Who did this take by surprise? Not anyone with even half a brain, that's for sure.
The thing that surprises me is that they are reporting the base is going down. While it is true that it is a public company and all the information is readily available to anyone that knows where to look they have been fabricating numbers for such a long time why not keep it up.
The fact they are reporting that the subscriber base has gone down, even by such a small amount as 5%, is more telling then the actual number. They are reporting it went down because they know they can not get away with subscriber numbers that include trail memberships and overseas hourly pay members that there were previously counting as subscribers.
With the large amount of users they are losing on a seemingly daily basis it would have raised a lot of questions that they did not want to answer if they did not report some type of subscriber loss, hence we get a report of a tiny 5% drop in subscribers.
Anyone is business, even more so the accounting end, knows exactly what I am talking about. They never had 12M active subscribers and they don't have 11.4M active subscribers now. That is all fancy math to tide people over. Notice I used the word active, they never do. The 5% loss however, even with fake figures, might be accurate or close to it. If I had to guess, I would say it is closer to 10% and they are reporting the damage to be half of what it is. Many companies do that and with some fancy accounting it is not even illegal to do so.
What is the most telling of this report is the fact that these numbers are for the brand new expansion. It is when subscriptions are supposed to be inflated some. A new expansion usually sees a boom in business, not a drop in business.
Their 5% report or my 10% guess, either way, it makes no difference, the numbers should not be down. The fact that they are down shows that the mistakes they made this expansion are hurting them more then anyone that works there there could have ever imagined.
I explained why this would happen, many bloggers did. We saw it coming a mile away, how did the designers of the game not see it coming?
The peak of the game was with the ease of wrath. People, as a whole, like accessible content, content that even the most average of average can see, even if not in its entirety.
The redesigning of the old world content was a complete waste of time on their part.
Old players might have rerolled to see it and saw it and moved along, it was not a selling point for them.
Altaholics where now blowing through the content without heirlooms or rested and could not even finish a zone because they out leveled it ruining their fun. Altaholics like to level, if leveling moves along so fast it loses its fun for them, so it was not a selling point for them.
New players, with the ease of leveling, where not getting the excitement that was connected with exploring and thus not getting to the level of addiction that we all suffered from when we first started, so it is not a selling point for them. I have a old post that details the experience of a new player concerning this very thing a while back.
Makes you wonder, if redesigning the old world was not for old players, not for new players and not for altaholics then who was it for?
The end game became something that required more then a little hand/eye coordination, it also required a good connection and quick response times, something a large amount of the player bases lacks. By making even heroic dungeons like that they lost a large part of their player base that considered heroics dungeons their end game.
Further on, raids. The fact that raids where not easily pugable like they where in wrath, even at the beginning, left a lot of mid level players feeling that there was nothing left for them. While people would log on and wait to join a pug now they do not even try because they know there are no pugs that have any chances at success and even if there were any, you could wait all day long and never be lucky enough to find one because that one raid is so few and far between and there are 100s of players looking for the 2 spots someone might have open.
This also means that it lessens the addiction of the player. Before you might run your main in 10s with your guild and 25s in a pug. Now there are no 10s and 25s, just one lock out. If you do pug, you will never get anywhere either. So why even wait online and look for it? Having one lock out means when you are done you are done, two lock outs made you want to stay on and do both lock outs each week.
People, myself included, had alts that they were not very good at but because content was puggable, we played with them and did things with them. Now, with even top players on mains failing and not being able to pug what chance does a less often used alt that you are not great at have to ever do anything worth doing?
They streamlined the game to get you to 85 as fast as humanly possible and then left the average player with nothing to do once they get there. Not even heroics.
Yes, I know the argument that most people like to throw out there, heroics are easy. Yes, for me and you they are. Me and you are not the typical WoW player however. I am writing this, you are reading this, the typical WoW player would not even know that there are people out there that blog about WoW.
The typical WoW player does not have a great connection or a great computer, making some encounters this expansion impossible for them, even a heroic dungeon.
The typical WoW player will never see the inside of a raid unless it was puggable.
The typical WoW player is looking for something that is a fun way to pass the time.
The typical WoW player does not think progression is fun. That is for us raiders, if they wipe, it loses its fun, if they wipe all the time, they stop playing at all.
The typical WoW player loved wrath because it was easy enough for them but not a cake walk as everyone likes to make it out to have been. That is why the subscriptions where the highest ever then and why now, when they should be thriving with a new expansion, they are going down. There is nothing for the typical WoW player to do.
Heck, there is nothing for me either. I've said it before and I will say it again. I used to love doing 10s with my guild and pugging 25s. Now, with one lock out I can't. With harder content there are never any pugs on my server anyway. I do not want to do BoT trash clears all day, every day, and that is all that you ever see on my server.
So there is nothing for the typical player that wants it easy. There is nothing for the mid level player like me that wants a mild challenge, and there is nothing for the top level players that finished all the heroic modes already.
What is left in game for any one really?
Not much according to the subscription numbers. At a time where they should have went up, in huge numbers, due to an expansion coming out they are going down. Going down 5% means a lot more during what was supposed to be a growth period then just 5%. It means a hell of a lot more.
The future of WoW does not look good if they continue on this path. There are a few simple fixes that can really help things if WoW was willing to do them.
1) Lower the experience gained from quests by roughly 30-40%.
2) Make lower level dungeons a bit harder.
3) Make top level dungeons a bit easier.
4) Make raids easier to pug, either more forgiving mechanics or less mechanics over all.
5) Give us back 10 and 25 lock outs.
Doing all of this will be a step in the right direction, a start, not a solution.
The more WoW tries to make content challenging the less people they will have around to accept the challenge.
Remember, the typical WoW player, the one that never posts on the forums, the one that we do not hear is leaving because they would not know where to complain, that is the one that pays for this game to be running.
That is the one that makes up most of those millions of millions of users. That is the one they need to keep because that is the one that pays the bills and keeps this game running. That is the one that wants content they can play.
Some might hate it but the truth is, if you do not cater to the lowest common denominator the game is only going to continue to bleed subscribers. The recent numbers prove that.
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