World of Warcraft Suffers Biggest Subscriber Drop in History

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World of Warcraft Suffers Biggest Subscriber Drop in History

World of Warcraft is down to 7.1 million subscribers, from 10 million at the end of last year.

World of Warcraft, despite riding a massive 10 million high following the launch of Warlords of Dreanor last year, has just experienced its biggest drop in subscribers in history. The game is down to just 7.1 million subscribers according to Blizzard's Q1 2015 earnings call, meaning it has lost 2.9 million players in just three months.

To put things into perspective, check out this cool graph MMO Champion put together showing World of Warcraft's subscriber numbers over the years:

image

As you can see, the game peaked right around the end of Wrath of the Lich King and has been steadily declining since, with the occasional short-term burst in numbers. Despite the decline in subscribers, Blizzard does say that actual revenue from the game has remained fairly consistent, thanks to a strong uptake on value added services (such as paid level 90 boosts), and price increases in select regions.

It's not all doom and gloom for Blizzard, however, as their earnings report also announced that Hearthstone is up to 30 million players from 25 million last year, and 11 million people have signed up for the Heroes of the Storm beta.

Source: MMO Champion

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Not surprising at all.

Draenor had an amazing leveling experience. After that though? Complete drop-off.

I'm not sure I'd call the Garrison a facebook game, but it's pretty damn close. Log on for a few minutes, complete daily Garrison chores, log back out.

Despite no flying, there really wasn't a reason to be out in the world, and still really isn't a compelling reason to do so even now.

As I just mentioned, no flying has also turned a lot of people off.

Blizzard has made many mistakes to say the least.

So all the people who came back for WoD left as they realized that yeah, there really was a good reason they stopped playing WoW.

Hell WoD nearly enticed me back to the game and I first quit back during Wrath.

So basically the only reason revenue isn't down for the game is that people are using their pay-to-skip-grinding service and screwing over select parts of the market that are likely not the US.

And I can understand why. Showed this article to a friend of mine who is a WoW fan, and he has this to say:

still playin, but without watching i know why. They dragged it on soooo much (basicly only opened 2 raids SINCE IT CAME OUT!), if it wasnt for the breaks im taking every few weeks id unsub too, since its boring as shiet right now.

Really I've never been a fan of the game, but looking at videos from some YouTuber whose name escapes me who made some videos on things like "best cut content" or "worst grinding/questing areas", it's clear that they could just have a few more developers work on fleshing out content to have some major updates to turn currently useless areas into decent points and opening a few more raids.

From what I've heard from friends, the content was "new and exciting" and I should seriously resub, but the player toxicity is still ever-present. One had even taken pride in wrecking groups that complained about him playing a hunter or not knowing a rotation at lv 30. I'll not ever play a game with a base so self-absorbed and wrapped up in their superiority complex, ever.

I can see I wasn't the only one, then, heh.

Basically, I came back. Had fun leveling up, even doing a bit of dungeon content, but, soon after that first resub fee hit, I grew bored and just stopped playing. I wouldn't doubt if many people's opinions were the same.

I realized that most of what kept me logging back in was the Garrison, and that was just a glorified free-to-play cell phone game. I had geared up as far as interesting content could take me, and raiding was out of the question because everyone I would care to raid with no longer played. LFR was (always) a joke.

It definitely didn't help that they changed Spriest to be just so... boring.

Called it. Warlords was great right at the beginning, with the beautiful visuals and even though the story was convoluted as hell it was still entertaining and leveling was fun.

Then Thrall steals your glory at the end of Nagarand, Blizzard hands out Raid Loot like candy, releases only two raid tiers, ties everything to a Facebook App Game, then to top it ALL off releases old content as "NEW" and makes the Legendary Item for WoD quite possibly the lamest and worst one in the history of the game.

There is a reason I quit too with this expansion. WoW is riding the nostalgia train super hard right now; had any other MMO had 3 expansions in a row as badly received as Cata, MoP and WoD have been they would've been dead by now.

Consider me another person whose not surprised in the least about this. Warlords of Draenor had a great start with a fantastic leveling experience and some solid content out the gate, problem is Blizz really haven't delivered anything of worth since to keep people's attention hooked.

