This is a heated topic, but let's have a serious discussion about it.
Raids are not profitable for ArenaNet
Let me say this clearly: I do raid, and I love challenging content, but I have many friends who are utter noobs, and can't learn to raid with what we have now. They simply can't. Don't start lecturing me about training groups and whatever. They can't.
Then they don't deserve raiding.
No one has entitlement to any game mode ever, specially hardcore players, who are pretty much those contributing the less to the game's finances, since they already have a lot of gold and convert it to gems instead of using real money. If we went by a simple metric of what is good for this game, raids are pretty much at the bottom. ArenaNet would make more money by just releasing open world zergfest content, than with raids. Raids are a special snowflake, and that's why it can't hold on forever, not like this.
Hell, if tomorrow they scrapped raiding altogether, and started doing dungeons again, you think the happy people wouldn't outnumber the angry people? Think about it.
Raids are neither viable nor profitable being exclusive content. We need more raiders.
Lack of difficulty modes is hurting hardcore raiding
I like my raids hard, and I guess many raiders do as well. I absolutely despise some of the easier bosses, specially escort and trio, and I believe the challenge motes from W4 should have been the default gameplay option for those bosses.
Why does ArenaNet put in those easy bosses in, then? It's pretty clear, and you don't need to be a genius. They're there for the noobs.
Because there's no easy/normal/hard mode distinction, all those difficulty levels are shoved in inside the same single raid mode. Because, as the point above shows, raids are not profitable if only the 1% experiences them.
We'll keep getting things like escort as long as there's no difficulty modes. All of you arguing against difficulty modes because raids need to stay hard and only hard, you're shooting yourselves in the face, and I hope you enjoy easy bosses and dumb filler events, because we'll keep getting them. Not like the normal bosses are too hard, either. I think VG was 2-manned a few days ago? Looking good for raid difficulty, eh?
Difficulty modes would be healthy for raids
First of all, difficulty modes don't invalidate each other. If you like the hard mode, you'll stay there. Noobs enjoying raids in easy mode doesn't affect you in any way. Are fractals ruined because you can select a level between 1 and 100? Is the top PvP league ruined by the lower leagues? I don't think so. Players start at the bottom, and once they learn, they start climbing higher, because no one wants to play easy mode forever, specially because when you go higher, fights and the rewards become better. Training sessions are lame, because you rely on other people willing to sacrifice their time to just help you. Noobs want to experience the content themselves, at their own pace, not wipe and wipe again and again. That should come later, once they've learned the basics and leave the easy mode.
Second, a difficulty split removes the need for casual events like escort and trio. Now the hard raid can be 100% hard, and not rely on pointless free LI filler. Even more, we can get a REAL hard mode, only for the 1%, pretty much like fractal challenge motes, where the content gets really crazy, and the best players don't have to waste their time doing the normal difficulty bosses naked or with half the party, which kinda ruins the image of raids.
Let's use Vale Guardian as the example:
Completing a boss in a mode will autocomplete all the bosses below it, and give you its rewards as well, so if you complete VG normal mode, you get normal and easy mode rewards, kinda like fractal daily chests.
As you see, you don't need a lot to split difficulty modes. A few changes here and there should make it easier for noobs. Hard mode can be more challenging to design, but since it's the hard mode, they can go really crazy and don't worry about a fair fight too much. A hard mode could be very cool to stream and watch, too.
I would hate to see raids disappear at some point in the future, and I want them to stay strong and healthy, for everyone, casual, dedicated, or hardcore. The above is my opinion on how to achieve this, but it's just that, my opinion.
So that's it. Feel free to vote in the poll, and whatever your opinion is, please express it civilly below.
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