how well you play, or how seriously you take raiding. To me, it’s defined by how often you play.

Veni, Vidi, Vici

These days, it’s hard for people to separate the two definitions because of the small amount and the lack of difficulty of the current available content. Most people hit 80 relatively quickly, zoomed through the content just as fast, and were bored very soon afterward. Even the more hardcore players are raiding only one-two days a week, and as such, it makes it hard for people to differentiate the two. With Ulduar on the brink, it’ll mean the more dedicated guilds will go back to their full raiding schedules in order to be the first to get through the content. At least for a small period of time, the difference between the two play-styles will be more apparent. But for how long? The content, including the hard-modes, is supposed to be difficult, but let’s face it.. most guilds will tear through it. And then the cycle will repeat itself.

The bigger problem is that raiding, compared to BC and pre-BC, has changed so much this expansion. In the previous two games, there were several tiers of content of difficulty available, making it easier for guilds to get ahead or behind. Either you could do the fights or you couldn’t- there weren’t hard and easy modes. There was a world of difference between the two play-styles, and regardless of skill, it really was impossible to do that content without raiding often.

If achievements are the most defining difference between the two play-styles, it’s easy to see why the line between the two is so hard to see. Both types of guilds can claim “all content cleared” and be sporting the same level gear. Besides vanity mounts and fancy titles, most people won’t ever care enough to see the difference. And to make it worse, it makes it difficult to rank guilds. I remember Drow, a top US guild on my server, being ranked as second when Wrath content first got tackled because of how easily accessible the content was, and how achievements made it difficult to tell the difference. When several previously deemed casual guilds appear to be on the same level as a a guild that finished Sun Well top 10 US and 22nd world-wide, it really drives the point home.

On an aside, I realize I’m wording things in ways that might imply I think not raiding often means you can’t be successful at difficult achievements. It’s easily possible to keep up with high-end guilds without raiding often, but that’s an achievement in itself and rare to find. If you are fortunate enough to be a member of such a guild, it’s a keeper!

How I Feel

As a hardcore player gone casual, I have mixed feelings on the new style of raiding. I enjoy that I can still raid successfully without sacrificing a lot of time. If I had quit playing as much in the middle of the last expansion, it would never have been possible to be as successful as I am this expansion. For that I’m grateful.

On the other hand, the hardcore player in me grieves for the lack of content, the lack of progression, the lack of difficulty. I’m a little upset that even if I were still a hardcore player, the only difference is I would have done the content first and the quickest. I’m irritated the new progression is hard-mode achievements, thus recycling content and shoving it down your throats until you’re bored of it before you ever complete them all. If I’m irritated, I can only imagine how the dedicated, competitive players feel about the current state of raiding.

So how do you feel about it all? What’s your take on the two play-styles?



  1. You should send your story of going from Hardcore to Casual to WowRelief, they featured my story a few days ago and I was a happy panda ^^ You can e-mail them at

  2. Already did that a few days ago. 😛

    They’ll probably post my entry Wednesday.

  3. Oh, congrats! 😀

  4. As a hardcore raider (insofar as that means much, with the current lack of content) I’m underwhelmed by the casual focus. I could have accepted the hard-mode and achievements if they’d rewarded you for completing them (the sarth+1 and sarth+2 loot was a step in the right direction, but the sarth+3 vanity mount was just /facepalm), but they just failed to follow through on what they started.

    Perhaps they’ll improve the situation now they’ve realised they need to provide tangible rewards for Ulduar hard modes (the new loot tiers), but so far still I’m unconvinced that they’ve thought the situation through.

    Like most of my guildmates, I’m both begging for and dreading 3.1 – it could be a guild-breaker (and a game-breaker) if they don’t get the difficulty right this time round.

  5. I kind of like the staged release of content, and this “down time” before 3.1 has been great for spending some quality time with alts/getting some RL work done.

    As for the difference between the Hardcore and the Casual raider not being all that distinguishable, I am confident that will change over time, with the regular splits of existing raiding guilds and creation of new ones. Soon we’ll be back to where one needs to spend time in the “lower raiding guilds” before getting adequately geared for the “higher raiding guilds”, and it’ll be indistinguishable from other expansions.

    And the question about What makes a player a “Casual” player – I agree, it’s their attitude more than how many hours they play.

    And *brrr* I could never handle a Hardcore raiding schedule of 4+ days of progression raiding a week. Two or three a week that I commit to is enough. If I raid more than that it’s because I’m super bored that week, which isn’t often anymore 🙂

    WoWGrrl’s player blog

  6. I would think the ideal thing for an MMO would be to provide lots of content that casuals can have fun with, but still reward the hardcore players with hard-to-get gear.

    To me, that’s just common-sense game design. It’s puzzling they wouldn’t provide any extra reward for completing a raid on hard mode.

  7. You know I’m linking this on the guild website…

    • How’d you find it, anyhow? 😛

  8. Thanks Turkson for making us Con Broians aware of this blog.

    Ariedan, nice work.

    I, for one, am just like you, Ariedan. I love that we can clear all the content having a conservative (can I say that over casual) raiding schedule but I yearn for Sunwell-ish type fights. It makes the kill that much sweeter… and my loot purplier?!

    Cya in Uldar tonight… I hope.

    • Turkson, that rascal. I always knew there was something fishy about him (besides him being a prot pally, and all).

      And yeah, I agree. I just really want another Vashj/Kael. Maybe not a SW instance in particular, just a fight that is really and truly difficult. I remember people getting stuck on things like Leotheras for ages while the bigger leagues were already clearing BT and Hyjal weekly. How much you wanna bet Ulduar’s difficulty won’t even be on par with SSC? I don’t want to one or two-shot things. I want it to actually be challenging.

      But at the same time, again.. if the raiding scene was still like it was in BC, I’d never have the opportunity to see much of anything. I just wish there was a way to satisfy both types of players.

      • I think hard-mode is that way to satisfy both types of players but the proper reward isn’t there yet. However, I’m one of the few that actually has faith in Blizzard. They’ve come a long way since Molten Core and I only see what’s to come being even better.

        -Rhinjet, the ever optismist.

  9. Personally, I don’t see what the rush is for end game everyone seems so crazy about. I’ve heard it said that Wow starts at 60… then 70… now 80. I’m sure all the people that contributed to the content for all those in-between levels is certainly gratified by that.

    I’m casual, but it’s not because I don’t want to get geared and see all the end game content and stuff. I just happen to have other stuff I need to do…

    This is like a second job for some people.

  10. It is very true how the lines between casual and hardcore are slowly blurring. Back in Vanilla and TBC there were huge gaps between what a casual guild and a hardcore guild could and could not do. Now even the smallest guild can have a moderate chance of success in raiding. Might have to rethink my blog

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