As we heard earlier today from Juggynaut, Blizzard has been up to its usual April Fool’s Day shenanigans, giving us all a laugh in the process. But one of their jokes hit on a topic that may be a sore spot for some – the GearScore add-on that’s been growing in popularity, especially since the rollout of ICC content.
Here’s how Blizzard described its “Equipment Potency Equivalence Number” :
With this new system, you’ll no longer have to wonder about your perceived or actual worth as a player. Your Equipment Potency EquivalencE Number, automatically derived from the quality of the gear you currently possess, will be placed on your character sheet and in the Armory, and also displayed over your character’s head in-game as an easy-to-read bar-like object that steadily grows as you acquire loot. Thanks to this new system, no one will be able to ignore the fruits of your long, hard journey toward gear perfection.
Here’s how it will work: With every new piece of gear you obtain, your number will grow; if you attain a high enough number, you’ll graduate to the next tier (more on that below) and gain access to exclusive rewards. If you’re looking to boost your number even more, activities such as earning raid and Arena achievements or realm-first titles will help you get it up, and you’ll also begin receiving in-game mail with exciting offers for additional ways to enhance it.
Sound familiar? Now I know, it’s not just Gear Score that attempts to do something similar to this fake Blizzard rollout. WoW Heroes and IMBA perform similar gear checks via a web interface. But with more than 1.4 million downloads (I’ll admit, I’m one of them), Gear Score probably is the most prolific in-game occurrence of measuring gear.
Regardless, Gear Score definitely has had its ups and downs. Some players seem to not appreciate that the addon generates a toon’s rating based solely on the ilevel of the gear that they are wearing. Certainly, there will be low-geared toons who play their roles fantastically; and on the flip side, there will be well-geared players who don’t play as well as you would hope. GS doesn’t account for either. Gear Score’s developers argue against these complaints by saying that the rating only accounts for a toon’s potential.
But that doesn’t stop PUGers from requiring a certain GS for high level content, or from choosing who they raid with based only on their gear score, if they have no personal experiences from which to form an opinion.
So, with Blizzard now in the equation, arguably mocking the use of a gear rating system. The following quotes clearly show their disdain for systems that categorize players into levels and discourage the formation of diverse groups:
To complement this system, we plan to use an updated version of the phasing technology introduced in Wrath of the Lich King to automatically place players in segregated tiers based on their number. Each tier will comprise all players within a certain number range, and players will only be able to group with, talk to, or see other players in the same tier as themselves. To ensure players with a smaller number will not be shafted by this new system, we plan to introduce a wide variety of new solo content for less well-equipped players.
The Blizzard-made page even goes so far as to make fun of players who judge others solely on their gear by basically insinuating that they have a superiority complex that will earn them very few in-game friends:
Those with sufficiently large numbers can earn in-game rewards such as a permanent bonus to “need” rolls, the ability to cut to the front of the queue in the Dungeon Finder, a larger ignore list, a much shorter dungeon deserter debuff, or — if your number is exceedingly impressive — a new non-combat pet, Binky the Mechano-Rooster.
As your number grows, the game world will tailor itself to you in other subtle ways: as the pool of players you interact with becomes more and more exclusive, you’ll no longer need to stand still in prominent locations quite so often to allow others to inspect your gear; you’ll have fewer time-wasting calendar invitations to sift through; and your friends list will become increasingly more manageable, reducing needless scrolling time. Any negative repercussions of these changes will be offset by the satisfaction you’ll receive knowing your equipment is significantly more impressive than average.
I take all this all in good fun and personally had a good laugh at it. But honestly, the players who are being called out may be more than ticked off right now. Maybe that’s the point of April Fool’s Day.
What do you guys think? Was this one joke taken too far?