Trion Worlds' Will Cook said that the studio wanted to take credit for the decline in World of Warcraft subscriptions over the last few months, as its own popular fantasy-based MMORPG Rift is getting ready to reach its 1-million-unit-sold milestone. But eventually he admitted that users are probably just tired of the same gamplay, and that Cataclysm didn't do enough to revitalize the social raiding and level grinding.
"Well a lot of people said no game would kill WoW, WoW would sort of kill itself," he said. "And while I know we’d love to take credit for it, and I don't know, I mean it's almost shameful that this giant launch window that we have, nobody is releasing anything. A lot of luck has come our way but I don't think we're sitting idle. We have worked really, really hard to keep the momentum, to keep people playing, and we have a lot of plans for where we will take the game."
Back in May, Activision Blizzard reported during an earnings call that subscriptions to World of Warcraft had fallen to pre-Cataclysm subscriber levels: from 12 million to 11.4 million by the end of March. CEO Mike Morhaime blamed the drop on the fact that players swooped in and consumed Cataclysm faster than any previous expansion, and thus dropped back out of sight. Later on Blizzard said that future expansions may be on a year-to-year basis instead.
But Trion Worlds' David Reid actually believed that Rift was the cause of World of Warcraft's dip in subscribers. "It was a pleasure to see that in the latest Activision Blizzard earnings call, they inquired about Rift when Blizzard announced that their subscriber numbers went from 12 million to 11.4 million. You can do some math... we know very well where those 600,000 people are," he boasted.
While it's possible those gamers have switched over to Rift, Cook blames part of World of Warcraft's decline on the fact that it simply hasn't evolved enough to keep players hooked. "It seems like WoW is these days...not lackluster...but it feels like everybody was worried Cataclysm was going to change too much," he said. "And the feeling I got was that it didn’t change enough. It is the samey kind of thing."
"It's phenomenal, the phasing is great, it's essentially the same game it was six years ago in a lot of ways," he added. "But it's not different enough and most people I know are sort of fading from it. It's still the raiding game and social game that kept me in it for so long, kept me re-upping, but people seem to be fading from that."
Rift launched on March 2, 2011, a fantasy-based MMORPG featuring a dynamic world named Telara. "Rifts" randomly appear across the landscape, portals that bring invading monsters out to conquer the surrounding territory. These invaders consist of six classes – earth, fire, air, water, life and death – which despise each other. The game uses the Gamebryo engine and supports DirectX 11, SLI and Nvidia Vision 3D.