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World of Warcraft Loses 1.3 Million Players in First Quarter of 2013 523

hypnosec writes "World of Warcarft, the gaming industry's most popular franchise and one of Blizzard's cash cows, is bleeding subscribers with 1.3 million defecting from the game in the first quarter of 2013 alone. Blizzard revealed a subscriber decline of over 14%, the total now standing at 8.3 million in their earnings call press release (PDF)."
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World of Warcraft Loses 1.3 Million Players in First Quarter of 2013

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  • by noh8rz10 ( 2716597 ) on Friday May 10, 2013 @12:03AM (#43682019)
    the real question is, where are people going? bioshock infinite? chains & dragons? It remains to be seen...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 10, 2013 @12:05AM (#43682029)
    well we know its not diablo 3 or the sims
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 10, 2013 @12:08AM (#43682041)

    Maybe nowhere? I quit WOW about two months ago and didn't replace it with another game. I moved to reading.

  • well (Score:5, Insightful)

    by slashmydots ( 2189826 ) on Friday May 10, 2013 @12:13AM (#43682071)
    Time for World of Starcraft. I'd play it :-P
  • by CuteSteveJobs ( 1343851 ) on Friday May 10, 2013 @12:14AM (#43682075)
    Nothing lasts forever. Blizzard have had a good run that other companies can only dream of. I'd love to spend months in it, but real life beckons and by that I don't mean Facebook.
  • by Bremic ( 2703997 ) on Friday May 10, 2013 @12:14AM (#43682077)

    I stopped playing because Blizzard have gone too far with the "enough content to keep everyone happy" element. Warcraft was always a time sink, but it was manageable. With the speedy rollout of new content (new major patches are on the PTR often before the previous patch is fully open), the change of focus from normal raiding to LFR with it's long queue times, and the extreme amount of work that needs to be done to complete anything now, it's just too much.

    I still love the game, and I still want to be able to log on a few hours a week and play my character, but it really is now a fact that unless you can dedicate 8-12 hours a week, you aren't going to come close to being able to complete content before it's replaced.

    There is also a personal effect for me that as I am playing a cloth wearer and not living in the US, the game constantly tells me to stop playing. MoP introduced way too many battles that require frequent use of abilities I don't have. Watching a DK or Paladin in blue gear able to easily defeat mobs that are nearly impossible on my higher latency cloth wearer in much better gear, is such a downer it destroys the fun in an instant. More and more World of Warcraft is requiring a US ping time, I used to work with five people who raided weekly, all of them pushing normal and often heroic raiding content. Since MoP came out all of them, without exception, have either stopped playing, or stopped raiding.

    I remember wishing Blizzard would hurry up and release content faster, but they have gone way overboard.

  • by sandytaru ( 1158959 ) on Friday May 10, 2013 @12:31AM (#43682123) Journal
    Graphics, especially, are just beginning to look old. Not that WoW was ever a paragon of robust graphic design (although mad props to their art directors), but for what is approaching a decade players were able to overlook the graphics because so many other aspects of the game were fun and appealing. Now, with over a dozen major MMOs due out this year, with every single one of them having better graphics than WoW by leaps and bound, people feel no obligation to stick around. (Also, many of my WoW-quitting friends found that Mists of Pandoria was the game jumping the shark, even if it was a fairly solid expansion.)

    As I'm fond of saying, WoW is the King of MMOs in the same way that Budweiser is the King of Beers. It's popular and profitable. Personally, I prefer craft brews and niche MMORPGs.
  • by Skarecrow77 ( 1714214 ) on Friday May 10, 2013 @12:44AM (#43682163)

    Actually I did stop playing wow to play d3. for like 3 or 4 weeks.

    really though, it's just... it's just time. the game is a fantastic game, one of the best ever made, but it's been the same thing with new coats of paint for almost a decade now. you can only do this same dance so many times before you sit up, ask yourself "what else is there", and wander off.

