Author Topic: WoW is dying!  (Read 5026 times)

HeidiB

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WoW is dying!
« on: May 11, 2013, 05:02:28 AM »

Tweed

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Re: WoW is dying!
« Reply #1 on: May 11, 2013, 06:15:08 AM »
Between this and WoW losing 1.8 million subscribers this quarter, I think we might as well just all pack up and go home. It's been fun, everyone! See you at the wrap party!

Aviel

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Re: WoW is dying!
« Reply #2 on: May 11, 2013, 07:14:45 AM »
Noo
:clings to WoW friends:
I cannot woose yous!

Marco

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Re: WoW is dying!
« Reply #3 on: May 11, 2013, 07:36:41 AM »
It's always fun to play armchair business consultant at moments like these.  First, some historical sub number data.  I couldn't find a good graph with expansion releases marked, so here's the quarterly data in list form (the boundaries are a bit fuzzy, and there are three missing quarters of data around the beginning of Wrath):

Classic: 1.5M, 3.5M, 4M, 5.5M, 6M, 6.5M, 7M, 8M, 8.5M
BC: 9M, 9.3M, 10M, 10.7M, 10.9M, 11M, 11.5M
Wrath: ???, ???, ???, 11.5M, 12M, 12M
Cataclysm: 11.4M, 11.1M, 10.3M, 10.2M, 10.2M, 9.1M
Mists: 10M, 9.6M, 8.3M

The view from a thousand feet up is pretty clear: for its first five years, WoW was able to grow the MMO market at a tremendous rate, and that factor overwhelmed any amount of cylical subscription trends or gameplay weaknesses.  Since then, the overall MMO market hasn't grown as quickly, while stronger competition has sapped WoW's player numbers, especially in Eastern markets.

People who have actually played recently will tend to zero in on the systems and art factors which affected them personally: not enough to do in Cataclysm, too much to do in Mists, Ulduar was good, Dragon Soul was bad, etc..  Those matter to individual players for sure, but the player base is too diverse to draw strong conclusions.  There was as much to criticize about BC and Wrath as there is about Cataclysm and Mists; those factors just didn't lead to people leaving the game faster than other people were joining it.  The one factor I'm sure made a big difference is that Wrath cashed in on Blizzard's most successful character property (Arthas), and they haven't been able to build a new character property as significant as that.
« Last Edit: May 11, 2013, 10:15:59 PM by Marco »

Kharvek

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Re: WoW is dying!
« Reply #4 on: May 11, 2013, 02:06:14 PM »
I think the climate of the industry is adding to it as well.  When WoW hit it was pretty fresh and an extremely polished take on what Everquest kind of kicked off.  Everquest cracked the door open and WoW threw it open.  In standard Blizzard form they polished and polished and polished it as it continued so competing games that basically followed the same formula couldn't really compete.  (And haven't.  Every MMO that was pushed as competition to WoW, hasn't been anywhere close.  However all these games have basically followed WoW's formula with either a new setting or a twist.)  This isn't to say that the competing games were total failures, many of them live on with smaller playerbases to fill their niche settings.  ...however all of them would kill to be at WoW's current numbers.  Hell many would kill to be at *half* WoW's current numbers.

The design changes they've continued to make I don't think are the big fault of people leaving.  I think the mere fact the game is about 10 years old is.  It's a 10 year old game built on a 10 year old design that's showing a lot of age.  There's a lot of people who like that design and they'll likely keep playing the game and enjoying the content they put out...but daily quests aren't the culprit of the subscriber loss....time is. The small irritants that get introduced each patch/expansion have more and more impact due to the fact many of the players have been playing this thing for years and years.  The small issues get much bigger as a result of that.  The patience we have dwindles...and this MMO design by it's very nature is grindy.

If I'm Blizzard my goal isn't to get the subscriber base back up to 10M.  That's a pipedream.  My goal is to stem the loss and keep new content coming to keep people playing.  A variety of content since there's a variety of players...but also realizing how content effects each type of player.  Adding solo content could be a drain on the raiders since the raiders feel obligated to do the solo content to stay competitive while raiding.  It's a tricky balance but  as I mentioned above, minor irritants become major ones to the veterans.

What will likely happen is players will continue to bleed until you get to the loyal more dedicated fanbase.  These exist on all the other MMO's still kicking too.  LOTR didn't go away, TOR won't either.  They have small, dedicated fanbases to that game and WoW will eventually get to that point too.  It will likely be a larger playerbase than those MMO's have, but it won't ever go over 10M subscribers again even if they release the best expansion in the world next go around.  The WoW'ish MMO design won't even hit as big again either.  Nobody is going to release an MMO with the basic mechanics of WoW...and kill it like WoW did.  GW2 didn't, TOR didn't and nothing on the horizon will since they all share some of the basic WoW/Everquest DNA.

