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World of Warcraft Loses 300,000 Players

Posted on the 10 August 2011 by Periscope @periscopepost

World of Warcraft loses 300,000 players

World of Warcraft, the massively popular online role playing game, may be in decline.

World of Warcraft, the massively popular, massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) that has more subscribers than there are people in Belgium, Greece or Portugal, could be in terminal decline.

In its second quarter earnings call Activision Blizzard, the game’s owners, admitted that WoW had lost 300,000 players in the previous three months. This is the second quarter in a row that the game’s population has decreased sharply, and means that the current subscriber total of 11.1 million is down nearly a million from its peak of 12 million in October 2010. After nearly seven years of viral hit videos, virtual plague outbreaks and gold-farming controversies, it looks like the appeal of paying £8.99 a month to go questing with your fellow Orcs, Trolls or Dwarves may finally be dimming.

  • Why the decline? Blizzard’s president Michael Morhaime characterised the decline in players as nothing more than a blip. “Subscribership tends to be seasonal and driven by content updates,” he said, suggesting that player numbers had dropped since there had been no major update to the game since the ‘Cataclysm’ expansion in December 2010. And on top of that, WoW’s very longevity brings its own problems. “As our players have become more experienced playing World of Warcraft over many years,” Morhaime explained, “they have become much better and much faster and consuming content.” In other words, the game’s superfans are now so intimately familiar with the game’s mechanics that the developers can barely keep up with the clamour for new and more demanding challenges. Nevertheless, Morhaime is confident that the decline can be reversed, announcing plans to expand into China and Brazil and promising “major new raid and dungeon content” for later in the year. Sounds exciting!

Leeeeeeroy Jenkins!

  • Game over? Not all gaming critics agree with Morhaime’s optimistic analysis. Nicholas Deleon at The Daily thinks that the days of monthly subscription MMORPGs may be numbered. “The appeal of paying a monthly fee of around $15 may have diminished as gamers find themselves surrounded by a glut of free-to-play and ‘freemium’ titles,” he wrote. Deleon also surveys some gaming messageboards and finds that many longtime WoW fans have lost patience with the game. “The mechanics of WoW have had their day,” he quotes one disgruntled player as saying. Other quoted gamers complain that the game is too easy, too repetitive, and not as friendly as it used to be, which is just heartbreaking.
  • World of Weirdcraft. However, even if the WoW hardcore have had enough, there is more than enough wacky WoW activity out there to keep the rest of us interested. Recently premiered WoW documentary The Raid will surely be troubling next year’s Academy Awards, while accuracy-averse gamers in the Far East may enjoy a visit to the fake WoW theme park in Changzhou, China. And back in the real (i.e., virtual) world of the game itself, there are rumours that the next big expansion will be called ‘Mists of Pandaria.’ As GameRadar’s Paul Ryan explains, “Pandaria is the ancient island nation of the pandarens, a race of panda-people that has never been visited by outsiders. The empire was founded before the Great Sundering of the world and remained in isolation since the Night Elves were driven mad by their thirst for magical power.” If the chance to play as a giant panda-person doesn’t persuade those 300,000 gamers to come back, then surely nothing will.

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