Thursday, May 9, 2013

1.3 Million Subscribers Lost: Do You Know Why?

In the most recent report we found out that warcraft has lost 1.3 million subscribers.  That is no number to just throw away as many do.  They say things like, they still have more players than any other game of its type, it means nothing or it means the game is dying.  One way or another, it is just people making comments fueled by their own personal opinions.   If you are happy with the game, it means nothing.  If you are not, the game is dying.  No matter which camp you are in it might help you to understand why they are losing subscribers and I am here to help those that do not understand the reason behind the loss.

It is actually rather simple.  Please move on.  Some get bored with the game.  Some move on to another game.  Some stop playing games.  Some just do not have the time any longer.  Some don't have the extra cash for a subscription game.  Whatever the reason, people move on.

Warcraft has always been losing subscribers.  Even during the heyday of BC when they first saw a huge growth spurt to wrath when their continued success made it seem like they could do nothing wrong all the way up to the high that carried over from wrath into a huge release for cataclysm before things started to go south.

The thing is that even when the game was growing it was losing subscribers every day of the week.  While I could never get any actual numbers even if I looked, as these types of things are not released, I would be willing to bet that even during the growth spurt when their reports said they gained 500,000 new subscribers they has lost another 750,000 during that same time frame.  The thing is, they did not actually gain 500,000 subscribers, they gained 1.25 million, so you never see that they lost 750,000 subscribers, but they most likely did.  And that was during the good times.

Games will always lose players, it is the nature of the beast.  The issue is more to try and drag new people in to cover up those losses and that is where blizzard has been failing.  They have not been failing because they are losing players.  That is part of the equation.  You will always lose players.  They are failing because they are not getting new ones to replace the old ones.

Seeing that 1.3M number yesterday made me read it a lot differently than most.  I did not see it as blizzard lost 1.3M subscribers.  I saw it as they probably lost 2M subscribers and only enticed 700,000 more to join.  Yes, I have an odd perspective about things sometimes but I don't think that would be too far from the truth.  Even if it is all guess work on my part of course.

So now you know why blizzard lost those 1.3M subscribers.  Because people leave, it is natural.

So on to our next topic, how do you lower those leaving, if you can.  And more importantly, how do you bring new people in?

You can do everything in your power to keep people from leaving.  You can get it all the way down to only 1 person left the game and they only lost 1 subscriber.  And someone will always leave, that is non-negotiable.  But unless you bring new people in there is only one place to go, down.

For warcraft to once again see positive momentum there are a few things they need to address.

1) How to retain players.
- Thus lowering the losses they do have control over.
2) How to get people to return.
- Using old numbers to seem like new numbers with repeat customers.
3) How to get new people to play.
- New blood means new numbers and new chances for expansion subscription wise.

I have ideas for helping with the #1 and # 3 issue but I am not so sure about the # 2 issue.  If someone stopped playing for time, money or other reasons you might be able to get them to return but if they stop playing because they no longer liked the game or found something they like more, you are not getting them back, it is just that black and white really.

Stop the Bleeding:

That has to be step one for warcraft to stop these downward numbers.  You can not keep people that leave for various reasons that are not game related but you can stop the ones that do leave for game related reasons.  Step one to doing that is to make the game more friendly for the players that play it.

I am not talking me, the person that blogs about the game or you, the person that would read a blog from some strange person you do not even know.  We are the minority.  We are the few and far between.  If every single person like us up and quit the game this very second I would be surprised if our mass exodus even showed up as a blip on their radar.

I am talking about the average player.  The one that does not look outside of the game for information.  The one that does not have deadly boss mods or something similar.  They one that can't beat my auto shooting hunter in random content.  I am talking about the average player.  The 80%.

