Thursday, May 7, 2015

2.9 Million Subscription Loss, What is Missing?

I am no big fan of this expansion thus far.  I've even taken multiple breaks thus far even if I left my subscription keep rolling but even I would have never thought they would lose so many subscribers so quickly.  Maybe a 2M loss, which is what I can say I was honestly hoping for as it might give them a wake up call, but a near 3 million loss is insane.

From a blizzard standpoint there is no reason to worry about the game.  They are still making as much money with 7.1 million subscriptions as they were with 10 million, or so they said, which I believe to be true.  So the game is in absolutely no danger of dying.  Sorry to spoil the fun for the doom sayers.  But that does not mean that they can not use this outrageously clear sign that they are doing something wrong, horribly wrong, with this expansion.

We all have our own opinions on what is missing.  Some might say that it is balance in PvP that is missing.  Some might say it is 10 man mythic raiding that is missing.  Some might say that professions not being what they used to is missing.  Some might say that it is the lack of dailies that are missing.  It could be a myriad of different things and that all depends on what we, as individuals, feel we would like to see in the game.

So I am going to say what I feel is missing, my own personal opinions on what could help the game get a boost and get moving in the right direction again.  If it is true, and like I said I believe it is, that the game is making as much money with 7.1 million subscribers as is was with 10 million wouldn't it make sense that if they could increase that number of subscribers they would increase their profits?  Being it is a business after all and profit is why they are in business seeing an increase in subscribers is good for them, and for us as players because that means we have more people to play with.  So here are my opinions of what I personally believe is missing.

1) Flying:

As I said originally there was absolutely no reason to remove this feature of the game and I still believe it is a reason why some people quit.  Looking at the posts on MMO-C there are a few people there that commented they quit because of no flying.  While I honestly do not believe that is the "only" reason they quit, I am sure it was a major contributing factor for them to mention it there as their reason on a forum where people usually get flamed for having opinions as such.  So yes, flying needs to be added back into the game.  There is no reason not to except for blizzard being stubborn for the stake of stubbornness and not wanting to admit they were wrong.

2) Dailies:

Love them or hate them, they are content.  I can not believe that blizzard couldn't add any daily hubs what so ever.  Was it really that hard to code in three of four quest givers with repeatable daily quests for each faction?  People could choose to get their reputation that way, use it as a way to make gold, or have it just for something to do, something to give them direction.

They could have even added a baggie at the end of each daily quest hub that could have given people assorted things as a motivator.  Some of your profession materials, maybe a pet or two rarely, some sorcerous elements, maybe even a savage blood. 

It would make the dailies worth doing if someone wanted to and had the time and it would give a direction for those people that are lost in their garrisons with nothing to do except for the grind fest apexis daily that most people really do not enjoy, because lets face it, most people are not insane like I am and they do not like grinds as I do.

3) Scenarios:

These were added last expansion and some people hated them but some people loved them.  Choice is a word we hear a lot and this became a choice.  Some people like myself used these to valor cap nice and quick near the end but some people genuinely liked doing them.  Either way, me doing it because I felt it was the most efficiency way to do what I wanted to do or them because they enjoyed doing them we were both left with the choice to do them, a choice that is lacking on many levels this expansion.  Just the same as the people that did not like them had the choice not to do them as there were more than enough other ways to get valor should that be what they seek if they did not like this format of game play.

Lets not even mention they were a very good way to tell the story in game instead of having to send us out to books, comics, or posts on the forums just to figure out what was going on in game.  And lets not mention the fact that in a world where damage dealers sometimes see 45 minute to and hour queue times it was a really nice way to have some fun quick small group content with no wait what so ever and this is something sorely missing this expansion.  No wait entertainment.  Between waiting in queue, waiting for raid, waiting to fill out a random raid, waiting for missions to finish, waiting and waiting and waiting the game could use a little jump right in and kill entertainment.

4) Reforging:

There is nothing less exciting than having a piece from mythic that is not an upgrade because you have a heroic warforged piece with a gem slot and two perfect stats on it and the mythic piece has your two worst stats on it.

They might have removed the "math" stats that people say they hated with reforging when they removed hit and expertise and made haste break points no longer a thing but that did not mean we did not need reforging any longer.  Blizzard made a mistake removing it.

Lets say that mythic piece is better than my heroic warforged one with a gem slot, it really doesn't seem so when the 691 has perfect stats and the 700 doesn't.  If anything it requires more "math" now than it had before.  I never recall looking to see if something was an upgrade as often as I do now because of situations like this.  Sometimes they are, sometimes they aren't.  It is a lot of math working and I thought they say they removed reforging to remove the need for math.

Having the ability to customize your stats was not a "bad" thing.  It was a good thing and it is a missed thing, at least for me.  Even more so now that the "math" has been removed from it.  Just make your worst stat into your best stat.  Easy peasy.  Really, who would not like that?

5) Valor / Justice:

This is the biggest, single most missed thing in the game right now.  So much is connected to it that I imagine that you do not even realize it.  Valor was a carrot, one we kept chasing each and every week.  It was a motivator, something this game is lacking at the moment.

