Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Warcraft Down to 5.6M Subs

For the longest time I have been saying that the only thing that could ever really kill warcraft was blizzard itself.  It sure seems like they are doing a bang up job of doing just that lately.  With a 44% decrease in subscribers since the beginning of the expansion this is the largest loss the game has ever seen over an expansion cycle and the expansion cycle is not even half over yet, with no new content to come.

Blizzard is trying to pass this off as the standard cycle that happens during the end of an expansion but that a rather hard pill to swallow.  Perhaps the stock holders could buy that but as a player of the game I am just not taking the bait.  I know that statement is a bold face falsehood.  While it is true at the end of an expansion cycle they do see a downturn, this quarterly report was not for the end of the expansion.  It saw a lot of additions to the game that should have added players, not decreased them.

The quarter in question which saw an additional 1.5M subscribers lost happened to be when the wow token was released which basically allowed players to play for free.  This alone should have been something that gave a considerable boost to the subscriber numbers as people came back to the game being they no longer needed to pay for it with cash and instead could use the copious amounts of gold they had saved up and no use for to pay for their monthly subscriptions.

Not only that, this quarter in question saw the reversal of what was the extremely unpopular decision to remove flight.  You would think reversing their stance on flight and saying that it would, in fact, be coming back to the game would have appeased some of the people that were upset about that decision.

But you also need to consider that the quarter we are talking about saw the release of a major content patch (our only one) that included a new zone, new rares, new reputations, new quests, a new raid, mythic dungeons as well as some other little stuff here and there.  That major content patch was released at the end of the quarter too so it is not like it was released and time had passed for it to die down and people to finish the content that was added because it was only added the last week of the quarter.  So people coming back for that should have been a huge boost for the game.

So I absolutely do not but the statement that was uttered to the stockholders.  This is not the standard downturn at the end of an expansion cycle.  Not even close because this was not the end of the expansion, not when the only major content patch of the entire expansion was released in that quarter.  If they said that 12 months from now when we have been sitting in the same raid for over a year then yes, it would be the standard end of expansion downturn.  But not now.

With all those above mentioned things even the most hardened warcraft hater would have to admit that there would be an uptick in subscribers.  Even the haters know allowing people to play for free would bring people back, adding flight back to the game would bring people back and most importantly, adding new content would bring people back.  So even haters would have expected an uptick in subs, or at least accepted it.  Never before has a content patch been accompanied by a loss in subscribers.  Never before has an expansion saw this large of a loss this early in the expansion cycle.  This is unprecedented.  This could be one of the single biggest declines of any game of this sort in the history of the genre and coming from the leader in the genre that is saying a lot.

There could be a lot of reasons why people are leaving and seemingly not coming back.  We could blame it on the flying debacle, the removal of valor (my personal favorite), the facebook game feeling some people mention with garrisons, the lack of non raid content at level 100, etc.  There are probably a dozen very good reasons why they are losing customers, even after the release of a major content patch, but there is one thing for sure, people are not liking warlords.  For whatever reason it might be they just do not find it worth playing, not even for free with the wow token.

So it seems my statement was right from the get go.  The only thing that could ever kill warcraft is blizzard and it seems they are trying their hardest to do just that.  At this rate warcraft will never finish out the warlords cycle as the top subscriber based MMO.  Some game will pass it.  Because if it can lose 1.5M subscribers when a content patch was released, what do you think it will do in the next 3 or 4 quarterly reports that will come between now and the next expansion when nothing at all is added?  Those are the quarters that would have an expected end of expansion loss.  If they lose 1.5M when they add content, it is not looking good for the next years worth or reports when they will be adding nothing.

The question is no longer will warcraft retain their spot as the #1 subscriber based MMO.  The question now is, how far down will they fall before warlords is over?

I am very sad to see they lost 1.5M subscribers.  I kept complaining thinking maybe they would listen, maybe they would correct their errors, right the ship, but like everyone else, I am just sitting here baffled by how they could let this happen to the game.

The once mighty warcraft is dying, even the fan boys need to start to realize that.  Games are not supposed to lose subscribers when new content comes out.  That is not how business works.