I'd be really curious to see what they have in store for Titan since they have to change the MMO paradigm if they wanna find huge success again.  You can't base it on a WoW'ish formula, they're going to have to try something radically different.  I've posted about this before but it's a huge risk and not a risk many people would be willing to sink money into, but if there's one company that could do it, it's probably Blizzard.  ...though blazing new grounds has never been Blizzard's strong point.  They've always taken an existing concept and polished it to the nth degree.  (Which there is absolutely nothing wrong with.)  Also I think they're going to keep WoW running even when their next gen thing hits.  WoW will fill it's niche with this type of MMO design.  It will be a *different* game than Titan.

Anyway...we've all developed our complaints about the game over the years and I think WoW right now is better than it ever has been from a pure design standpoint.  However it's also a game many of us have played for years and years and that time is going to erode things more than improving their design can improve things.  It's an old game.  People burn out of the same thing even if that same thing is done pretty well. 

Winston

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Re: WoW is dying!
« Reply #5 on: May 11, 2013, 09:34:01 PM »
The one factor I'm sure made a big difference is that Wrath cashed in on Blizzard's mostparticularly successful character property (Arthas), and they haven't been able to build a new character property as significant as that.
This is certainly true in my case. Back in Wrath, a key reason I went through the logistical hardship (for me) of grinding and taking out two days a week to raid was to see Arthas fall. (Another key reason was that Snique was willing to put up with my poor DPS performance.)

It's the memory of that time that keeps me continuing to maintain my WoW subscription, even though my playing time has significantly fallen off all through Cata; I spent months away from MoP. I only started leveling up a Mistweaver Monk under the delusion that when I reached level 90 I might be able to do some 5-mans; it's a delusion because PvE leveling is teaching me nothing about how to heal.

As Kharvek noted, we each have our gripes about WoW at this point. I'm sure mine are not unique for a casual player; I've seen the complaints of the seasoned raiders on these boards.

If an MMO (even WoW) could somehow motivate me to care about a particular story or character enough, I might be willing to go through an MMO grind again. Off-hand, I can't think of any character that would compel me to go that route; how would one put Liara or Chell into a raid instance?  

WoW is becoming like comic books for me: I don't feel much of a desire to be a customer, but I don't want to see it go away.
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Aviel

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Re: WoW is dying!
« Reply #6 on: May 12, 2013, 05:38:15 AM »
I cling to WoW for my friends. There are too many people I would miss chatting with!
I do still enjoy the game too, maybe not as much as I did in Wrath, cause Wrath was awesome. Dragon Soul sucked a lot of life out of us I think.
But I do like Pandaria. I just wish, like others have said, we had a good villain. Even an Elder god that we worked our way up tp. Not just thrown in. Arthas was cool because you saw him as you quested. Hell, you even had to help him in the Caverns of TIme.

Kharvek

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Re: WoW is dying!
« Reply #7 on: May 12, 2013, 08:54:16 AM »
Yeah Wrath did a much better job of telling the Arthas story.  Cataclysm still was kinda interesting and I got into a few of the tales there.  The underwater zone had a few fun moments for me and so did Deepholme just because of the nature of the zone.  Pandaria thus far I just can't care about.  (It's also really driving home just how stupid the horde/alliance war is from a lore standpoint, which seems like the opposite of what they want to do.)

Arthas was also someone we cared about from the RTS.  In fact most of the bosses I've cared the most about have been involved in the RTS.  Kael, Illidan, etc.  Now we're running out of loose ends there and WoW has to tell its own story and an MMO is a shitty vehicle to tell a story in.  TOR did this the best and honestly, even TOR didn't do as good a job as a single player game could have done.  (TOR's method was also basically make a single player game out of an MMO)

I think WoW could get us to care about a villian again if they did a Wrath style story.  They're involved at the beginning of the patch, multiple quest lines throughout the patch content with a final raid to bring them down.  Cataclysm *kind* of did this but...I have serious dragon fatigue.  This game has dragons EVERYWHERE so a big dragon is not at all an interesting villain to me.

Snique

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Re: WoW is dying!
« Reply #8 on: May 13, 2013, 06:48:10 AM »
I've been bored/motivated enough to pick up my long-neglected Horde toon (he logged out when Shattrath was the place to be) and I've taken him through Northrend just because I wanted to see the Wrathgate from the Horde side.  It was highly disappointing.  You get exactly the same cut-scene with none of the backstory, which served to remind me just how epic it felt to do those time-travel quests and watch the little story bits so you really got who this guy in the helmet was and how he got there. Plus, cool dwarf side-story.