For any game of this type the key to success is to keep up running the wheel and points did that.  Be it valor to get the weekly cap or justice when you wanted to convert it to honor or buy heirlooms.  Collecting points was a good motivator.  It gave content repeatability.  At the moment you can hit 100 and really have absolutely no reason to do dungeons except to start the ring quest line but with valor, and associated valor gear, for a fresh dinged character it would once again be worth doing them, ring or not.

A side effect of no valor is the queue time, do not tell me you have not noticed that everything seems to take longer to get into, at least for a damage dealer.  Heck, even on my healer yesterday it took me 15 minutes to get into a dungeon.  I do not think I have ever seen queue times this long save for maybe the tank queue the first few weeks the DS LFR came out.  Otherwise I am usually waiting forever, so long that I drop queue because I got bored and wanted to move over to another character.

This is a factor many people never noticed when they mentioned they were removing valor.  One I said would become a factor.  Not having valor and its associated gear invalidates content near instantly.  Even doing highmaul LFR on an alt feels like a waste when I have to go back there to collect stones.  I hate doing it.  Doesn't matter if it is easy, I still hate it with a passion.  This is why I am not doing it on alts.  It is a waste of my time.  Whereas with valor, at least if I was doing old and dated content that drops subpar gear based on current content I would have valor accumulate which in turn could be used, every 2 or 3 weeks, to buy myself a piece of current and relevant gear.

That consolation prize of valor and its ability to buy gear with it, current useful gear, meant that doing dungeons was worth it.  Doing old raids was worth it.  Doing content that you might otherwise just pass by was worth it.  It was a perfect carrot, it made the content repeatable.  Because even if you did not need anything from said content it was giving you some sort of currency that was useful, extremely useful depending on the level of raiding you do, and that made the content was repeatable.

If valor and justice were reintroduced to the game you would see queue times drop, substantially.  People like me would start playing alts again.  People that do not like to raid but do like to do dungeons from time to time would have more fun with faster queues and probably better groups.  Doing old raids just to cap would become a thing again.  Doing anything would become a thing again.  Valor creates replay value.  Something WoD doesn't have at all in its group content.

6) World Content:

Lets start with world bosses, you know those huge things that if you are questing there will scare the ever living crap out of you when you see them because they will squash you like a bug.  There was a time when they were a major event.  They dropped relevant gear.  They dropped PvP gear.  There were groups going for them all the time.  Now, not so much.  With crap gear drops and no PvP drops what so ever they are usually a barren wasteland.  About the only people you see doing them now are either 1) bored, 2) trying for the mount, 3) getting the pepe achievement, or 4) need the gear in that small window when people might actually need it.

World bosses are not enjoyable content any longer because they lost their carrot.  Gear was their carrot.  Their gear is completely irrelevant as soon as you can do the LFR for the most part which means they are irrelevant.  Increase the item level of the gear they drop to make it worth it for even heroic raiders to do them and have PvP conquest gear drop as well to entice others or work as a decent fall back for a gearing alt or a fresh 100 and you can turn these moldy dusty unused things into content again.

But world boss spawn points are not the only place the world is lacking in content.  Dailies could fit part of this but that was already mentioned, what else could?  Perhaps rares?  I know of many people who in mists had a lot of fun hunting rares.  The rares could drop pets, toys, gear (even if useless by that point) and a chance at a baggie.  I know people who hunted rares all night long, every single night.  Even if they only got one bag per 20 kills, they had fun doing it.

One of the biggest mistakes blizzard made this expansion is making all the rares a one time thing.  Once you kill them you are guaranteed to get whatever they drop.  Really?  This goes back to the replay value I mentioned earlier.  Did blizzard forget the bread and butter of these types of games is getting people to want to do the same thing over and over again?  Instead they changed it to once you did it, it is done forever and you can never do it again because there is absolutely no reason to.

They need to change back to the mists rare mob design.  One with 40 minute to and hour respawns, one that could drop goodie bags, one that could have a chance to drop other goodies, one that made you want to be out in the world killing them.  One with some replay value.

The same goes for the "pop up quests".  Why are they not weeklys?  It would have been a decent way for people to work their reputation doing them in each zone once a week.  Why is there no replay value with them, why are they one and done?  Same with events.  They could be weekly, like looting some treasure chests on the timeless island was a weekly, but no, that would make people want to do them each week, why would an MMO want people on doing stuff each week when they can have nearly 30% of them unsubscribe in one quarter instead?

So many things that could get people out in the world, so much world content out there to be done, and they added absolutely none of it.  Why is all of it missing?

End note:

I could go on with some more, but I have to leave something for everyone else to say and I've been long winded enough already.  Don't get me wrong, I am not one of those 2.9 million.  I might have taken breaks and I might be upset with the direction the game is going, but I still enjoy it from time to time when I do play.  There were some things about WoD that were done well and some ideas that could be done better in the future but have a lot of potential.  I'll write about those another day however.  Today we are here to talk about what is missing from WoD and I can sum that up with two things.

Choice and Replay Value.

That, in my opinion, is what WoD is missing, what is yours?


  1. A well written post, Grumpy. It perfectly answers what we might imagine a blue poster asking "How is this xpac not fun?"

