Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in

Blizzard Speeding Up WoW Development

By - Source: Gamasutra | B 90 comments

A dramatic drop in subscriptions after Cataclysm's release has prompted Blizzard to consider faster content releases.

Monday during Activision Blizzard's First Quarter 2011 Financial Results conference call, Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime told investors that the company is shooting to launch the Diablo 3 Beta sometime in Q3 2011.

However the good news trailed a gloomier note that-- following the release of Cataclysm-- subscriber levels of World of Warcraft have decreased faster than what was experienced with previous expansion releases. Does that mean PC gamers are finally getting bored with Blizzard's monster MMORPG? Not at all. According to Morhaime, players have actually gotten better at consuming new content.

"As our players have become more experienced playing World of Warcraft over many years, they have become much better and much faster at consuming content," he said. "And so I think with Cataclysm they were able to consume the content faster than with previous expansions, but that's why we're working on developing more content."

He admitted that the team needed to be faster at delivering new content to players. "That's one of the reasons that we're looking to decrease the amount of time in-between expansions," he said, clarifying that the team was looking into ways of speeding up the development process after an investor asked if the decrease meant smaller expansions.

Buzz over the Cataclysm expansion propelled World of Warcraft subscriptions to an all-time high, exceeding 12 million as of October 2010. But now subscription numbers have dropped to the lowest it's been since December 2008, returning to "pre-Cataclysm levels in the West" (but more like Lich King levels) with a mere 11.4 million subscribers. That's a loss of 600,000 subscribers at the least.

So where have all these players gone? Are they flocking to free-to-play MMORPGs that offer a similar setting? Or have players reached a point where the only time they really need to play is when a new expansion has been released? Is it time for Blizzard to open the doors to free-to-play gamers?

Right now Blizzard isn't ready to disclose any additional details about speeding up the development process, or what future expansions will contain. That said, we're betting a new expansion will be announced at Blizzcon 2011.

Discuss
Ask a Category Expert

Create a new thread in the News comments forum about this subject

Example: Notebook, Android, SSD hard drive

This thread is closed for comments
  • 2 Hide
    davewolfgang , May 11, 2011 12:12 AM
    I'm going to be honest here - I really think that the drop has more to do with the Economy than anything else.

    Half my guild WANTS to play, but work and money have kept them.
  • 1 Hide
    Kamab , May 11, 2011 12:24 AM
    Many people I know stopped playing WoW because of the huge delays between content releases and the slow process by which different classes feel identical across a single role (tank/heal/mdps/rdps/pvp).

    Plus new content has gotten easier and easier. It really depends on who your targeting. WoW does an excellent job of targeting the casual gamer as opposed people that love extremely challenging content (my old guild). From a financial standpoint this probably makes sense, but you lose long term subscriptions from nerdy theory-crafters like me who get bored.
  • 4 Hide
    arael , May 11, 2011 12:28 AM
    It's regurgitated crap. Dumbed down old instances to release as "new and improved!" content.

    After 5 years of playing on and off I'm finally over the game.
    Out with the old, in with the new!
  • Display all 90 comments.
  • 4 Hide
    everix , May 11, 2011 12:29 AM
    That and the fact that expansions and new content can't keep people playing this game anymore. The core mechanics of the game are still the same as they were when WoW was released and frankly, they are starting to get boring. What they need to do is keep the content going but they also need to get a WoW successor going. As someone who's been playing since Vanilla, this game is starting to get old and while a lot of the old players (myself included) buy the expansions to see the new stuff, we get bored of it quickly because, deep down it's still the same game we've been playing for 5+ years.
  • 5 Hide
    T_T , May 11, 2011 12:30 AM
    I'd be willing to bet that it's the way the gear-obtaining structure reverted back to pre-LK days. In WotLK, a lot of people were blessed with the easy way to obtain epic-quality gear (doing heroic 5-mans, and ToC, etc). But now that players must commit to serious raiding (or constant heroics to trade in points) for epic gear.
  • 0 Hide
    rohitbaran , May 11, 2011 1:06 AM
    Quote:
    with a mere 11.4 million subscribers

    mere! lol! Even with that many subscribers, Activision seems quite well off.
  • 2 Hide
    klbg , May 11, 2011 1:06 AM
    There's no one reason. Saying "people got bored" is a huge generalization. People have been getting bored for 6 years. As early as 2005 you had people threatening to leave because Blizzard was "lazy" with content. The only "dumbed down old instances" have been the two 'newest' 5mans, which are still much different than their first incarnations, and most new players haven't experienced them before anyways. The idea that revitalizing older content is "lazy" kinda surprises me, since many people complain that their old favorites are never run anymore. Besides, Blizzard has clearly put more work in Cataclysm than any prior expansion, and it brings new lifer to the game that's been dead for many years.

    Why did subscriptions drop? Many reasons. The game is getting on in its years, there are many cheaper and newer options. Of course the economy makes things a lot more difficult for many people as well. Personally, I haven't been playing as much because I've been busy.


    But really, don't use your personal negative feelings about WoW or Blizzard to try and explain the decrease, it's just ignorant.
  • 1 Hide
    stingstang , May 11, 2011 1:09 AM
    The reason is that everyone knows Rift is out, and it's a huge upgrade from WoW.
  • 1 Hide
    klbg , May 11, 2011 1:13 AM
    "The reason is that everyone knows Rift is out, and it's a huge upgrade from WoW."