Do you think there is still time for blizzard to fix this or is it all downhill from this point on?


  1. Flying still isn't back in the game, so people could be waiting for that to be live before they re-subscribe.

    I'm actually enjoying 6.2 but I can see activity in T2 starting to drop off dramatically. Even I'm only going there to get rep to buy the permanent augment rune and try for mounts off the four rares.

    If it wasn't for raiding in HFC and BRF I'd have quit months ago, so it's entirely possible that a good chunk of those 44% of lost subscribers aren't that taken with raiding.

    1. Very true about flight, but still announcing it would return should have been enough to keep the people that had not yet quit. If they had not yet quit they are not the type to rush to judgement and thus would not quit now that they know it is coming at some point.

      I personally was done on T2 on my main after 3 weeks. All achievements (except 5K claws), exalted with all factions, basically done. T2 was not really lasting content and most people see it as such. Even for a semi regular player they will reach the "done" point in 2 months time, maybe 3 max.

      Blizzard needs to understand, for as much as I love to raid, the vast majority of the player base does not. The largest disservice they did to the game was the "raid or die" design that everything is about raiding. Sure, a small portion of the player base likes it. But you can not cater to a small portion of your players. Heck, you should not cater to any portion. You should have something for everyone and they don't.

  2. The Blizzard revenue statement paints a rosy picture, as it needs to, but it is on the back of other franchises. The danger here for the WoW team is that they are portrayed as being content with losing that many subscribers. They need to actively convince people that they have not given up on WoW and aren't just milking it. I believe they can - we have been hearing since 6.1 that it was 'too late' to incorporate player feedback into the content patches and that we would see a response in future patches. If that too was bs, they will loase us fan boys as well. In the meantime, waiting on 6.2.1...

    1. Blizzard as itself is doing quite well. No one could deny that. Heck, even the warcraft franchise is doing well from a dollars and cents perspective, even if not great. The sub number issue is more of an issue for the players but I am sure even stockholders could read something into it. The future, at least for this one part of the blizzard stable, does not look so rosy.

      A lot of people, myself included, are waiting for flying. It does make me wonder what it would have been like if only they had listened to us beta testers that kept telling them, flying is needed, content at 100 is needed.

      I can't even remember how many posts I had when I was in the beta saying how dead the game was at max level. And I was most definitely not alone. Blizzard knew the lack of non raid content at max level was a problem. They chose to release it like it is. I hate to say it, but the sub lose is deserved. Maybe next time they will listen to people saying there are problems on beta. Heck, if beta people are saying there is nothing to do, you know there is nothing to do.

    2. Do companies even take betas seriously anymore? They just seem to be tools of promoting the game, not actually for taking feedback into consideration. Outside of fixing some bugs... raise your hand if you've found a bug live that has been reported on beta by several people... where is the old Blizzard quality, I wonder...

    3. I think some do, it is sure blizzard doesn't. Myself and many others were often vocal about the lack of stuff to do at 100 on beta. I am sure they heard our voices, they just ignored them.

      I actually saw a lot fixed on live that was on beta, but you are right, I have run into a few bugs that I had run into with beta that are still there. Even though I did report them on beta.

  3. Like you, I was done with T2 in under a month. I have my mounts. I made about 200K selling the rep tokens. I have 300K-ish crystals to buy all of the raid tokens I need for as long as they are necessary. Well, I guess I still need one of the pets from the T2 tamers, so when flying comes back and makes that loop easier, I'll probably grab it. I'm not sure that I can be bothered to get the 5K claws. I just don't get jazzed about the nerd points the way I used to be.

    As I said yesterday, I've abandoned my recurring subscription. At this point, WoW is dying, for me and for the larger player base. Even the die-hards in my guild are grumbling, the folks who buy every store mount, pet, and plushy. The folks who have gone to Blizzcon more often than not. Yes, WoW is dying.

    The base game and the first two expansions never saw a quarter without more subscribers than the previous quarter. Interesting game play and expanding features keeps folks coming into the world. Sure, no one can maintain the level of excitement forever, but that is different than quality. Quality is a mindset and it is instilled top to bottom. The thing I used to love about Blizzard games is that I knew -- I knew -- they would be quality. Now, I believe the very opposite. They feel like, as you have said previously, a final beta at best at release. I don't want to pay $50 plus $15 a month for a beta. Only an idiot would.