    But I am saddened by the fact that there have been any number of such clear and thoughtful posts -- by you and others -- since launch of WoD, and there have been no meaningful changes. Unfortunately, I think this fact argues for the "bottom line only" scenario you describe. Blizz is not losing money, so why change anything?

    Possibly if they lose another 3 million this quarter, there will be meaningful changes. However, the tokens could offset any cash loss from dropped subs by what amounts to a 33% monthly rate hike for some number of remaining players. Even if fewer players are willing to buy game time for gold, Blizz could keep the extra cash flowing by buying up the tokens themselves, thereby directly selling gold albeit secretly.

    1. Sadly I think that is what it comes around to as well. As long as they are not seeing loses to revenue they will be feel it necessary to make and hard and fast changes.

      As I mentioned, even if they are not losing anything I think they should look into making some changes as it would mean more profit. I can't see how a company, any company, would turn away profit.

      Most people want the "business" end to stay out of the game but right now that is what we need. We need the "business" end to come in and say, make some changes so we can make more money.

  2. From my personal experience, I know of players that had stopped playing during Panda, but came back for the expansion. Using a game-time card, they committed to WoD for 3-months. Unfortunately, the game did not pull them back in, and let the game-time expire.

    The game is old. Long time players are bored with everything in general. Expac was enough to pull them back in, but not different enough to keep them going.

    My friend has listed a dozen other games that he'd rather be playing than WoW. Which means, Dying Light co-op for this warlock a nights each month.

    1. "different" and "the same" are two ways they can go. For some they might want something different, but I think the numbers show that different is not working here. I think more of the same, as in the same as what was working, might be just want the doctor ordered for the game.

      We change, the game changes, but "big" changes from either us or it means number changes. As in 2.9 million subscribers lost.

  3. Long post inc:

    I am one of those people who resubbed to WoW when WoD came out. I've played this game more on than off since around Feb 06, and have oscillated between fairly hardcore and super casual. MoP was the most casual I have ever been, playing exclusively LFR and solo/small group content. I didn't do all my dailies every day when MoP launched and I never bothered to cap valor, but I always had something I was interested in doing. It wasn't until a few months after SoO came out that I felt there was nothing left to keep me occupied. That was more than a year after MoP launched, and I considered that year a fun and entertaining period of time.

    When WoD was announced, my initial reaction was disbelief. I remember some of the details being leaked on MMOC and dismissing them without a second thought, because surely the time traveling orc expansion had to be the most stupidly absurd premise I'd yet heard. The fan theories about an underground nerubian expansion called the Dark Below were infinitely better and more plausible. I listened as the devs prattled on, trying to sell this idiot idea to us and managed to convince myself it might be cool to see these major lore figures in action. Try to keep an open mind right? Then the beta patch notes started coming out. Philosophically and mechanically, the devs were taking the game in a direction I had no desire to follow. I cancelled my sub in disgust and tried to avoid warcraft related news for a few months hoping that the desire to play would eventually resurface.

    The last month leading up to WoD was a time of immense hype. Old friends resurfaced to tell me how awesome everything was going to be, how it would be like old times again. I was skeptical but frankly I missed my characters. I bought WoD the day it came out, came home and played. At first, it was a blast. I didn't much care for the new smv, but after I left that zone I felt engrossed the game world for the first time in ages. Gorgrond was the first zone I ever played that made me want to immediately replay it to see the other side. The overall storytelling, polish, and presentation of Draenor questing was excellent. Surely, it was a sign of the good things to come. Then I hit level 100.

    1. 2/2

      Immediately, it felt like everything simply fell away from me. I did a few heroic dungeons and soured extremely quickly on my fury warrior. It just felt so... sluggish, uninspired, rng dependent. Boring. I tried playing Gladiator, which was supposed to be better single target. Say hello to a 90 apm spamfest if you want to play it properly. Terrible design. And arms? I can't even bring myself to talk about what they did to arms. The MMOC sticky for Arms warriors is called 'the 10 second master' which should give you an indication of what the playstyle is like. Panic set in, I'd chosen the wrong class and wasted so much time. I ended up leveling my neglected rogue and dk. The DK was the more enjoyable of the two, so I figured I could stick with that. At this point my friends had played through the 5 man dungeons for a week and were basically done, waiting for the raids to open. I was way behind and now on my own. I acquired the gear I needed to enter heroics and was determined to catch up on my own. A few 30 min queues followed by disastrous heroics with no drops and I was questioning my choices in life. Why the hell was I doing this? Calling the process slow and arduous would be a disservice to just how shitty the design truly was. Everything took forever. Where were the 10 minute queues of Pandaria? I couldn't even do a couple scenarios while waiting for the dungeon to pop. Those didn't exist anymore. Desperately I tried to fill the voids of waiting time which my gameplay sessions became. There were no dailies either, other than apexis which seemed pointless since I'd need an absurd amount of them and the rewards were underwhelming. Reputations? Butchered beyond recognition. Instead of taking the innovative storytelling approach to reputations introduced by the klaxxi and expanded upon in the 5.1 landfall patch, they opted for a simple, lazily repetitive grind. Unbelievable. What about all the Timeless Isle type content they had been raving about? None of it mattered at max level. Rares and treasures? They dropped either useless things like 20 garrison resources or blue items that were worse than what I already had. Somehow Blizzard had taken every single lesson Pandaria should have taught them about game design and had run in the opposite direction.

