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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 morcego ( 260031 ) on Friday May 10, 2013 @12:09AM (#43682047)

    the real question is, where are people going? bioshock infinite? chains & dragons? It remains to be seen...

    Most of the people I know simply quit and didn't go anywhere else. Mostly, they play some single player games now and again.
    We were all hardcore raiders getting some top 10 US marks, in some top 100 US guilds.

    It comes a point where you are just tired of playing, and every other game is enough alike to keep us away.

    So, in answer to your 'where to' question, I guess the answer would be: back to real life.

  • by seebs ( 15766 ) on Friday May 10, 2013 @12:45AM (#43682169) Homepage

    I used to know basically no gamers who didn't play WoW. Now I don't know that I still know any. I was one of the loud defenders of Blizzard's choice to enter into a business merger with Activision, and I have been forced to admit that I was wrong. Blizzard's handling of events since then has been spectacularly bad -- I left over the Real ID stuff, myself. (Yes, I know, lots of people say they "backed down". Only temporarily and from the most ridiculously stupid parts; many other aspects are still horrible now, and some of the bad ideas they postponed may come back.)

    Thing is, in MMOs, network effects are king. If you want to play a game with your friends, the game your friends play wins. But once you start losing that "everyone I know plays X" spot, there's not really any particularly great technical advantages of WoW over a lot of other MMOs, and quite a few are in many ways better. Even apart from my personal grudge against Blizzard, I found other games to do a better job of things that mattered to me, and I really got sick of Blizzard's active hostility to various parts of their user base. It was a real eye-opener when, after Blizzard spent several years explaining that it could never be possible to tweak the rulesets between PvE and PvP servers, Trion turned around and did it in a week during the Rift beta.

    So now I play whatever I happen to know other people who play. And none of the individual games have the population density WoW did, but I am not totally unhappy about that, because it means more choice and more selection.

    Stuff that's still going:
    DDO: Very different philosophy and design, pretty cool. Overall I'm pretty happy with how Turbine runs things. The microtransaction stuff isn't as intrusive as I thought it would be, and the game design has some really nice appeal.
    Rift: As a game, this is basically what I always wished Blizzard would do, and then some. Developers have been pretty responsive to user feedback, and there's a lot less of a focus on tedious time sinks. Big weakness, from my point of view, is that there's been basically no visible community maintenance in ages, so not only are there people who engage in massive, long-term harassment and abuse, but now there are lots more people who are abusive because they're convinced they can get away with it. Still, if you just wanna play with a few friends and ignore public channels, the game itself is amazing. (Slashdotters may care more than others: The addon API is beautiful. One of the nicest development APIs I've used.)
    TSW: Not hugely happy with Funcom, but the game is fascinating, and does a lot of things which are radically different from other MMOs, some in very interesting ways. Also pretty responsive to user feedback in a lot of ways.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 10, 2013 @12:53AM (#43682191)

    ... But still larger than Switzerland.

  • by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Friday May 10, 2013 @12:55AM (#43682197) Homepage Journal
    That's what I did. The company had a big deadline come up and they asked me to work some overtime. I didn't feel bad about agreeing, but didn't feel I had the time to devote to the hard-core raiding guild I was in, so I quit the game. After the deadlines were over, my manager told me to take a week off in comp time. Rather than pick up that old crack habit again, I decided to take a course of skydiving instead. Well very long story only long, I'm now at 110 jumps, just got my rig, have a couple hours of freefall time in a vertical wind tunnel, and oh yeah, lost 30 pounds. Somehow grinding the same fucking boss for some shiny thing that will be obsolete in a year no longer has the same appeal. This year I plan to travel to at least 2 new dropzones (Haven't decided which 2 yet,) jump from a hot air balloon, and get to the point where I can start thinking about wingsuit training. Turns out living an adventure is a lot more fun than pretending to live an adventure.
  • Diablo 3 aftershock? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 10, 2013 @01:02AM (#43682223)

    Diablo 3 launched a year ago next week. In the months leading up to the launch, Blizzard offered the game (D3) for free to any WoW subscriber who made a year long commitment. So you're going to have a lot of people, who might have otherwise quit over the course of 2012, all leaving at once when their year long subscription ends.

