World of Warcraft Subscriptions Continue to Slide

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World of Warcraft Subscriptions Continue to Slide

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World of Warcraft still wears the crown but Blizzard revealed yesterday that for the second consecutive quarter, its subscription numbers have declined.

Don't head for the lifeboats just yet: the World of Warcraft dreadnought is still chugging along, with a whopping 11.1 million subscribers worldwide. But as impressive as that figure is, it still represents a drop of roughly 300,000 subscribers over the quarter that ended on June 30 and that's enough to have Blizzard scrambling to find ways to turn things around.

Part of the problem facing the game, CEO Mike Morhaime explained in an investors call, is that subscriber numbers "tend to be seasonal and driven by content updates," but as players become more experienced and better at the game, expansions like Cataclysm just don't hold up like they used to.

"I think with Cataclysm [players] were able to consume the content faster than with previous expansions, but that's why we're working on developing more content," he said, which will include "major new raid and dungeon content."

"We believe that this new in-game content will keep the game fresh for current players, and provide compelling reasons for lapsed players to come back," he added.

WoW's new unlimited trial system has resulted in a "significant increase" in new accounts, Morhaime said, although it's still too early to tell what impact that will have on the actual subscriber base, and continued international expansion into countries like China, Russia and Portugal will also help reverse the trend.

And in spite of the reduced subscriber numbers, World of Warcraft revenues for the quarter are actually up year-over-year, although profit margins were down thanks to ongoing investment in what Morhaime described as projects "that haven't necessarily been announced." The game brought in $313 million this quarter, compared to $292 million over the same period in 2010. In other words, there's no need to panic just yet.

Source: Gamasutra

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It's not just that, WoW is really starting to show it's age, and some of the more poor design choices are coming back to haunt Blizzard.

I recently started to play Rift myself and I've been very impressed with Trion, their mmo doesn't introduce a lot of new concepts but it's got enough uniqueness to not simply be called a WoW clone. That said the next expansion for Rift will be very important, especially with a big name like SWToR coming out soon.

I don't know, I'm a six year veteran of WoW and for some reason Cataclysm just isn't "doing it" for me. I don't know what it is exactly but there just feels like something is missing. I know a lot of guild members are saying the same thing. We can't put our finger on it but something that was there in the previous three chapters just isn't there any longer.

Inb4 the WoW haters show up shouting victory for X mmo as dethroning the giant.

I think the problem might be that there are veteran players who just got burnt out with the game. Hell I know at the end of Wrath I was so burnt out I let my subscription lapse and haven't really felt like going back. It's another expansion which means another year or two of grinding to the top of content only to have the board reset again with the next one. After going through vanilla, BC, and Wrath I just didn't feel like doing it anymore.

Despite the big revamps in Cataclysm it's still the same game, and the players who've been around for a long time are probably getting bored with the same old grind of content patterns.

-EDIT-

Xanthious:
I don't know, I'm a six year veteran of WoW and for some reason Cataclysm just isn't "doing it" for me. I don't know what it is exactly but there just feels like something is missing. I know a lot of guild members are saying the same thing. We can't put our finger on it but something that was there in the previous three chapters just isn't there any longer.

I think what's missing is that their big bad guy isn't one with lots of rep outside of novels. Though I'm not sure how well that stands up, Illdian got lots of his back story from the War of the Ancients novels. (at least the parts that made him into more of a tragic figure than he already was)

Another thing could be that Arthas was a pretty big and epic target for us to kill. I mean we have to face it, Deathwing just doesn't measure up in the depth/badass department of Arthas, he's just kind of a "bleh", flat villain.

The game is a the same grind it was when it first came out. Was fine at the start, but now gamers want something more. Look no further than the failures of other recent MMO's. The WoW model which has been greatly successful has run it's course.

I'm not saying that WoW is a bad game, it's just the same game. It's not a matter of content needing to be added, it's that the gameplay needs to evolve from what it is. I really hope that SW:TOR will bring some new things to the table, but I don't have a lot of faith in that.

I played WoW for 5 years and for the most part enjoyed them, but as of right now because of how MMO's are today, I won't pick up another one until I see some sort of real innovation.

Perhaps it's time to create an entirely new MMO, Blizzard.

The tech it runs on is woeful, im suprised so many people still play it. Im guessing the numbers will see a further slide considering games like SWToR, Guildwars 2 and so on are coming out. Rift also seems to be gaining some slight traction too.