    Originally, I thought the money people would have been the largest ally of the gamers. When they saw the returns dropping, they'd step in and right the ship to protect their investment. Now, I see the money people as the enemy. The rot may be too deep to save WoW and with other games now bringing in the bacon, they may be content to milk it as able and let is die with as little expense to their books as possible. Mind-boggling given the money it has generated and the halo-effect it once provided.

    I don't think the team now in place can save WoW. I don't think outsiders will force the issue. The most likely outcome is that the team that is killing WoW stays in place and continues apace. Even if they bring out an expansion at the end of this year or the start of next, you'll see the trend of loss continue. It may stem the flood for a short time, but the trend will be down.

    I hope I am wrong. I have loved playing this game. I simply see that fun in the past tense all to often now.

    1. I've only gotten 2 pets so far and I did a ton of those battles. Heck, I've only got 4 of the +5 pet stones too. My luck sucks. I never got one of the medallions of the legion on my main either and it seems you got tons of them. I hate my luck. But when flying comes, I will do the loop and all the pet battles daily. But like many, I will not do it until there is flying.

      I used to be one of those people that bought everything and I too have not bought a mount in ages. I might still sub, but that is to play with friends, I really do not support the direction of the game any longer. So they do not deserve my extra money for the mounts right now.

      The sad part is, like you I have loved playing this game, but seeing people leave causes others to leave as well. So these next months, with no new content, could very well see the game I have enjoyed for so long die. Or at least die enough that I would not feel it worth playing any more. That is my worry. The low numbers and constant losses will scare even more people away and soon, even with CRZ and merged servers, we will basically be playing alone.

    2. Your post is a bit depressing. And it isn't depressing because it is some pessimistic view of things. It's depressing because it is almost 100% certainly true.

    3. Sorry to be Mr Pessimistic Elf there, but it is a fear of mine. People see others leaving so they leave too. It is just human nature. Heck, if my friends leave, or enough do, it would cause me to leave as well. It is, after all, who we are by nature.

    4. @Grumpy Sorry, I actually had my comment written up while you were responding to To Bee or Not To Bee, my reply was actually to them.

      Your over all post is sad but it was less so for me. Something in their summary really struck home for me. I think it was this line: "I simply see that fun in the past tense all to often now."

      Past tense

    5. I think the fun we remember having plays a huge part in what keeps us around. We all remember how fun it was and all hope to feel that fun experience again. In certain circles that is refereed to as "addiction". I agree actually and admit, I am addicted to the game and keep playing hoping to have that feeling again.

    6. "I simply see that fun in the past tense all to often now."

      Just think of the impact if my fingers had added the correct number of O's to "too!" :-)

  4. It really is hard to see how this is anything other than a slow, self-inflicted death of WoW. Yes, time likely played some part of it and the expansions immediately before this weren't perfect, but this expansion and, I think more importantly, the staff that is driving things now seems to have accelerated any decline.

    I saw some tweet from Ghostcrawler about how fans shouldn't assume their pet idea is the cause of the decline, they don't have that data. While technically true, we aren't stupid. Correlation isn't causation, but that doesn't mean things aren't related; just that you can't ASSUME they are. And also, if Blizzard were just a little more open with this communication, we wouldn't be making wild guesses and such. But I've complained about that long enough other times.

    The other way I can tell it is probably heading downward...I almost always seem to get active in something towards the end. So since I'm now blogging about it, I guess WoW is over.

    In all seriousness, I'm not done with WoW yet. Overall, I still enjoy this game. Just before I posted about the 5.6 million number, I had put up a post about having finally finished Pathfinder. How I was looking forward to playing the game again the way I want. As i said on that post:

    "Whatever the case, I don't ever have to do it again.

    And that my friends, is a sign of good game play.

    When a player says: "I'm so happy that is over and I never have to see it again"

    I just don't Blizzard's design philosophy and I don't think they get the reasons most players play anymore.

