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World of Warcraft Finally Loses Subscribers 413

Posted by Soulskill
from the infinite-growth-apparently-unsustainable dept.
bonch writes "After seven years and a highpoint of 12 million subscribers, World of Warcraft has seen a loss of nearly one million subscribers in the last six months for the first time in its history, according to Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime during an Activision earnings call. However, the game remains the most popular MMO, and Morhaime said Blizzard plans to reverse the trend with fresh content. Some believe that the loss in subscriber interest is a sign of the game's inevitable twilight years. Blizzard also recently received a trademark for 'Mists of Pandaria,' fueling speculation about the next expansion pack."
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World of Warcraft Finally Loses Subscribers

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  • by awjr (1248008) on Wednesday August 17, 2011 @04:41AM (#37116668)

    The real problem is that the low level content has been invalidated by Bind on account equipment items that scale better than any other items you can get in dungeons/quests for your level and boost the amount of xp you get as well. Basically the only interesting content is the end-game raiding content.

    I play with a group of friends that get together once a fortnight to play WoW and we level new characters over the space of a couple of months. However we are dumping WoW in favour of Lord of the Rings. You can no longer fail at playing WoW.

  • by MachineShedFred (621896) on Wednesday August 17, 2011 @08:29AM (#37117804) Journal

    Here they are in no particular order:

    1. Summertime in the northern hemisphere. People go do stuff when the weather isn't terrible
    2. The current state of the game. This entire expansion has been a rerun of content that was already in the game, with a little extra material thrown in. You can either do the same PvP arena grind that hasn't changed in a couple years other than new class abilities and scaled gear; or you can run the same two heroics over and over, which are retreads of instances they released years ago; or you can do the one current-level raid. THAT'S IT.

    3. They've become lazy in their development. You could see it starting with the last expansion when they recycled Naxxramas and Onyxia from the original game. Now Blizzard has taken to recycling 5-man dungeons, and taking 10-man raids and turning them into recycled 5-man dungeons. New content keeps MMOs alive. Retread content gets people looking for the unsubscribe button.

    They've managed to obsolete all the content in their game by having ridiculous scaling. The only reason to go into any raid instance other than Firelands is for tourism. The only reason to do the ~11 5-man dungeons made available in this expansion is if you don't have the gear necessary to get into the two retread troll instances, so you can grind them over and over again until you get to your weekly cap on "valor points."

    The game has no content for someone that doesn't like endlessly repeating the same crap, or endlessly repeating the same crap on a different class. Hardly surprising that they lost ~8% of their subscribers in 6 months.

  • by GodInHell (258915) on Wednesday August 17, 2011 @11:14AM (#37119402) Homepage
    WoW has been attracting new and untested gamers into the whole concept of gaming for years. I'm talking about folks that never played a videogame more involved than tetris until their buddy or their S/O sent them a free trial. People like my wife, who like to follow my friends and I around healing and got decent enough to raid with us, or my friend Joe who has aggrophobia and enjoys the opportunity to socialize without having to take a bunch of meds. But these folks are NOT gamers. They don't have a ton of coordination, and they don't have this concept that trying to do the same jump 40 times until you get it right is somehow enjoyable. They play, they enjoy playing, but severe difficulty is, for them, a wall.

    In Wrath of the Lich King, these folks could play everything in the game. The most difficult fights were unlocked by triggering optional hard-modes, and the basic level of difficulty was set low enough that even my wife and my friend Joe could do their part and we'd make decent progress from week to week without burning out. For me, that all changed in Cata. It started with the truly bad players who we carried at the end of Wrath of the Lich King -- but once they were gone there was another layer of players who tried hard, liked to play, wanted to succeed, but for whatever reason couldn't hack it. Cata, even the five man dungeons, was way too hard. The poster above captures one element of that, the changes to the healing system made it hard for healers (and hey, guess what role tends to get asigned ot the guy that dose not game and dosen't really know what to role they want to play). That in turn makes it hard for tanks (and let me tell you, dieing because my healer runs out of mana when the boss is at 50% health, NOT a fun experience for a tank). That in turn makes sucess impossible for the DPS, who's key roles are to (1) not take damage and (2) do as much damage as fast as possible.

    For me, and for my guild, we enjoyed raiding with people we actually liked as, you know, people. Once the difficulty level goes up I was forced to choose again between finding some raiding guild full of elitist sh*theads (and always that one guy who's REALLY good at playing the game and also a total racist/mysogenist pig) OR not getting to play end-game and just tooling through 5 man dungeons over and over until I got my teir pieces... whee. I chose option three, RIFT and wait for TOR.

    Now -- watch for the elitist responses blaming the players for not being up to the challenge. I guess my response would be, okay, say you're right -- I'm still not going to pay for a game that is set to an unadjustable difficulty level that is so hight that my wife and friends gave up and quit.
  • Re:I doubt it (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Wednesday August 17, 2011 @02:08PM (#37121486)

    The dungeon changes pissed a whole lot of people off, me included, because for some reason Blizzard seemed to misunderstand what a challenge is. Cata heroics aren't challenging, they are unforgiving. What I mean is if you do everything right, they are easy, if you make a mistake (even a single mistake when it first came out) you wipe. There's no in between. That's not a challenge. That is just having to know or figure out what to do and execute properly. There's not adaptation, reaction, that kind of thing.

    I too played a healer (and a drukitty) and I found it extremely frustrating. When people did what they should in a boss battle, all I did was conserve mana, using cheap maintenance heals, to be ready for the burst healing phase. It was easy as could be. However if something went wrong, nothing I could do. Spend the mana to fix the problem, even if I could heal fast enough and it was a wipe. Fail to spend the mana and it was a wipe.

    That appeals to some hardcore types, the "You do everything right or fuck you," approach. However it doesn't appeal to casual types and certainly not to me.

There is hardly a thing in the world that some man can not make a little worse and sell a little cheaper.

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