The problem is WoW has been going for what 6-7 years.

Sooner or later it was bound to lose players. People sometimes just want something new. WoW was never going to last forever but it's still got 11 million players so can't exactly say it's doing badly.

Jyggalag:
Perhaps it's time to create an entirely new MMO, Blizzard.

It would be nice if they announced Titan at Blizcon, but probably too soon considering the Starcraft expansion and Diablo 3 on the horizon

Jyggalag:
Perhaps it's time to create an entirely new MMO, Blizzard.

inb4 World Of Starcraft

WoW was really fun. But like many other gamers I find myself both strapped for cash and time. I can barely afford to buy new games anymore. The last game I bought was the last expansion to "The Sims" I never played. (Still kinda fun.)

That's the thing about older games. You can go back and play them again and still enjoy them. But what about MMOs? They're kept alive through other people playing and the GMs who maintain the servers and access glitches if they come. IMO an MMO could not run by itself. If a normal game glitches out or has a game-ending bug, you go to gamefaqs or escapist or whathaveyou, look up the glitch and ask people about it. You find the solution and keep going.

MMOs are like giant boats or ships, constantly needing maintenance and constantly needing people to maintain them. They're a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that once they're over, the experience is gone with them. Enjoy it while you can, but remember that it will come to an end eventually.

Still, though. Blizzard has gotten billions from this game. They reeeeeeally should not be worried about losing a fraction of their 11 million subscribers.

Honestly,I'm not surprised considering that when it was first made, WoW was the only good mmo out there,now there' BILLIONS of awesome free MMOs out that surpass WoW if just not more creative than it. Suffice to say that unless Blizzard gets on the free to play bandwagon,they are going to lose players.

Oh, silly Blizzard, it's not that people have been consuming your content faster, it is that your content takes an afternoon of headaches to complete.

People have realized that you simply just don't care anymore.

Xanthious:
I don't know, I'm a six year veteran of WoW and for some reason Cataclysm just isn't "doing it" for me. I don't know what it is exactly but there just feels like something is missing. I know a lot of guild members are saying the same thing. We can't put our finger on it but something that was there in the previous three chapters just isn't there any longer.

Maybe the missing "thing" is the fact that it took 6 years for you to get bored with the game? Which is a phenomenal achievement for Blizzard as many games drop under critical mass in less then 6 months.

Definitely bad news for the builders of Scrooge McDuck vaults.

I think WoW has already reached its peak and is staring to descend.

It'll be a very, very long descent though. The game has a massive fanbase and 11.1 million subscribers is nothing to scoff at.

Regardless, I think another 5 years minimum to a decade maximum will bring the juggernaught down. So there's still a long, long time before we see it shut down its servers.

The real question is, how long before another game surpasses it? That could be much sooner, as in a few years. I'd pin SWToR as a possible candidate, but I don't like counting my chickens before they hatch so I guess we'll have to wait and see.

How about instead of solely catering to the 'end-game' crowd. We actually have a content patch that has something for the little guy whose still levelling?

Cataclysm in my eyes is one of the best expansions so far if only because it gave me new things to do while I levelled.

Now, it's fucking boring again because I've seen it all... Again.

I realise it's easier to update with new, level-capped content because it's at the end, it can just be added on.

But just adding in the occasional new quest for those still on their way to 85 wouldn't hurt.

Why not spend some time slowly re-working content from previous expansions?
I'm not saying reboot it all entirely, maybe just have a look at some of the quests and re-work them to more fit the style you've currently got?

I know that whenever I level a new character I dread hitting level 58 because I know I can only put off going to Outland for another 2 levels.

With some refreshed content in Outland I probably wouldn't feel like I have to slog through PuGs for ten levels...

Everyone knew one day it would end and if this *POSSIBLY* the sign of the slow downhill journey to the end of WoW, it had a historic run. However, I can't help but feel this song is appropriate for the whole "it's coming to an end."

rift sees to have everything wow has and more. the only thing rift doesnt have is the 11 million subscribers.

i wouldnt be surprised if in 2 - 5 years time rift is the big dog mmo

...and the DJIA falls 350 points on this news.

KeyMaster45:

Another thing could be that Arthas was a pretty big and epic target for us to kill. I mean we have to face it, Deathwing just doesn't measure up in the depth/badass department of Arthas, he's just kind of a "bleh", flat villain.

