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Blizzard Not Expecting Major World Of Warcraft Growth

In a recent interview with MCV, World of Warcraft lead designer Tom Chilton admitted that Blizzard isn't expecting to see the MMORPG grow like it did prior to the Cataclysm release. That's likely because the subscription numbers have been on a steady decline since 4Q 2010 save for one little jump when Mists of Pandera was released.

"We really don't know if it will grow again," said Chilton. "It is possible, but I wouldn't say it's something that we expect. Our goal is to make the most compelling content we can."

By the time The Burning Crusade hit store shelves in January 2007, the MMORPG had 8.5 million subscribers. The numbers continued to grow with the release of Wrath of the Lich King in November 2008 (11.5 million) and Cataclysm in December 2010 (12 million). Mists of Pandaria, launched in September 2012, saw the subscription rate rise from 9.1 million to 10 million.

"By building expansions, you are effectively building up barriers to people coming back," Chilton added. "But by including the level 90 character with this expansion, it gives people the opportunity to jump right into the new content."

As of Q2 2014, World of Warcraft had 6.8 million subscribers. The upcoming fifth expansion pack, Warlords of Draenor, is expected to bring some players back. Previously, Blizzard indicated that it's not unusual to see customers cancel their subscription until a new expansion arrives. Once that's consumed, they will cancel again and wait for new content. That's why Blizzard has pushed to move new content out to gamers between expansion pack releases.

Last week, Blizzard announced that the upcoming Warlords of Draenor will be released on November 13, 2014. The expansion will cost $49.99 for the regular digital copy and $69.99 for the Digital Deluxe Edition. The company also plans to offer an $89.99 Collector's Edition that will be sold in retail stores. This version includes everything in the Digital Deluxe Edition plus a number of goodies including a mouse pad and soundtrack.

Will Warlords of Draenor have what it takes to bring truckloads of subscribers back to the popular MMORPG? Will the expansion offer staying power given that it offers one free upgrade to Level 90? That remains to be seen. However, there will be some growth with the launch of the expansion pack as we've seen in years past.

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  • Achoo22
    Personally, I'm so turned off by Blizzard.NET as a platform that I don't anticipate playing any Blizzard titles in the foreseeable future.
    Reply
  • jkhoward
    I have been playing Blizzard games for a very long time. The problem with Blizzard lately has been the lack of input from their player base. They are catering towards the minority and due to this they lost a lot of players. The talent system changes, the difficulty of the game, just everything in general. They are focusing on their stock numbers more than their player bases. If you focus on your player base the stock numbers would increase. I still play Starcraft and World of Warcraft from time to time but the lack of support from Blizzard and the community has really killed World of Warcraft.
    Reply
  • rantoc
    Blizzard have imo made the mistake so many companies do nowadays - Aim to please everyone and end up pleasing none!

    (Also doing the same instance for 1/2 year+ dont help....)
    Reply
  • eklipz330
    man, they made so much bank off this game. i can imagine this game being quite successful for another decade, easy. more successful than any competitor anyway. i dont scoff at 6.4million players. other mmo's would LOVE 6.4million players. it will probably finanlly dwindle down to "only" 1 million in like 7 years.

    unless of course blizzard pulls a fast "pay to win model". then i see it dying quickly.
    Reply
  • zanny
    Blizzard have imo made the mistake so many companies do nowadays - Aim to please everyone and end up pleasing none!

    (Also doing the same instance for 1/2 year+ dont help....)

    Strange that since they started doing expansions where every tier replaced all other content (IE, patch 5.4 invalidates patch 5.3 content, etc - where you can just jump into the latest heroics and skip previous raids) you end up with too little content.

    Early WOTLK, BC, and Vanilla all had tiered progression where you had to clear what came before to reach higher tier content.

    This was good for both the casuals *and* the hardcore - it meant any player would have a significant amount of content to progress through - either soon, or immediately. If you started playing Burning Crusade in patch 2.4, you would have 3 raid tiers worth of content to run, just in 25 man alone. If you started in 2.0, 2.1 came out four months later with a second tier, quickly padding content out.

    Likewise, in Vanilla, new players had MC -> BWL -> AQ / Naxx to progress through. Huge amount of content.

    Today, you hit level 90, run heroics, and go LFR Siege of Orgrimmar, then Normal Siege of Orgrimmar, than Heroic Siege of Orgrimmar. Notice how I never mention any other raid. Because you have no reason to run any other ones.

    Same with late Cataclysm - 3 Dragon Soul Heroics -> Raid Finder -> Normal -> Heroic Dragon Soul. No reason to touch old content.

    And late WotLK had this happen too, where up through Ulduar they had linear progression (Naxx -> Ulduar) but ToC replaced both of them, and then ICC replaced ToC. It should surprise nobody that WoW peaked in WotLK early on, and ICC only fluke rebounded the population because "zomg lich king".

    So yeah, no surprise there is nothing to do - you keep invalidating all your raids within 6 months of their release, and then everyone gets stuck at the end of an expansion cycle with one raid for over a year.
    Reply
  • photonboy
    Blizzard have imo made the mistake so many companies do nowadays - Aim to please everyone and end up pleasing none!

    (Also doing the same instance for 1/2 year+ dont help....)

    If Blizzard made a "mistake" with creating the most profitable game in history then what would you consider a success?

    It may not be a game I like to play, nor apparently you, but the proof is in the pudding so financially they are as far from making a mistake as you can get.
    Reply
  • littleleo
    What I hated about MOP was there were so you couldn't do until you turned 90. Then when you turn 90 there is too much you can do. It would be better if they let you do more of the stuff before you max out rather then only unlock most of the content when you reach 90. As to aiming to please people they need to stop listening to the professional whiners on the blogs. And they need to address their horde bias too.
    Reply
  • mamasan2000
    14002850 said:
    Blizzard have imo made the mistake so many companies do nowadays - Aim to please everyone and end up pleasing none!