    I was in a world top 80 guild in vanilla. I personally was the highest DPS on the server for a good while. It was a 7-day-a-week job, but I was young and my GF (now wife) raided with me so it was doable. we both burnt out about the same time the rest of the guild did, it colapsed in on itself about the time we realized that the imminent expansion would completely negate everything we'd done. and it did. complete burnout. left the game for 6 months at least.

    raided with a semi-serious raiding guild in TBC. I fought my way back up into a server-best guild again by the end of the next expansion (wrath is still the best thing they ever made imo), just in time for it to all repeat again.

    didn't bother raiding cata. same song and dance again.

    haven't even SEEN most of mop, i mostly just level alts now. dungeon finder circa level 15 to 55, and questing in northrend and cataclysm for nostalgic purposes, that's all the game is to me anymore, a time sink for nostalgic purposes. like putting weekend at bernies on the tv while you're cleaning the house.

  • by flayzernax ( 1060680 ) on Friday May 10, 2013 @01:04AM (#43682227)

    Unemployment + getting kicked out of basement. Or competition in a market full of other free games which are either ad supported or get revenue from microtransactions.

    Facebook is the intelligence level of most WoW new players (not old ones), and there's gobs of addictive mind numbing brainwashing games on there to detract from wow. I blame this on their lowering the barrier to entry and learning curve of the game significantly (it still remained somewhat deeper in the latest expansion levels).

    And people who would have been in to WoW back in classic when it was moderately challenging and fun have been so thoroughly alienated Blizzard will never sell another game to them again.

  • by ikaruga ( 2725453 ) on Friday May 10, 2013 @01:04AM (#43682231)
    Exactly. Plus they still have 8 million subscribers. That is still almost an order of magnitude more than any MMO I've heard of.
  • by Eskarel ( 565631 ) on Friday May 10, 2013 @01:57AM (#43682389)

    It's just not fun anymore. I've played for years, but I just can't motivate myself to log in anymore, as soon as the year I signed up for for free D3 is done, I'm unsubbing.

    I want to want to play it, it's given me years of fun and they've even put some neat things in, but between having to spend all my play time repeating the same damned set of dailies and the fact that they've essentially ditched dungeons in favor of scenarios(I get that wait times for non tanks/healers were out of control and that scenarios are cheaper to build, but scenarios are simply not fun), there's just nothing to motivate me.

    To make the game accessible they've essentially ruined it for everyone, the gated content and reputations make the time investment too high for casuals and the content is too simple and repetitive for hardcore players.

  • by rtb61 ( 674572 ) on Friday May 10, 2013 @01:59AM (#43682395) Homepage

    Gamers change of time as they age however the idea is an MMOG is meant to pick up new gamers to replace the old gamers and thus maintain the same subscriber number overall. In this case it is clear WOW is not picking up enough new gamers to replace gamers who a living to do other things. Likely WOW is losing to those games that offer a better free to play or non subscriber fee gaming experience.

  • by idbeholda ( 2405958 ) on Friday May 10, 2013 @02:06AM (#43682413) Journal
    I used to be an avid WoW player. WOTLK was the best expansion they made, hands down. The mechanics were solid (if easily exploitable, at best), the gameplay was reasonably thought out (to an extent), and the environment was pretty engaging (and at least 5% of the population weren't complete morons). When I saw the preview for Cataclysm, with its "challenge" of a +5 level cap, new "features" (YOU CAN NOW FLY IN AZEROTH!), "professions" (let's dig around in the dirt for hours on end!), I stopped playing.

    At that point, I realized that Blizzard was headed on a downward spiral pretty quickly, and nothing short of angrying up the blood of Ted Turner and sacrificing a chicken in a non-denominational ceremony would stop this quickly approaching trainwreck from happening. Several of my close friends asked me why I thought it was a bad idea. I told them that I knew it was a bad idea because it was *clearly* a BAD idea. I know them when I see them, and this was no exception. My current roommate convinced me to start playing again, and reluctantly I did. It turned out not to be as bad of a trainwreck as I thought it would be, but it was still pretty bad. Everything had been dumbed down, and repetitively grinding rep, dungeons and more dungeons became the focus of the game. We were also able to actually BUILD a character, and things looked promising enough that Blizzard might actually have the chance to redeem themselves.