The only reason is because in Cataclysm most of their main villians are from warcraft 2, which im sure a very large portion of the wow community has never played. WOTLK and BC mainly featured enemies who you know from warcraft 3, a game which was not that old at the time. Sure they threw in medivh as a warcraft 1 reference but I doubt very many people got that.

Wow has peaked and is falling its as simple as that. Nothing lasts forever and people are finally getting bored of it. Its lost over a million subscribers since cataclysm came and that is nothing to scoff at even if they do still have 11 million.

A lot of people are leaving because their friends are leaving. For many, the community is a big part of what keeps them interested and involved. Without that addition/distraction, people might not be having as much fun. It's an older game, and it shows.

Scrumpmonkey:
The tech it runs on is woeful, im suprised so many people still play it. Im guessing the numbers will see a further slide considering games like SWToR, Guildwars 2 and so on are coming out. Rift also seems to be gaining some slight traction too.

This is true.

SWTOR, Guild Wars 2, Firefall, Planetside 2, Phantasy Star Online 2...

Too many good games coming out to stick around. And from what I've played and seen, all of these are FAR ahead of WoW.

So they're down to 11.1 million, which is actually the number counting free accounts (you know, those things people don't pay for?). I wonder how far they're down for real. Cause this ain't LOTRO where those free accounts are paying microtransactions or some shit like that, it's just a trial account.

Good to see it losing it's stranglehold - it'll make way for the new and better MMOs that are coming in '11/'12 :)

KeyMaster45:
Inb4 the WoW haters show up shouting victory for X mmo as dethroning the giant.

I think the problem might be that there are veteran players who just got burnt out with the game. Hell I know at the end of Wrath I was so burnt out I let my subscription lapse and haven't really felt like going back. It's another expansion which means another year or two of grinding to the top of content only to have the board reset again with the next one. After going through vanilla, BC, and Wrath I just didn't feel like doing it anymore.

Despite the big revamps in Cataclysm it's still the same game, and the players who've been around for a long time are probably getting bored with the same old grind of content patterns.

-EDIT-

Xanthious:
I don't know, I'm a six year veteran of WoW and for some reason Cataclysm just isn't "doing it" for me. I don't know what it is exactly but there just feels like something is missing. I know a lot of guild members are saying the same thing. We can't put our finger on it but something that was there in the previous three chapters just isn't there any longer.

I think what's missing is that their big bad guy isn't one with lots of rep outside of novels. Though I'm not sure how well that stands up, Illdian got lots of his back story from the War of the Ancients novels. (at least the parts that made him into more of a tragic figure than he already was)

Another thing could be that Arthas was a pretty big and epic target for us to kill. I mean we have to face it, Deathwing just doesn't measure up in the depth/badass department of Arthas, he's just kind of a "bleh", flat villain.

I totally agree KeyMaster,

I don't think its a coincidence that the interest has started to decline after the last bit of content that was directly related to the other Warcraft games was used. I remember the announcement of Cataclysm and my first question was "Who the heck is Deathwing?" It took me awhile to figure out he actually was in Warcraft II, and it took reading the novels to finally feel up to date with what was going on. I was emotionally attached to the stories of Illidan and Arthas, but Deathwing (and perhaps anything else they come up with) just isn't cutting it. If I'm not emotionally attached then all the flaws start to show and it becomes just old hat.

Now SW:TOR has the oppertunity to totally suck me in because of how much of an impact KOTOR and KOTOR II had on me. I want to find out what happened to Revan and all the other characters I meet, and re-experience that wonderful feeling of playing KOTOR without knowing whats coming next.

EverythingIncredible:

Scrumpmonkey:
The tech it runs on is woeful, im suprised so many people still play it. Im guessing the numbers will see a further slide considering games like SWToR, Guildwars 2 and so on are coming out. Rift also seems to be gaining some slight traction too.

This is true.

SWTOR, Guild Wars 2, Firefall, Planetside 2, Phantasy Star Online 2...

Too many good games coming out to stick around. And from what I've played and seen, all of these are FAR ahead of WoW.

In some ways yes, in others no. The main advantage WoW has over the competition is it is just so established. Any issues that there were have been ironed out years ago so the game has a level of polish equivalent to around 6 years extra dev time.

