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The Ebb and Flow of WoW

As predicted by anyone with a pulse, WoW subscription numbers (fuzzy definition as you’ll see below) are up after the launch of Warlords of Draenor.

World of Warcraft subscribers include individuals who have paid a subscription fee or have an active prepaid card to play World of Warcraft, as well as those who have purchased the game and are within their free month of access. Internet game room players who have accessed the game over the last thirty days are also counted as subscribers. The above definition excludes all players under free promotional subscriptions, expired or cancelled subscriptions, and expired prepaid cards. Subscribers in licensees’ territories are defined along the same rules.

Warlords of Draenor had a day-one sell-through of 3.3 million copies. I believe that includes pre-orders, etc. To me the 3.3 million number is telling. The next sentence is wild and highly speculative without any claim to accuracy. I think 3.3 million is probably the rough number of North American players who can be considered part of WoW’s ‘core’ group of players, with probably 1 million of those drifting off late in the expansion cycle.

Let’s evaluate why their numbers surged.

People like new content. When there’s no new content subs go down. When there’s new content people come back and play. This isn’t indicative of a game succeeding or failing. This is indicative of people wanting something fresh to play.

Orcs are cooler than pandas. Warcraft hearkening back to its roots, pandering (not pandaing) to its lore and fans, works best.

The MMOs launched this year have sucked. While some of the MMOs (ArcheAge) had redeeming qualities, and others none at all (Wildstar), the collective result is a resounding “Blah!” People are/were desperate for something to play. WoD was the easy place to throw $60 for a month of something to do. It’s a SAFE bet. Few people are going to pay that box price and first month’s sub and feel cognitive dissonance. If anything, people are going to play WoW longer now because it rescued them from a state of suck.

Haters gonna hate. The “stop liking what I don’t like” crowd will roll on through. Ultimately nothing changes. WoW is successful. Business models are irrelevant. Good games sell. Good games retain players. Whether it’s 1, 3, 8 or 10 million players — it’s more than most games can say they hold on to longer than 3 months.

Now, promise me none of you will be surprised when WoW’s numbers fall in 3 months.

The Waiting Game

Sorry for such a huge lag between posts! I haven’t felt inspired to write anything intriguing, analytical, inflammatory, or hyping. As I mentioned last post, I’m not playing WoD. My friends are all playing — even the ones who swore they were done with WoW. I don’t blame them. I myself, even after saying I didn’t want to play, have the itch to just jump in and level then quit.

This weird holding pattern I’m in for the first time in my life has me intrigued. I’m not actively playing any games. I dabble here and there on Fridays and weekends, but nothing is really luring me in with a huge temptation. Normally I’d be playing WoW or muddling about between games and feeling that longing for a game to just dive into. It’s that ‘between major MMOs’ feeling. I hate that feeling. … but I don’t have it.

I’m busy doing other things I have to get done right now, and I’m grateful to not have any distractions. I’m also grateful that I can recognize I’m not burnt out. Just the opposite: I’m waiting for those next games to come out (EQ Next, Camelot Unchained, etc.) but not having to suffer through the wait.

A couple of games launched recently that I want to try out. I want to give Assassin’s Creed Unity a go but I’ve heard some horrible things about bugs. Anyone try it out? I’m also looking at Dragon Age Inquisition which I think is out today… that’s also tempting. Maybe I’ll add these games to my Christmas list. If you have early thoughts to share on either game, don’t spoil the stories but share with me what you think!

Something else I’ve noticed… there are a few games in development, but there isn’t a lot of talk about doing things differently, or theorycrafting, or devs really making their games a discussion point. That’s something I thrive on for commentary. I suspect it’s due to the time of year and the current MMO landscape (WoD launching is a pretty big reason to hibernate for a month or two).

Why I’m Not Playing Warlords of Draenor

I’m proud of myself. A WoW expansion is coming out and I’m not going to jump right in and play again. Every time an expansion comes out I think, “Ooooh! I love Warcraft and the world and the story and it’s all so awesome!” Then I play and that magical illusion I create in my mind dissolves quickly. My thoughts turn away from Orcs vs. Humans and glorious cutscenes and imagining epic adventures. I start thinking, “Time to log in and get that loot. What’s my gear score?” My immersion is shattered and I quit a month later.

I’m going to avoid shattering my illusion this time and pretend everything is just as I imagine.

Speaking of Warcraft and fond memories, have you checked out Blizzard’s Looking for Group documentary? It’s an hour long but worth watching. They start right off by giving all the right props to UO and EQ for inspiring them to stop their current projects and go the route of an MMO.

My memories of WoW will always be better than what I’m actually thinking while I play the game. Realizing that, I can honestly say I love World of Warcraft. I just don’t love playing it.

Only Blizzard

Overwatch New Blizzard IP

Only Blizzard can both excite and disappoint me at the same time. Only Blizzard can be unoriginal and draw this amount of hype. I wasn’t expecting them to be original. In fact, I wanted them to make another Warcraft RTS game. I’m disappointed by the fact that they are still drawing this out as long as possible. It’s inevitable. There will be another Warcraft RTS game. It’s going to happen. The 20th anniversary of Warcraft would have been a good time.

Instead, we now know that Blizzard’s next new IP/Franchise is going to be Overwatch. Overwatch is a first-person shooter that looks shockingly just like Team Fortress 2. Blizzard is rarely ever completely original. They simply take what has worked well in the past and blown it up into something bigger and arguably in many instances (no pun intended) better.

The basic premise of Overwatch DOES appeal to me. I really do enjoy shooters like this, and I really do enjoy the zaniness brought about by this type of setting. I’m a fan of the art style… I’m just a fan of all of it. They seem to have a great offering for characters to play with different roles and abilities.

I imagine Overwatch will be free to play with the same kind of hats and costumes model as TF2. This is the route they’re going with their games. I keep saying over and over that Blizzard knows their money is in games like Hearthstone (seriously, did you see how much they were hyping it during the opening ceremony of Blizzcon?) and now Overwatch. Their COMMUNITY is in games like WoW. It will be interesting to see how they balance this transition.

Bottom line(s)…

  • I’ve never played a Blizzard game that I did not enjoy immensely.
  • I love each and every one of Blizzard’s franchises.
  • Blizzard makes high-quality games.


Overwatch will be a great franchise full of high-quality games that I enjoy immensely. Damn you for not announcing Warcraft 4.

New Game De-Hype

You know how a highly anticipated title will release and everyone is super excited to play it, but then most people stop playing it after like a week or two tops? What’s that phenomenon called? It’s similar to the MMO 3 monther except it mostly occurs with non-MMO titles.

It happens all the time with games like Call of Duty, Titanfall, sometimes Battlefield, or even a couple MMOs… to be honest I think Wildstar was a 3 weeker. Titanfall in particular I played for maybe a week.  I’m seeing a trend now that I think about it… shooters tend to be that way. I’m also guilty of it in games like Mario Kart and Pokemon. So it’s not an issue of the games sucking — some definitely do, though.

No hook? Good enough to enjoy then put down? New game comes out then two weeks later another new game comes out? I’m trying to figure this one out. Give me your thoughts if you too have observed the huge excitement for a game to release only to play it briefly and put it down.