Casual vs Hardcore

The “casual” vs “hardcore” debate has been going on for as long as I have been playing video games.  It started well before WoW, probably somewhere in Ultima Online or Everquest.  Who knows?  What I do know is that the 2 terms often bring animosity between players that would otherwise play together nicely. 

So what makes a Hardcore player?  What makes a Casual player?  And why can the two never get along?

Two Worlds

The two terms; “casual” and “hardcore” are more or less antiquated – at least when referring to WoW players.  I think the terms still have a place in WoW, but I really think that they are used too frequently, and in the wrong fashion. 

I remember the terms being tossed around at level 60.  At the time, it mostly refered to whether or not a player raided.  Back in Molten Core, many guilds measured progress in weeks and months, not days.  The amount of time required to raid was massive.  Both time spent inside of the dungeon raiding, and time spent outside preparing to raid.  I can remember farming materials for Fire Protection Potions for about 3 hours per week.  That was JUST for the potions.  Not to mention the other endless materials I had to farm for resistance gear, mana/HP potions, repair bills, reagents, etc.  I spend as much time farming as I did raiding!! 

The vast majority of the player base just didn’t want to put forth this much time and effort for 1 instance.  They started labeling themselves as “casual” because they felt like they played the game for fun – and not a second job.  This of course led everyone else (the raiders) to be labeled as “hardcore” – since they obviously had no lives, jobs, or other things to do outside of the WoW world.

 Which of course, is just silly.


Blizzard has improved end-game hugenormously since level 60.  First with the introduction of the badge reward system, and then removing any sort of prerequisites such as keys and attunements.  They have tried very hard (and suceeded) in making raiding not only for an elite few, but for everyone.  Raiding is no longer for the best of the best,nearly any player can participate if they want to.  Naxxramas for instance is broken down into 5 wings, which can be tackled all at once, or broken up over time.  So long as a player finds at least 9 others that share his mindset and schedule, he can raid.  Gone are the days of endless farming of resistance gear and consumables for just 1 boss or just 1 night of raiding.

Now that’s not to say that everyone has an equal start when it comes to raiding.  Those that are able to play more will advance more quickly – it IS an MMO after all. 


I believe the term “hardcore” still has it’s place in WoW.  Guilds such as Ensidia and Premonition fall into the Hardcore category – the best of the best.  These guilds are striving for world firsts and often play for many, many hours at a time to get them.  I don’t think I can give an exact measure, but very few guilds/players fall into this category compared to the vast amount that play WoW.  As of this post, only 3 guilds in all of the US and Europe have completed the A Tribute to Insanity achievement (a few Asian guilds have done this also, but does not track these).  Only 39 guilds total (out of over 100,000) have cleared the Heroic version of the instance at all, earning them the (comparatively) easier achievement A Tribute to Skill

These guilds are Hardcore.


In my eyes a casual player is one that does not raid at all.  They may not be interested in any of the challenges end-game brings.  I know one particular player that has probably 20 characters – all Hunters – with maybe one of them being level 80.  There’s nothing wrong with playing the game like this at all.  Some could argue that there’s more to do while leveling than there is at the end-game as a whole. 

Somewhere In-between

If you raid on a set schedule – you’re not a “casual” player.  You’re a raider.  Just because you’re not busting out the hardest encounters on track with the worlds best doesn’t automatically make you a Casual player – it makes you a raider.  As above, raiding no longer requires countless hours of preparation and commitment.  Any player can raid so long as they can commit to a set schedule and handful of hours per week.  You can even divide “raiders” into sub-categories if you wanted to.

Competitive Raiding

This is how I’ve been referring to my own guild – a Competitive Raiding guild.  We do not strive for world firsts, but we do not want to be the last guild clearing content either.  We are trying to compete at the server level challenging other guilds on our server for progression.

Relaxed Raiding

This is what I’ve begun to refer to guilds that raid, but at a much slower pace than other raiding guilds.  Guilds that are maybe 1/2 way through with Ulduar at this point.  Maybe they’ve got their feet wet in ToC.  They typically have a set raiding schedule, but sometimes not.  Some of these guilds just raid on the weekends, whenever the appropriate number of players log in.  They may raid back to back nights one week, then not raid at all the next. 

Majority Rules

I really think that the vast, overwhelming majority of WoW players fit into one of the 2 above categories, rather than an oversimplified “casual” or “hardcore”.  Most of us are here to play the game at our own pace.  Sometimes that’s quick, sometimes that’s slow – but we all want to play the game.  And in WoW, that basically means raiding. 

Let’s abolish these 2 antiquated terms, and try to think of some more meaningful and accurate.  Because if you’re talking about Casual and/or Hardcore players, you’re talking about a very small minority of the overall population.

Raid on.


~ by Andenthal on September 29, 2009.

One Response to “Casual vs Hardcore”

  1. I consider myself non-chalantly awesome. Why isn’t that in there?

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