The fear of missing out (FOMO) has deeply entrenched into the design philosophy of Blizzard. Design such as having to log in every 3 days to advance the Artifact Power gains in Legion, Timewalking and Brawl not being available all the time, hiding important plot elements behind pre-patches that aren’t available, Torghast 2x / 1 week with no catchup, the weekly box, or limiting Mage Tower to only be played in a certain time window. These are all from the top of my head.
I touched on Brawls being timegated in an earlier post of mine ( The complete neglect of casual and leveler PvP - Community / WoW Community Council - World of Warcraft Forums (blizzard.com)) and the same concept applies here.
With the hot topic of the week being Mage Tower, I’ll use that as a conduit to explain why most FOMO content is bad. A lot of people complain about the balancing and tuning of the Mage Tower, and of course, Blizzard has to react because it’s content that is held in high regard, and is currently the only “new” content they can offer till 9.2. The issue is, since its limited content (till January since the new blue post), any extra effort you put into balancing it will see barely any return, since you balance it during it’s live phase, and then you will see no return, because all that effort you put into balancing it is now completely gone.
The first and biggest issue of the Mage Tower is that it’s time limited. To add to what I said above, it also comes with the issue of players feeling unneeded frustration while clearing the content, because it’s on a time limit. People demand the tuning changes BECAUSE it is on a time limit. They don’t have enough time to progress through the content at their natural pace. Some have fully cleared Mage Tower, yes, but many others are still progressing.
Imagine it this way: you’re doing SoD, and while it resets weekly, you are only allowed to clear the raid on Thursdays between 1AM and 4AM. If you hit 4AM, you are zoned out of the raid, and you won’t be able to raid again for a whole week. That one wouldn’t be fun now, would it?
The other one that is also somewhat of a hot topic is Legion Timewalking. Sure, it’s fun. But you do it once, and you don’t do it again, since who cares when it doesn’t give you any M+ rating (even if in a separate bracket), and the fact that it’s going to be gone rather soon. The thing is, these dungeons would be amazing to play (including the BfA ones), but there is no reward associated with it at all. No rating to get, no cool gear to repurpose (wouldn’t it be kinda cool to do level appropriate M+, ya know, making sure old content stays relevant?).
I think that covers bad FOMO completely, so I’d like to come around and explain what I think good FOMO is. The only time you can have good FOMO in the game is if the game respects your time. What I mean by that is if you miss a raid, or if you just made an alt, you unsubbed for some time due to IRL reasons, when you come back to play the game, you are not put at a massive disadvantage compared to everyone else. Or if there is some sort of new content that dropped that isn’t a new raid or M+ season (like Mage Tower), you don’t feel obligated to resub, because if the content is always there, you will not miss out, you can do it whenever you want. Every time you return to the game, you should be able to continue where you left off, instead of having to engage in the new borrowed power system that is a total nightmare to grind out, and will only exist for one patch. And god forbid you didn’t grind your dose of Azerite for the day!
In short: make the game player friendly. Respect their time.