There are two important pieces of business news in reference to the game we play out now. One being that warcraft is now down to 7.7M subscribers and the other this that blizzard-activision is separating itself fom vivendi.
Both things are worth discussing. The first being the fact that blizzard-activision will be buying itself free of its connection with vivendi for a measly 8.2 billions dollars. In case anyone did not know vivendi was looking to raid the coffers of blizzard-activision which had a reported 3 billion saved up so they could pay off some business debts and that is most likely what prompted them to seek a separation from vivendi. Vivendi would get the money it so desperately needs, and more, and blizzard-activison can continue along with what it was doing as if they did not have the leech trying to suck the blood from them. And by leech I mean failing vivendi company and by blood I mean the 3 billion in profits that blizzard-activision had saved up.
Why is this bit of new important to us, the players?
That is a very good question and there are many different answers you can guess for that. If you read the forums, and if you read this tiny in the middle of nowhere blog I am guessing you read them, a fair deal of players blame vivendi for all the problems the game has had. No longer will that be an excuse, wrong or right, for the issues with the game. But for me the big part is the back side of the story. The fact that blizzard-activision had 3 billion dollars saved up somewhere for whatever reason it might have. Many companies like to keep some money saved to make acquisitions or deal with downturns if they should happen. So it is no surprise that they had some money squirreled away.
However the largest part of this knowledge shows us that even if warcraft has been bleeding subs like it lost a limb since cataclysm it has really had no effect on the company's bottom line. With other ventures, the game itself, and massive item shop sales, the company is doing just fine despite that we see as another 600,000 users lost.
So what does this all mean to us?
Nothing. Nothing at all. The game will continue to exist as we know it. It might also actually expand a little more being it will now be a little more of its own entity. We all can believe what we want and unless you know someone on the inside everything we believe is just guess work. You could say vivendi was controlling things and in need of money and it was their idea to milk the cash cow with the new shop. You could say it was all blizzards idea and it is doing well enough for them to afford to buy themselves out. Guess work, all of it.
I can't wait to see if this has any impact on the game but I don't think it will personally. Even if it does, it will not be something we will see for a while, that is for sure. I doubt that there will be any massive changes on the scale that us, the players of one game, would even notice in the immediate future.
So now we go to those subscription losses with a gentle reminder first. Blizzard had over 3 billion, yes that is with a b, sitting around in the bank. They are in no immediate financial trouble from losing a few users.
Still, as a player I can't help but wonder what is responsible for those losses. Whether the game has 2M or 20M users means nothing to me. As long as it is here for me to play and as long as I still want to play it, what should I care. But it does have some impact on me in a way and that is why I, you, and others, talk about it.
The fewer people there are playing the longer our random content will take to queue for. Seriously, as long as the company behind the scenes is doing fine, that is the only thing in game that having fewer users will actually effect in our game play.
You could say there will be fewer guilds, smaller servers, etc. But none of that really matters. Who cares if there are 50,000 active guilds or 10,000 active guilds, as long as there are active guilds there is a place for to go to be in an active guild. Smaller servers, same story.
So there will be less people are around in the world but who really cares, will it stop you from going out and farming peacebloom? Nope. It might actually make it more enjoyable to do so with fewer people. Fewer people on a server can be fixed and adjusted with the new virtual realms. The only thing that really gets effected with less players is fewer people being around to queue for random content meaning longer waits and even more brutal ones on off hours.
So that brings me to my guess on one of the largest factors to the recent loss of subscribers. I can sum it up in just three little letters. L, F and R. Yes, the LFR. For 99% of the player base that is not downing content in the current raid tier at a reasonable pace the only place for them to get gear, reputation, quest items, the ability to spend that valor they seem to need to collect for everything they do, it is through the LFR.
So unless the player is content with some craftable gear, some outdated catch up gear like the barrens stuff, or some 463 dungeon gear, the LFR is a necessary evil. I am not saying that the 99%, the ones not in a raiding guild that is downing bosses regularly all actually want to have gear or complete quests or spend valor or what not. But I am saying that the people that do what those things need to do the LFR and have no other options.
And that is what I believe is the weakest link in the game right now. If you want any of that stuff and you either can not get into a good guild or are not capable of playing at that level or in the time frame to be in a guild like that, you have no options.
They need to break the attachment to the LFR. They need to find a way for people to get things without funneling them into something they quite possibly do not want to do or do not have the skill to do. They can do that easily too, if they want to, but they seem intent on forcing the entire player base into it. The problem with that is, most of the player base can not do it. It is, to beat the dead horse, way to hard for the masses.