Lets face it, the game is not casual friendly for the 80%.  The people that do not seek out information on their own.  Would they know that the AC quartermaster is under the main city?  Or even where to do the AC dailies if they never stumbled across the person offering the lead in quest?  How about the GL quartermaster on that extended circle by the palace, would they ever even notice he was there so they can buy gear from him?  Sure the klaxxi and shado-pan quarter masters are simple enough to find, but what about doing shado-pan dailies, would they know they needed golden lotus to revered before they could do them (soon to change) or that they even had any to begin with because they did not see any when they were there.

How about that guy that sold gear from all the factions all nicely put together behind the temple in townlong.  If you had not stumbled across him and been lucky enough to notice who he was you would never know there was a place you could get everything.  One stop shopping if you will.  What about those PvP vendors hidden on the wall.  At least the shado-pan guy you had a quest to go somewhat near him and might, repeat might, have noticed him.  There was nothing that ever sent you anywhere near the PvP vendors on the wall.  Without outside resources would the average person that likes PvP even know there were new PvP pieces besides the few they saw listed up on the auction house?

Speaking of crafting.  How would the average player know they needed to craft stuff, imperial silk for example, to learn the new crafting recipes.  If they did not have any use for the silk they would not make any and because of that they might not ever notice they can learn patterns from doing that.

The game is not very friendly for the average player.  I can go on and on for pages if I wanted to on things that just do not make sense and would be harder for the non reader to find.  The game is very unfriendly to the 80% and those are the ones they need to keep. 

Those are the ones that do not ask for much.  Me and you might say we want this ability fixed, we want this boss buffed or nerfed, we want this to happen or that to happen, we would like to see this added or that removed.  The 80% just want to play and have a good time.  They do not care like we do, they are not obsessed gaming freaks like we are.  They just want to play, get some new gear once in awhile and kill a few internet dragons without much fuss or muss.  And I don't see anything wrong with that. 

In fact, I wish they could all get what they want because if that 80% all up and quit blizzard would not have the money to keep making content for the 20% like us readers out there that consume content quickly and keep asking for more.  Thank you 80%, please keep playing.  And blizzard, please make some efforts to keep them playing.

Then there are the other ones that do read but really do not care to do anything advanced.  They know where things are, they know to craft something to learn patterns, they know all those little things that the 80% missed out on but they don't want to raid.  They want to play.  RP, work AH, level alts, just chill out and kill some stuff, achievement hunt for what they can get solo, etc.  There are lots of way to play that even the people that do read are feeling left out because of the way the gearing system is.  They might have done the first part because it was questing and usually those types of players do not mind questing.  So they had that gear.  But now, the 522 gear, they do not want to raid so their personal progression has hit a road block.  That is bad design.

Everyone playing the game from high end to low end needs to feel like they are advancing.  If they stop feeling as if they are advancing, they lose interest and start to think, why play.  Gear advancement is all those people have once they hit 90.  If they do not want to raid, there is no advancement any more and despite the fact this is the absolute best expansion for thing we can do with so much of it out there, they hit their wall and get bored and leave.

They need to continue to let people get gear without forcing them to do a certain type of content.  It is fine to have to PvP to get PvP gear.  What would not non PvPer need with it anyway and doing their PvP gets them their gear so it fits in perfect symmetry.  But it is not fine to have to raid to get PvE gear.  It is not raid gear, raid gear drops from raids.  It is PvE gear.  It should be available to all PvEer.

They can easily stop some of the bleeding by making the game more user friendly. By making it so even the most relaxed of casual players can still constantly feel like their character is progressing.  If the 80% hit a road block they will not keep working on it, they will find something else to do somewhere else.  They are not progression raiders that will wipe 100 times when they see something they can not do in their efforts to do it.  They just want to play, they do not want to have everything be a task.

Bring Back the Pug:

Bring back 10 and 25 man lock out and make the first half of the raid bosses much easier for pug purposes and it will really help new players and non raiders that want to feel as if they were really part of the bigger game.  Another side effect of pugs rolling all the time is that those people that do not have time to join in a normal raid team but have the skills for it can actually raid the real raid instead of being forced to have the horrible LFR experience as their only option to see raiding content.

