MMO-C listed a bunch of excerpts from blizzards quarterly earning report on their front page today. Some of them made me scratch my head, not all mind you, as I know this report is made for the shareholders and not for people like myself that play the game. However I feel it is necessary for someone that plays to game to weight in on these snips from the quarterly call and being I like doing that sort of thing I figure it might as well be me.
I will remind anyone reading this that anything I say here is completely based on my opinion as a player of the game for many years and my knowledge of the game from playing it, reading the forums, seeing responses here on my blog and speaking with people in the various guilds I happen to play with in game as well as other players I am friendly with. None of that changes that this is solely my opinion, picking apart what was said and pointing out what I believe could be a case of blizzard passing along misinformation to its share holders or maybe they are really that misguided and out of touch. I am going to be a bit of a smart ass with a sprinkle of sarcasm, so if you are not into that sort of thing, feel free to not read.
The team was excited to see the number of subscribers increase with Warlords release, confirming they had selected the right idea and setting for the expansion.
Seeing a marked increase on release of an expansion has absolutely nothing to do with if you made the "right" selection with your ideas. You could have changed all classes into unicorns and set the expansion in candy land and the subs probably would have went up on release, it is just how things work.
All this shows is that people were tired with well over a year of the same content with absolutely nothing new and because they love the game they came back because something new was added. It was not and should not be something you think of as a conformation that what you did was good for the game or that your idea of time traveling to fight yet more orcs after 16 months of doing the exact same thing was a good idea.. Thinking that or saying that is a complete falsehood. Good or bad, any new expansion would have seen a major uptick in the subscriber base, even unicorns of candyland.
Their goal is to make a fun and engaging experience and not chase subscriber numbers, as they are confident that the numbers will follow in the wake of that.
The numbers are following in the wake of that, you are correct, they are following that witness that testified against the mob boss that has the cinder block tied around his feet as he is thrown into the ocean. Down, that is where they are following.
WoW released at the right time and has been a very adaptable game, which has helped to sustain it over the years. Other MMOs provide inspiration on how to make the game better.
This is a clear truth, wow made the market what it is today and it is still coasting on the coattails of what was created 10 years ago. The company has done well with keeping up as best as they can with it and adapting ideas from other games into their own to make it better. This is completely true.
The loss in subscribers is partially due to the cyclical nature of the game.
Yes and no. Yes in terms that players do come and go. No in the fact that they have never "went" in the record numbers (percentage wise) that they have in this quarter which is clearly showing that something is not, excuse the pun, working as intended.
Players don't play WoW year-round anymore, they just come back for new content and then go off to play other games. To some extent that is okay. The team doesn't want to prevent people from playing that way.
Absolutely false. 100% completely and totally false. If this was in fact true than we would have seen subs drop below 1M after 16 months of no new content at the end of mists because of the longevity of the content drought. Do people come and go? Yes. Do a lot do so? Quite possibly. Do most? Not from what I have noticed as the numbers at the end of mists show, most do not come and go as much as you are trying to pretend they do or your numbers would have dipped a lot more.
There was a large spike in subscribers for Warlords so they knew there was going to be a "bit of a dip" after that.
A bit of a dip is the standard. Anytime a new expansion or a new patch comes out there is always a bunch of people coming to check it out, but to call the mass exodus after release "a bit of a dip" is clearly a rationalization. Do you know what a rationalization is? A rationalization is a lie we tell to ourselves to make ourselves feel better. "A bit of a dip" is clearly a lie when more subscribers were lost in that three month period (percentage wise) than ever seen before in the history of the game. A bit of a dip my purple hairy elf butt.
The WoW Token hasn't had a drastic impact on the number of subscribers.
I am honestly surprised to hear this. Sorry it is not working out as well as expected. I figured this would be a boon for the company as it would allow people that had real life financial difficulty to continue playing as they could buy time with gold. Color me surprised.
The new dungeons in Warlords were great, but there was no incentive to keep running them after the start of the expansion.
And who's fault is that exactly? After 10 years you would think you might have figured out that you need to give people a carrot if you wanted them to keep running dungeons. This is a failure of epic proportions that I and many other bloggers pointed out on the beta. We all said that there was no incentive to keep doing them and you did nothing about it. You allowed this to be a failure even if you knew well in advance it would be a failure.
