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Subsribers Down and Ban Waves Up

Warning: Long-winded post incoming!

Greetings all! It has been some time since the last post indeed! But don’t fret! The site is not dead! In fact, after a small hiatus from WoW, I have picked it up again and am go full-pelt into content. I’ll be somewhat avoiding any Garrison duties (more on this later) and trying to get the most out of this great game that has provided so much to me in the past.

But first things first, the giant elephant in the room… News that probably isn’t news to many of you, in that World of Warcraft subscriber numbers dropped approx. 3 million in the first quarter of 2015. This is one of the largest drops we’ve seen in a single quarter – and I’m not surprised, mainly because I have seen the same drop in website traffic.

Of course, with a sub drop comes the usual attitude of how “WoW is dying” attitudes and speculation on reasons why there was such a significant drop. We all have our opinions, which is fair enough, however outrageous they might be.

One important point to remember regarding the largest drop subs have had is to also remember that prior to this drop, we also had the sharpest upwards spike we’ve seen in a quarter. This is important to remember, because if you remove both the rise and the drop, essentially from September 2014 to March 2015, subs dropped just 300,000. While not ideal 5 months after an expansion, it’s not really as bad as people are making it out to be.

First of all, what caused the initial upwards spike – of course, the main factor was the release of the new expansion, which always sees a large increase in subscriptions around launch time. This is to be expected. But such a large increase I believe was caused by additional factors. Including:

  • The 10th Anniversary of WoW could bring back some old players wanting to say “they were there when”.
  • Warlords of Draenor based in a world previously experienced, causing nostalgia.
  • Molten Core coming back at top level (more nostalgia).
  • Southshore vs. Tarren Mill Battleground (more nostalgia).
  • The marketing done by Blizzard for this expansion was particularly effective.
  • There were more players unsubbed that had played previously, so more to come back.
  • The hype was real…

Okay, so there are, in my opinion, a couple of possible explanations on the greater than usual incline. I believe the game in it’s current format is quite enjoyable, so let’s try and get a grasp on why people may have unsubscribed.

Nostalgia can’t be revisted in an evolving universe.

Nostalgia is a funny thing. It’s a memory that is often associated with an enojoyable experience. When linked to World of Warcraft, players often hark back to ‘the old days’, whether it be Wrath, Burning Crusade, Vanilla or any other point in time. Just a few good memories can cause nostalgia, which makes it both great and terrible. People love trying to re-live nostalgic moments. I know because I’m one of them.

However, with an evovling game and universe such as WoW, if you’re coming back to a game after even a 2 year break, you’re more than likely coming back to a game that has changed immensely. So imagine coming back after a 5 year or more break! In essence, you’re coming back to experience those good moments, but that experience is going to be nothing like it used to be, so you’re going to be dissapointed.

If you’re a player looking for that nostalgia and not finding it, you’re going to stop playing.

Blizzard makes fantastic games

While many players from the past may have come back to try out the expansion, there are a lot of other options these days, especially from Blizzard’s own stock. Including Hearthstone which has hit around 30 million players and Heroes of the Storm which it’s been revealed to have had about 11 million BETA sign ups. Consider WoW’s subscription fee of $15 up against not only somewhat free-to-play games, but games that are just as well developed as WoW has been, they’re seeing great success and show only signs of further growth. So I can understand players who may have passed on WoW to head back to HS or HotS.

While this is all true, the fact remains that many players did come back, but they didn’t stay. What really could have been done to change that. What could have been different? I think it was always going to be an impossibility to keep it at the 10 million, but I didn’t think it was going to be that big of a drop so fast.

Why the personal hiatus?

For me personally, I took a little hiatus from the game. I was finding it a little stale and reptitive. For me, it was because of Garrisons. This may not have been everyone’s experience, but i didn’t have that feeling of excitement before logging in, knowing that Garrisons was always there. I felt like Garrisons were mandatory (even though devs stated they wouldn’t be) and just got so tired of them. Esecially when I started on my alt character for the expansion, managing 2 Garrisons was too much.

I’ve now come back to the game, and doing my best to avoid doing anything Garrisons related. While the devs stated before the expansion came out that Garrisons weren’t going to be mandatory, it’s certainly a disadvantage to not do them. But when my enjoyment of the game tends to go down each time I step foot into my Garrisons. So this time around, I’m going to avoid it completely, disadvantage or not.

Zarhym had an interesting post on players leaving the game:

Originally Posted by Zarhym (Source / Blue Posts)

I don’t know that people are truly happy about it. If anything, when people take issue with the current state of the game or some of our design decisions, a decrease in subscribers serves as some sort of confirmation that others must feel the same as they do — validation that their point of view must be right, or at least shared by the masses.

No one’s ideal image of what World of Warcraft should or shouldn’t be is truly right or wrong, and we’re still committed to making it the best experience possible.
Some people will respond to this post with, “Well, then why did you do X?” or “You shouldn’t have made Y decision.” in addition to the more cynical reactions that call into question our level of passion for, and commitment to, this virtual universe.
The truth is that there’s never really a single silver bullet to game design that is the savior, or destroyer, of a game.

Are you still playing? Are you taking a hiatus? What made you stop? Let us know in the comments below!

Originally published on June 17th, 2015 by on HealingWoW.com, Last modified: in the News, Opinion, Warlords of Draenor category/s.

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