last week's post, there are two different dimensions to the word "hard" when applied to MMOs: time and skill. Different players may want different things from the game, which makes it hard to accommodate all of them. To illustrate this, consider the four examples in the diagram above.
The fun-lovers see their games as a form of entertainment, no different to going to the cinema or the pub. They aren't particularly looking to be challenged and if they get bored they'll happily go do something else. Fundamentally the game just isn't that important to them. "It's just a game" is their motto and they really can't see why everybody else gets worked up about what should be a bit of fun. They'll happily solo for a while or maybe queue for a quick dungeon finder instance, but they certainly aren't going to take things too seriously and find it baffling that people "waste" time reading Elitist Jerks and min/maxing their characters. No point in turning a game into a second job. They're the ones who are up in arms about the harder heroics in Cataclysm - why on earth would you want to make a game less fun?
Favourite other game: Guitar Hero.
The racers are looking to be challenged. They don't want to spend their life "grinding to get to the real game". They're the ones you see on the forums demanding faster levelling or AOEing their way through todays instance at breakneck speed. If there were an option to buy a pre-made max-level character, they'd take it in a shot. Racers are baffled by the silliness of the fun-lovers - why bother playing at all if you're not going to take it seriously? They look down on those who waste their lives away playing the game many hours at a time - it's skill that should be rewarded, not time spent.
Favourite other game: Left4Dead
The gardeners aren't all that fussed about being the best at the game - why stress so much about a bunch of pixels? They use MMOs as a way of relaxing after a stressful week: the last thing they want is a bunch of over-excited raiders getting all sweary over a boss-fight. WOW is full of gardeners, working on achievements, collecting pets, role-playing or levelling another alt. They're baffled by the racer's need to "win", but equally wonder why the fun-lovers bother playing a game they don't care that much about.
Favourite other game: The Sims
The masters are perfectionists, seeking to optimise every aspect of their characters. If you're going to play the game, at least do it properly. They look down on the "lazy" racers who aren't prepared to put the work in to get the best rewards - hard work should be rewarded in game, just as it is in real life. They find the fun-lovers deeply irritating and dread the day they end up in a group with one. Masters are the ones you see telling "hilarious" stories about spellpower-equiped death-knights, because they do a detailed inspection of everyone they group with. Masters are the ones you hear complaining about how the game has been dumbed down since Vanilla and wishing for a return of real challenge.
Favourite other game: Everquest (pre gates of discord)
Blizzard's problem is that whenever they make a change that makes one of these groups happy, they're going to annoy one of the others. That's what accounts for the seemingly contradictory feedback they receive.