      Frustrated and dejected, I canceled my account and wrote off the entire experience as a waste. Less than two weeks from expansion launch and I was sick of the game. I puttered around for a few days, messing with the facebook garrison game, which only served to further embitter me. So many resources wasted on such a shallow, insulting concept.

      WoD has plenty of other failings, which you’ve done an excellent job focusing on. I personally dislike the item squish but it ended up being the least glaring issue. Removing mobility from casters (especially my former main, an elemental shaman) still feels like a slap in the face. Ultimately though, it just boils down to a simple lack of engaging content for me. Why does the lack of flying bother me so much? Lack of content to explore, hence its removal feels unnecessary. Why was I constantly bored in a queue? Lack of content to fill the gaps. The game is just a raiding simulator now. It has no depth, no life. It feels very… antiseptic. The 6.2 patch is just more of the same shit. It looks like I will have to wait and hope for the next expansion to deliver on the potential that Pandaria hinted at. In the meantime, Reaper of Souls keeps me constantly occupied and content. It is ironic that a game which is literally nothing but an eternal loot grind is still somehow more fun and engaging to play than an MMO “world”.

  4. Loved the leveling experience.

    Loved "end game" for the first month or two.

    Then my experience devolved into "log on, do garrison chores, hope for a purple, log off"

    Funny part is, my sub dropped in Q2. I'm very curious to see those numbers.

  5. 1. Flying: Definitely agree that this was a factor. Too many casual players that want to use their flying mounts to go around and do things.

    2. Dailies: Totally agree. I personally think this is one of the biggest factors. People lack direction so they aren't going out and playing the game.

    3. Scenarios: Generally agree. As Grumpy said, Choice is very important. I didn't do Scenarios much because the rewards sucked, but it gave us DPS something to do with instant queues.

    4. Reforging: Not sure this was a big factor, but it would certainly help with the gear grind. I definitely agree that it's poor design when a lower level item is better than a higher level item.

    5. Valor/Justice: Totally agree. I think this is also the biggest or second biggest factor. Apexis gear takes forever to purchase and there is only one option for collecting it. Valor had a bunch of different options to cater to different play styles. I've never been 'done' with dungeons/LFR so quickly as I have been in this expansion. In Cata, I was valor capping until the very end of DS even though I was fully heroic geared because I was converting it to conquest to buy PvP gear. In MoP, I quit valor capping about half way through SoO because they got rid of valor gear and they got rid of the conquest conversion. Up until that time, I was still doing dailies/weeklies, the occasional dungeon/scenario or even an LFR to valor cap. Now, I just do garrison shit and an apexis daily. I've started creating my own dailies by soloing old dungeons for mounts, which is more travel time than play time...

    6. World Content (World Bosses): Totally agree. MoP did world bosses really well. It's a shame that WoD has such crappy world bosses.

    I think my main thought is: Lack of progression for casual players.

    Everyone knows that the game is mostly casual players. Not Mythic/Heroic raiders. Not Arena teams. Casual players. And casual players got shafted in WoD. We can't fly around the world to do stuff. We don't have any dailies. We have crappy world boss rewards. Our best way to get gear is to buy it off the AH. We having nothing fun to do. We're left with playing a Facebook game and doing some small grindy content...

  6. 1) no flying zones in Pandaria
    2) ability purge for Ferals - especially the "hibernate" and "root" spells
    3) no flying in Outland - especially in the combination of "we do not have any dailies, and there is no reason whatsoever to go out of your Farmville minigame, but we do not want you to fly anyway"
    4) ability prune to Ferals healing
    5) no flying
    6) less reason to play together and be nice to each other - cause you are (almost) independant

    I canceled already during MoP, and I'm glad I did

    oh - and did I mention "no flying"?
    Rauxis, chosen of CAT

  7. Anon, Grumpy's former Guild Leader:

    2.9 million sub losses and they made a very handsome profit. They are happy. Things are going to get a lot worse I suspect. The accountants rule the game now, not gamers who want to make a game that is super fun to play over and over day after day.

    I am not bored by the housing expansion like many of you are, but the reason for it is I am so slowly playing it and not trying to rush. (This last week, I have been sick as a person can care to be and not go to the hospital, so my playing has been non-existent for the most part.)

    Really what else is there in the expansion but your player housing, i.e. garrison. Raids you immediately want to say in response, but you know that is the only end game content that Blizzard really cares about, so there being a couple of raids available is no surprise. And while the content of the raids are new, the concept of end game being raids is surely not.

    I am very tired of not being able to fly in Draenor. I don't think that hope for flying being activated in Draenor is reasonable though. Not at this point, and sadly not likely until the end of the expansion at best. Blizzards reason that it is easier to design compelling content without it available would make more sense if the compelling content were there. Instead to me it seems like an excuse to use a lazier set of standards on how to design content.

