For the longest time I have been saying that the only thing that could ever really kill warcraft was blizzard itself. It sure seems like they are doing a bang up job of doing just that lately. With a 44% decrease in subscribers since the beginning of the expansion this is the largest loss the game has ever seen over an expansion cycle and the expansion cycle is not even half over yet, with no new content to come.
Blizzard is trying to pass this off as the standard cycle that happens during the end of an expansion but that a rather hard pill to swallow. Perhaps the stock holders could buy that but as a player of the game I am just not taking the bait. I know that statement is a bold face falsehood. While it is true at the end of an expansion cycle they do see a downturn, this quarterly report was not for the end of the expansion. It saw a lot of additions to the game that should have added players, not decreased them.
The quarter in question which saw an additional 1.5M subscribers lost happened to be when the wow token was released which basically allowed players to play for free. This alone should have been something that gave a considerable boost to the subscriber numbers as people came back to the game being they no longer needed to pay for it with cash and instead could use the copious amounts of gold they had saved up and no use for to pay for their monthly subscriptions.
Not only that, this quarter in question saw the reversal of what was the extremely unpopular decision to remove flight. You would think reversing their stance on flight and saying that it would, in fact, be coming back to the game would have appeased some of the people that were upset about that decision.
But you also need to consider that the quarter we are talking about saw the release of a major content patch (our only one) that included a new zone, new rares, new reputations, new quests, a new raid, mythic dungeons as well as some other little stuff here and there. That major content patch was released at the end of the quarter too so it is not like it was released and time had passed for it to die down and people to finish the content that was added because it was only added the last week of the quarter. So people coming back for that should have been a huge boost for the game.
So I absolutely do not but the statement that was uttered to the stockholders. This is not the standard downturn at the end of an expansion cycle. Not even close because this was not the end of the expansion, not when the only major content patch of the entire expansion was released in that quarter. If they said that 12 months from now when we have been sitting in the same raid for over a year then yes, it would be the standard end of expansion downturn. But not now.
With all those above mentioned things even the most hardened warcraft hater would have to admit that there would be an uptick in subscribers. Even the haters know allowing people to play for free would bring people back, adding flight back to the game would bring people back and most importantly, adding new content would bring people back. So even haters would have expected an uptick in subs, or at least accepted it. Never before has a content patch been accompanied by a loss in subscribers. Never before has an expansion saw this large of a loss this early in the expansion cycle. This is unprecedented. This could be one of the single biggest declines of any game of this sort in the history of the genre and coming from the leader in the genre that is saying a lot.
There could be a lot of reasons why people are leaving and seemingly not coming back. We could blame it on the flying debacle, the removal of valor (my personal favorite), the facebook game feeling some people mention with garrisons, the lack of non raid content at level 100, etc. There are probably a dozen very good reasons why they are losing customers, even after the release of a major content patch, but there is one thing for sure, people are not liking warlords. For whatever reason it might be they just do not find it worth playing, not even for free with the wow token.
So it seems my statement was right from the get go. The only thing that could ever kill warcraft is blizzard and it seems they are trying their hardest to do just that. At this rate warcraft will never finish out the warlords cycle as the top subscriber based MMO. Some game will pass it. Because if it can lose 1.5M subscribers when a content patch was released, what do you think it will do in the next 3 or 4 quarterly reports that will come between now and the next expansion when nothing at all is added? Those are the quarters that would have an expected end of expansion loss. If they lose 1.5M when they add content, it is not looking good for the next years worth or reports when they will be adding nothing.
The question is no longer will warcraft retain their spot as the #1 subscriber based MMO. The question now is, how far down will they fall before warlords is over?
I am very sad to see they lost 1.5M subscribers. I kept complaining thinking maybe they would listen, maybe they would correct their errors, right the ship, but like everyone else, I am just sitting here baffled by how they could let this happen to the game.
The once mighty warcraft is dying, even the fan boys need to start to realize that. Games are not supposed to lose subscribers when new content comes out. That is not how business works.
Do you think there is still time for blizzard to fix this or is it all downhill from this point on?