The first major content patch is only coming out now and it's been almost seven months since the expansion was released. Blizzard are really dragging their feet with this and it's completely spoiled the momentum an awesome expansion launch managed to earn them.

To me the game sort of died after "Wrath Of The Lich King" once Arthas was dead it just seemed to be all filler lore wise as they thought of increasingly weird ways to keep the game going, sure it could be lore justified, but I just wasn't feeling it. The grinds started to tax me, and when my guild pretty much quit I did as well, I tried to go back but I couldn't. I think part of Blizzard's problem is that in a game so socially based it's not easy for people to come back and get into guilds again especially as elitism continues and people look at herculean tasks to get caught back up even with paid auto-leveling and things like that. If you show up after not having played since say Lich King few people even want to talk to you so to speak, though that probably varies from server to server and community to community.

Lodum:

It definitely didn't help that they changed Spriest to be just so... boring.

Actually happened with a lot of classes. I really hated how they "pruned" all the situational abilities away. For DPS classes, especially, their "rotations" are now a joke, consisting of maybe three or four buttons no matter what spec. Yes, it make the game less convoluted and easier for newer players to understand, but it also made it horribly boring for anyone who regularly raids as DPS.

Hmm, revenue remained consistent, price going up while actual players goes down? Sounds like they're heading the wrong way on the Price vs Demand curve. It's an egregious way to do business when the supply is effectively infinite. I hope they continue and ride that curve straight into the ground, WoW has been a black hole in gaming for a decade, effecting even single player games.

Can you really call it a drop? It is more like a correction, putting the data point back on to the prevailing trend of subscriptions. The expansion numbers just seems to be a very big outlier.

There is not enough to do and no insentive to even play in Warlords of draenor

People log on, do their garrison stuff, and log off again. And i can imagine that people do not want to pay a subscription fee of 12 euros just for a glorified Iphone app with shitty interface.

Add to that that LFR gear looks sometimes worse then world drop greens and you dont even have a reason to go LFRing if youre not into organized raiding.

Then they took a complete crap on PvPers, almost completly ignoring them and putting a piss poor excuse of a battlefield into the game where most people cant even enter because its allways at its limit.

And the fact that they massively cut back on features and content and that the expansion is allready allmost over even thought its only 5 months old and we most likely have more then a year left before a new expansion hits.

WoW is a dinosaur... and people thought that it would reinvent itselfe with WoD... and while the story telling was better then ever before, there is not enough game in the new expansion, there simply is no reason anymore to go out into the world and do quests and shit because your garrison can give you even better rewards simply for logging in and doing some facebook quests.

That is not what people wanted when they wanted housing, they wanted a place they could customize to their liking and show off their achievements. Instead what they got was an expansive iphone app with a subcription and no reason to play the actual game.

At 7 million players it's still by far the biggest true MMORPG out there. I think what's really catching up with Blizzard is simply the fact that the game is at that point where its legacy is all dead weight, not a strength it can leverage. They have more content than most MMOs could ever dream of having just lying around completely unused because people just rush past to get to the "endgame". In fact they completely removed all of the leveling content the game launched with with Cataclysm.

From my perspective the problem with WoW is that they have a gargantuan world that has become nothing more than the worlds most interacrive installation and loading screen. You spend a bit of time in it while you install endgame, and then while you load raids and battlegrounds. Match based games are more popular at this point, but to me that means MMOs shouldn't try to become match based, they should leverage their actual strengths. We're literally at a point where developing a game with a seamless world that rivals WoW in scale and detail is becoming too expensive for companies to even try. More and more MMOs are based on instances and smaller maps and overworlds. The whole idea of the free roaming online RPG is in danger of going extinct, and the one game that can boast the biggest accomplishment in this area just lets it all rot while they make you queue up for dungeons.

And with each new expansion, the upswing will be smaller and the drop afterwards will be bigger.

Everyone is aware of this, right?

PH3NOmenon:
And with each new expansion, the upswing will be smaller and the drop afterwards will be bigger.

Everyone is aware of this, right?

Not Blizzard.

It's a sad thing to admit, but World of Warcraft was somehow able to kill my interest in Fantasy themed gaming. I can play Sci-Fi games no problem, just not Fantasy. Good thing Skyrim has mod support.