    Really in the end, I think it comes down to inferior management for the last few years, with a shift in emphasis on making great games that will sell well to making a lot of games that will sell. In short, the bean-counters snagged the upper hand and are going to ride this cash pony in the ground, flog it up and beat it down until in the end it finally gives up the ghost.

  8. I recently unsubbed my account, uninterrupted since ICC was current. Agree with most of what you said Grumpy but add some others.

    - No city, when I started playing Dalaran was the main hub of activity. It was beautiful, compact and served both factions. You saw and sometimes interacted with everyone on your server. Cata and MoP split us into factions again and now in WoD everyone's loitering alone in their garrisons. There's nowhere for people to display their hard-won raiding mounts or gear - or lucky old raid mount drops etc. Nevermore to see guilds celebrating some achievement with a mammoth mount congaline. Ashran/Stormshield just doesn't cut it.

    - Mythic Raiding - or more accurately - strictly 20man mythic raiding. This more than anything killed my guild. We were for 1.5 expansions a 10man guild that could clear normals in a month or 2 then happily spend the rest of a tier working though the heroic bosses - not often getting them all but still progressing. 20man mythic told us to either double our roster or go more casual. Or option 3 - give up in disgust because we were never going to 'step up' to the recruitment requirements of mythic or be satisfied in farming easy content for months while waiting for the next tier.

    I'm sure there were 1000s of guilds like ours - 10m heroic guilds - that loved what they were but were essentially told by Blizzard that 10man was the way of the past and would not be accommodated anymore. And why? - so a few dozen guilds (or less) on the world-first rankings wouldn't need to bicker over whether 10m or 25m was real raiding?


  9. The answer is Garrisons.

    Hey lets try and get players out in the game world by implementing something that does the exact opposite!

  10. Good post Grumpy, I agree with everything you said and I've a couple of points of my own to add, too.

    I guess I'm one of those casual players that a lot of people think this expansion caters to but I'm far from happy.

    Anon, I really can't agree with your definition of WoD as the player 'housing' expansion.
    Garrisons are not housing in any sense I understand. There is no customisation beyond your choice of building and it's position on the plot and there is nothing in there specifically for the player to use, not even a bed. What we've been given is a poor substitute for a capital city and a quest hub.

    The garrison and the follower missions were one of the biggest disappointments of the expansion for me.
    I'd been sceptical about the farm in Pandaria but found it surprisingly fun to level.
    If we had been given a proper capital city (I'd have loved neutral Shattrath personally, because I think Bladespire looks awful) and a small housing unit about the same size as the farm with a similar number of nodes close by, I'd have been happy.
    If I had the option to choose a racial-themed interior or customise the housing in some way, I'd have been delighted.
    The option of building a guild-hall would have been neat as well. There has been nothing in this expansion for guilds besides raiding and I think that lack, along with 20 man mythic and lack lustre max-level play is killing a lot of them.
    What we have, bores me and keeps me isolated from other players. Trade chat is ok, but I miss seeing other people, their mounts, mogs etc and I miss having a city to explore and hang out in.
    Every alt I have has an almost identical garrison, bar one or two buildings. The chores are dull and my followers seem to bring back better loot from raids than I do. They've downed Blackhand and I haven't even seen him.
    My purples aren't exactly in the post, but they might as well be. Couple the ease with which they are obtained with random stats and no reforging and I just can't get excited about them.

    I don't want a game that gives me everything at the click of a button. I want to go out and farm my mats, I want to get my purple gear because I went out, made an effort and succeeded in doing something difficult.

    Nobody mentioned professions. The changes made to them ruined a part of the game I loved.
    I liked gathering and I liked crafting. I didn't do it for the gold but more for the fun.
    Surely they could have introduced some catch-up mechanic that didn't make people like me who had levelled them feel we had completely wasted our time?

    When the devs talked about putting more transmog and fun items into the game, I was hoping for things like patterns only available from certain vendors.
    I'd have gone out to find them and I'd have had fun making stuff, but no, items arrive via the Salvage Yard or are made for you by your followers.
    Archaeology is horrible without flying, but hey, no need to go out, I get fragments from the mine.

    My other main gripes are the heavy gating coupled with RNG on everything; it's not fun.

    This expansion is soulless. I had a blast levelling but it's so linear I'm not sure how often I'm going to want to do it.
    I've 3 max level characters and I'm raising 4 more but already I'm noticing how repetitive Draenor is. I don't really want 7 or 8 garrisons to manage, either. I have loads of mounts and pets already so, really I don't have much use for the gold.
    More and more I find myself asking, 'What's the point?'
    and questioning if this is worth paying a subscription.

    1. Anon, Grumpy's former Guild Leader:

      The reason for this being the player housing expansion is because that is what it is: Blizzard style. Now I do agree that compared to say Middle Earth (the only player housing I have seen in any detail), no, it does not qualify as player housing. But this is Blizzard and by all the hints of any chance of player housing occurring that I have ever had, this is their definition of player housing.

      In other words, "the customers keep asking for player housing, so heck, lets give them a castle of their own." Never mind the more intimate details of customization that the players want the housing for, the fine developers of Cata, MoP and WoD certainly know better (/sarc).