    1. Actually blogging has managed to keep my playing through a lot of tough patches that I thought about quitting. I was all but done with the game, or wanted to be, when the Zul patch came out in cataclysm. I could not get a random done unless it was with guild. I hated it, I was not having fun, and there was nothing I could do about it. But blogging, and complaining about it, made me feel better and kept me playing and as the weeks went by and people got to know the Zuls it got easier and was no longer a huge issue for me.

      So talking about wow, even if it was only to complain about it, kept me playing wow. Makes me wonder why so many people say "if you do not like it just quit". Because honestly, if I did not like it I would not have complained about it. And in the end, it was me complaining that kept me playing. Odd how that works sometimes.

      The key loss in the repeatability of the content this expansion, or at least that is my opinion on one of the major issues. Which comes down to the loss of valor gear and related things to gain valor. That kept people logging in week after week as they chased a goal, valor gear. They need repeatability, this is not a single player game but it is being designed as such so once you did something, it is done. That is not solid MMO game design in the slightest.

  5. Oh but none of it matters, right? Blizzard as a company has increase its revenue so all is cool. I'm kind of sad actually that this was their message. WoW is, on a graph, on a natural curve, heading towards the end of its entire life cycle. Just sad.

    1. That is all the matters to them, the bottom line. After all they are a company in the business of making money. They do not care if they have 1M or 10M subs, as long as the bottom line shows the profit margin is going up. It is sad for us, the players, that want more.

      I can not believe they called it a natural cycle to lose 1.5M people when a major content patch came out. I really would love to see them point out where in the history of any game ever have they lost such a substantial percentage of their players when releasing new content. It is not normal and I have no clue how they could have said it was natural with a straight face.

  6. It's frightening to think that the true 'end of expansion' downturn is yet to come.

    I never bought into the 3M drop in subs because the spike at launch was such an anomaly that it was expected to bounce back. This further 1.5M (ish) loss though, is truly damning.

    To have any chance of turning this around, Blizzard need to release content before the end of the year AND it has to be bloody good!
    I just can't see it happening.

    At the moment, the strength of the raid content is papering over the cracks elsewhere for me so I stay subbed. Will that last? Who knows.

    1. We still have at least 3 quarterly reports, most likely 4 if they keep their standard production rate, before we see the real end of the expansion downturn. So yes, this is really sad.

      I agree. They can not just sit and let us stew in 6.2 for a year. To stop more bleeding they need to give us something else before the next expansion. If they don't, I do not want to even think about what the numbers will look like.

      Once you, me, whoever, feels they are "done" with the raid content they intend to do, how long will they stay around? That is the question.

      For me I would just start leveling new hunters and bringing them through the gearing process. But I am weird that way.

  7. They told players 6.2 is one of the largest patches ever. Then they told stockholders that this is the standard end of the cycle drop..
    The sub drop isn't a surprise or a mystery-WoD just isn't very good. And there are a lot of other games out there for people to spend their time and money on.

    1. That is funny.

      Largest content patch ever..... lost 1.5M subs when it was released.

      Who writes these press releases? I wonder if any of the stockholders caught on to that.

  8. Paring down of class talents and constant buff-nerf cycles gets old. Alt Garrisons grind (need a mine foreman/follower to give a checklist of production totals instead of having to loot every single ore, cart)

    1. The keep changing things for the sake of change and I think some of the longer time players are starting to get a bit tired of it. I know I am, but even if I dislike it, it has not reached deal breaker status for me yet.

  9. We've talked to death the reasons why people are unsubbing. In a nutshell, this expansion did not offer the majority of people an engaging fun experience that was worth people's time and effort. What I am more curious about and concerned, is the company's ability to identify specific problems to address.

