So, when the new 5-man “call to arms” system was originally announced a few days ago, a lot of people got upset. Mostly, the upset people (at least on twitter) seemed to be DPS who couldn’t tank or heal. This leads me to believe that the “call to arms” will be a somewhat effective reward, since the rewards contained in the sachel are highly motivating (at least enough to upset people who can’t get it).
Add to this the more recent announcement that the rewards will be Bind on Account (BOA), and you now have rewards that may drive people to play on their alt tank (to transfer rewards to their main) once their main no longer needs the gear from the instances (gear is still a stronger motivating reward than pets & mounts overall).
Blizzard uses incentives every day:
Video games are really designed using behavioral psychology principles, where people will work very hard for salient rewards even if they are rare. So, everything Blizzard does in designing WoW is to figure out what incentives they need to give us to play their game. These incentives come in the form of: gold, gear, tokens to redeem for gold & gear, vanity pets, mounts, experience that advances your character, etc. Then, they set up a guild system that allows you to bond socially with other people and thus you have player-created incentive systems to encourage their friends to keep playing (ie. why I like DKP point systems better than loot council or free-rolling for 25-man raiding).
Thus, giving the rewards to encourage people to play less-desired roles in 5-mans is actually a really awesome idea at a conceptual level. It should ideally have the result of increasing the number of people who sign up as tanks or healers. It makes me think more about wanting to level up my tanking alt so that I can tank for groups if needed. The entire point of BOA rewards is to get people to roll alts, or to play on their existing alts, to help bring down the queue times for the 5-man instances. In this regard, I think that Blizzard’s attempt at bringing incentives to playing less desired classes is a smart attempt to fix the problem, since Blizzard has never found other ways to fix the imbalance of roles (in raids, the social incentives work well for getting other players in your guild to change specs or roles, but that doesn’t work so well in a random dungeon world with no social rewards).
The problem Blizzard can’t solve:
Now, just because it’s an effective reward doesn’t mean it will make running random 5-mans more “fun”. The social rewards of playing the game with people we like and get along with is probably a stronger motivator than a low chance to get a mount. So, people who normally run with their guild have rewards that are more salient than the satchel (ie. they can just run the old instances with their friends for the mounts from their original drop locations in the first place).
These types of issues (and more) were brought up by R4HT’s blog post about why he didn’t think the LFD incentives would work. The problem is that Blizzard can’t add social motivating factors into the game (the “vote kick” system is really the closest proxy Blizzard could build, and it doesn’t seem to really have worked).
If people in the PUG groups keep being nasty to each other, then people will have a reason to want to avoid running those PUG 5-man instances. I’m not sure anyone can stop other players from being jerks, so long as those players aren’t actually doing things that blatantly break the rules. However, if we were all nicer to eachother in 5-man instances, and we changed the culture of the LFD system, then we could make those instances a better place for everyone involved. So, when you go into a 5-man instance, try to be nice to your tank & healer or other DPS players. Being mean to other people just makes the game less fun for everyone. Blizzard can’t change the social dynamic of instances, but we (as a playerbase) can make things more fun for ourselves.
When you go into a random instance, try starting with saying “hi everyone, nice to meet you,” like you would if you were meeting people for the first time in real life. A little kindness can go a long way in improving everyone’s day.