    What did the number of canceled subs look like over the course of last year? Maybe they were all just backloaded in Q1 2013.

  • by morcego ( 260031 ) on Friday May 10, 2013 @01:23AM (#43682301)

    After seeing the time investment such games took I really wanted to avoid them altogether.

    And there is it, my friends. The time investment is just too huge. Ok, I was playing way past 20 hours/week. 40 minimum, sometimes going past that when new content was released.

    Now, instead of playing WoW, this is how I'm using that time:
    - Went back to school. Law school.
    - I'm reading 5-8 books/month

    and I still got time to spare.

    I am still in touch with the people I've met while playing, and even consider some of them good friends. I don't regret at all having played, or even playing as much as I did. But I'm happy I moved on.

  • MMORPG (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ledow ( 319597 ) on Friday May 10, 2013 @05:16AM (#43682975) Homepage

    Never really "got" MMORPG's. My brother was mad on MUD's back in his university days and I kind of got that. You would literally stumble into the person who was building all the rooms, quests, objects, etc. and it was usually a small team who created things INSIDE the game, so they were having fun as well (I don't doubt there was a lot of coding involved, but a lot of actions performed actually worked in-game as some in-game "magic" or similar). They were playing Minecraft, basically, and everyone else was inside their dungeons. And they were free, and run by people who lovingly created them.

    The next fad was the Diablo's etc. Basically an MMORPG set in a formulaic plot. Nothing bad about that the first few times through, and they are still quite fun to play even with the poor-equivalents today(e.g. Torchlight etc.). But no real huge amounts of replayability without someone else there to play with. And they were pay-for, but professional and well-polished, but limited and repeating.

    But MMORPG's, they kind of take the worst of everything. Let's have lots of random idiots. Let's have restrictions on what you can do. Let's have a financial incentive to make you spend as long as possible getting to the things you want to do. Let's have no "creators", no change to the set-down mechanics of the world, except in some far-off office where they come up with insane ideas without much player feedback.

    Let's instead have the story evolve very, very slowly and in huge pay-for leaps and people get little choice about whether it was good or not, or whether they pay or not. There's no feedback. No people with interest in the state of the world, only the economy (which, as we all know, can be a disaster even in real-life). You're paying to play a Diablo with a bunch of random people whose co-operation you require, who are all also paying. And every time there's a significant change in the world, you have to pay again or be stuck in the timewarp of "old".

    I couldn't really see the attraction, and the people I know who do spend a fortune on WoW tend not to have been exposed to the games of old (like MUDs etc.), hell some of them I'd barely class as gamers - they are mainly just socialising while button-bashing and the gaming is second. Nothing wrong with that, but Facebook-in-Second-Life is not what I want.

    The "serious" gamers I know are infinitely more likely to spend their money on non-subscription games and equipment. They might well buy a pack of games for their LAN party, and upgrade to the next version as a one-off payment if it's good enough (or even just to play it together as friends), but an ongoing subscription model just isn't their thing.

    And the people I do know who did play WoW etc. have all given it up, and their only real "catch" to doing so is losing their accounts/characters/whatever. Without exception, though, they do give it up and just abandon what they had in there after a while, whether through financial problems, or time problems, or the breakup of their favourite group, or just sheer exhaustion at the virtual world (especially prevalent at "pay-for-the-next-expansion" time).

    The free-to-play ones aren't really popular with the gamers I know either. I think the whole free-to-play concept is great - as a teenager, I would have been hooked and no doubt WOULD have ended up spending money (hell, even as it is, I've made money just playing free-to-play games to play the game and then selling the random junk I was awarded). But it attracts even more idiots, and profiteering. And with free-to-play, you are willing to suffer slight bugginess or changes or restrictions that you wouldn't accept elsewhere.

    Like anything else, I don't get "subscription" payments. Of course I don't mind paying but an automatic payment on a schedule? I don't see the incentive for the creators to keep creating after a while. They earn just as much between updates as they do immediately after them.