    There are many ways that Blizzard processes information to identify problems to be addressed. I believe there is significant evidence, that this process has lost its efficacy. 1) There are a significant number of bugs that were reported throughout the entire beta process and while live. Fixing them wasn't prioritized for them. 2) We had lots of feedback about the anemic max level gameplay from beta on, and no significant adaptation to those vociferous complaints. 3) They pushed an internal agenda they knew would be a PR trial (not necessarily the disaster it was), to simplify the content they would need to produce (jumping puzzles vs evolving daily based story) (RNG based systems that artificially lengthen the life of the content: loot, vendors, weekly storyline quests, Harrison jones questline, invasions, etc) Then, knowing the no-flight decision would be difficult to navigate, they communicated it flippantly to the public and hid behind a holiday weekend hoping it would blow over. And it blew up, right in their faces.

    Then in 6.2, after having months of tracking numbers on which quests were done and not, the complaints about gameplay, complaints about having fun being governed by RNG, etc How did Blizzard adapt? They doubled down on all of it. Seeing massive sub losses 1st quarter either didn't wake them up to adapt their approach, and THAT is why another 1.5 mil subs have left. Its more of the same, a lot MORE of the same. The same stuff we rejected before.

    I have to conclude that Blizzards ability to accurately identify the root causes of sub loss and player dissatisfaction is non-functional at present. It is my personal opinion, that they've gotten so big that between the echo chamber effect, believing their own excuses (cyclical sub nature), and loss of focus by management as it focuses on the growing games. Its natural that having conquered the MMO world, the passion is gone from top management with respect to WoW. That polish we all expect is gone because the overarching management isn't looking at the details as before and it shows.

    Do you feel they can accurately identify what was bad about this expansion? I hope they can rekindle the fire, but I don't have any evidence that illustrates their capability to identify and fix problems. Perhaps this next expansion will show a renewed vigor and attention to detail, but I'm not expecting it. Get ready for the hype train, because that is still something they excel at.

    1. Blizzard in the past has shown they are very good, even if very slow, at fixing the problems people have with things. Our real issue is if they fix it right.

      Look at the mists daily issue. People disliked the gating of the dailies so they fixed it, too late of course, and then in the next expansion, warlords, they had no dailies. That is the problem.

      So I do believe they see what some of the major issues were. How they fix them is going to be interesting. Will they go overboard like is their normal reaction to everything or will they use some intelligence and tweak it to be better.

      So yes, I do believe they can identify the problem. But no, I do not believe they can fix it in a way that would be good for most of the players.

    2. @Thuggs

      Nicely said. For once, I have little else to add.

  10. They need to make levels 1-89 more fun, especially 1-10. And increase advertising to get more noobs. They need at least 1 million new subs a month to grow in the face of normal player attrition from life changes, and getting tired of the game...etc. New players experience in long que times and lag will just quit. But blizz will just shift server resources to COD not reduce lag or increase instances.

    1. I wish I could comment on that but I have not leveled a new character in so long though that part of the game. Last I remembered it was so fast you don't even remember leveling to begin with, so I could agree adding some fun to it might be a great idea. But to do so would mean they have to slow some things down and I do not think the community wants things slower, they want it faster.

    2. @Anonymous

      I've heard for years advertising helps, but honestly, the MMOs I'e played have all be from joining friends that played them. I may a bit older than the target demographic (Critical Hit to Ego!) but advertising doesn't seem like the thing. I'm sure WoD had lots of advertising and it did bring people back. But they didn't stay. Blizzard needs to right its ship (perhaps they can find something in the shipyard) before it tries to bring on new people.

      At low levels, I don't think there are a lot of long queue times and lag. Perhaps in PvP? I don't play that much and I don't think a large majority do either. It is an area to address if it is a problem, but I haven't seen it.

    3. There are so many levels to navigate now, and obviously more get added every xpac.

      Levelling thus takes longer so Blizz apply two solutions:

      Solution 1 is the Boost that gets you straight to level 90 and into the new content. By pure chance, it also makes Blizz a lot of money, and the new player has no idea how to play their character and gets abuse in LFR etc.

      Solution 2 is to completely remove the challenge of levelling so mobs fall down after a couple of hits. This makes levelling a simple but tedious and very long grind.

      I would prefer to see Blizz make levelling harder so it's more of a challenge, but boost the xp you get so you don't spend overly long in each area. At least that way you have to learn the basics of your class and rotation, you see a good chunk of the world, and when you get to max level you will much more comfortable in it.