    I really did lol at this. Just like LotrO and AoC and Warhammer and Aion were all huge upgrades? Rift is probably the least innovative MMO in recent memory.
  • -2 Hide
    JamesSneed , May 11, 2011 1:15 AM
    That ^
  • -1 Hide
    Anonymous , May 11, 2011 1:22 AM
    That doesn't stop people from buying Apple products. People like substance AND/OR style. Blizz doesn't seem to have anything at this point. SC2 was hyped up and lasted two days of play. Expansions take 2 years? Right..

    D3 is going to be just like D2 with ZOMG Dx11 graphics. 10 years for that.

    Titan will be outdated when it arrives too.
  • -1 Hide
    nebun , May 11, 2011 1:30 AM
    davewolfgangI'm going to be honest here - I really think that the drop has more to do with the Economy than anything else. Half my guild WANTS to play, but work and money have kept them.

    the game is dead...it's not the economy...trust me, a game addict will do anything to keep the habbit going
  • 2 Hide
    Ragnar-Kon , May 11, 2011 1:31 AM
    I no longer play the game, not because of the game itself, but because the people who play the game can be so damn frustrating to play with I couldn't take it anymore.

    BUT, assuming I still cared and played the game, I would say that I would rather have higher quality content rather than quicker content. Doesn't matter how quickly you create the content, if it sucks people won't play the game.

    And the game is far from being dead. 11.4 MILLION people is still a ton of people, at least 3 times the amount of subscribers of any other MMO currently out. We may be seeing the very beginnings of WoW's decline, but still, the game is FAR from dying.
  • 1 Hide
    aznguy0028 , May 11, 2011 1:32 AM
    BlizzardboardThat doesn't stop people from buying Apple products. People like substance AND/OR style. Blizz doesn't seem to have anything at this point. SC2 was hyped up and lasted two days of play. Expansions take 2 years? Right..D3 is going to be just like D2 with ZOMG Dx11 graphics. 10 years for that.Titan will be outdated when it arrives too.

    Seriously? I think you forgot one of the biggest points of blizzard games...replayability. Sc2's campaign was short, yes, but don't tell me you're blind to the fact of so many mods and custom games out there that exists on sc2. Not to mention the little something called battlenet where there are millions of other people on ... -_- Blizzard's games are not for you if you are looking for uber long solo gaming content. D3's systems are so vastly different from D2, that your statement reflects pure ignorance of the game. It's like saying every FPS is the same because you hold a gun and shoot bullets at bad guys. GG
  • 1 Hide
    klbg , May 11, 2011 1:37 AM
    Another two "lol"s about two different things.

    1. SC2 lasted two days? I've been playing the game with 5 friends just about everyday since release. Many others have too. It's got tons of custom games, and a huge following community.
    2. WoW is "dead"? Yeah, it lost some people, it's still got more than 10 million. If WoW is "dead", I'd hate to know what you consider other MMOs.
  • 1 Hide
    dalauder , May 11, 2011 1:44 AM
    WOW needs an overhaul if it wants to last until Titan comes out in a couple years--a true expansion that actually modifies the gameplay. Some people would hate such an expansion, but others will appreciate it, and that's okay.

    The main problem is that they've been playing it safe with expansions. There should also be more ridiculously impossible bosses so that the world first takes a month for anyone to achieve for each one. Maybe I have a skewed view though, since people I watched used to get world-first kills now and then.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , May 11, 2011 1:45 AM
    I left wow because I became bored with the game. No mater how they dressed it up it was really always the same, and that's not to mention that they are always screwing with class mechanics. And don't get me started on teh gutting of Tree of Life.
  • -2 Hide
    master9716 , May 11, 2011 1:48 AM
    all those 600k went to Play RIFT wich is 10x better than wow , with the same Ui improved combat system graphics and so o .
  • 3 Hide
    Yuka , May 11, 2011 1:48 AM
    klbgAnother two "lol"s about two different things.1. SC2 lasted two days? I've been playing the game with 5 friends just about everyday since release. Many others have too. It's got tons of custom games, and a huge following community.2. WoW is "dead"? Yeah, it lost some people, it's still got more than 10 million. If WoW is "dead", I'd hate to know what you consider other MMOs.


    You know why almost no one makes a positive statement about Blizz (fanboiz if you like), it's because they're playing right now, having fun.

    Haters gonna hate, people.

    The only thing I whine about in WoW, is their obsession about making "Guild Progress". That only lasts while u're a kid in high school, cause once you start working, you're a slave to your boss /cry

    Cheers!
  • 1 Hide
    klbg , May 11, 2011 1:51 AM
    "WOW needs an overhaul if it wants to last until Titan comes out in a couple years"

    So WoW is going to go from 11.4 million players to 0 in two years? I'm having a hard time seeing that happen. Any drop is certainly bad, but again, they're still well ahead of the competition. "I find the game boring" =/= "the game is going to die"

    "There should also be more ridiculously impossible bosses so that the world first takes a month for anyone to achieve for each one. Maybe I have a skewed view though, since people I watched used to get world-first kills now and then."

    You do have a skewed view. Though many people are always complaining about content being "too easy", or that "the world's top guild beat so-and-so boss too quickly", the vast majority of people playing the game want to be able to play the game. There aren't many people who find it fun to be excluded from content because they don't have enough time to invest in it. This speaking as someone who loved the vanilla raids, I doubt I would have seen much content at all had I not had a huge amount of time spent ingame.
Display more comments