    Man, was I in for a surprise when MoP came out, which I'm pretty sure a mop is what they used as a template for this particular expansion. This legendary, mythical mop wasn't made of anything fancy, like polished, pressure treated oak, a handle made of Corinthian leather, a titanium reinforced head with gold lief, and appropriate mopping fabric material made from the finest imported silk that one would be proud to caress their nether-regions with after a hard day's work. That one just happened to be the high priced, maximum quality mop that was shown on the Home Shopping Network for just 8 easy payments of $99.95. Clearly, this was too rich for their blood. After rustling up the town drunkard, they gave him a 12 pack of Blatz, a jug of cheap wine, and a 6 pack of Natty Light, and set him to the task of finding a mop of this quality. But really, quality didn't matter, they really just needed a mop, and there weren't any good sales going on that particular year.

    Several years later, the drunkard returned with a rake. "I couldn't *hic* remember what you were looking for, but didn't you say something about toilets? I think *hic* this is a plunger."

    Swing and a miss, Blizzard. 3 for a valiant effort, though. After obtaining this artifact of non-descript antiquity, the development team went to work. Behind closed doors, they agreed that it was most likely a rake picked up out of a dumpster or maybe someone's toolshed that lived down the street. They weren't sure, but there was no turning back now. Best not to let the public know, they also agreed, lest The Almighty Wrath of Tom Selleck's Moustache rear its head again. One of the leads suggested that since it wasn't a mop, perhaps they could make the offcast drippings of churning a poop vat into a mediocre product that would suffice in temporarily plugging the gaping hole in a quickly sinking ship. But it would need to be concentrated.

    What was released with Mists Of Pandaria was percolated fecal matter of the highest caliber. That wasn't even from the bowels of the unsuspecting public. This was from Blizzard's own septic tank, full of late night tacos, half-digested food from Grampy's Greasy Spoon Diner (home of the 1/2lb Grampyburger for 89 cents, cheese is 10 cents extra), and empty ketchup packets that had been chewed up by the family dog and evacuated onto a moderately expensive accent rug that had once decorated the lot of the local carwash for 15+ years.

    This was progress. This was the trainwreck that everyone said would never happen. Sweet glory of Jesus this was specta
  • by Macgrrl ( 762836 ) on Friday May 10, 2013 @03:00AM (#43682533)

    As someone who prefers PVE to PVP and was a hardcore raider back in the day, I've found that cross-realm LFD and LFR has simply encouraged people to behave like twats, as per John Gabriel's Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory []. I still enjoy a smooth LFR and I get really pumped when my guild drops a new boss for the first time. But the epeening (which really started to get out of hand in WotLK) is making things more and more unpleasant.

    I recall running the latest raid dungeon segment on the day it was released to LFR and people were being dicks about people who didn't know the fights already. /facepalm

  • Re:Too easy (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mindwhip ( 894744 ) on Friday May 10, 2013 @04:37AM (#43682871)

    TL/DR: Its too easy now.

    I agree.

    Back in the day getting to 60 was a challenge but by the end of it you understood the game, knew your way around the world, had covered a lot of lore content, had plenty practice working with others, in your class role, in 5 mans. At any time you had about 40 quests available across both continents, of which you could probably do about 15 and the rest would need to wait to next level. You had to travel to level, exploring the world, finding things as you go. Getting to 60 was in itself a challenge, something to be mastered.

    Then when you got to 60 and completed the attunements it was still interesting. I did 40 man raid stuff with the top Horde guild on the server and it was a challenge. Not just for the gameplay but the whole social thing and dealing with such a large group of people. Then Blizzard started the switch to 20 man raids which caused a lot of friction as we couldn't consistently run two raid groups since on different nights different people were on and we often ended up with neither group having the right numbers due to people being tied to the other instance. Drama ensued. People left, splinters formed.

