For those that have never seen the acronym ROI it means Return On Investment. More a financial term but just as fitting for in game. You invest time to do things and expect something in return from it. Be it doing a quest and being rewarded with an item and gold or valor and some lesser coins. You invest time, you get something in return.
I think the current issue with the LFR is not so much a difficulty issue for many people, not directly at least, it is an ROI issue. Even more so for people that use it as their primary source of raiding. The ROI for the LFR is negative. When you are done with it you are felt as if you just wasted your time, even when it was a good run.
Why would someone continue to invest in a stock that continues to go down when they can invest in another stock, even if it isn't making money, and not lose? Or even better still, invest in a stock that goes up. Why do anything that has a negative ROI?
The perfect example, and only one currently in game that I can think of as good ROI design, is from a holiday event, oddly enough the one that is going on now. The noblegarden event is actually to as close to perfect as you can get in a game like this, ROI wise that is.
You need noblegarden chocolates to buy items, but you can also get those items when looting the brightly colored eggs. What it comes down to is this, if you want the mount you need 500 eggs. Or you can get lucky and get it before you get to 500 eggs. Your basic ROI here is that you have to invest enough time to collect 500 eggs and are guaranteed the mount. Best case would be you get lucky enough to loot the mount from the egg before you get to that 500 number. Finding it that way would make it an incredibly good ROI but working your way to the 500 means you got what you wanted to get for a set investment you knew it would take to get it beforehand. That is a good ROI. You invest the time to collect 500 eggs, you get the return you wanted for doing so, the mount. Perfect design.
The bottom line is that in a game you invest something, namely time, and expect something in return for the time you have spent. There are some factors that can skew the ROI that you would not have with business, such as "fun". If you really enjoy doing something the reward does not need to be big, or even exist. Doing the task itself is the reward. Think PvP for the most part. Winning could be all the reward you want. Even with losing you can still have fun killing some people. Unless you play on the competitive edge like RBGs or arena there really is no return once you have all the gear you can get with honor but if you enjoy doing random battlegrounds you enjoy them.
The issue is, at least as I see it, there is nothing enjoyable about the LFR. So we can basically remove the "fun" factor from there and look at it from a pure time investment standpoint.
Is the time investment you spend doing the LFR worth the reward?
Lets take the new LFR wing that just came out and add up your investment, if you happened to get into the group I had at least.
90 lesser charms of good fortune needed for three coins for extra rolls. The average quest offers 2 lesser charms and lets say the average quest takes 3 minutes. That means 45 quests need to be completed at 3 minutes each. So we are 2 hours and 15 minutes into our LFR run just to get coins before we get into it. Add the average 45 minute wait time and we are now at 3 hours.
Now for the horror show, if you get unlucky. Three hours on the first boss puts us up to 6 hours invested. Lets say boss two, which people seem to have fewer problems with is another hour and the last one, until you can get people to stop AoE, which will be hard with people that like to whore on recount, could take an hour and a half.
That means your time investment to do the new LFR would be 8 1/2 hours. Now, if you are anything like most people I hear from, you won nothing, all three of your coins won nothing, and you will spend well over 400 gold for repairs in that time frame. Is that really worth your time investment? What is your return on investment here? You lost time, and lost gold. And lets not forget the lingering feeling that the two hours and 15 minutes you spent to get those coins was wasted time too now.
Would any business man still be in business if they spent all their time with nothing in return for it? Would anyone that ever invested in stocks have any money left if they got no ROI and lost money?
Even with a smoother run, considering the time it takes to gather enough coins and the time it takes to wait in queue, even a super fast 1 hour run for the LFR with no wipes it would still works out that you spent 4 hours on it. To win nothing.
You can say, but I got some gold from doing it and I got some valor as well. ROI wise the LFR is a horrible investment of your time if gold or valor is your intention. There are many better ways to make gold. You could make triple what the LFR gives you in less than 5 minutes with ANY profession in the game. For gold the LFR has a horrible ROI.
As for valor, you can run a dungeon which has a much faster queue, and is much quicker to run and could, if you get the right one, give you the same amount of valor as the LFR. You could quest and in the same time you spent in the LFR you could make more than 90 valor and not have to deal with random people that basically suck all the life out of the game. So for valor the LFR has a horrible ROI.
So what does the LFR have to offer? Gear. That is it, that is all it is there for, it has no other purpose. At least not the current ones. They exist to get gear.
When you run them over and over and get no gear they continue to get worse. Even if you get a good group and not a nightmare like I had, you still wasted your time unless you get gear because there were better ways to spend your time to make gold and valor, which is all you ended up with from it. Without gear dropping the LFR serves no purpose. It does not offer a good ROI.
So what could make the LFR have a better, more appealing ROI?
Brightly colored eggs. No, really. Use the noblegarden design. Where you can collect 500 eggs to get a mount or get lucky and get one sooner. Have all bosses drop a token, and sell gear that drops from the raid for 10 tokens. So, even if you do not have any luck with drops or coins, you will know that every 10 bosses you can get one piece of loot.
You would effectively be working for your gear and thinking, 3 more bosses until I get my bow, instead of just bitching and complaining that it never drops anything. If it does drop something, bonus. You got it faster and easier all thanks to luck and that means your ROI in very high now. Either way, it changes the entire experience because now your investment is no longer just investing for luck, it is investing for a goal. You want to kill 10 bosses to buy something, just like you wanted to collect 500 eggs to buy something. You agreed to invest your time for something and that is your ROI. My return would be my bow for killing 10 bosses. Seems fair enough to me.
The ROI for the LFR is negative the way it is. The LFR is there for gear and gear only. Nothing more, nothing less. There needs to be a better ROI if they want people to do it. People would be more willing to deal with wipes if they knew they were getting something from it. Even if that something was only one brightly colored egg, so to speak.
In the end the LFR takes too much time for too little reward. It is a horrible investment of your time, even with a quick and easy run.
Personally, the only characters I like doing the LFR on are my enchanters. So if I win something I do not need I can disenchant it for a sha crystal. Sadly, I am on three weeks now with one of my enchanters doing every LFR and using every coin I had and only saw 1 piece. Increased drop rates my ass. The ROI for the LFR is horrible. Worse than horrible actually. We need a brightly colored egg system added to it.