    The same reason people keep gym memberships going and why most gym

  • by RivenAleem ( 1590553 ) on Friday May 10, 2013 @06:20AM (#43683133)

    Steam Sales took me away from WoW bigtime. There are just so many single and co-op games out there to keep me busy, and they cost much less in the sales than a monthly sub to WoW does.

  • by MaskedSlacker ( 911878 ) on Friday May 10, 2013 @07:02AM (#43683257)

    I only make $30k a year and spend 4 months of it bumping around the world. How much you make is irrelevant. How much you spend on nonpriorities is.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 10, 2013 @08:07AM (#43683545)

    This is exactly the ecosystem of a game like WoW, though: There is only so much you can do, and then it repeats. The best they can do is move the bar periodically and 'reset' those who've finished. The old-timers are supposed to get bored and move on. The game depends on replacing those burned out players with new people, so the real question is: why has the new generation of game-players not chosen WoW?

    WoW is old. It requires a lot of grinding. Today's gamers are playing for 5 minutes at a time on their phone while they're in line at the supermarket, and there's a huge wealth of highly addictive games that take only 5 minutes of continuous attention.

  • by IndustrialComplex ( 975015 ) on Friday May 10, 2013 @09:59AM (#43684471)

    I've found that cross-realm LFD and LFR has simply encouraged people to behave like twats,

    You've hit close to what killed WoW for me. Back in the early days I remember playing with a small group of 3 RL friends and about 10 other people we met while doing instances. Deadmines, Gnomergan, Scarlet Monestary, and then they released (can't remember the name, but it had the ogres)

    It was tremendous fun to PLAY the game, you could discover hidden secrets, tough your way through a dungeon, and learn with your friends how to beat it. We took screenshots of cool places, beating simple bosses, or just have fun 'claiming' a zone in PvP (before there were even HKs) and trying to fight off the ever growing tide of similarly geared/leveled opponents.

    Then, eventually things changed so that the instant you stepped into an instance, you were told exactly how a fight would proceed, which path to walk on in the exact manner to avoid pulling even 1 extra mob, and so on. The 'mystery' was removed and cataloged on some online datamining site. (Thottbot?) That wasn't too bad, you still got your group together from time to time and had fun, but then something happened, and you have identified it:

    The meeting stones. No longer did people even care about the story of the zones a dungeon was in, and no longer did they really care who showed up when summoned. There was still some discussion, but you didn't have that, admittedly frustrating, but surprisingly community building task of pulling together a dungeon group.

    Then you added in cross-realm groups and communication ceased. You didn't care about the person who got summoned into your group, in fact, you actively hated them because you had no connection to them, and they became a 20% surcharge on your group.

    In one quick move, the community was mortally wounded, it didn't bleed out as fast as I expected, but it was certainly septic, and would slowly degrade and die while people wondered, 'why isn't this as fun as it was?'

    (of course, there is a whole lot of other mistakes they made which compounded the min/max issues and forced players to play in scripted manners, but the biggest killer of WoW wasn't some instant Wow-killer game, but the poisoning of the community)

  • by flayzernax ( 1060680 ) on Friday May 10, 2013 @03:24PM (#43688145)

    I've seen communities swing both ways. Sometimes imbalance can lead to a stronger community and more interesting dynamics. This is where rock paper scissors balance comes into play. Weak classes are rewarded extra for being good at what they do because they become critical in the bigger picture. Good players on weak characters can serve to be a boon during even fights and tip the balance.

    Take for example this scenario right out of EQ. I'm going to do my best to draw a picture of this actual battle.

    We were in Kunark hunting the entrance to Karnors castle. We are the underdog guild on the server. The other guild routinely controlled all the PvE content via numbers and superior organization. Our guilds overall organization was poor. We did have a few small cliques of players that had good teamwork. This group in KC was one of those cliques. We really didn't play all that much regularly with each other. But we were veterans and knew each others capabilities in PvP thoroughly. I was the cleric, we had a rogue, a wizard, bard, and a monk.

