World of Warcraft subscriptions drop (again) to 7.7 million worldwide | PCGamesN

World of Warcraft subscriptions drop (again) to 7.7 million worldwide

While stat inflation continues to plague Blizzard’s MMO, the numbers outside the game are getting gradually smaller. World of Warcraft subs have fallen below figures for 2007 expansion Burning Crusade, less than a year after the release of Mists of Pandaria.

Ahead of a conference call dedicated to their expensive Vivendi buyout, Activision-Blizzard announced projected earnings of $4.31 billion for this year - up from their previous forecast. However, they also revealed that WoW subscriptions now stand at a 7.7 million total - down 600,000 since numbers were last reported in May.

How bad is that? Well, here’s a graph we threw together at the time.

That’s an iffy trajectory, even for MS Paint. So we had a think about why Blizzard is losing subscribers, and how they might go about fixing the problem. Where would you suggest Blizz go from here?

Whatever the developer's plans, we're bound to hear something of them at BlizzCon 2013.

Thanks, Gamasutra.

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Unlucky Charms avatar
Unlucky Charms Avatar
4 Years ago

I played WoW when it first came out and left (And subsequently resubscribbed) multiple times, with my latest subscription ending a few months before Cataclysm was announced, with exceptions of trying each expansion on that little 1 week trial they give out each time they release one. I've played tons of MMOs since I was a lad and my dad wanted me to do something called a Beta Test on some strange game called Everquest...

(TL;DR for following wall of text: WoW and it's clones are flawed at their core and their design gives them an inherit lifespan. Their deaths can only be delayed at best, never avoided. Going F2P helps this by opening accessibility and reduces the attrition caused by a monthly fee, but the monthly fee itself is not the problem. Look at EVE Online, an increasingly successful subscription MMO that is older than WoW yet is still growing both in content and playerbase.)

So after picking up the game and playing for a few years when it came out, I left WoW for plenty of reasons each time I did so, but the common denominators were fairly prominent to me: Monotonous Linearity; Limited and Diminishing Creativity and Uniqueness; Expensive Expansions (I dont want to pay Blizzard another ~$40-60 to keep up with the game I pay for monthly already); Largely Despisable Community (I grew tired of dealing with immature little kids, and worse, immature adults. Not to mention, I grew tired of being forced to >work< in parties and raids with them both); Lack of Uniqueness as an Individual Player (Class/Race Selection was nice, but Trait trees became unbalanced, you were only an effective [Hunter] if you were a [Marksman - Hunter] for example, so ofcourse, every [Hunter] was a [Marksman - Hunter]. Plus lack of indepth character identity customization ended up with thousands of players looking exactly alike at any given time); "Emphasis" in the Endgame on Raiding (There was honestly little to do other than raid, and being an effective raider required tedious data computations and gear collecting to even be allowed in raids, all so you could get better gear to do more raiding!); Inflation of both Currency and Statistics (i.e. totally broken and exploited economy); Perpetual Gear Treadmill (Hey there, nice ultra rare named [staff] you farmed the same raid for months to get... By the way, it will be replaced by the first green/common item you find in the next expansion pack, guarenteed); Imbalanced PvP (Oh, you want to do end-game PvP? Well, have fun getting annihalated by all the hardcore players who've expended the time to get all the l33t gear that specializes in punishing your n00b arse... Not to mention whenever Blizzard accidentally overpowers another class and you spend your time in PvP getting stomped by [Shamans] spamming some new OP combo, until Blizzard fixes it in a couple months and overpowers/overnerfs another class); Little Value for Your Money (Blizzard wanted nothing but every dollar from their players they could get, and it's become disgustingly obvious. Even Rift believes server switching should be free... WoW has the major issue of server overpopulation and the best they can freaking come up with is 50% off!? Are they that greedy?); "Kung-Fu Panda" (I actually dont mind the Pandas, I was happy to see a new playable race and class, and am not put off by them either as I knew they existed in Warcraft III. However this does show how desperate Blizzard is for Story. I think this shows they are near to completely out of ideas for story content.); Ultimately Unchallenging (Everything was so easy, and I never felt as though I was being challenged whenever I played the game. They dumbed down everything from the difficulty to player customization {i.e. the horrid new trait system}. I would expand on this more, but I guess you'll have to consider it yourself.) Severely Mutated and Now-Pitiful Storyline (I LOVED Warcraft's lore all the way from the first game til about BC, albeit never enough to nerd up so much I read the novels or comics or anything, but still, it has always had great writing, which I think has slowly become more pointless and uninteresting as Blizzard gets more desperate to think of Expansion material.); and lastly for this immense list, though still among many unmentioned sins, I simply just got bored, and couldnt help getting un-bored. Everything felt the same, I felt as though nothing I did mattered because it will all be replaced later by something "greater and grander" (And by that I mean the exact same thing, just with a higher level), I found myself grinding for whatever it is I wanted... Want to level? Grind... Need Gold? Grind... It was neverending, and I quickly, and repetitively came to the decision that I didnt want to pay $15 a month for this crap.

These are all basic reasons to dislike WoW and it's many clones, many of which slightly improved on the formula, nonetheless, though I have yet to find one that actually redeems it. There seems to be a belief out there with MMOs that the reason the Subscription-Based market is dying out is because of the rise of the Free to Play market. To this I say, sort of: Yes, I can basically go play what I think is a moderately superior version of WoW called Rift, for free, so why play WOW? But these aforementioned design problems are huge in almost all MMOs today, . (Let me quickly add that I am not a Rift fanboy, I dont even play it anymore because of many of the aforementioned reasons). However, look at the game EVE Online. Now I know atleast 50% of you just scoffed and went to downvote me, but I think what is inarguable is how it singlehandedly proved that the Subscription market is not dead, you simply have to make a game worth paying for, and few other games today are actually such. EVE's player base has been growing immensely over the past couple months, and while it is still at about 500k, "GROWING" is the key part of that sentence, because "GROWING" is not a term you will see associated with many Subscription, or many F2P MMOs nowadays. What I ask the people who have read this monster of text to consider is what makes it different; While yes it can be boring, EVE is a true sandbox, which is something almost all MMOs are the exact opposite of. There are always plenty of different things to do and they are all mostly unlinear. The game itself is unlinear, and can always be expanded upon, and no matter what someone tells you, a day 1 player is always useful, even in the largest of fleet fights. I did not come here to advertise EVE though, frankly I'll be the first to say it can be extremely boring at times and will cause you even a little frustration, but I truly believe what I say when I say that all MMO Developers can take a lesson from EVE's strengths and weaknesses. Developers need to recognize that games need depth and real feeling immersion, and to do whatever they can to prevent repetition in their games, and that the way to cater to casual gamers while still being a good game for the more serious type is not to make your game easy, and that making your game too easy will make it feel unrewarding, and we all know the progression henceforth...

Thank you for reading through this massive wall of text, but I wager many people will find my point of view agreeable, or atleast considerable. I want to add that I have fond memories of playing WoW and will always remember them, but I stand by my statement that it's design makes it highly degradeable, and we are looking at it's death.