    I left the guild to try an alliance character and different class on a different realm I got to 60 about when BC came along and all our work was pointless. People got to 70 over a very long drawn out time leaving the players with less time behind while most of the guild were running the new 20 man stuff. Drama ensued. People left, splinters formed.

    I got sick of the drama and quit WoW with some of my friends and went to Eve Online when it was young.


    Recently I had some time so I decided to see how the game had changed. I upgraded my account all the way to MoP, started a Monk, Forwarded 500g from my old char to my new one since gold was always short for new characters last time I played, and expected a challenge. What I got was hand holding and no challenge, There was no running around looking for quests, every quest target was close to the quest giver, there was no real way to deviate from the set quest path, I didn't see over half of the old world even by the time I got to 60. The only thing that was interesting was the way the world had changed with as a result of the old content being in the past (such as how the Wailing Caverns storyline caused so much overgrowth and corruption) I kept wanting to skip forward as quests were too easy but this wasn't possible due to the way every quest was following another. Apart from initially buying 16 slot bags the gold transfer was pointless, by level 10 my character was already in surplus. I was glad that when I got to 58 that I could switch to BC as there might be mobs that I don't two hit but that didn't last long, then the same again at 70 and again at 80. As such I never got to any of the various expansion 'conclusions' I have no idea how any of the stories from the older expansions actually finished. I still don't know why Helscream is in charge and Thrall is wandering the world. Towards the end every quest reward was just that little bit better for my current spec which is great for leveling but now I want to try Healing but I have almost no good gear for that. Before level 90 I never set foot in a dungeon or scenario. I've tried a few guilds but unlike the old times there is no 'top raiding guilds' but just a huge mass of guilds that do varying amounts of raiding and finding the right guild for my playstyle/ability/timespend has been near impossible. LFR is chaos and unpredictable and unchallenging as there is no try again, refine tactics, improve gear as a group, try again loop that was something to work toward and ultimately no sense of achievement for killing a boss.

    Then there is the other stuff Blizzard added. The farmville clone, The pokemon clone, The daily quest grinds... none of these are a challenge in any shape or form and are just 'something to do' but don't have any real sense of reward at the end due to the ultimate result being down to how many times you repeat the same simple set of tasks and completely unrelated to my skill or my guilds skill at playing the game.

  • by nhat11 ( 1608159 ) on Friday May 10, 2013 @07:15AM (#43683307)

    There's tons of F2P MMOs out there where the quality and production is just as good as WoW like Aion and Tera Online. WoW's competition against the F2P games is only going to get worse as time goes on as people realize they can get the same quality of MMO from a F2P and just switch over and not pay a monthly fee

  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Friday May 10, 2013 @07:51AM (#43683475)

    That is a necessity if you want your MMO to survive.

    MMOs, all of them, have a certain fluctuation. Some people may start to play it, like it a bit, eventually decide to move on. These people have to be replaced by new blood. Else you have a bleeding that doesn't stop, for people leave, the servers feel empty, more people leave, the game dies.

    So you MUST be accessible to new players. This, though, is not the case if the new player would first of all have to raid through 5 years of content before he can play with the "big boys". Imagine people would have to start raiding in Molten Core today. Even if we ignored the impossibility to assemble 40 people to do it since everyone who is raiding with the "elite" doesn't give half a poop (unlike when it was new), how exciting do you think it is to start at the bottom? Even if you COULD find people to play, would you WANT to? Would you want to play an 8 year old game and dig your path up for the next 8 years just to be where everyone is today? And then you're 8 years behind AGAIN. Provided the game lasts that long...

    Or would you go find a game where you're starting on even ground with everyone else, i.e. find a game that is just being released?

    An MMO must give you the feeling that you're 6 months, tops, behind the top dogs when you start anew. You have to think that you can reach the top in some acceptable time and that you won't be everyone's "little brother" who is lagging behind forever.

