It’s the big – nay, huge – news of the month in the MMO blogosphere: according to publishers Activision, World of Warcraft has dropped 14% of its subscribers, 1,300,000 people, since the fourth quarter of 2012.
Does it mean WoW is dying?
Is there likely to be another WoW expansion in light of this news?
As always, the blogosphere rallies round with some really fascinating insights:
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- Saxsy posts some really brilliant analysis of not just the announcement but the accounting figures behind it, saying amongst other things that she doesn’t believe there will be another WoW expansion – and part 2 here – “Whatever one thinks of Mists of Pandaria artistically, the financials show the grim truth that it failed to spark significant revenue increases.”
- Azuriel believes that the fascinating point in all this is just how cautious and conservative Activison are – “Activision-Blizzard might join the ranks of EA as a big-budget publisher who only produces one title that I am remotely interested in, with all the “risky” indie ventures soaking up the money I leave on the table.”
- Mhogrim contrasts WoW’s remarkable longevity with the lifecycle of other games – ” 90 days to 6 months; Players have gotten pretty comfortable but the new shinies aren’t as shiny anymore. Progression raids have been fullfilled, pvp brackets have been maxed and…what is there to do again?”
- The Grumpy Elf writes an epic post outlining his vision of how Blizzard could stem the tide – “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? “
- Goetia muses on what keeps her playing WoW these days and whether it will continue to be enough – ” I just hope that someone smarter than me (and smarter than the current dev team) figures out how to put a new shine on the endgame.”
- Typhoon Andrew injects a note of “is this really big news?” – “What can we as current WoW players do? Not much. Keep having fun and playing. Just because something is less exciting for most people has never been a reason I’ll like it.”
- And Zellviren offers a well-thought-out and balanced theory as to what might have gone wrong: lack of progression options for casual players, hardcore-only Normal raids and the death of alt-focused playstyles – “Here’s a tip: casual players want to develop their characters, too. At this point in 5.2, you have a single way of doing that. LFR.”
And finally, at the end of a hell of a week for quality commentary and analysis in the blogosphere, here’s some more great writing and thought for the weekend:
- Jeromai writes a great, angry post on smug maltreatment of new players in MMOs, particularly focussing on A Tale In The Desert and Glitch – “I keep thinking of the Edmund Burke attribution. Paraphrasing, “The only thing necessary for evil to prevail (or triumph, depending on which quote website you ask) is for good men to do nothing.” Should I have spoken up and said something? Was I guilty of passive evil, of allowing something that I thought wrong (the rampant bullying), to continue unchallenged?”
- Entombed presents a … not entirely serious guide to choosing your Guild Wars 2 profession – “You like to envelop yourself in blue flame branding about a greatsword, yelling about encouraging your allies, while actually doing nothing. If something goes wrong, blame it on the warrior for doing no damage. If that doesn’t sound immediately boring, than the guardian may be right for you.”
- And Ravious is in term-coining mode as he calls high subscriber numbers at an MMO’s launch their “baby fat” – “The problem, I feel, has been one of an obese launch followed by a much leaner steady cycle. MMOs are now born with baby fat that will definitely go away. Many bloggers seem to be unaware of this and simply compare launch population to current population in order to announce “fail”.”
I’m away next week, so Johnnie will be presiding over the Pot – although we’ve also got the odd guest post coming. Should be a good week, and I’ll see you all in a week’s time for Absolute MMO Mayhem as Diablo 3 and WoW patches go head-to-head with Guild Wars 2. Looking forward to it.
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And finally today – some reportage, some reviewage, and some discussionage, as we go from more Old Gods (what is it with those guys?) to the timeless question “How the hell do you use all those buttons on a 12-button mouse?”
- Kelpsacovic is contemplating the Old Gods. Not in an “ia, ia, ftagn” way, more a “why don’t we think of them as more important in WoW” way – “But let’s face it, how much importance do we give to the Old Gods in WoW? Oh sure, the lore nerds can tell us of the various nefarious schemes and their parasitic nature which corrupts everything, but who listens to them? My point is that they too often seem to be behind the scenes, despite being present at all times. It’s strange to me.”