  11. Here's a thought. They also had that ban wave. Think it may have affected the numbers?

    1. I am sure that had to play some part in it. But we will never really know how much of a part it played. All we have are guesses.

  12. Old player that can pass down gold, heirlooms, twink gear and know where to go and what works for class low lvls go fast. But a total new guy, gold and gear not so easy, and frustrating to see twinks zoom by on mounts to get to good / quest mobs they one shot aoe while you slog on foot with white or green gear.

    1. I agree for a completely new player the experience has to be vastly different from an experienced player leveling. But it does leave the question, will they get drawn in to the game like we did when many of the things we look back fondly on are no longer a big deal?

      They will never have the excitement of getting their first green, first blue, first purple, at least the way we did because they are showered with them while leveling. They will never accidentally walk into a bunch of skull mobs while questing in a zone like we did. Heck, even that one quest in the night elf starting area were everyone learned about fall damage when the turned in a quest at the top of the tree and ran out to die has been changed so they have slow fall now. They will not have those massive end of the quest line bosses that needed a group in every zone. They will never meet stitches on a dark road and get owned. They will never... well you get the idea.

      Many of the little things we look back on fondly, or at least I do, they will never get to experience. So will they feel the connection we did, will they have the memories we did.

      To them, the new players, the leveling process is just a means to an end. For me, the leveling process, was a part of the game.

    2. @Anonymous

      That's a fair point about the importance of experience and knowledge to the game (and resources!), although I will still say that the new experience now is quite different than it was when I started. This isn't a "you damn kids have it so easy" complaint, but an honest assessment that the leveling process is vastly improved for new people.

      Now, if you are a new player and are still telling me it is bad, I defer to you. But having just played some level ones, and being fully aware of my experience and controlling for resources, it was a very smooth and very easy process.

      Starting quest gear is better. Getting bags as early quest rewards is better. Teaching you about the map and other things is better. Again, if new players are still saying it isn't enough then they are the players we should listen to on that, without a doubt.


      I do miss those things sometimes. It was very hard for me in the beginning getting use to WoW way of things coming from City of Heroes. There, taking on an even level enemy was easy even for the healing classes. Taking on two or three +1 level enemies was pretty standard. Good tanks and DPS could easily take on +5 levels.

      At the time I started, two or three even level enemies (non-elite) easily killed me. Elites were beyond possible.

  13. It’s a disservice to WoW’s chief competitors to say the only thing that could kill WoW is WoW. Never has their competition been better, and it is the real reason no one is coming back. There are a host of psychological reasons that people stay with the game even if it is doing poorly. Social bonds and friendships, and the feeling of time spent logged in as some form of investment. Guild Wars 2 and Final Fantasy are superb and better than WoW if you are judging current content outside of Raiding.

    That said a close look at Quarterly reports says a couple of things.
    6.2 is a success (at least for its first 5 weeks) Sub losses between January-March was almost 1 million per month. Losses between March and June were half that, approximately 500,000. It is completely possible that during this period total subscribers dropped below 5.6 million. Remember Blizzard was Hyping 6.2 from 4/14/2015 on and its possible some of the hype got players to return to the game.

    Hype and brand strength are really important here because it’s all that will be keeping subscribers for 3rd Quarter. Hype was what got players to return after a mediocre MoP. But can they do it again? A lot was said at BlizzCon 2013, and a lot was not followed thru on.

    I think tomorrow’s announcement will be huge, maybe even a spectacle. I am interested to see what they present after listening to community and coming with something exciting to say. Also interested in seeing how a City full of Germans and bad bier responds to this announcement. Why does this need to be a spectacle? Because they have given up on Draenor, hype, trust and goodwill is all Blizz has to stretch what is 5 weeks of content out side of raiding 6 months to a year.

    What’s killing WoW? Old age, and being owned by Activision. “Games as a Service” is killing customer satisfaction industry wide. WoW was the original model for this continued new content for continued payment. But when Activision can publish Destiny completely empty with content to follow, parsed out for separate payments, it affects how the market their other products. Why finish an expansion when it’s the norm to fix it after release. Why release new content for free when we charge for it. Times have changed.