I'm just really happy to see that their lazy, desperate nostalgia bait marketing strategy has failed.

Sure they've still made more money this quarter than I'll ever see in my life, but the blood loss was well deserved on their part.

Of course the game peaked around Wrath, it was the last really good expansion they did. Cataclysm was disjointed and unfocused, Pandaria was a joke. WoD drew a ton of people back with the premise, but failed to follow up on it. It's as if Blizz isn't sure what they did right in the first place so they can't do it again...

I'm not surprised that this happened... just that it was this many in such a short amount of time. Would've thought it'd be longer, but then they've been pretty bad with the patches in this expansion according to what I've seen and have been told by a friend.

A lot of old subscribers probably came back to see Draenor again, then left when the game couldn't hold them over like it did in the old days. Overall they seem to be back at the point they were at before the expansion.

Steven Bogos:

Actually happened with a lot of classes. I really hated how they "pruned" all the situational abilities away. For DPS classes, especially, their "rotations" are now a joke, consisting of maybe three or four buttons no matter what spec. Yes, it make the game less convoluted and easier for newer players to understand, but it also made it horribly boring for anyone who regularly raids as DPS.

...and yet, in GW2 you can only have 10 abilities on your bar at once and it still feels a helluva lot better to play than WoW does.

Blizzard had the right idea when they decided to trim the fat for most classes but they failed rather spectacularly in execution. Hell, they didn't go nearly far enough in my opinion - DKs in particular had almost nothing removed.
No amount of rejiggering that Blizzard does is going to breathe life into a fundamentally ancient combat system though, especially when you have to stand still to cast spells and most abilities have no real animations of their own.

Despite having registered every WoW expansion up until now, I've never max leveled any of my characters. The farthest I've gotten so far is a level 65 or something Blood Elf that's never seen more content than the maps of the base game and Burning Crusade.

There's just something that bores me quickly whenever I subscribe for a month (which is very rarely at best). On the other hand I'm a very active player of Final Fantasy XIV in which in two years I had only one unpleasant encounter. I was dropped from a group because I was a level 50 archer and not a bard. A class of which I wasn't aware that I could gain it through my archer's job quests.

That may be one of the biggest problems with MMOs. Some people who are really into it forget that there are players who 'only' want to enjoy the game and not read through hundreds of strategy guides.

Adding to the chorus of "Yeah, not surprised".

If I didn't have the raid groups I participate in, I'd have unsubbed about 7 months ago.

What's especially frustrating is that they had so much potential with the garrisons. As it stands, I had much more fun grinding rep dailies in MoP (never thougt I'd say that) than logging in once or twice a day, sending my guys out on missions and collecting stuff. And the funny part: the rep grind is still there, just without dailies.

A damn shame, all things considered.

Not exactly surprising. People come back for new content, leave again when they are done with it. The exact same thing happened for MoP, and I would wager that it will happen with every new expansion from here on out.

I know that I cancelled my subscription a few weeks ago in order to devote more time to the Witcher games, in preparation for The Witcher​ 3. I wonder if I was the only one to unsub for that reason?

I am not surprised at all , the game has been getting steady worse since Wotlk, imo BC was the best but still wrath was good , every expansion they make the game less fun imo.

Xerosch:
Despite having registered every WoW expansion up until now, I've never max leveled any of my characters. The farthest I've gotten so far is a level 65 or something Blood Elf that's never seen more content than the maps of the base game and Burning Crusade.

There's just something that bores me quickly whenever I subscribe for a month (which is very rarely at best). On the other hand I'm a very active player of Final Fantasy XIV in which in two years I had only one unpleasant encounter. I was dropped from a group because I was a level 50 archer and not a bard. A class of which I wasn't aware that I could gain it through my archer's job quests.

That may be one of the biggest problems with MMOs. Some people who are really into it forget that there are players who 'only' want to enjoy the game and not read through hundreds of strategy guides.

Ditto here on the FF14 thing. Been enjoying the hell out of that game and can't wait for the expansion to hit later on in the summer time. Quit WoW during the end of Rats of the Bitch Queen and haven't looked back; just never wanted to play Holy Paladin anymore. My lalafell White Mage on FF14, OTOH, is all I need for my MMO experience.

