I am sure some will say yes and some will say no and I can already tell you which will say what before they even would post. It is simple because those people that play on off hours will nearly always say it doesn't matter when you play and those that play during prime time will almost always say it does.
People, all of us, have a problem with perspective. We only see things as we know them and it is a rare case when people truly have an open mind. I admit I see it from my perspective and from that perspective it really sucks to play in prime time.
It is like I always say that one of the reasons I do not PvP is because it is harder to gear up and have fun as alliance because we never win. Admittedly gearing up for PvP is a million times easier than gearing up for PvE because you still get something when you lose but it gets frustrating to lose all the time.
A guild mate said to me one day that he doesn't understand what my problem is, he usually wins at least half the battlegrounds he goes into and sometimes even well more than half. He did not grasp the concept that he plays in the middle of the day and I play during prime time. Two totally different groups of people are playing at those different times.
One day while home early from work I entered some battlegrounds and won 6 out of the 7 I was in. It was a good 6 hours earlier than I am normally on. Usually if I would try when I got home from work I could do 10 and win none. Actually that is why I quit even trying in cataclysm.
Three days in a row I tried to do some battlegrounds, did 12 on day one and only won 1. On day two I did 8 and lost all 8. On day three I did 10 and lost all 10. So that is 30 battlegrounds with 1 win as alliance during prime time and 6 wins out of 7 when doing it earlier in the day as alliance. So from my perspective, when you play really matters. These experiences are not isolated, I have noticed this for many years and am just pointing out this one stretch in cataclysm.
It is not only PvP that when you play matters in my opinion it is for PvE as well. When you do dungeons during prime time they always seem to be worse. Not marginally worse, much worse. I wake up early on weekends because I am used to waking up early during the week and sometimes run a dungeon then. I have never had a bad run doing them between 5AM and 8AM my time on a saturday or sunday morning. Not one bad run and even the runs there were wipes in the people were decent about it. Yet if I do them when I come home from work, or around that prime time, any day of the week even with a perfectly smooth run there will be someone that will do their best to try and make the run hell.
It is as if a completely different class of player plays during prime time and that really does effect the game of everyone around them. As someone in my guild loves to say, I play when all the kids get home from school and that is why I have such bad experiences when I play.
Now with the daily grind going on, when you play even matters more even when doing them. I have a friend of mine that does his dailies when he gets home from work which is roughly three hours before me. He says there is very little competition and the quests go fast and easy while when I do them there seems to always be at least 10 people camping spawn spots for mobs to kill because nothing is alive. There are most likely a lot more but I only see 10. His doing dailies is faster, more enjoyable and less stressful than mine based on a three hour difference.
The real kicker is that when he does dailies he says that people seem to be decent. If they see you fighting on top of an item for a quest they move along and let you finish your fight and get it. Maybe on the rare occasion he might see someone land and take it but if that happens once a week it is a lot he says. Whereas I see that at least a dozen times every single day I do dailies. There are even people that camp the relic for the golden lotus quest waiting for others to step on the lights and open it so they can can attempt to take it. I saw someone yelling at another person in say about it. I felt bad for them, decent people do not steal, even in a video game. I saw this twice yesterday alone and when I mentioned it to him he laughed and said he had never seen anyone do that before.
One of my guild mates, after seeing me get the glorious achievement and I told him about all the little goodies I got, decided he would start rare hunting too. He is a late night player, so he is always on during the really off times. I came home from work to him saying that he found 11 of the rare items and killed over 60 rare spawns in 3 hours that night. I do not even have 11 rare items and I look for them every single day multiple times since the expansion came out.
He does this every night now and gets so many baggies and pets and other goodies from rares it is insane, he is making over 20K per day just hunting rares and selling the things that he gets from the bags. I see nothing usually, I get three of four kills a day, if that, playing the same amount of time he does but I play in prime time and he plays late night. That is the difference.
At least he realizes why it is while many don't. He said it to me, he is lucky because there are less people out there looking for them and he can get all the rare items and spawns he wants because of it.
So when asking does when you play make a difference I would have to place myself firmly in the camp of yes it does. It makes a huge difference.