Even the worst of bad pug experiences are better than most LFR runs.  Lets face it, as much as people like to consider the LFR raiding it is not, nor should it be.  It is simple loot collection for some, content viewing for others, and a trapped audience you can troll for others.  Pugging is where it is at.  It creates server community.  It gets people to meet other people, it builds guilds, it is the single most positive community building tool in the game.  Sure, it can be just as horrible as an LFR run from time to time but even at a 50/50 success rate for an organized pug, it is better than no pugs at all.

With this current raid, 12 bosses, they could easily make the first 6 piss easy so even a poorly skilled pug can handle it.  Perhaps even not much harder than the LFR in terms of ease.  This will create a much more active community and I don't know about you but those few times I really thought of quitting the game the main reason I didn't was because I liked the people I played with.  People whom I never would have met if it were not for pugging.

The guild I am in I landed in while pugging 5 mans.  For those new to the game, there was no such thing as a dungeon finder.  You wanted to run a dungeon you sat in trade and assembled your group.  It was a bitch, I will not lie.  I went days and even a full week sometimes without ever doing a dungeon because I could not find a group.  But when I did find a group I made friends.  Friends I still have today.  Those are the people that kept me from quitting the game when I was feeling down on it back in cataclysm and was on the edge one simple push from quitting.

If I had never met those people, never found my gaming family and felt like I was part of a team when I was feeling like quitting in cataclysm I too would just be a statistic of one of the many that left during last expansion.  Those people kept me in the game, those people I met while pugging.

Pugs are good for the game.  10 and 25 man lock outs are good for pugging.  Easier early bosses as in so easy and orc can do it are good for pugging.  Bring back the pug and that will surely stop some of the bleeding.

New Recruits:

As far as new players go the single most powerful advertising tools are the people that play the game.  If they talk about the hell of gearing up do you think someone new will want to come play the game?  The new player already has what appears to be the very daunting task of amassing 90 levels to start out with.  The last thing they need to see when they are thinking of starting the game is post after post after post of how hard it is to gear up.

Speaking of post after post.  How about the community managers start, you know, doing something.  Negativity has a way of spreading.  Remove the trolls from the forums.  They only fester negativity.  Do your F'N job.  I swear in the dozens of online games I have played the warcraft forums have to be the worst, or near the worst I have ever seen. /rant

Word of mouth also goes for people telling others about the game.  What would you tell them?  I know what I tell them.  This is a fantastic expansion and I am loving it but gearing up alts is a pain in the ass.  I feel sorry for you when you hit 90 because there is no catch up mechanic in the game any more.

Whereas last expansion and the expansion before I could have said, when you hit max level I'll carry you thought some heroics on my tank and we can get you geared and in one weekend they would be all ready to go in last tiers gear for justice points and have a nice start on this tiers gear by being capped on valor.  Thank you catch up mechanic.

90 levels is a lot to look at from the outside.  But 90 levels and then a grind to gear up that takes longer than leveling those 90 levels did is a bit too much for the new player.  Even more so in today's society where everyone wants everything now.  The least blizzard could do it make it more causal, new and alt friendly to gear up.

Anything that is not current should be super easy to attain.  As in, you should be able to gear yourself up in all last tiers gear in one weekend if you were willing to do enough dungeons to get all the justice to buy it.  You should not need reputation for it and you surely should not need valor for it.  It is old gear and the grind style of game play for old, but necessary, items just does not work well for the 80% and that will scare off many of the new players once they notice it.

End Note:

Warcraft is always losing subscribers.  It is going to happen, it has always happened and even when that first huge burst of subscribers came in when BC was released they lost customers, but because they gained more than they lost you never noticed them leave.  We just notice it now because they are not getting new subscribers to replace those leaving.

They need to work on trying to retain the ones they can, entice the ones that left that can be convinced to come back and most importantly, get new blood into the game.  And as we see, with this fantastic expansion (with exception of the non friendly approach to alts and new players) they still can not hold on to players with a model that pushes the grind.  I like to grind.  I also like to write and read about the game.  The 80% doesn't like to grind or read.  The game needs to be designed for them if they want to boost those numbers up.