- Azuriel at In An Age musters some scary, scary statistics. Did you know that the top MMOs combined have lost nearly FIVE MILLION players all told this year? – “I think we may need to start entertaining the notion that the entire genre – as we know it – has peaked. Not just the hot topic of F2P vs Subs, but the whole damn shebang. “
- Stargrace talks about “community”, and what she feels we can do to rebuild and maintain it – “People play video games for multiple reasons and you never know what a persons real life stance is. They may be a complete asshole in game, but are dealing with multiple things in real life and they have no method of coping. “
- And Dulfy gives us an in-depth review of the Logitech G600 MMO gaming mouse – interesting stuff if you’ve ever wondered about getting one – “Having a MMO mouse will allow you use abilities with your right hand while moving your character with your left hand on the WSAD keys. This way, you don’t need to stop to press a button on your keyboard to fire off an ability, you just keep on moving. “
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The bumper crop of cool and interesting writing continues! Today we’ve got Rades starting an epic and awesome series, Anafiele noting that Blizzard seem to have listened to her ideas, and more…
- Rades is back – and he’s currently half-way through an epic series of blog posts devoted to nothing less than proving WoW’s “Holy Light” Naaru are in fact thoroughly EVIL – “The draenei would be crushed, their spirits broken, their morale shattered. They would never be the same, and their relationships with every other Azerothian race would be drastically and irrevocably changed. And this would be AMAZING.”
- Entombed looks at Guild Wars 2’s incoming Big Dragon Problem – “What prevents a player from saying, “Oh yay, another dragon” with the sort of disdained interest that plagues the fantasy genre? “
- Anafielle, who called for an Achievement for completing raids without the nerfs turned on a while ago, talks about her feelings on the subject now that Blizzard have done just that – “I firmly believe that this doesn’t disadvantage anyone. I think it can only be a good thing to add more challenges in the game. I believe in content being accessible, but I also believe in rewarding success and challenging people to be better and better. This does both.”
- Redbeard looks at the WoW subscriber numbers, and asks how many of them are gold farmers – “Still, this is all water under the bridge since the definition of “true, playing WoW subs” probably is defined by Blizz as “a paying subscription.” They can’t afford to discriminate, unless the behavior of the sub is deemed malicious in intent”
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Gordon’s looking at Rift a bit like a particular type of scientist would look at a lab rat. He says himself he’s not interested in making predictions about how much it will succeed in a shining puddle of glory or fail like your DPS when they stand in the fire. He just thinks Rift’s level of success will tell us a lot about us.
Before you run away because that sounds all deep, he’s got a point. His central point is that Rift’s producers, Trion Worlds, have basically taken a popular formula and polished it. He means no judgement there: it is similar to WoW. But he’s saying that if people stick to Rift after the first free month of play, that could mean what we as gamers want is what we already have, just… better.
“All I am interested in, from a completely neutral scientific point of view, is whether or not RIFT manages to achieve a decent retention rate and claw away at the subscriber pool of WoW (the other MMOs just don’t have a big enough pool to matter).
Why? Because this simple fact is going to tell us a heck of a lot about what MMO fans are really looking for. Obviously we don’t want WoW because otherwise we wouldn’t be flocking away from it at every given opportunity when a new MMO comes out. We’re definitely looking for – and totally open to – new MMOs to occupy us yet no one seems to have managed to get the formula quite right.”
As Gordon points out, if folks don’t stick to Rift then that means we want something else. He says that prospect is quite exciting and I’m with him on that, though I wonder what else it is we as a culture could be hungry for. Go have a read – and definitely don’t discount Gordon’s post as answerable by the ‘WoW tourist’ argument, because he’s also talking about how he doesn’t believe in it.
What about you – do you hold some deep-seated dissatisfaction with WoW that keeps you looking for other games, or do you think it really is just WoW tourism?
_Quote taken directly from Gordon’s post
You can find Gordon’s We Fly Spitfires homepage here_
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