Previous expansions had something like Valor Points to keep players coming back for more dungeons.
And how many posts have I made since beta, since release, since 6.1 and even as recently as this week about how valor needed to make a return. But what the hell do I know, I am just some idiot who plays the game and knows what I like. Of course you know what I like better than I do and removed the motivating factor to do dungeon like valor, reputation, mounts, etc.
It felt silly to run the same content over and over even as your character got stronger, which is why the dungeon rewards were removed, but they went too far in Warlords.
"It felt silly to run the same content over and over"... are you even listening to yourself. This is the heart and soul of this type of game. It is what wow was built on, it is the bread and butter of wow, it is what keeps people coming back, it is what keeps people logging in. That is silly? No, it is not, you are silly for even saying that.
Group dungeons are one of the greatest strengths in the MMO genre and it is a shame that there hasn't been more of a reason to do them recently.
Yes it is a shame that the developers of a game that has been around 10 years could not figure out why people did them over and over again even after being told by many people. Yes it is a shame that a company can really be that out of touch with the player base that pays them as to is why people do things. Yes it is a shame you did not even try to motivate your player base to do them by offering them a reason to do so.
New Content and Patch 6.2
Patch 6.2 is one of the largest content patches ever released.
I really wish I could have seen your face when you said this because then we would know what to look for when you tell a bold faced lie that even you have to realize is a lie. I know you are just towing the company line, but how much did it hurt having to shovel that line of bull with a straight face?
6.2 will be one of, if not the smallest raid patch released in the history of the game. Only goes to keep with the pattern of 6.1 being one of the smallest non raid patches ever released. 6.1 was so small of a patch that unlike nearly ever other patch in the history of the game this one did not even have a name and 6.2 is not lining up to be much bigger than that if you excuse the raid it comes with unless they have a hell of a lot up their sleeve we do not know about yet.
Patch 6.2 adds Timewalking and Mythic dungeons, making group dungeon content relevant again.
Relevant again? What the hell were you smoking during this call? So you are adding copies of already existing dungeons that were instantly irrelevant because they dropped nothing worthwhile into harder mythic version that will be instantly irrelevant because they drop nothing worthwhile? Nope, absolutely not relevant content, sorry.
As for timewalking dungeons, they sound like a nice little touch and I am actively looking forward to do the, once only most likely for novelty reasons. Scaling us to old content that some of the players might have never had the chance to do while it was current sounds fun, once, but they too only drop irrelevant gear and they will only be available for one weekend every 7 or so weeks? Please do not call limited time content we might only see every 2 months relevant content, you are insulting us and yourself at the same time.
Patch 6.2 iterates on existing systems, polishes things, and adds some new content.
So it works on things that should be done instantly like polishing things and considers them part of being worth mentioning a "patch" material? Polishing things should happen at a regular basis, not be held back for a patch. And "adds some new content" sounds so exciting even more so being you can't even name what the content is. That must mean this "some new content" is awesome beyond compare, so awesome you can not even put it into works type of awesome. I'll wait for it with baited breath. Not.
Massive class overhauls aren't as likely to appear in content patches anymore, as returning players come back to find that their class has changed once again.
So broken specs and classes and abilities will remain as is because you do not feel like fixing them. Got it. Sounds like a solid plan there. If you ignore the problem it will just go away. We should inform doctors of this, they actually try to fix people. Damn idiot doctors, they should take a cue from you and ignore it so it will just go away.
The amount of content added in a patch is a balance between satisfying the hardcore players that go though content very quickly and the players that go at a slower pace.
No it is not, you pretend like it is, but it is not. Hardcore players burn through content quickly whether you add a tiny bit or a massive amount of content, that is what makes them hardcore. Do not design for them, ever. They will eat up everything you got and spit you out asking for more nearly instantly. There is not balance between designing for them and for everyone else. Design for the 99%, do not design for the 1%. That is part of the reason you are bleeding subs like a hemophiliac with a bad paper cut is because you are trying to design 50/50.
The team also has to make progress on future projects that are important while still working on upcoming content patches.