PH3NOmenon:
And with each new expansion, the upswing will be smaller and the drop afterwards will be bigger.

Everyone is aware of this, right?

Certainly no-one who looks at the graph in the article will be aware of this, since it's the exact opposite of what's happened so far - the last two expansions have had by far the biggest upswings. I expect that trend to continue, since it's driven by people who have stopped playing coming back to look at the new content - the more people who have left, the more former players there are to come back for each expansion.

Laggyteabag:
Not exactly surprising. People come back for new content, leave again when they are done with it. The exact same thing happened for MoP, and I would wager that it will happen with every new expansion from here on out.

Exactly. A lot of people seem to be desperately looking to blame Blizzard for doing something wrong, but the fact is that people like new things and WoW is now 10 years old. People who started playing in their teens or as students are now hitting their 30s with jobs, children, and so on. And regardless of their age, very few people are happy to play the same game over and over again for years on end. It's always been completely obvious what would happen to WoW - it will grow old and slowly die out as people get bored of it and move on to new things. Throwing new content out from time to time can keep people interested for a bit, but as long as the game looks and plays the same that will never be enough to stop people eventually getting bored of it.

Also important is that there's no meaningful churn going on - the old players leaving aren't being replaced by new ones. To start with, there's little reason for a prospective new player to pick WoW over any other MMO. There may be no ultimate WoW killer around that gets everyone to migrate to a new game en masse, but there are plenty that are just as attractive to new players as WoW (after all, the whole point of the term "WoW clone" is that a game is basically the same as WoW). On top of that, WoW is old and famous. Everyone who might want to play it already has, there simply isn't an untapped market full of people who might desperately want to play WoW if only they had the chance.

So yes, WoW is in decline, and no, it's not Blizzard's fault for making bad expansions. People get older, their tastes change, and they get bored of doing the same thing all the time. There's nothing Blizzard or anyone else can do about that.

Hmmm.. Can't say I'm surprised. Blizzard's focus on end game content has pretty much screwed the game over and their rush to get people to the end game content quickly has double screwed them.

Cataclysm wasn't a bad Expack because it actually made you want to go through some of the earlier levels to see the new changes.

This is the problem with the model Blizzard has sunken into. Each expack doesn't add anything in terms of depth and honestly people can't really get into a narrative they have no real ability to affect. Blizzard made a ke mistake. They focus on the MMO and not the RPG. IN a decent RPG you feel as if you're accomplishing something each step of the game, you feel as if you actions matter....unfortunately in WoW it's the opposiote. You're practically trained not to care and the story, mechanics and player base more or less beat it into you that nothing below level 70 matters.

Thusly people just pay to skip levels or power level through it. Hell once you Unlock dungeon instances you literally never have to leave you capital except for material grinding. When you can pay to skip levels you basically wind up shortening your content experience whioch means they spend less time getting drawn into the skinner box which in turn makes it easier for them to break out of the box.

Cn WoW fix this? Sure...but the player-base they've cultivated will probably get hives over them. FOr starters. Give players some hard choices to make. Blizzard has spent so much time making it near impossible for players to make the wrong choice that the player feels no investment in the choices they make. Advice;. Go back to the Vanilla approach of having certain skill sets for each class earned as quest rewards Secondly, Make some of these choices binary ...Thirdly, for god's sake add some variety in your gameplay... YOubasically made a linear game where only 3 skills actually matter, for any class.

Sadly I doubt any of this will get fixed. Blizzard has ironically been trapped by their own developmental skinnerbox. Not to mention they've cultivated a playerbase of asshats where it's practically expected that you've read every aspect of the metagame... I'll say it right now. WoW players are second only to MoBa players interms of their fixation on the meta game but the kick is, even in Moba's there's more openmindedness about new tactics and play styles

A whole bunch of my friends quit because of the PvP balance situation. The arena situation is worse than it's been in quite a few expansions. Certain classes that shall go unnamed roam 2v2 and 3v3 like a plague, winning games solely on the merit of the spec, class or combo they're playing. I'm not naive, balance is always going to be a problem, but right now it's in the worst shape I've ever experienced. And I've played since vanilla.