    1. Having another option is huge. A great many people keep playing wow because there are no other options but, as you said, now there are. So blizzard will need to work harder to keep them. They are not doing so. So in a way, yes, they are doing it to themselves. If they have the people it is their job to keep them.

      Personally for me it seems like myself and many from my guild are going to move to FF14. We have been talking about it for a long time and the thing that always kept any of us from leaving is we do not know people there. But now that there are a bunch, as in 7 or 8 of us, all thinking of moving on at the same time, we might actually end up doing that.

      We all hate leaving this history behind. We all still want to play. We all still feel there is something worth being here to play. But we also all think that we can not expect blizzard to work to keep us and that is why we are considering a move.

      So see, sure there is another option now, a very good one at that, but it is still blizzard fault for letting us go. If we do ever actually go. So while it is true you need to give some credit to FF14 for giving us a place to go to, it is still 100% blizzards fault for making us want to go there.

      Let me answer your rhetorical questions, as I know they were not really intended to be answered.

      "Why finish an expansion when it’s the norm to fix it after release."

      Because you go from 10M players to 5.6M players in a short time. That is why.

  14. @Rick Hardman: Your last sentence immediately made me think of this part of the WoD Cinematic:

    I honestly think Blizzard can right this wrong. But they have only this coming expansion to do it. I am willing to let WoD be Blizzard's persistent Beta - one in which they tried several things out, saw what worked, learned from what didn't. I'm willing to give them this one "mulligan" - but they can't have another WoD or they will lose me and hundreds of thousands (Millions?) more.

    While I don't consider myself a "fan boy", I do think Blizzard has the ability and time to prove themselves to their loyal fans and win back those that they lost - but again, that ALL hinges on this next expansion. I also believe that the Activision acquisition of Blizzard played a large part in how and why WoD was developed and release as it was. I think Activision's influence is largely responsible for WoD's failure. I sincerely hope that the outcome of WoD has given Blizzard Executives, Developers and Designers the ammunition they needed to tell Activision to play hide and go f**k themselves - or at the very least, tell Activision, "go sit in the corner... we'll take it from here".

    I found this statement posted on VERY interesting: "They hope to increase the pace of new expansions and release high-quality content, and to this end, they are continuing to grow the development team." To this I say: "If you have great content that is repeatable and fun at the same time, there is no need to "increase the pace of new expansions"."

    1. Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't Blizzard blow the horn that its development team was the largest it had ever been during the run-up to WoD? If true, then this expansive team turned out an unfinished product and almost no new material during the life (or at least to-date) of the expansion. This doesn't exactly make me trust their efforts, if not their motivation.

      Activision is part of the problem. They come from a very different place than Blizzard did. As the owner, surely they help dictate the culture. I was hoping that Blizzard would resist successfully given their own epic status in the gaming industry. That doesn't seem to have happened and perhaps Blizzard was ripe for corruption given its own internal changes?

    2. My theory (get your tin foil hat at the ready) is this. WoD was already largely designed and was much different and had more content than it does now. Then "Lack o' Vision" (as I have referred to them ever since CoD4) came along and had them change damn near everything to fit their "CoD product launch" style. This resulted in the delay of WoD, the loss of content that was planned to be implemented and (tin foil hats on now) likely led to Greg Street leaving Blizzard because he did not agree with the design initiatives that Lack o' Vision was forcing Blizzard to comply with. I believe Greg saw where all of this was going and no longer wanted his name associated with it and would not participate beyond what he was contractually obligated to perform.

      I believe Lack o' Vision has had a far stronger influence on WoW than anyone is willing to admit. That is the part that bothers me most. I would like to see Blizzard get the funding to buy out their part and return to building great games under their own leadership and not that of Lack o' Vision, but perhaps that is an unrealistic vision (see what I did there?).

      Anyways, here's hoping they get it right this time. It really is their last chance in my opinion.

    3. I'm not usually one for conspiracy theories, but it did seem like Ghostcrawler nailed the timing to bail on WoW for greener pastures.


