Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Warlords Subscription Prescription Description

If you already read forums or read trade chat (why would you do that, though?), you don't need to read anything else about the state of World of Warcraft's active subscription numbers, I'm sure - but I don't usually talk about the active subscription counts, so hear me out for a moment.

This is the (cropped - view full, interactive chart here) chart of WoW's active subscriptions. At Warlords release, subscriptions skyrocketed to be as high as they were at Mist's release, clearing the leap upwards from the dismal sub count that Mists had earned after overstaying its welcome with over a year of SoO. With this latest report, we're seeing that in record time of only six months, subs dropped back down dramatically to almost as low as they were at Mists' lowest point,

However, in case you forgot, Mists' release came with that Annual Pass deal - free beta access, a mount, and Diablo III for free - if you had already paid for Diablo III, you had game time credited for the worth of the game - if you agreed to subscribe to the game for a full year. Cancelling before your year was up revoked your mount and Diablo III access. Of course, after the Annual Pass ran its full year course, the subscription count was 7.6M.

The initial release of the Siege of Orgrimmar patch bumped subs back up a bit before falling down once more and then settling at 6.8M - 21 months after its release. The last time the subscription count was lower than 6.8M was in 2006, during Vanilla.

We have seen a steady drop over time since Cata's release, with WotLK being the last expansion where the sub count was higher by the end of its course. Each expansion release brings people back, but they simply aren't sticking around these days.

I clearly haven't had enough of talking about how I'm not sure why I don't want to play that much anymore, so here I am with more. To summarize the linked posts, I haven't actually been playing WoW a lot lately. When I do play, I do Ashran or battlegrounds with an occasional lowbie alt or romp through old content, while actively avoiding my garrison. So, what's the deal?

What I've kept saying is "I don't know if it's the game that's gotten old or if I've just gotten sick of it," but frankly, seeing this dramatic subscription dip kind of reinforces for me that Warlords just failed to fit the bill this time around to a large number of players. I mean, I'm technically still one of those active subscribers since my subscription is, in fact, currently active...

I bought some of them tokens

- so we're talking about people who really have had enough, and up and fully cancelled their sub.

The underlying problem, though, is that WoW's subscription count and overall survival depends on getting those old players who come back for the new expansions to stick around. As I go into in this rather old, very wordy post, World of Warcraft does not see many new faces for a variety of reasons.

To strike at the main points:

  • The introductory gameplay of World of Warcraft is not stimulating enough to latch people onto it, especially when considering the alternatives available.
  • People who are not already introduced to the Warcraft universe will not become attached to the game for its story, as the storytelling is disjointed and assumes you already know most of it.
  • The graphics are very stylized and the character customization options are limited, keeping new players from becoming attached to their new characters.
I'm getting a little side tracked, but the bottom line is that the game's survival counts on its existing players sticking around. Unless the developers choose to focus on making the game more appealing to newer players, this will remain the reality.

Warlords just wasn't sticky enough.

flop flop flop flop

Mists may have also been problematic in its staying power, but whether or not this was reality is skewed by people not wanting to relinquish their Annual Pass perks. In my opinion as a writer of words on the internet, the game has changed too dramatically from its original incarnations to continue to keep the interest of those long term players.

Nostalgia keeps luring me back into the game, but once I'm there long enough to realize that nothing I'm thinking about is happening and that I'm not experiencing any of the feelings I think I'm going to, I log back out.

I'm not blaming anyone. I'm not mad, I'm not trying to complain - I'm just slowly realizing that this is the reality.

Truthfully, it makes me pretty sad.

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