They had consistent gains and several big jumps during TBC, and they threw that all away for a relatively tiny gain and an almost complete plateau in Wrath.

Wrath was where it all started to go wrong, I think people overestimate how good ICC was, because it was pretty average really. Ulduar was the best raid of WotLK and almost all of TBC's raids were better than Ulduar.

I won't tout about how good Vanilla WoW was because it wasn't that great, it was good, but they got it right in TBC and then decided they had too many completely dedicated players, they needed to open it up to casual flakers who'll drop the game just as quick as they picked it up.

T9 (that argent tourney shit) in wrath was so bad I left to play Aion throughout that entire content period, and it says something about your game when a player from day 1 and raider in a top 250 world guild would rather play fucking Aion of all things.

Came back for ICC, which was about 3 good bosses, and many, many mediocre (and worse) bosses. Got realm first 85 Undead, Rogue, and Horde and played through until Heroic Firelands and decided the game just wasn't for me anymore. It isn't even world of warcraft, it's a completely new, worse game, in a WoW wrapper.

Edit: On the topic of balancing, I never understood why they tried so many stupid and fruitless things like special resilience pvp gear, pvp power etc etc. That was never going to balance anything, all they end up doing is balancing a class for either pvp or pve and then completely fucking them over in the one they aren't balanced in (like my precious Rogue, so many times, being nerfed in to the ground because of PVP shit I couldn't care less about).

All they had to fucking do was make abilities work differently in pvp, that's it. Are rogues doing too much damage in pvp but they are just right in pve? then reduce the damage their abilities do while in a BG, Arena, or designated pvp area. Mages have too much CC for pvp but it's needed for pve? give some of their abilities a longer cooldown in a pvp setting. It really isn't that hard. Make pve and pvp separate, stop trying to balance every class against every class while also trying to balance them against every dungeon and raid boss in the entire game at the same time.

Paragon Fury:
had any other MMO had 3 expansions in a row as badly received as Cata, MoP and WoD have been they would've been dead by now.

Now now, Mists of Pandaria was a very good expansion - people just hated it because of the Chinese-themed aesthetic and lolpandas.

... and the things gated behind a crapload of dailies, even though everyone seemed to love the daily-based progression of Isle of Thunder.

I'm teetering on the edge of unsubbing again myself. They cut out a lot of the daily quests, but garrison chores/followers have taken their place so you still feel the need to constantly login or fall behind. I'm horrible at tanking and healing (and live with net hogs, resulting in lag spikes) so I play dps for dungeons, however I have maybe once every week or so that I have to time to wait through the dps queue for anything AND actually run the content. I enjoy(ed) playing casters the most, but they decided to remove caster mobility, slow cast speed and super rng the stats. Speaking of the stats, versatility is on everything. Every time I get a box from a raid mission or a item token I sit there chanting "please not versatility," which tends to get followed by the item having nothing but versatility. It needs to get killed off and not replaced with another stat. As it is, I've just given up trying to optimize my characters and just throw on whatever has a higher item level, unless by some grace of the gods I'm granted an item of higher/equal level that's not sopping in versatility.

Loop Stricken:
Now now, Mists of Pandaria was a very good expansion - people just hated it because of the Chinese-themed aesthetic and lolpandas.

... and the things gated behind a crapload of dailies, even though everyone seemed to love the daily-based progression of Isle of Thunder.

I liked the pandas personally, but I understand why some people don't. I think my favorite questline addition was the Landfall one. The pace just seemed right on progressing through the storyline. Blizzard even commented on people enjoying that progression as if signifying they were going to continue at that pace and then just seemed to throw darts at what they did next.

I have no drive whatsoever to play WOD and I want to like it because I enjoy playing WoW. Once I saw the first Draenor videos I knew what to expect, I loved Mists of Pandaria and knew once the expansion hit it would be nothing but nostalgia driving it forward instead of actual content. The Garrisons turned out exactly like I thought they would, a silly Facebook style chore that becomes necessary and grindy and separates the community. The Ashran PvP I hear was also a huge disaster and I know that is where I would have spent most of my time had I played, Blizzard has all but abandoned making decent PvP content it seems.

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