      In fact, thinking on that, I wonder if that is not the reason for the alternate timeline Draenor. Blizzard would never go for an open world build where you want type housing solution. (Ultima Online if I recall correctly is a fine example of such.)

      Then the instanced player housing that was generally expected never seem to fit into any of Blizzard's plans. I suspect Blizzard started more than once to tackle the request but could never quite figure out how to do it in any reasonable way with the geography constraints. Those same constraints also applied to Outland and Northrend, as well as the new provinces opened on Azeroth during Cata.

      But an alternate version of Outland that never exploded could provide the spot, and hence the Draenor expansion and a real reason for it. It may also be that the player housing advocates in Blizzard's employment saw a shot with the alternate timeline, proposed the garrison idea and it took over the expansion. Either way, I don't think we will ever see any other attempts at player housing in WoW. Future expansions that request it will be referred back to how badly it wound up being received during the WoD phase.

      I do agree that this version does not meet the vision I (and a good many others I suspect) had for player housing. But none the less, for all those who ever wanted player housing, this is it. Right down to a Garrison hearthstone, one not tied to the regular hearth timer, so you will be able to return to your garrison for the rest of the run of WoW. See the ones who work at blizzard think end game is all about raiding and see no real value to the things that you mentioned. I disagree with them, but they are the ones designing the game.

  11. Follower Missions

    1) Instead gathering resources like ore, herbs, leather, etc ourselves, let us set up our followers on missions to do this. Time based nature of the missions, 24hrs force a choice of resources. Do I want my followers staying home to get me more herbs, or out in a raid, or looking for rep tokens, etc?
    2) When a follower mission is out in the world, generate problems and pop up quest we can choose to take to solve those problems. Oh I sent 3 followers to handle some excavations in an apexis daily area but they fell into a pit that's guarded by a large mob. I now have a quest to go to that area and free them, increasing the chances of success for that mission from my engagement in the world.
    3) Increase the challenge forcing people to seek out their friends. John comes to me, "Hey Thuggs, my followers were looking into the Iron Horde navy and were captured on the command ship. I need your help to rescue them against their elite fighters holding them prisoner."

    Conclusion: You are using the followers as a plot point to spawn some percentage of problems, that prompts quests that require the player to go out into the world to resolve to their own benefit. Increase the success chances of a mission, etc. Its the action of investing time and effort into these rewards that invests the player in the experience. That is what is giving the player a sense of belonging, investment in what is happening. Mindlessly grinding mobs doesn't invest, mindlessly grinding mobs to get to your follower to help them with some problem does! Needing to recruit other players to your cause for difficult challenges adds spice, variety and even greater sense of connection and shared experience.

  12. Garrison / Faction Hub

    Some of the most revered experiences people wax nostalgic about are those where collective effort yields some reward or event. The garrison ought to be a piece of a larger puzzle. Imagine your garrison as the staging ground for the building of a Faction Hub. You can send followers on missions to supply the building of the hub. First a rude city, but as people all over the server invest in it, via missions, quests to collect materials, etc, then when progress has hit a certain level, BOOM, you have a Level 2 Faction Hub, built by the combined efforts of the faction on that server.

    WIth a Level 2 Faction hub new things are unlocked. With stout walls, we need ways to defend them. Series of quests to steal ballista and cannons, ogre magical artifacts to power watch towers with lights, and more. Again we as a faction on a server contribute to buiding up the city further, 6.1 hits and we've reached Level 3 City with another series of expansive needs. We don't need ore anymore, we need people. We don't herbs anymore, we need leather and cloth to outfit the new townspeople and followers. New missions for the followers (and their own challenges) and new quests to obtain these valuable resourcs. Suddenly we are raiding the Iron Horde for stockpiles of supplies, depriving them of a resource and gaining one in return.

    By the end of the expansion our city should rival the greatest cities on Draenor. This collective building, effort, and engagement invests people personally. They want to see where its leading, what we did together as a faction and server and less likely to lose interest.

    Having our garrisons attached to the edge of the city makes us feel more connected than just a portal. It feels right, Oh let me just run through the portcullis and pick up some supplies or go to the bank. It puts us on the front line when our city is attacked by various Draenor factions (the garrison assaults) and can use the imagry to make us feel a part of a larger assault. The Commander, has to protect the main gate into the city, but see the walls behing assaulted on the edges of their screen. Increasing the scope, putting at risk this massive city we have built with others and struggle together to protect. That is the kind of investment that we are lacking.

    1. @Thuggs:

      That sounds fun!

      A realm-wide faction hub would be great! And having it connected to your garrison seems like a cool way to be able to pop into a busy city to idle instead of an empty garrison. As someone else said, it's a place to see everyone and their mounts/gear/player-driven unscripted events (like mammoth trains or whatever).

      The dungeon quest that unlocks a garrison quest is a cool idea (I love dungeons).

      And the idea that followers would be trapped out in the real world and need your help is cool.

      In fact, they walk out my garrison entrance to do their quest. Why aren't they in a zoned area of the world so I can help them with their quest faster/for-more-loot if I want to? Sending 3 followers on a quest and having custom dialog and interactions between them would be fun, especially with voice acting (I rarely read the dialog since I'm busy hitting buttons and watching for procs). Definitely pie in the sky ideas though.