They will always lose customers.  They just need to work on getting the number of new ones up again so we don't see those losses.  Just like it used to be.  When we saw all those gains, that is all that was, the number of new players were higher than the ones they lost.  They will always been losing players and sometimes in high numbers.  It was the fact the new players outnumbered them that we never noticed it.  There are not players entering the game so we see it now.

How would you bring new players into the game?


  1. glad to see the soap box dusted off and being used. Nice post. Now if only blizzard would read it.

    stay frosty...

    1. Not preaching, just informing. ;)

    2. oh, I think you may have misunderstood. You haven't been posting for a while and now it's like every day - nice to see that. :D

      Also, I did not know about those areas with the vendors. Never knew about the imperial silk, because I don't have a tailor. Nor did I know that in Litchking, you need to do a quest to be able to get tons more of frost cloth, same for ember silk, I believe. Yup, going to level a tailor. BS is almost done (JuWun needs to get to the Panda city to learn a damned recipe to get to 600).

      I just muddle thru on a semi-daily basis.

      stay frosty...

  2. I've only skimmed this so far (I'll give it a better read later) but two comments. Minor clarification, I believe there's now an icon on the map for the vendors at the temple as well as the PvP vendors. Those were added a while back.

    Second point is the bigger one... we have no idea how many players in the game actually care about gear. You seem to make the assumption early that everyone playing the game cares about gear to at least some degree... they want better gear, they want to kill dragons, they want to know what to spend their VP on, etc. They're aware of the existence of all of these things and are concerned that they don't know about them. I believe your premise is wrong more than it's right.

    A bit of history about me, former noob.

    I played WoW back in BC as a single-player game. Literally, I'm not sure I grouped for anything. I leveled two toons to 70. I probably stepped into an instance once, got my ass handed to me, figured that was something I wasn't ready for and went back to my single-player game. I wasn't in a guild... had no interest in people talking to me during my enjoyable single-player game experience.

    I enjoyed the hell out of WoW for quite a while.

    Once my second toon was maxed I decided to do a bit of PvP... did some BGs on my hunter. Wasn't very good, didn't enjoy it much, stopped PvPing (and haven't really done it since).

    Wasn't really aware of anything else to do and didn't want to level another toon so I took a break from the game with the intention of coming back for Wrath (it had been announced by then), it sounded like fun.

    Came back for Wrath, did the same thing I'd done before... leveled another toon to get back into the rhythm, except this time someone whispered me who was leveling in the same zone as me and asked if I wanted to team up. Sure, why not, things will probably die faster. We chatted as we quested and after a couple of hours I was invited into their guild. Eh... wasn't really looking for a guild but why not.

    Later, after getting to max level, that led to my druid (my guilded toon, the one I'd been leveling) being asked to come into one of their Naxx runs as quest-geared off-tank (so yeah, my first ever group content in WoW was tanking in Naxx... I was the one who got to kite the insect around the outside of the room... that wasn't diving into the deep end at ALL... "What's threat? Add-ons? Huh?"). Got a bit of a taste for this raiding thing (it's like team sports, but I get to sit down while playing!) and found out about 5-mans at that point. Everything I've done in the game since then basically started with that one Naxx run invitation. I was interested so I figured it out with the help of my new friends.

    My point? Things like instances, dragons, VPs... hell, group content in general... was of zero importance to me when I played in BC. You don't miss what you don't know exists, it's as simple as that. If I hadn't had that random group invite for questing from that one person I might never have joined a guild, been invited into Naxx and ended up where I am today. And I might have been happier, it's hard to tell. Either way, though, I wasn't at all unhappy when I wasn't participating in group content, or even gearing up. Gear was nice but it was something I just got as I played, it wasn't something I worried about getting.