But does how much you play make a difference? That might be a lot harder to find any definitive answers for because each person is different and that might lead people to have different opinions based on how they play.
As someone on my blog once posted, they play more than I do but do not seem to be able to accomplish everything I do each day. We went back and forth in comments for a bit and he realized that it is because of how I use my time that makes the huge difference.
I am the type of person that plans everything out and because of that I am usually quite efficient in doing what it is I do. If I were to say I did all the dailies in 1 hour it would have taken him 3. Not because of anything other than the way I went about it. I would do quests in an order that were not necessarily be one at a time but working on a few at once so as to not wait for spawn timers and such, kill the three that are there and move on and when I head back kill three more. I would not wait for the respawns. This changes what I am able to accomplish in the time I play.
So saying does time make a difference is a little harder to judge because each person plays differently to some extent. My one hour of play time does a lot more than his three hours. Even with that, I do believe that time available plays a huge part.
While I play a fair deal and accomplish a lot I am still not able to get it all done, not to the extent some people do. I can not gear up more than one character now when doing my dailies and the other little things, it takes all my play time each day during the week. So having more than 1 geared character at the moment becomes impossible. Yet there is someone in my guild that already has 4 90s all at least 470 item level already. I've got one that fits that description.
He does not move as fast as I do, not even close, when he is doing dailies at the same time I am I can finish all of them in the time it takes him to do just two hubs, but it is the fact he is retired and has nothing to do all day but play, so he does most days of the week.
So playing more gives him a gear advantage for sure and gives them the ability to get raid ready faster with multiple characters but not only that, more time gives him more time to make gold, play the auction house, gather, hunt those rares, and the ability to choose when he does things so he can do them at times where it is better to do them as I mentioned when you play makes a difference as well.
So I would have to say that when you play and how much you play does effect your game play and your capability to play at a higher level but I don't think there is anything wrong with that, well most of it.
There is nothing wrong with people that put more into the game getting more out of it. If anything, that is the spirit of RPGs and it has always been that way and should always be that way. That is what the grind is all about and that is one of the reasons I like the grind. While it might place me way behind some of my guild mates because I do not have the time to invest like they do there is nothing wrong with that. I just have to make the time I do have matter more.
Those who put more into the game should get more out of the game. That is fair, that is how it should be. That is why I fully support gating and grinds. I think RPGs should always have a need for time investment. If you are not willing to spend the time to get what you need you don't deserve to have it.
It is also the reason I believe all gear should be locked behind grinds and not be based on the RNG in a dungeon group. Bosses should all drop currency and you should buy all your gear with that currency. It would make people earn their gear and not just luck their way into it. Want raid pants you will need to down 10 raid bosses to get enough raid currency to buy them. No matter what, no luck should ever be involved when it comes to gear. I support the time aspect being an important part of gaming even if I do not have the amount of time others do.
I have no problem with someone having more gear than I do because they worked for it but it irks the every living hell out of me that some people luck into everything. It feels as if they did not deserve it, they did not earn it, they did not work for it, they just got lucky. Luck should never play a part in any RPG when it comes to things like gear. Gear should always be earned, it should never be lucked into. If someone plays more than me and puts in more effort then me they deserve more gear than I have. Simple as that.
So while I do not mind time being such a huge factor in the game I really must admit I am extremely jealous of the when you play issue. I am jealous that I have to do 10 battlegrounds to even hope to win one when someone else can win 3 in a row every single day. I am jealous of the people that can be home during server resets so they can just park themselves at any rare spawn point in the game and get it the second the game comes back on. I am jealous that people can do dungeons with decent people that help each other when I get stuck with asshats who insult everyone, even if they are the ones doing badly.
Just the other day I was talking to someone about switching my main server for that reason alone. I want to get home from work to play and have that time be in the middle of the day on the server, so I can have good groups, so I can win battle grounds, so I can get any rare spawn I want. I want to know what it feels like to have the fun they have being able to be around decent people and get things accomplished without any fuss. Perhaps it is a grass is always greener thing, but playing on off hours does sound so nice.
I wish there were a way blizzard could fix it but there isn't. There is no way to fix when people play most.
So agree with me or not, as I see it, when you play has a huge impact on the game and how much you play has an impact but not as much as it should.