    (Also doing the same instance for 1/2 year+ dont help....)

    Strange that since they started doing expansions where every tier replaced all other content (IE, patch 5.4 invalidates patch 5.3 content, etc - where you can just jump into the latest heroics and skip previous raids) you end up with too little content.

    Early WOTLK, BC, and Vanilla all had tiered progression where you had to clear what came before to reach higher tier content.

    This was good for both the casuals *and* the hardcore - it meant any player would have a significant amount of content to progress through - either soon, or immediately. If you started playing Burning Crusade in patch 2.4, you would have 3 raid tiers worth of content to run, just in 25 man alone. If you started in 2.0, 2.1 came out four months later with a second tier, quickly padding content out.

    Likewise, in Vanilla, new players had MC -> BWL -> AQ / Naxx to progress through. Huge amount of content.

    Today, you hit level 90, run heroics, and go LFR Siege of Orgrimmar, then Normal Siege of Orgrimmar, than Heroic Siege of Orgrimmar. Notice how I never mention any other raid. Because you have no reason to run any other ones.

    Same with late Cataclysm - 3 Dragon Soul Heroics -> Raid Finder -> Normal -> Heroic Dragon Soul. No reason to touch old content.

    And late WotLK had this happen too, where up through Ulduar they had linear progression (Naxx -> Ulduar) but ToC replaced both of them, and then ICC replaced ToC. It should surprise nobody that WoW peaked in WotLK early on, and ICC only fluke rebounded the population because "zomg lich king".

    So yeah, no surprise there is nothing to do - you keep invalidating all your raids within 6 months of their release, and then everyone gets stuck at the end of an expansion cycle with one raid for over a year.

    Do you cater to the raiders or to the rest? So far the answer has been raiders. With every new expansion, the gear gets huge upgrades. New green quest gear is almost on par with the best raid gear you could get b4 expansion.
    If they didn't, raiders would find the new content too easy. So, raid for a year or two OR wait for next expansion. People aren't stupid.

    Then theres the thing about progression. Most players are at max level. You HAVE to cater content to that segment.
    I doubt you can run vanilla raids with a 40-man raid today. Simply because theres not enough players around that level. If you had to do all the previous content to get access to new content, you would be looking at years of grinding. Who would do that?

    Add the dumbing down of the game and less character development/RPG/uniqueness like removing talent points.
    Used to be lots of choices, now you have 3 per tier. And generally 2 of those don't fit your specialization.
    If anything, the game moved more towards cookie-cutter builds.

    The graphics upgrade: I don't care about faces. I don't even know how my chars face looks like. I do care about gear and I'm not seeing that getting any upgrades. Just compare to Everquest2, a game released the same year as WoW.
    Detailed, beautiful gear and it has only gotten better.
    Example: http://www.everquest2.com/images/en/features/2012/05/marketplace/30/armor.jpg
    Reply
  • littleleo
    14002850 said:
    Blizzard have imo made the mistake so many companies do nowadays - Aim to please everyone and end up pleasing none!

    (Also doing the same instance for 1/2 year+ dont help....)

    Strange that since they started doing expansions where every tier replaced all other content (IE, patch 5.4 invalidates patch 5.3 content, etc - where you can just jump into the latest heroics and skip previous raids) you end up with too little content.

    Early WOTLK, BC, and Vanilla all had tiered progression where you had to clear what came before to reach higher tier content.

    This was good for both the casuals *and* the hardcore - it meant any player would have a significant amount of content to progress through - either soon, or immediately. If you started playing Burning Crusade in patch 2.4, you would have 3 raid tiers worth of content to run, just in 25 man alone. If you started in 2.0, 2.1 came out four months later with a second tier, quickly padding content out.

    Likewise, in Vanilla, new players had MC -> BWL -> AQ / Naxx to progress through. Huge amount of content.

    Today, you hit level 90, run heroics, and go LFR Siege of Orgrimmar, then Normal Siege of Orgrimmar, than Heroic Siege of Orgrimmar. Notice how I never mention any other raid. Because you have no reason to run any other ones.

    Same with late Cataclysm - 3 Dragon Soul Heroics -> Raid Finder -> Normal -> Heroic Dragon Soul. No reason to touch old content.

    And late WotLK had this happen too, where up through Ulduar they had linear progression (Naxx -> Ulduar) but ToC replaced both of them, and then ICC replaced ToC. It should surprise nobody that WoW peaked in WotLK early on, and ICC only fluke rebounded the population because "zomg lich king".

    So yeah, no surprise there is nothing to do - you keep invalidating all your raids within 6 months of their release, and then everyone gets stuck at the end of an expansion cycle with one raid for over a year.

    You got that right, the way they have evolved the game they have made it a waste of time to do the earlier Raids now. Which is too bad some were really a blast. Now they are basically pointless.
    Reply
  • sykozis
    WoD might bring a few players back, but the move towards RTS style gameplay is likely to drive away some of the RPG players. I signed up for WoW because of it being an RPG game and the movement towards RTS style was among the reasons I quit playing, along with the constant, endless reputation grind that essentially halts progression. If there's no feeling of progression, what's the point in playing the game? The quality of the content, as well as the actual quantity of content they offer has been decreasing with each expansion. The peak seemed to be with Wrath....for both quality and quantity. Cataclysm started the downward trend and I don't see WoD being any improvement. Only more of the downhill slide.
    Reply