Nothing has really approached that level of engagement since then and I think that's the core problem. Whether you're engaged by the main story or not can overrule whether the underlying mechanics bore or burn you. Icecrown felt epic and it engaged, even when clearing all the trash and pre-bosses so we could get some attempts on Arthas was a huge pain in the ass.

I agree that the game system is dated, but nothing is stopping them revamping it. Major elements of the game have already been revamped and others could be. But WoW now has a lot of (mostly free-to-play) competition, so tinkering with the game mechanics isn't going to make much difference. If they can't engage people then you might as well play something else.

Except (comma dammit) all my chat buddies are here. There's a very good chance F&L is going to wreck itself on Roadblockadon and I'll sort of miss raiding. But mostly I'll miss the people I hang with.

Vylin

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Re: WoW is dying!
« Reply #9 on: May 13, 2013, 07:12:22 AM »
When giving subscriber numbers, I would still love to see Western vs. Eastern numbers. The subscription models overseas are vastly different from the ones here, and I believe opening the Eastern Market style of "subscription" vastly inflated WoW's epeen numbers. I also believe that the big losses have been primarily in the Eastern Market.
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Tweed

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Re: WoW is dying!
« Reply #10 on: May 13, 2013, 08:05:52 AM »
When giving subscriber numbers, I would still love to see Western vs. Eastern numbers. The subscription models overseas are vastly different from the ones here, and I believe opening the Eastern Market style of "subscription" vastly inflated WoW's epeen numbers. I also believe that the big losses have been primarily in the Eastern Market.

This is what Blizz is reporting, in fact. Apparently most of the 1.8 million was in Asia, other sources are saying China specifically, which is not unsurprising given that there are more MMOs in Asia than elsewhere and many of them are FTP.

bleunienn

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Re: WoW is dying!
« Reply #11 on: May 13, 2013, 02:22:21 PM »
I think WoW could get us to care about a villian again if they did a Wrath style story.  They're involved at the beginning of the patch, multiple quest lines throughout the patch content with a final raid to bring them down.  Cataclysm *kind* of did this but...I have serious dragon fatigue.  This game has dragons EVERYWHERE so a big dragon is not at all an interesting villain to me.

I think a big part of the difference between Wrath and Cata as effective storylines was just that:  Arthas was human.  That is, players could identify with him, or at least understand his motives and his fall.  You could engage with the story emotionally.  Nonhuman characters are harder to do well.  Either they are humanized too much and lose their Otherness, or they remain too Other, and we can't really engage with them.

Plus, as you say, the novelty was gone.  Meeting Alexstrasza was neat.  Killing Malygos was kinda neat.    Deathwing was "oh fer fck's sake, not another one.  Damn sky rats."

Marco

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Re: WoW is dying!
« Reply #12 on: November 06, 2013, 01:48:17 PM »
The latest earnings call reports subs dropping to 7.6 million from 7.7 million.

http://www.mmo-champion.com/content/3509-WoW-Down-to-7-6-Million-Subscribers

Kharvek

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Re: WoW is dying!
« Reply #13 on: November 06, 2013, 02:36:56 PM »
That's a pretty small drop for this late in the patch cycle.  I'd be willing to be the rate of subscribers leaving remains relatively stable until the next expansion.

I'll actually predict that the attach rate of the next expansion will be slower on the uptake that other expansions though.  I almost think that expansions might even *cause* more people to drop subscriptions since they won't be willing to drop 30 bucks on top of sub fees for the content drop.  However despite that it still won't really hurt Blizzard that much and they'll still have 2-3x the subscribers as the next MMO around.

Marco

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Re: WoW is dying!
« Reply #14 on: February 10, 2014, 05:33:09 PM »
The latest earnings call actually has subs increasing by 200K or so as of December 2013, to 7.8 million.  That's not a very big increase, but coming near the tail end of an expansion at this point in the game's life, even just keeping numbers even is pretty good.

Blizzard also released an infographic claiming that WoW has had 100 million "unique accounts," including trial accounts.  I would love to see numbers that don't include trial accounts, and confirmation that "unique accounts" doesn't include second and third game accounts attached to a battle.net account.  I have always thought that people underestimate the natural churn inherent to MMOs when discussing changes in sub numbers, but for all I know that number could be 20 million real accounts and 80 million trials.

http://us.battle.net/wow/en/blog/12346804/world-of-warcraft-azeroth-by-the-numbers-1-28-2014
http://www.mmo-champion.com/content/3741-WoW-Up-to-7-8-Million-Subscribers