WoW Down 2.9 Million Subs
In news both kinda expected and yet still rather shocking, WoW is down 2.9 million subscriptions from last quarter.
At a certain point, the sheer magnitude of the change makes commentary moot. You don’t lose nearly three million people because of Garrisons. Or screwing up professions. Or having easy-mode raids. Or hard raids. Or whatever. And as I mentioned when we first heard about the 10 million sub surprise, the numbers are too big to ascribe to the expected MMO Tourism/Locust Effect either. I mean, yeah, the numbers jumped to 10 million and then back down, so people went somewhere. But unless we’re willing to state three times as many wished to tour Draenor than Pandaria, it had to be a confluence of all sorts of things.
Whatever those things are, it’s clear that it isn’t enough to last a full quarter.
There is no transcript of the call as I write this, but I went ahead and listened to the whole 42 minutes of PR bullshit anyway. No real juicy tidbits were found… unless you consider Guitar Hero on your phone to be juicy. The whole WoW Token thing was mentioned only in passing, which makes sense considering any of its effects won’t appear until Q2. Oh, and I suppose there was this bit about Hearthstone (PDF):
Still doesn’t clear anything up in terms of the money part of Hearthstone’s success, but I suppose another data point is another data point.
Posted on May 7, 2015, in WoW and tagged Blizzard, Earnings Call, Hearthstone, Subscription, Warlords of Draenor. Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.
But, what if that really was the tourist effect?
WoW lost its cult status. It won’t go away any time soon but it lost its position to games from other genres. There aren’t that many people streaming WoW. You hardly find WoW blogs anymore. New MMOs aren’t immediately compared to WoW. You hardly see WoW memes. WoW (the cult) is dead. WoW is just another MMO.
It doesn’t sound impossible that WoW attracted 3 million tourists. Especially at the moment where there isn’t anything new in the MMO market. Two years ago, all those tourists probably still had an active WoW account – nowadays they play non-MMO games between their touristing.
It’s definitely a valid point about WoW having lost it’s cult status. I watch Hearthstone on Twitch more than a I play these days, and each time I look at the Twitch charts it’s usually League at #1 with 50k-80k, Hearthstone at #2 with 23k-50k, and then WoW is way down at the bottom with like 7k viewers. Pretty weird for a game with 7 million subs, unless it’s just not interesting to watch. In which case, you start thinking about whether it’s not interesting to play either.
The magnitude of the drop is surprising. I guess Draenor had a lot of hype which got people sucked back in, but after that it’s just more MMOing and there are other things to do with one’s time.
I honestly don’t remember what hype there was even supposed to be surrounding Draenor. Flex raiding? $60 character boosts? More orcs? Or perhaps it was simply hype for being any new content at all, after 14 months of nothing.
I remember a lot of hype for being a return to the old days and such.
Yeah, “going back to the roots” was definitely a big pull in the talk leading up to WoD. When it was announced, I thought that even I might want to go and check it out, because… BC nostalgia! I also seem to remember Wilhelm mentioning several of his lapsed WoW friends wanting to get back into the game as soon as the news broke.
So what if there just aren’t the numbers to sustain those levels anymore? I mean numbers of people interested in a PVE MMO where your primary activities are raiding and farming for future raids. People have given a lot of reasons for the decline, but at bottom WoW is still the same game of getting to max level and raiding for gear. As much of a chore as the garrison can be, it can’t be much worse than farming tubers in Vanilla was. That is, if you enjoyed the base game, you’d happily enough do the chores and live with it. But maybe all those people came back, got to level 100, and realized that this didn’t then make them six years younger, ready to play this kind of game again.
With MoP (esp.) Eastern players didn’t like the time-gating of Dailies as it spoiled their playtime (you buy an hour of playtime, you want to actually PLAY that hour, not just the 15 minute daily) .
So WoD brought even worse time-gating, and somehow that didn’t fly well esp. in the East, either.
Add in that much of the design philosophy was very reminiscent of the equally sub-killing Cataclysm, and one could say this was bound to happen.
I wonder when they’ll start doling out the current expansion this time around (Scroll of Rez/4.3 with the first Cataclysm, 6.0 with MoP…6.2 with WoD?)
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