Not to worry though, World Of Warcraft is doing just fine. WoW is still the best selling MMO by a mile. Furthermore, Activision released mind-dazzling revenue numbers earlier today. So why such a (large) loss in subscribers? Well, the level they’re at now (+11 million) is pretty normal after a release of an expansion, granted the numbers are dropping faster than in previous expansions but that is mostly due to the fact that players are devouring content a lot faster than say in The Burning Crusade. Because the game is more oriented to the casual player, rather than to the (semi-) hardcore ones.
I myself recently stopped playing after 5 years. Why? Because I think it became boring. This brings us to a second and less positive explanation for the loss of suscribers. Since Cataclysm (and partially during Wrath Of The Lich King) I hear a lot of players complaining that the game is boring and extremely repetitive and catered to the casuals. I can certainly relate to that as it is the reason why I quit. I used to be a pretty avid WoW player, in a top 500 guild and one of the better Holy Paladins around. Bragging aside, it was extremely fun to beat encounters and get gear upgrades.
The constant need to upgrade your gear became extremely repetitive for me in the end. With every content patch new raid content was released with new boss fights (albeit with the same mechanics, fire = hot remember?) and new gear. So basically, you had to start over once a new patch was released. Until that point I was still enjoying the game to its fullest, mind you. Then, with the release of Wrath Of The Lich King Blizzard implemented the Heroic modes. They’re essentially the same bosses, with one or two extra mechanics and upgraded loot, which was in effect the same loot (same name, same look) with slightly better stats. This basically meant starting over again gearwise, with essentially the same encounters. I can certainly understand people getting bored of that.
Moving on to the third cause for the steady decline in subscriptions. Time to face the facts, World Of Warcraft is an aging game. It’s been around for 6 years or something like that so it’s only natural that players move on to different games after a while. Games who often learned a lot from WoW but added in new features, and better graphics. Fortunately for Blizzard no MMO has come to close to beating them, even though really valliant attempts have been made by DC Universe Online and Rift. Maybe we’ll see another dent in Blizzards subscription numbers when the new Star Wars MMO is released, who knows.
Now, what is Blizzard going to do to slow down, or halt the decline in subscriptions? Well, since a lot of players are burning through content they decided to just deliver more content. Morhaime said “We need to be faster at delivering content to players, and so that’s one of the reasons that we’re looking to decrease the amount of time in between expansions.”
I’m not sure this is the right approach, making people ‘start over’ more. Sure, new content always makes for surges in subscription figures, but the goal is to retain those subscribers is it not? Or am I missing the big picture here? Neither do I think that faster and more new content is such a good idea. In the end, they’ll end up rushing every new patch and expansion to a point where quantity takes over quality. Personally, I would prefer slower content releases in favour of better quality, which is what I came to expect of Blizzard after playing Warcraft, and World Of Warcraft. Blizzard delivers awesome gameplay AND stories, it would be a shame to see that take a turn for the worse …
Do you think the world famous MMO is approaching the end of its life, or do you think WoW is long from being written off? Let me know in the comment section below, it’s always interesting to hear other people’s views on this.