To explain what I mean by that I will give an example, a very recent one too, as in just two days ago. Just this Wednesday. I went into the LFR on one of my alts to do some gearing up. Did the 3rd part first as it had a trinket I wanted and I figured the sooner I get it out of the way the better right? The better players usually knock out the LFR early in the week. That means my odds of doing it with a better group are much better early in the week. So first boss the maze comes up and myself and 4 others are the only ones that survive it. Yes. A total of 5 people survived. On a Wednesday, when the better players are supposed to be playing. Attempt two, seven people survived. Three, four, five, all wipes. On a freaking Wednesday. Each time people leave and people come and we wait.
We did finally down it. But I get called out, not once but twice for getting melee hit by the boss as a damage dealer and called a noob because I took aggro. Excuse me? After the maze is done and both tanks are dead, who do you think the boss is going to go after? The only person over 100K DPS and on the top of the threat list of course you idiot. I swear, not only are the people that play this game bad, but they are stupid. And stupid is the understatement of the century with that remark. I got called out for dying to the boss because the tanks were dead and the boss came for me. Does this make sense in any world?
I did not get my trinket so I tried the first LFR. You know, the easy as pie one on a Wednesday when it should be super easy. We wiped 3 times on the first boss because we did not have enough DPS. Even with the puddles giving people a damage boost there was me and a warlock as the only two people over 150K. Wait, that sounds too elitist right? Lets try this again. There was me and a warlock as the only two people over 100K. Still too much to ask of LFR people? Okay, lets try this one more time. There was me and a warlock as the only two people over 50K.
I am not kidding. 17 damage dealers and outside of us two not a single once of them managed over 50K. They did mechanics right. They stepped in the puddles ASAP. They ran out with the lightning. They all seemed to know what they were doing mechanic wise, they just had no clue how to hit the freaking buttons on their keyboard. It took 3 wipes and lots of people dropping and coming before we were able to down it. On a Wednesday people. A Wednesday when the better players are supposed to be on.
This is just one example of the issue I think the game has right now. Even if everyone says the game is getting too easy I say it is getting too hard for the people it is aimed at. If you want to open the valor vendors, you need to do LFR. If you want the best easy mode gear, you have to do the LFR. If you want to do the legendary for everyone quest, you have to do the LFR. You get the idea.
And it is not just the LFR, it is everything they are adding to the game. The isle lead in quests are brutal for someone that does not know how to play. Sure, I've gotten 4 characters to 90 since it came out and stepped into them the second I hit 90 without any gear and did them all, but I know how to play. I hear others complaining left and right that they are impossible. The people complaining are the ones that content was made for. It was not made for me, that is for sure. And just think of those quests. If these people have issues with those solo scenarios how do you think they do the quests? They can't.
The barrens was meant to be a catch up system. Seriously, a catch up system that offers 489 gear when the current normal gear is 522? That is not catch up. That is an insult. Next patch when the standard normal gear will be 553 the catch up gear will be 496. Not exactly a catch up if you ask me. Not even close to a catch up. Blizzard needs to make a catch up system that, you know, lets people catch up. Giving the people gear from 2 tiers ago as a catch up mechanic is not exactly catching them up. Not even in the slightest.
I have watched, and admittedly laughed my ass off, people dying over and over on single mobs in the barrens. Or accidentally getting two or three and face planting instantly. Just the other day I saw a worgen run past me as I had a pack of about a dozen on me and jump off the side of the hill in the lumber area with a train following him. I guess he thought he had a better chance surviving the fall then he would fighting them. I loved it, it made my day, it was very funny, but it also stressed the point I am making here. The barrens catch up content is not made for the people it is intended for, unless they are in a group.
The game has just gotten to the point where it is too hard for the vast majority of the player base. The LFR is too hard, the isle is too hard, the barrens is too hard. Sure, you and me might have no issue on it, even with a fresh 90. But remember, you and me are not part of the 600,000 that just quit because we felt there was nothing in the game for us.
Sure, those people could have quit for a myriad of reasons that have nothing to do with what I said. But we are here to take guesses, offer opinions and this is my guess on what is wrong and it is my opinion that making the game for the 99% will work a lot better than trying to turn the 99% into the 1%.
600,000 losses is actually not a lot compared to what they have been losing. There should be no "OMG end of the world" worry about it. The company is fine, even more so if it can spend 8.2 billion to separate itself from vivendi so there is no cause for worry. But I would still like to see them make the content that is for the non-raiders capable of being done for the non-raiders.
Sure, I will miss watching worgens jump to their death with a train of mobs following them, but I will definitely not miss wiping 3 times on a boss that should be a push over in the LFR even with people that don't normally raid. Make the casual content easier blizzard, make it doable by the people it is meant for, seriously, it would be better for everyone, not just them. If you do that you just might pick up some users. As much as people will flame me over saying this, easy sells. People want easy. Let them have it and then let raiding be for the people that want more. Everything else should be easy mode for casuals. LFR is easy mode for you and I maybe, but trust me, week after week I see it first hand, LFR is not even close to easy mode for the masses. And if I were one of those people and LFR was all I had if I wanted the best I could get solo, I too would have quit by now.