    I just want to make the point that it's dangerous to make the assumption that people who play for fun... who do dailies not because they give VP and lesser tokens and rep, but do them because they're NEW QUEST CONTENT... actually care about any of that other stuff. Some do, sure, but if they care, they'll do what needs to be done to participate... just being in a guild makes figuring that stuff out hugely easier. Everyone has to start somewhere and there's satisfaction in figuring something out that Blizz doesn't just hand to you on a platter.

    More later.

    1. The icon has been there for a while, but it does not show on my screen.

      If you have not discovered the area, it does not show. If you are not looking in the right place to see it, you can miss it. If you shrink the map they will not show, even if you are looking dead at them. (my case)

      You might have no idea how many players care about gear but I do. Every single player that plays the game cares about personal progression. Absolutely every one. Otherwise everyone would still be wandering around in starter gear at level 1.

      Games like this teach you about gear progression early on so you know that is how you advance. That is why quest rewards are gear while leveling and not just some gold. It is the game teaching you the gear treadmill as progression early on for everyone to learn.

      The entire concept of games like these is to progress in one way or another. Be it level or gear. Once you feel you are not advancing, you stop playing. That is where gear comes in.

      So yes, I do know who gear matters to. Everyone, even the ones that don't admit it.

      The degree of how much it matters however is different to all. Some people are content in all quest gear or PvP gear, I am happy with my 522s while someone else would feel like a failure without 535s. To each our own, but to all of us no matter where we fit, what we wear does matter.

      I agree that you do not miss what you do not know is there. You are 100% correct and if it were not for the fact that I read stuff online I would have never known they were there either.

      But now, everyone knows. The dungeon finder tells them it is there. It even tells them they need more gear to do higher ones. Which goes back to what I said, gear is the driving force for everyone in the game.

      Your path seems to be similar to mine except I never even made it to 50 in BC and actually quit the game back then. Otherwise it seems like a lot of what you said worked out like it did for me as well.

    2. I just don't agree with you on this one. You don't advance from gear in the early game, you advance from XP! The only impact that gear has is to allow you to kill things a bit faster... the advancement is made from the kill, not from getting a gear drop, getting a blue or purple world drop doesn't get you +5 levels. Playing matters, not acquiring.

      My gaming background goes back a long way and I've played most of the single-player RPGs worth playing over the years. Those games are all about plot and quests. Gearing up happens but it isn't a goal in itself because there isn't really a way to speed up the process... you get what drops or you get whatever rewards you're given. There's no AH to buy from and there are generally limited vendor options that are very constrained by the amount of gold you can reasonably collect. I'm generalizing, of course, other games have so much gold you can buy anything you want but the vendor gear in those typically isn't worth buying.


      Gear was important in those games, sure, but only in that you needed good enough gear &/or good enough skill to beat the next mob you had to kill. I wouldn't brag to friends about a great new weapon that I got.

      So, when I first started playing WoW, that was my mindset... plot and questing, picking up gear as I went in order to increase my power so I could kill the higher-level mobs in a new zone. That was it. I had no idea where the BC gear vendors even were... hell, I still have to look it up to turn in tokens when I run a retro raid. It just didn't matter to me. Still wouldn't, if I wasn't running content that actually requires the gear.

      Personal power wasn't the goal, it was just something that increased slowly through the act of playing the game.

      That hasn't changed... you play the game, in almost any way, and your character will slowly improve in a way that makes sense or will at least hit a cap where they have all the gear they can get from the content they're running, in which case they don't need more gear.

      What's changed is that gear acquisition has now become a goal in itself for some people. Not for any real PURPOSE, necessarily, just to have it. Call it ePeen, call it bragging rights, call it personal satisfaction, call it an OCD requirement, whatever it is, it's now a thing for some people. There may have been a few back in the day, or in single-player RPGs, but nowhere near as many.