But you can only do so much with old tech and many older dungeons and whole areas pre cataclysm became almost totally redundant since they were designed for a top-tier that no longer is top ao i guess its swings and roundabouts.

Merkavar:
rift sees to have everything wow has and more. the only thing rift doesnt have is the 11 million subscribers.

i wouldnt be surprised if in 2 - 5 years time rift is the big dog mmo

I haven't heard THAT one before...

Hyborian Age...
Warhammer...
Perfect World...
LOTR...
Galaxies...
Everquest 2...
FF-whatever...
DC Universe...
City of Morally Ambiguous Ubermen...
EVE Online...
Guildwars...

All of these have been set up as these great WoW killers and ultimately fail. Because WoW is a good game. All these fanboys coming in and saying WoW is collapsing don't know what they're talking about. It pulls in a billion in revenue each year. If WoW dies it's not going to be for another 10 years or so.

Merkavar:
rift sees to have everything wow has and more. the only thing rift doesnt have is the 11 million subscribers.

i wouldnt be surprised if in 2 - 5 years time rift is the big dog mmo

You MIGHT be right, but I don't think Rift has the pedigree. I'd put my money on SW:TOR. So far I've heard so many things that they are trying to do with that game that I've never heard of another MMO pulling off, and if they do...well the only words that comes to mind are ... Unstoppable Juggernaught!

Not surprising. The lack of content in WoW is really surprising now. Cataclysm only brought 5 new zones. The revamping of the old zones does nothing for existing players, except making leveling an alt slightly more interesting. PvP balance is the worst it's ever been, and it takes them months to make any changes. There's been zero new arena maps, and they still can't fix the one arena they added from the last expansion.

I see no reason for me to keep playing when Diablo 3 and SWTOR come around.

I had a subscription to WOW, but times are tough and given the choice between playing WOW or being able to buy groceries, Food wins.

Two ideas that, if Blizzard implemented in the game, would get me to come back.

1.) Lower the monthly fee. It doesn't have to be drastic, but until the economy turns around, that might be a good idea to keep players and gain new players.
2.) Find away to herd all the players who care more about Gear-Score and damage numbers onto their own server so those players who just want to have fun don't feel unwelcome and cancel their subscriptions.

It would be an interesting day when WoW's servers are shut down. Will there be mass mourning, celebration, or apathy?

No we left because its too easy , and your making us pay for mounts

Maybe you should start thinking about a WoW2. Well, more like focusing on a WoW2, because I'm guessing WoW is showing its age.

It's a down economy. As a college student, I can buy a weeks worth of groceries for $15 and I'd rather have the groceries. Once the market picks back up, people will be able to afford to play.

skullduggery:

Merkavar:
rift sees to have everything wow has and more. the only thing rift doesnt have is the 11 million subscribers.

i wouldnt be surprised if in 2 - 5 years time rift is the big dog mmo

I haven't heard THAT one before...

Hyborian Age...
Warhammer...
Perfect World...
LOTR...
Galaxies...
Everquest 2...
FF-whatever...
DC Universe...
City of Morally Ambiguous Ubermen...
EVE Online...
Guildwars...

All of these have been set up as these great WoW killers and ultimately fail. Because WoW is a good game. All these fanboys coming in and saying WoW is collapsing don't know what they're talking about. It pulls in a billion in revenue each year. If WoW dies it's not going to be for another 10 years or so.

Funny coming from someone who sounds a lot like a WoW fanboy, because frankly you don't know jack-shit about what you are talking about.
Galaxies existed BEFORE WoW came out, as did Everquest 2. Final Fantasy 11 was out for a year or so before WoW ever released. So how those games were supposed to be "WoW Killers" before it ever existed is a total mystery.
Perfect World is a F2P game, so there never was any competition between it and WoW, and was never hailed as such. Same goes with Guild Wars, and as someone who had followed the game before it was released, yeah neither was it.

WoW is a "decent" game, until you hit the end. Then it devolves into the same primitive treadmill its been stuck on since Vanilla, with only a few relative bright spots that pop up end-game here or there (like Karazhan and its few interesting bosses).
Its old, the disparity between models can be rather face-punching obvious, and honestly the coding behind the game now has to be a right-fucking mess because its all being done by people who most likely only have some limited experience with it. WoW is essentially running on a set of B/C-level developers while everyone else is on Titan (how else would one manage to turn a shaman setpiece bonus into a week-long cooldown for a needed spell?).

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