    Other MMOs made the mistake of ignoring this. The most famous example, IMO, being DAoC. In DAoC, with the Trials of Atlantis expansion, some incredibly powerful items were introduced. These required a lot of work to access and then needed a lot of time to "level" them to be useful, easily keeping the playerbase busy for half a year or even year. But after that, you had people with insanely powerful items that no new player could dream of getting (since they could neither find enough people to go hunt for them, nor have access to the "leveling grounds" for them anymore), essentially meaning that new players are kept out of the loop with no way to access those items and no chance to ever play with the "big boys" in some acceptable time.

    And of course the drain of people leaving was not compensated by new people coming in.

    MMOs must be accessible to new players. Blizzard analyzed that correctly and what you see there is their reaction to it. If that is a problem for you, I guess you won't be happy with any MMOs that have a chance to survive for long, since they all have to do that.

  • by MachineShedFred ( 621896 ) on Friday May 10, 2013 @08:30AM (#43683699) Journal

    WoW has changed from being an entertaining game that you could play for a few hours a week and still be able to experience content, into daily / weekly chores that have to be done or else you can't do stuff.

    It ceased to be something I wanted to do, and instead turned into a hamster wheel. Or, if you prefer, stopped being a covert hamster wheel with a sense of reward and turned into an overt hamster wheel with no reward whatsoever.

    Just like previous MMOs I've played, that's when I hit the cancel button.

  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Friday May 10, 2013 @09:43AM (#43684299)

    Yes, but that is essentially how they keep this game alive. By slowing down the "top" and boosting the "bottom" players to level out the playing field. It sucks, I know it well, I was a hard core raider in Evercrack times, I did some raiding up until WoW-BC times, and yes, it kinda blows that you do a dungeon 100 times until FINALLY your superspecialawesomeultimate sword drops... only to see the next content come out a week later and the first crappy green weapon that drops in there blows the snot off your superspecialawesomeultimate sword.

    But that's how the game runs. They HAVE TO do that to give the "bottom" the feeling that they can play with the "top". You think a lot of people would stick around, knowing that they're only second class, not good enough to play on "top"? In our instant-gratification, everyone-is-a-winner world?

    I agree that Blizzard used to be more subtle with it. You might remember from the days of old how you needed to do an insane amount of pre-quests to finally do some end-quest somewhere in a dungeon. Like ... what was the name of that level 40ish dungeon in the desert? Where you had to get some clapper for the gong to make the water dragon appear? Whatever. Getting that clapper was a feat and a half. Eventually, they did away with it, no more need for it, just go in and GONG. Or the baron and his keys. Eventually they were patched out, no more need to get them. Instead of making dungeons obsolete, they fast-passed them. Which is quite fine, actually, and certainly preferable to simply making them obsolete altogether.

    But in the end, they had to do that pretty much. There is exactly zero chance that you find a group today to do BRD from entrance to end. And doing this (and more than just once) was pretty much a requirement to go on to BWL and beyond, without you lacked the equipment to do that. Since WoW was eventually so insanely equipment dependent, they couldn't force people anymore to require certain items from certain dungeons anymore since there was simply no chance these people would find a group for those dungeons, not even with DF (and no, binding servers together did not solve that, whether you have 2 tanks and 20 DDs or 20 tanks and 200 DDs waiting doesn't change anything).

    In the end, they somehow had to let people somehow leapfrog certain dungeons they pretty much simply could not enter anymore because there was no chance to find a group for them.

  • by Endo13 ( 1000782 ) on Friday May 10, 2013 @09:45AM (#43684323)

    That's why making an MMO dependent on gear progression is a terrible idea, IMO. Old players get tired of constantly having their gear reset and/or having to keep replacing their previous best gear, and new players hate being behind the curve.

    Much better IMO to use sidegrades and cosmetic awesomeness as rewards to keep people playing. This also keeps old end-game content relevant, without making it mandatory.

How many NASA managers does it take to screw in a lightbulb? "That's a known problem... don't worry about it."