      That's what I think Blizzard is struggling with, and where I tend to side with Blizzard. I don't consider gear a goal, I just consider it to be part of the game... you play the game, you get gear, that lets you play more of the game, etc. The idea of being able to fully kit out a toon without actually PLAYING it, and the lack of that ability being a PROBLEM, disturbs me more than a bit. You shouldn't expect to get gear from playing with your farm, or from pet battles, or for nothing. You should expect to get gear from raiding (LFR included) or running instances, or PvP, or to a lesser extent, dailies. That's how it IS, though. Playing your farm, though, will give you more plots, making you "better" at it. Doing pet battles will level your pets, making you/them "better" at it. Appropriate results based on gameplay choices. When I hit a mob with a sword in Skyrim, it doesn't increase my archery skill.

      Alright, side track over, back to my main point in the follow-up.

    3. Without actual info in terms of how actual players are actually playing, it's hard to say whether Blizzard is giving the players what they're looking for or not. Since they have 100% better access to that info than we do), I have to make the assumption that they are giving people what they, as a whole, want. I mean, look at it the other way, they can do whatever they want, if it was that simple to "fix", why wouldn't they? Their goal is to get new players and keep the ones they have, if your solutions were the right ones, wouldn't they have DONE it already? Let people gear up in a weekend, then park the toon since running LFR sucks, just gonna sit here polishing my T15. How's that better?

      Your premise is 100% correct, though, subscription numbers are a mix of incoming and outgoing. WoW has been on the long tail portion of its lifespan since, probably, mid-Wrath... by then, most people who would have had any interest in playing WoW already had, or had decided not to. I suspect most upticks these days are due to re-subs, not actually new players. They just delay the slow decline in numbers, though, they won't overcome it. Slowly, over years, the game population will continue to decline.

      Blizzard has arguably overdone the "take it slow" thing in MoP, both in-game and in public comments, it's basically the theme of the expansion, but they've taken a significant amount of abuse for that message despite the fact that I think it's entirely appropriate. They've constantly talked about content being optional just to have folks step up and say it isn't ACTUALLY optional. How do you argue against that? "Yes it is." "No it isn't." That gets old in a hurry.

      Getting real for a minute here, apologies, but I think it's a valid comparison.

      This situation is, more or less, the virtual equivalent of the real world debt crises around the world... people (and countries) feeling like they're entitled to more than they can actually afford and going into huge debt because of it. The difference is that WoW doesn't HAVE a debt mechanic so people just complain that they can't have everything they want RIGHT NOW. Not sure what Blizzard can do about the current sense of entitlement that has permeated society.

      I'm going to leave it there, we just seem to have a basic philosophical difference on this one that can't be bridged. I just think my philosophy is more in line with the one Blizz has, yours is more in line with the vocal minority in-game. Neither is wrong, I just don't think there's anything Blizz can do to satisfy your group.

      I do miss pugging (the idea more than the execution, I've had a lot more failed pugs over the years than LFR runs) but I think it's gone for good on most servers, LFR has given folks a skewed version of the skill level required to raid and you'd spend way too much time replacing people who don't hold up. I also generally prefer the raid model of somewhat easier bosses to start getting progressively harder, I think, but psychologically I think it probably makes more sense to alternate easier and harder bosses, pretty much how ToT is set up. You finally get a harder boss down, then get a bit of a break on the next one, etc. Otherwise, you're downing a new boss every run for the first week or two, then hit progressively thicker walls for the rest of the tier... that's not a lot of fun in the latter stages, downing a boss and knowing that the next one's going to take you even longer.

    4. As a final comment on this topic, I think we'll both find a lot to agree with in this post:

      My only quibble with #2 is that while I don't think anyone really enjoys re-doing rep grinds, there are people out there who enjoy the dailies. Decouple the dailies from the rep and everyone should be happy.

    5. ''Without actual info in terms of how actual players are actually playing, it's hard to say whether Blizzard is giving the players what they're looking for or not. Since they have 100% better access to that info than we do), I have to make the assumption that they are giving people what they, as a whole, want'

      Given that there are rarely, if ever, full polls etc. (and those of course have their own flaws as well), the basic fallacy at play with Blizz is that they equate what players do with what players want.

