Storage in WoW: Less isn’t always More

It is common among WoW players to both joke and complain about a perceived lack of storage space in which they’re able to store various items. Blizzard’s wry response to these complaints usually holds alongside the line of (paraphrased, of course!): “We could give you more space, but you’d likely just find a way to fill it all up again, and thus restart the cycle.”
Fair enough.

Humour aside, it’s interesting to consider the way in which storage space and design has steadily evolved over nearly a decade of the game:

-Bag space has grown. Every expansion has seen the addition of new “universal” bags that can hold greater quantities of items than before. Royal Satchels, introduced in MoP, currently hold a maximum capacity of 28 slots.

-In addition to universal bag space growing, specific trade goods such as Herbs, Ore or Leather also have much larger bags that can hold vast quantities of the item. This extends not only to raw materials, but also to crafted items and special crafting materials- Engineering for instance, and even secondary professions like Fishing and Cooking.

-Although bank slots have remained static since Vanilla (i.e. the total number of available slots has remained unchanged), the addition of new bags has also meant that their own capacity has increased. Currently, 7 slots outfitted with Royal Satchels could yield a total of 196 available slots in which any item could be stored. This could be further increased by profession-specific bags, of course.
It’s fair, however, to note that most players might not have the gold to outfit even a single character with Royal Satchels, given that they currently sell for between 2-3k gold. Even so, access to large bags from drops or quest rewards is very much an option. This quest for Zul’Aman, for instance, yields a 24-slot bag as a reward. Both Sartharion and Onyxia have a 100% chance to drop 22-slot bags when they are killed, though these are lootable once only.

-The addition of Void Storage has yielded 80 new slots for gear pieces and items that might not be of immediate use, but still hold aesthetic or sentimental value to the player.

-Last, but certainly not least: Guild banks. Although they’ve been around since Patch 2.3, owning an individual guild solely for its storage appeal has become more pronounced with the levelling system introduced in Cataclysm.

So all in all things aren’t bad at all and the playerbase is just blowing the situation out of proportion, right?
Well, not quite.

Now let’s consider items that currently require storage in some form:

-Gear sets for different specs are the number one example. Maintaining a different gear set for another spec will almost always necessitate setting aside between 15-16 slots for said set. Naturally the number of slots can double or even treble depending on the class and role being played- a Druid, for instance, could theoretically wish to carry gear sets that fit all 4 roles they are capable of!

-Gear sets for PvP content have become especially important in light of the changes to Resilience and PvP Power. Whilst Resilience as a concept has existed for some time, gear scaling technology in Battlegounds, Arenas, etc, means that greatly inflated ilvls will no longer allow players to bypass the effects of Resilience. As such, any type of serious PvP requires a dedicated gear set to be maintained alongside the spec.

-Gear sets for scaled content is a newer example that has risen to prominence in Mists of Pandaria. Both Challenge Modes and Proving Grounds utilise game tech that scales all gear down to a 463 ilvl when zoning in. Given the enormous ilvl expansion that this expansion has seen, this can mean that stat weights (and thus, reforging/gemming priorities) are radically different for players from what they might be used to otherwise- particularly with Primary vs. Secondary stat gemming.
Furthermore, min-maxxers will want to try and obtain items with the maximum number of gem sockets since bonuses and gem benefits do not get scaled down. Certain Throne of Thunder items, for instance, come with more gear sockets than items available in Siege of Orgrimmar. In addition, many will retain a variety of trinkets since their their effectiveness varies wildly at a 463 ilvl.

-Vanity items and their popularity among large swathes of the playerbase cannot be understated. Not only has the amount of collectible items grown with every expansion, but Mists of Pandaria saw an unprecedented number of rare items available off rare monsters. These items can vary from being purely cosmetic, to being extremely useful in any sort of outdoor (i.e. non-instances) situation.
This doesn’t even begin to include vanity items from holiday events, special quests, or even legendary items. Lest I forget, there’s also heirlooms and BoA archaeology rewards.

-Transmogrification, introduced alongside Void Storage, has incentivised hanging onto gear sets from all forms of old content. If Mists of Pandaria is any indication, special “Transmog-only” sets will continue to feature as a prominent aspect of  reward systems in future content.

-Consumables of any type are important to carry around and maintain in large supply for progression raiders- doubly so if they play two specs competatively. This includes potions, flasks, individual food and even feasts if the player is responsible for helping out the raid. There are also further consumables that can be utilised for solo-play, such as buffs that might not otherwise be available (see what I did there?)!

How does WoD propose to address this?

The abbreviated version of all this is that while storage space has certainly increased, so has the amount of items that players might feel compelled to store in some form. Barring a dramatic increase in the amount of space available currently (which wouldn’t be a good thing, contrary to what some might believe), this means that we are also nearing a saturation point of how many items an average player can reasonably store and keep track of.
It’s thus very heartening to hear that Blizzard plans to implement a feature that will cause vanity items to take up much less space and become account-wide. I intend to follow its development quite closely, and provide extensive feedback based on my experience with it during Beta; hopefully the maximum amount of possible items fall under the jurisdiction of this feature.

I still have concerns about gear sets in WoD though, particularly given the potential that the new additional properties gear system has to increase the amount of items we’d want to have on hands (whole separate blogpost about that another time). While it’s heartening that a large chunk of differentiation between Tank/DPS/Healer gear is going away, the last thing I’d want is for that to be cancelled out due to it being advantageous to hold onto different versions of the same items because their bonuses may or may not provide a greater performance increase when scaled down.

Consumables are likely to be a more contentious issue given that there is already a perception among some of the playerbase that the WoD gear changes overly simplify matter, and thus other raiding requirements going down the same road being taken negatively. Another interesting piece of news comes in the form of trade skills potentially becoming much larger time-sinks than they currently are. If this happens, does the amount of storage space required for materials utilised by each skill increase?
And finally, one last question: Do Garrisons play any role in helping to increase to decrease the amount of currently “required” storage space per character?

I suppose we’ll have to wait and see.
With that, I’ll conclude for the evening and wish all of you a pleasant weekend.

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