  15. @Chris D. Mitchell

    Ouch I guess that where that came from, funny how things scan sit in the back of you mind like that, and come out sounding like something original.

    Yes, but its no longer as simple as just winning them back. There are 3.5 million players on guild wars 2 and 4 million in final fantasy 14. If they want a player to come back now they will likely need to lure them away form a competitor.

    I think the new yearly content is to retain audience interest, but I don't think its from a MMO perspective I think its bleeding over from Activision in general. DLC is now sold on day one, because market analysis has shown that a revisit to content does not sell well. What does sell well is content either cut from the game, or developed separately by a parallel team available on release when interest is highest.

    That's why WoW has the biggest development team in its history. So when a patch comes out new store items are available for players to purchase. Maybe, real money content does not come at the cost of in game content, but I can guarantee this. It did not take 200 people on the development team 8 months to make 6.2 like they claim.

    They may also be looking to the east, where subscribers pay by the hour. More frequent fresh content is actually more profitable then selling broken promises in the west. That said I don't think Activision is butting out any time soon, this stunt at GamesCom has their stink all over it.
    70% of all profit growth for the company comes from "player services" an as the player base shrinks I would imagine more and more resources to be thrown in that direction.

  16. I'm not sure that Blizz can pull the thing around again. Actually I'd bet within the next 9 months they'll run the ship even more underwater :P

    It has been indicated here by some commenters - WHY DO YOU LIKE TO PLAY WoW, if there are so many complaints? What is holding you back in the game. Why do you even consider REPEATING content over and over to be fun?

    I say - because there are friends in the game! Playing with friends is fun, no matter what the game is about. And there is also some fun in showing off your rare riding mount to strangers going "oooooooooh". But mostly it's friends.

    When I started back in Vanilla (about 4 months before BC started) I distinctly remember the moment the game caught me. When - for the first time (at level 7 or so) - grouped up with a complete stranger and we blasted our way through the Furbolg infested cave. And no matter which content, open world, dungeons, and later raids - the effect of group game was always there throughout vanilla.

    Since then a long time went by, and I repeatedly failed to duplicate the experience. For 2 reasons: not enough players during leveling, and no need to ask for help either!

    WoW became a fast track to max level, then with LFD and LFR a fast track to the "end", but without social bonds why stay in the game? To repeat the same content over and over again? The graphics are not so fantastic, PvP is hardly balanced, and most people hate repeated gameplay, Garrisonville I can play for free on facebook....

    Blizz painted themselves into a corner. There is no way anyone can create content (without repeats) faster then the userbase can plough through it - especially if the "Rewards" wait always at the end of the questline, so the faster I kill the mobs the better....

    The only way to break free is to follow FFXIV example, and create "wow reborn".

    + cut back to lvl 60
    + ensure lvl 50 to 60 can "the latest expansion", questing in the other expansion is not necessary to reach max
    + create special events lasting weeks that entice you to visit old expansions - you'll never run out of content
    + ensure there is a reason for everyone to revisit lvl 1-50 content on a new or scaled character
    + create rewards for good social behavior
    + cut back the number of servers
    + allow "space" as part of the name
    + give a bonus to a group formed via chat
    + award valor for "time played" - no matter if you did quests, dungeons or fishing - as long as you are active in the game you are rewarded (yes, it can be abused - so what?)
    + make things take longer
    + balance time invest and reward - finishing a hardcore dungeon after 10 wipes should give you a better reward (will it be abused, sure - so what?)

    but none of that will happen - we'll see them pushing out half finished and overpriced content that will only last weeks. Subscription numbers will rise and fall like a heartbeat near flatline, but the game we originally learned to love will be gone

    Rauxis, chosen of CAT

  17. I'm sad to see subs drop. Like you I also use my blogging to fill in time and that probably keeps me going in WoW too. I feel sad that the community clamoured for flying and it will be coming yet subs continue to drop - does this mean we shouldn't ask for anything because even if we get it, sales are not boosted anyway? More likely that it was too late, and people already were lost to more shiny other games.

    I like Rauxis' idea of WoW reborn. The game does need to be invigorated and if I knew the answer to how to do that - I'd probably be working for Blizzard.