I am guessing they are really working hard on upcoming projects because it is clear they are not doing much for the current content. Scale us down for old dungeons with code that us already in game. Add mythic dungeons using dungeons in game but just increasing health and damage. Cut and paste garrison missions with people into garrison missions with boats. Must be hard to cut and paste like that. Seems to me the art team is the only one working their asses off. Everyone else is just calling it in if you ask me.
Awesome work art team, the rest of the staff can suck my... sexual organ located in the lower abdominal area. No man it... a pop culture reference probably lost on most of you. Move along, nothing to see here but an elf showing his age.
Certain types of changes are reserved for expansions rather than patches to keep complexity in check.
Can you be more imprecise? What changes are you talking about and what makes you think we, the player base, would not welcome those changes, like giving us dailies, giving us valor, giving us... well, content. I think we might embrace those changes.
Accessibility is a core value of the game and has helped WoW grow and sustain itself.
So why make things so insanely intricate so people are often confused. I swear I never go a day without someone asking me in guild "where do I find X", "how do I do X", "what should I do after X", "how come my DPS is so low", or some other question.
The game is not exactly straight forward or telling. If you do not go outside of the game for information you are, or could be, completely lost without help from someone that does. My guild has a nickname for me, wowhead. Yes, they call me their personal wowhead. Because whenever they have a question I know the answer because they can't find it in game. So with such a lack of information about the game actually being in the game, how exactly is that accessible? To me or you it is easy because we know it but to Bob, well, Bob is lost most of the time god bless his confused soul.
Classes are more complex now than they used to be back in the day. Destro Warlocks in Burning Crusade raids would literally keep up one debuff and press Shadowbolt really hard and fast to beat everyone else. The game hasn't been "dumbed down" from that.
I agree with and support this statement 100%. Yet didn't he just say they made this more accessible? Can't be both more complex and more accessible. Make up your mind.
Changes have been made to trim excess and keep things focused, but there is still a very high skill cap.
Yeah, hunters are so much better without things like eyes of the beast and scatter shot. I am sure all hunters loved that you removed them and they are all writing you letters of thanks and praise as we speak. And I know I love how you removed righteous defense from my paladin, it made me never want to play it again. Thanks.
Both more casual raiders (Normal difficulty) and hardcore raiders (Mythic difficulty) can now see the entire story. This wasn't possible in older expansions like the Burning Crusade.
The only reason for that is because you offer absolutely no way to feel a sense of personal progression outside of raiding. This is not something you should be boasting about, this is a bad thing when you design a game with no choice when in the past few expansions we got to see how awesome having many choices was.
Accessibility means allowing players that have been playing for a long time to continue to enjoy the game, even if it is at a different level of commitment as their life changes. Many players started out as students and are now professionals with families.
Yes, you are so right. I am enjoying the dailies in warlords. I love flying in warlords. Reputations are so much fun to pound out now. Thank you for letting me do all these awesome things in fun ways. Ouch, I think a hurt myself with too much sarcasm in one line.
More people are doing organized raiding than ever before thanks to some of the conveniences that have been added recently.
This is true, but it also might have something to do with the fact there is nothing else to do to get gear. Crappy gear from world bosses, crappy gear from apexis crystals, only three pieces of gear from crafting, etc. The best way to get gear is by gold farming basically, which does support blizzards new business model of trying to sell gold with the wow tokens I guess.
More people are raiding because more people have to if they want to feel any sort of personal progression for their character. Doesn't mean more people like doing it just that more people have to do it to justify to themselves why they are still paying a monthly subscription.
It would be nice if Mythic could scale with the raid size, but the team isn't sure that level of tuning is possible.
I can tell you one thing for sure, the players that raided in 10 man groups that have been doing heroic (now mythic) since it was added to the game are either no longer raiding heroic, trying to find a guild that does leaving long friendships behind sometimes, or just gave up completely because something that they loved doing in game and have been doing for 6+ years can no longer be done in the way they enjoy doing it, as in 10 man, because it was unceremoniously stripped from them.
Making specific mechanics and encounters for Mythic difficulty is possible now because of the fixed raid size, but if the raid had to scale down to 10 players that would no longer be possible.