    The enemy guild had a necromancer logged out in the basement trying to farm a critical mobs for keys to Veeshans Peak an endgame zone we were not even contending for yet. While we were PvEing we saw them log in.

    Since we all knew the zone, and our class abilities, we were able to invis and navigate our way past many hostile mobs, some that required different invisibility spells, or even calm to get past. Or in one case the monk had to agro some down a hallway and feign death them so we could sneak past. It was tricky to say the least. It required us knowing and understanding all of our class abilities.

    We ambushed the necromancer taking them out quickly. Shortly after that a group from the enemy guild zoned in from upstairs and proceeded down. They had a druid, wizard, warrior, cleric. All competent and dangerous solo pvp classes and deadly in combination. All better geared then us. We decided to stay down in the basement at the spawn and try to ambush them there. They proceeded to bring the whole dungeon down with them, all the monsters following them. This may have been intentional or not. Most veterans on the server considered this kind of thing a valid tactic anyway, it was still using the game and had its own set of counters, while it was definitely a cheesy and underhanded tactic. When they arrived we engaged. Saw they had too many mobs and the wizard evacuated us from the zone to a wizard portal just outside.

    Their druid did the same thing, but in their zeal to take us down they left behind their warrior who promptly trained out of the zone at very low health.

    We intercepted them on the way back to KC. We had not waited around at the wizard spire to be engaged there. They were disorganized and split up while we were still together and picked them off one by one. I am pretty sure they thought they had us on the run and split up to hunt us. A really bad error on their part.

    We had many battles like this on the server. Some where we even stood our ground against superior odds and won because we knew how to game the lag, mechanics, or just which targets to focus on. We took out the best geared player on the server the leader of the enemy guild with their most elite officers in tow when they tried to push us out of a zone. The enemies usually had superior gear, but it was sometimes poorly optimized for PvP.

    Despite a wizard or druid being extremely dangerous opponents vs many classes on their own 1v1 they were able to be taken on in groups with a good deal of reliability. As a cleric, if I was solo my strategy was to run, or wear down an enemy. Unless I was higher level and better geared, many times I didn't have the resources to finish off a good pvper. I could get lucky sometimes against weak players who didn't know about stacking buffs, or resists, or pumice, etc..

    Of course there were plenty of times were the group I was with were not as skilled or had poor communication and we lost control of a zone rather quickly.

  • by Rakarra ( 112805 ) on Friday May 10, 2013 @03:27PM (#43688187)

    Vanilla was by far the most simple of all with exception of Naxx which less than 1% of the players saw. Bosses had 1-3 abilities max. It was all about resist gear.

    Well it wasn't -all- about the resist gear, but certain gatekeeper bosses (like Princess in AQ40, Baron Geddon in Molten Core, Firemaw in Blackwing Lair) had very high resist requirements.

    Back in vanilla, most bosses were taunt immune. You didn't have Vengeance, so tanks out-threated each other to force tank transitions. Characters were far less mobile then than they are now. Tanks (almost exclusively prot or arms/prot hybrid warriors) had no heroic leap, could not charge in defensive stance, and their taunt was melee-range only -- this made keeping control of the frequently-deaggroing Battleguard Satura (and her adds) quite the tank challenge. There were almost no AOE threat abilities, making things like adds on the Fankriss encounter a challenge (a number of tanks used EZ Dynamite consumables to get aggro). Forget using Thunderclap for aggro, they used Demoralizing Shout.

    The vanilla raids were designed back before various "essential" addons became popular. No Deadly Boss Mods telling you to move, no threat mods helping you on Vaelestraz. There were things like CT RaidAssist, but they pale in comparison to what DBM does these days. Bosses were simpler because your tools (abilities and addons) were simpler or more limited. Eventually addons were crafted to automate various tasks greatly (IE, a single button that will target any raid member with a debuff and cleanse it) and the addon API was rewritten for BC to make such things impossible.

    Blizzard devs have confirmed that they design encounters now under the assumption that all raiders will have standard raiding mods, like DBM or Bigwig's.

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