      Twinking is perhaps the simplest example: you grind your behind off, once, in order to escape the Gear grind that goes on forever.

      Now, if instead of saying 'we know what you like to do, this is fun' Blizz said 'we know what you will do, wether it is fun or not', they'd be both more accurate and honest (and no doubt less infuriating to some).

    6. Blizzard might have all that information at their finger tips but it is how they interpret it that is the real issue.

      Like when they nerfed the doors on horridon normal because a lot of guilds were having issues they nerfed the life of the adds. Then they needed to nerf the life of the adds a second time. Then they needed to nerf the life of the adds a third time.

      Yet roughly 50% of all guilds are still stuck right there all because they are reading their information wrong. They can lower the life of the adds a forth time if they want, but that was never the problem. It is the second wave when two of the dangerous guys come out that is stopping the casual guilds. Make it only one of them, make their cast take 5 seconds, make it do less damage, etc.

      Just because they had the information people were stuck there mean absolutely nothing when they do not understand why they where stuck there.

      They can collect all the information they like but without having someone that knows how to read it, it means nothing.

  3. I think what’s also in play here is that the game is 10 years ol MMO's are older than that. My game dev friend and I were just talking about this. The people that want to play a MMO are playing one. The people that may want to play one have tried one and the people that aren’t interested have already decided they aren’t interested. You’re absolutely right that warcraft has always lost player but now there are just fewer player out there in the market that want to play. People are burned out on MMO’s and are floundering for the next big awe moment. Stubborn has a great article up about awe that really pertains to this too.

    1. That is so very true. The genre is old and needs a new hook. There is also a lot more out there to vie for the attention of the player. Better graphics, better player vs player system, free game play, etc.

      So they can never completely stop the bleeding, but I believe they can slow it down.

      Will they ever reach the numbers they had once before? Nope. Never, and I will bet on it. As you mentioned, there are not enough people to get you there any more.

  4. there are some sites out there tracking numbers - and if you look at the SLOPE of numbers you'll see a very nice correlation with expansion. Vanilla had the best rates, subscriber numbers increasing steadily, BC numbers still climbed but at a slower rate. LK created a flat plateau. Since then it's trending downward.

    I attribute this mostly to 2 factors

    a) rising entry costs (or why should I have to buy vanilla + BC + LK if I only play Cata....)
    b) in vanilla the game lived because of the community. LFD destroyed it. And there is no going back. There is a big difference between leaving a game or leaving friends. Today ... you are simply leaving a game that costs a lot

    Rauxis, chosen of CAT

    1. The entry cost is a huge thing. And the outside perspective that looks and says, I now need to gain 90 levels before I can start playing, that hurts too.

      The community is what keeps me playing, but that can not last forever. Most of the people I started playing with are gone. Actually. There is not one active player still playing that was around when I first raided.

  5. Of course, I agree that WoW is losing players all the time, that a loss of 1.3 mil is in fact a loss of a greater number partly compensated by some gains, and that because of this it makes a lot of sense to talk about how to attract people and not only how to retain them.

    I have to admit that the numbers surprised me. 1.3 mil in a single quarter is huge, China or not. I am absolutely sure the numbers will get better in the next three quarters, but, just as a thought experiment, if they don't, total loss per year will be 5.2 mil, and this will be a *catastrophe*.

    Losses of this scale will have an impact on the game, that's for sure. Eg, I can totally see queue times for BGs raising significantly (doubling?) in the end of this year.

    That said, I'd be at piece with WoW dying. It might not yet be time for this, but - I am fine with WoW slipping into obscurity and being replaced with something else, from Blizzard or not. Bring it on! :-)

    1. Mists is a great expansion in my mind but it goes to show you that even if something is good it can still be screwed up.

      The gearing issue, and the raiding issue, are huge this expansion and they are not doing a damn thing to address it.

      Nerf normal mode raids to the ground, break up 10 and 25 man again, and take away the reputation requirement for valor and I am sure it will stop some of the bleeding.