    2. Thank you for the kind words. I think voice acting, while I would love it, would not be cost effective based on the volume required. However, much like they have the little cut scenes or various major story elements. They could incoporate these significant story highlights to enhance the experience.

      For instance, one of your missions could be to capture a ballista from the Iron Docks in northern0 eastern Gorgrond. Suddenly, your lieutenant has a quest marker and it states, "Your followers haven't returned from their mission and are long overdue. Go find them." If you go out there, you do find them, though they are locked up prisoners of some Iron Horde. When you free them they tell you, "Commander, we saw Blackhand with thousands of troops and equipment marching towards the Fortress on the southeastern edge of the Pit. It looks like they are fortifying the furnances, and when we tried to get a closer look, they found us. We saw in this band huge beasts, . They were being commanded by three orcish women in armor. These seem like fearsome foes"

      The key is that they use these each opportunity in one facet of the game's experience to build a web of interconnectedness. That independent experience suggests and gives info about another part of the game, raiding.

      I just want one's actions to build out and give you a sense of accomplishment. click click click loot, sort sell, mail, vendor does not do this.

  13. Grumpy, I think your points about the basic designs and incentives are spot on. You've left out some of your other great ideas/observations like the Apexis post some time ago. Above, I gave you a few ideas on how Blizzard could have taken the design and features they implemented within the game and would function to motivate players to do things in the world for reasons beyond just valor etc.

    The fundamental problem of WoD, imho, is that there were reasons valor, reforging, flying, etc existed. They served a function in the game, be it motivation, entertainment, direction. When they removed these features, they did NOT replace them with some feature that replaced the reasons for their existence. I believe we question their decisions to remove them because of this lack of replacing them with some new engaging dynamic. If they had given you fresh new reasons to do partake in activities, I do not believe you or many others would have felt their absence so keenly. Its their lack that embitters many, myself included, as to the choices they made and what we are lacking.

    Those follower mission daily quests I suggested are the tip of the iceberg. Your Inn could give you a quest to go into a dungeon and collect an item, which upon return to the questgiver, they could say, "Thuggs, now that we have the Key of Gatebreaking, you have the means to get the Artifact of Major Rep Gain. Go to your table and pick out your best followers for this mission is utmost importance." BOOM! Now you have a new mission uniquely spawned by your action in a dungeon.

    Take it a step further, think of each building and the potential for just stories, things they need or ways they can influence the fight against the iron horde and have that quest generate missions, which would in turn generate trapped followers, unique situations that arose from your actions in the world that require you to go back out into the world to engage those challenges. You would be the fulcrum for generating your own content.

    Instead, we have a once a week short story questline? Which by the next chapter the following week, you've forgotten the details of the previous week. No momentum, no engagement. Or how about the random vendors from 6.1 which at best say "go kill that boss in that dungeon or raid, here's gold." Or the random one vendor with your recipe that will not spawn. Or the fact that Harrison Jones only offered a preselected quest randomly, random, random, random. No cohesion, no direction.

    Engagement, personal investiture, and feeling like you ARE the fulcrum upon which the garrison and the Horde's/Alliance's efforts pivot is the key element that is lacking. As it is, an herbing, ore gathering, glorified clerk does not a Commander make.

  14. I doubt most people left for most of the reasons you provide. Flying only matters for archeology. Getting around Draenor takes at most less than 3 minutes using the flight points from your garrison. Are people that impatient? I have explored every inch of Draenor and did not need flying. I only need flying for Archeology.

    I think reforging is irrelevant to the loss of 2.9 million subscriptions. I suspect that had minimal impact on most that left.

    I agree dailies would get people out and about, for awhile. However, only if they award gear or valor that can be used to improve the character. This may have contributed somewhat to the drop.

    I agree that the design of world bosses and content is poorly implemented as you described. I am sure that contributed to some extent.

    My personal suspicion is the the elefant in the room -nostalgia. You had 3 million come back to WoW or start WoW with WoD. Look at the population numbers. We are back to pandaland. I believe the advertising for WoD wet the appetite for all those long gone since WotLK and BC. They came back, did instaboosts (a huge mistake) and came to realize that this isnot the same game they left. "You can't go back to Kansas Dorothy". The forums are filled with people that came back and complain they don't know how to play their L95+ character; they don't like what was done to "their" storyline; their old guild doesn't exist and they don't like their new guild or these new players. They came back because they wanted to relive their youth with their friends. However, they and their friends left because it wasn't the same as WotLK and BC - it wasn't what they imagined they remembered.

    Did you really expect that most of those that came back would stay? I knew they would leave. Nostalgia is only enjoyed for a brief time, then you have to get back to your real life or in this case back to the game we actually have in 2015, although it is imperfect for many of the reasons you give. However, I think nostalgia is responsible for the loss and I doubt anything that Blizzard did or did not do would have severely changed the quarterly numbers.

