Every week (usually), Shifting Perspectives examines issues affecting druids and those who group with them. This week, confused bears everywhere ask themselves, "Why is no one playing us if we're so awesome?"
I've had an article on this subject percolating for a while. Why people play what they do is a question that endlessly fascinates me, and Nick Yee made a business out of examining the various factors that influenced people's class and role choices in games. Unfortunately, with only fan site numbers to go on, it's sometimes tough to figure out exactly what's happening with demographic shifts ingame. For a while now we've had the sense that, while Feral has lost population since Wrath hit, it's bears in particular who've been hit hardest, and as I've written previously, they've all but vanished from my own server. Because most Armory data sites don't distinguish between bear and cat specs, I never figured out whether all the stories I heard about a shrinking bear population were an accurate gloss on what was going on.
Sometimes, though, Blizzard cuts through the confusion and bluntly states that a class or spec just isn't being played that much. Witness, if you will, the gradual extinction of the bear.
So Xariks on the Tanking forum poses the question; why are bears so underplayed? Any well-designed spec that's a PvE or PvP powerhouse and the frequent target of nerf demands has historically resulted in a huge influx of players (e.g. rogues for most of classic WoW and warlocks in Burning Crusade, among others). In Feral, we have before us a spec that had a 50% share of the druid population in BC and, in the transition to Wrath, received considerable buffs to many of its historic weak spots, the removal of prejudicial encounter mechanics, the addition of another weapon option, and the tanking community's hatred for its highest effective health on average. Yet they've been singled out for especial commentary for being, per Ghostcrawler, an "unpopular spec" in modern raids.
Druids, tanks, and developers all want to know -- what gives?