      They created this "everyone must raid" mentality, and then made it so most can't. It is their own fault.

  6. The way I see it, the main problem is that they can't help themselves but always push a singular play type.

    It wouldn't be a stretch to say that they merely replaced Cata's 'Raid-or-Die!' approach with 'RaidFinder-or-die', with Raid Finder incedentally having become another part of the Gear grind iso 'seeing Raid content for non-Raiders'.

    Crafting is in a slump (basically we're back to only those that don't need the Gear can make the Gear), levelling content is still exhibiting the same issues as Cata brought (with pre-cap PvP being a bigger mess than ever before) with extra 'spongeyness' added for Pandaria (still hit like wet towels, just backed up with a zillion health), the BG's people actually play the most (non-Rated) being infested with bots and people that just don't care anymore, and you can (and you did ;P) write whole books about how CRZ screws up the levelling experience esp. for newcomers who understandably don't have a clue how to react to it all.

    In fact you could write a whole book about how the game screws over newcomers more and more since Wrath especially (Heirlooms being a prime example, but it is up for debate how much fun it is to see literally everybody else running about with Titles and Dragon-mounts, too).

    90 levels to go + three box prices + subs before the putative 'real game' (whatever that means, if someone e.g has fun fishing in Ratchet who is is to say he isn't playing the game?) starts is also just not that attractive, especially with better designed games offering a fun experience sooner & cheaper.

    1. They pushed this everyone must raid mentality and then made normal mode raids hardcore lite. They did it to themselves.

      They tried to make everyone into something they were not. I mentioned some time ago about how only 7% of the max level characters raid, and even much less were actually decent at it.

      Why did they try to push everyone into it, when it was open for everyone and anyone could join, and then make it harder. If people were not doing it on their own when it was easier, and easier to gear up, why would do they do now that it is harder and harder to gear up?

      They really need to reassess their everyone must raid philosophy. If they are intent on that, they need to make some adjustments so everyone actually can raid.

  7. "Then there are the other ones that do read but really do not care to do anything advanced. They know where things are, they know to craft something to learn patterns, they know all those little things that the 80% missed out on but they don't want to raid. They want to play. RP, work AH, level alts, just chill out and kill some stuff, achievement hunt for what they can get solo, etc. There are lots of way to play that even the people that do read are feeling left out because of the way the gearing system is. They might have done the first part because it was questing and usually those types of players do not mind questing. So they had that gear. But now, the 522 gear, they do not want to raid so their personal progression has hit a road block. That is bad design."

    This was me. Inhouse trading empire on 10, then 11 alts. Moved toons from one side to the other, ran with some good folks, but really kinda hit the wall when I watched a set of Purples I spent 6 months grinding for turn into less than quest greens between Wrath and Cata. Cata was RNG on crafting alchemy, etc., but at least you could fly and it wasn't 60 million xp (more than all the levels between 1-87 combined...) w/ 27 mill hard freakin' slogged points for the last one.

    and once you hit 90 on your first one, a player like me knows that it is 10 more to go, and that is even if you don't try to work any of the factions for new crafting recipes. It is just one long grind after another to be able to even participate in instances, or holiday content. Shoot, at the rate they are going, it's going to be impossible to even just check off the old content dungeons solo.

    I won't lie and say it hasn't crossed my mind to bail, but then I get to watch 4-5 years of my spare time fade away

    1. A lot of people are right where you are and are sitting on the edge and thinking, should I just throw away 5 years of play, maybe it will get better.

      Sad part is, next report you might be part of those numbers. People can only hold on so long before they give up. More people are giving up a lot faster now. Oddly enough, that is because content is coming out faster so they are not seeing changes like like faster and they leave faster. At least that is how I see it.

      They need to start thinking about people like you because in the end, people like you are the bread and butter of this game. You are the numbers in mass. You are the ones that pay the bills. You matter. I just wish they could see they are losing people like you.