    1. I agree with every one of Grumpy's points. And I agree with Anon here about nostalgia being a fickle bastard.

      I'd assumed that about 50% of those who returned to WoW in WoD (due to advertising, another Draenor/Outland story line, or simply from hype spewed from current players) to be gone by about the six-month mark. I didn't think it would be -- what? -- 80%? 90%?

      That debacle is due to the game as it is now. I can feel out of balance returning to a game that isn't the same as what I'd previously known. I may very well stay and play, however, if it is a good game no matter how different. If the game play isn't compelling, however, I won't have the other bonds (e.g. guild, friendship) to keep me around. I'll simply quit. As they have.

      Blizzard approached this returning mass with its hands tied behind its back... and it did the tying itself. Not smart and regardless of whether or not they are making as much money as they always have, I can assure you that corporate masters want more. They'd be making more money with an expanding player base -- all things being equal. This isn't good news for Blizzard and WoW on any front.

      What is worse, however, is that they are not only losing returning players. They are losing players that have been with them for a long time prior.

      I've played since launch. There isn't a game out there that is better than WoW at this point. That says more about the MMO industry as a whole than it does about WoW, however. For a long time, WoW was simply fun enough that I wasn't looking. Now I am. When that day finally comes along that someone creates a better game than WoW, I'll leave. I'll make a concerted effort to take my guild with me, but I'll go regardless. And I think most of my guild would go. This is pretty much a topic of increasing debate in guild chat.. and my guildies are almost all lifers as well. That, too, isn't a good sign for Blizzard. There is no joy in Mudville.

    2. "I'll make a concerted effort to take my guild with me, but I'll go regardless. And I think most of my guild would go"
      These discussions must be happening in so many guilds right now.
      A lot of people in our guild are looking at FFIV and a few have jumped ship already.
      The social ties are an important reason for paying my sub right now. If a substantial part of our guild leaves and forms another guild in a different game, I'll go and join them.

  15. As to flying, I think for a lot of us it's not simply about speed and convenience. To me, flying is partly about control, I get to go exactly where I want by the route I choose and part simple pleasure; I get a kick out of doing it.
    I'm looking at other games right now and the ability to fly is definitely a plus. I won't unsubscribe from WoD because of it, but I doubt I'll buy another xpac unless it's a feature.

    1. I agree that flying is a plus. I just don't think that not flying drove a significant number of people away. Everyone was able to level to 100 within a couple weeks without flying and the one daily that we get is always near a flightpoint. So, it is not so inconvenient on normal play to cause many to quit the game. Does it make it restrictive as you suggest, I agree, but not so restrictive I believe that most people would say it is the "last straw".

    2. Flying is about getting out random. Like running circles and deciding to do archeology or kill some pets or mine or whatever. It's about getting out and back in without an actual defined purpose, like a daily. I spend chunks of time talking to people without doing anything that requires much thinking and flying was perfect for that. Now when I think about getting out of my garrison to walk around I remember there's a huge ravine in front of it I have to circle around and don't bother. People don't seem to realize what exactly flight took away and just think it's about getting somewhere specific.
      And BTW, the music first quest has crap in harder to reach places, not even close to DPs, which is why I never bothered to do it on any of my alts. It's effort and it's not fun for something that is for fun.

    3. Flying is about getting out random. Like running circles and deciding to do archeology or kill some pets or mine or whatever. It's about getting out and back in without an actual defined purpose, like a daily. I spend chunks of time talking to people without doing anything that requires much thinking and flying was perfect for that. Now when I think about getting out of my garrison to walk around I remember there's a huge ravine in front of it I have to circle around and don't bother. People don't seem to realize what exactly flight took away and just think it's about getting somewhere specific.
      And BTW, the music first quest has crap in harder to reach places, not even close to DPs, which is why I never bothered to do it on any of my alts. It's effort and it's not fun for something that is for fun.

  16. I think that perhaps one million bought a bunch of tokens and unsubbed but are still playing.
    I think the crux of the matter is that the expansion was pointed to the old school players and many came back to enjoy it. On that thought, I think that we leveled way too fast to 100. It should have taken two months or more to work your way up with a raid offered much later in time.

    1. If you use a token, you count as a subscriber. You may or may not have a recurring subscription, but you have a subscription nonetheless. Tokens are not changing these numbers.

    2. Tokens came out after the quarter ended, so are not taken into account in the first quarter report. We may hear something about tokens in the second quarter report if their is a jump in wow profitability without an increase in subscriber numbers due to the US $5 differential between tokens and subscription

  17. another vote for: the people lured back realized they were still done with the game. also, hard to stay connected with social contacts are all gone.


  18. I agree with everything already stated and every reason already given.

    I play games for adventure and story. This expansion is boring beyond belief and I just can't bring myself to manage my garrisons any longer. One of my BNet buddies and I refer to them as chores. Week in and week out we have religiously logged in every evening and faithfully done our chores for 2ish hours before we would consider other things.

    I'm sick of chores and I want to play. I want an adventure. I want to follow and be part of an ongoing story. Sadly, for that to happen I've had to leave the game I have loved for so long and seek greener pastures. I have tons of gold and can play for free via tokens, but at this point, Blizzard couldn't pay me to log in.

    Sad BC-Baby out.