It "could" be, you just choose not to do so. There is a difference. Yes, some things lend themselves to larger groups, but it doesn't mean you have to only make things for larger groups. You just choose to only make things for larger groups. Do not make it sound like you had no choice, you did, and you made the choice to ignore the majority of the raiders in the game. Yes, fact is there were more 10 man guilds than 25 man guilds. Absolute 100% fact. And you completely ignored the majority. Stop trying to make it sound as if you did something "noble" for the betterment of the game as a whole when you had to kick the majority of raid groups in the balls to do it.
The social aspect of the game is very important to the overall experience.
It is actually what keeps me coming back. I probably would have quit if it were not for the social aspect of the game because the game itself just doesn't have sticking power any longer, for me at least, in its current state.
The convenience features added over the years have made the game slightly less social.
Yes and no. It gives people the ability to meet and play with more people but in the process lost all sense of server community in the process. This is a win and lose thing.
Sitting in town for an hour trying to find a tank in trade chat to go and do a dungeon was inconvenient, but it allowed you to make stronger social bonds.
Sitting in town trying to find a tank sucked, huge. But is it also how I found my guild, made my first friends, learned how to become a better player and that is partly the reason I am still playing the game at this moment. It is because of the friendship I made sitting in trade for hours trying to find groups. So you are right, those things for as much as they sucked, are why I still play.
The Group Finder is an attempt to try and create environments where you can still meet new people without spending an extremely long time forming groups.
The group finder would be much better if it had a few changes made to it. First, I want to be able to list my name and say what I am looking for. I do not want to spend hours trying to find a group, sacking to join, waiting for a reply, not finding what I want exactly, or what have you. Let me list my name and let them find me. The previous incarnation of the group finder allowed this, why does not new one not? Taking a step backwards in development again? Nice job blizzard.
And secondly, allow mythic cross server, and not after it is no longer current content, but as soon as world first happens open it cross server for everyone because the only reason not to have it cross server is for the world first race so when that is done the only reason not to make it cross server is because you are being pig headed. Some of us would like to raid mythic but are not on servers that it is entirely possible and we either do not want to move because of money reasons or social reasons, but that should not block us out from raiding mythic because we happen to be on a backwards server. The group finder is good, it is just incomplete.
The group finder is getting lots of use for PvE and PvP content.
It is also getting a lot of misuse. Every great tool has the chance to be abused, this is no different. But over all it is a decent tool that should be made better, see above comment. Until some fixes are made, it is still just a broken piece of junk waiting for a fix, even if it is useful in its current form, it is not nearly as useful as it could be.
Garrisons give players reason to log in for a short time when they wouldn't have had any reason to log beofre. It doesn't really take away from raiding, PvP, or other longer playtime activities.
Before. Log in do a dungeon, do a scenario, do some dailies, go out and gather, kill a few rares, kill a world boss, find items hidden in the world, grind bones, hunt pets, etc. Now... Garrison chores. Excuse me for saying this, but I liked BG, before garrisons, better for my quick fix of fun.
True they do fit the quick fix of something to do but only because they are the "only" quick thing to do. They also have burnt me out multiple times this expansion and caused me to take breaks. So basically garrisons gave me a reason to "not" log in. So you meant to say it got "some" people to log in right? Because they sure as hell did not give all players a reason to, which seems to be what you were implying, wrongly I might add.
They are also the reason why I do not like leveling more characters because it means I have to level all those followers up all over again on another character. And I love leveling but now I dread it. I dread it because I know there is a garrison at the end waiting for me. Much, if not all, of the garrisons should have been account wide, not character bound. At the very least the damn jukebox should have been account wide, really, what were you thinking? Garrisons are an awesome addition to the game, I agree, but they are also the worst addition to the game in terms of causing burn out if you like to play a lot of alts and don't have 10 free hours a day to cycle through characters. Seriously, do not ever do anything like this again. Account wide or forget it next time.
Okay, that is enough being a grumpy elf for the day, I had some fun being a smart ass, hopefully you had some fun reading and laughing at some of the comments they made or maybe even the ones I made. Either way, I just wasted half a day at work on a friday. Happy Friday everyone.
The Queue: TGIF
2 hours ago