Why Wow Won’t (or Shouldn’t) Go F2P

WoW Gamescom Announcement

Tomorrow will bring some form of big announcement for Blizzard’s (and the industry’s) flagship title, World of Warcraft. We’re most likely to get news of some new expansion loaded with lots of new and rehashed features, but rampant speculation points toward the possibility of some F2P announcement. I’m pretty sure that one is still many years away.

Why World of Warcraft Won’t Go F2P

The Change is Too Radical
Blizzard has made a business of keeping WoW’s course steady as she goes. WoW has been about raiding since 2005. They could have changed that model to try and attract more people, but they don’t. There’s no need to change a sure thing, even if your numbers are only making you 100M a month. The cash flow is still fantastic, and WoW’s subscription numbers will skyrocket once again. Even if the numbers grow to HALF of what they were in Q1, that represents ENORMOUS growth. When your product bounces back that well in the next iteration, you don’t change. You wait until it stops bouncing back — at least Blizzard can afford to wait when it still generates that much cash. Change of this magnitude is far too radical to make simply for the sake of change.

The changes to the game itself to accommodate F2P would alter the very essence of WoW, and that itself would ignite a loss in players. Players, especially WoW players, do not want change. They don’t. Again, that’s why WoW has stayed the same game and simply become easier over the years. You have the same game providing the same experience, and doing everything it can to continue to provide that same experience with the least amount of friction possible. [Read more…]

WoW’s Continued Sunset Shines Bright For Blizzard’s Future

Blizzard's future isn't WoW

World of Warcraft has once again lost more “subscribers” in a few months than most (close to all) MMOs could ever dream of having. They dropped something like 3 million subscribers in a three month period, marking the sharpest decline in the history of the game. I think they remain at a lowly 7.1 million? All according to plan.

Over the years I have been saying that WoW’s slow decline is in Blizzard’s best interest, and a decline in WoW subscribers is ultimately beneficial for them financially, and realistically their goal. You’d think I was crazy back then given the responses I got in the comments, but look at the landscape of Blizzard’s revenue stream now.

Looking at Blizzard’s financials, over 40% of their revenue stream came from non-WoW games, and that’s estimated to exceed 50% this year. I bet that by the time Overwatch launches, their non-WoW revenue will be closing in on the 70% mark. Blizzard is diversifying, and the money isn’t in WoW anymore, or at least for much longer. They’ve said it themselves, “Strong recurring franchise diversification is in process inside the Blizzard portfolio, which sets us up for a bright 2016 and beyond.”

This diversification is not only a great business move for Blizzard, but a great outlook for us players. We get more games to enjoy in a variety of flavors, and we’ll start to see developers trying new things in order to appeal to the new ‘variety is the spice of life’. Soon, one day, there will no longer be just one giant behemoth of a game strangling the MMO industry. Mark my words, we are returning to an era where there are fewer players per game with more games available offering a variety of playstyles. This day is coming; it must come.

The sun never sets on Blizzard’s empire. So yes, WoW’s decline is good for Blizzard. Those players can now be transitioned into other titles where they will spend more money more often. All according to plan indeed.

Hearthstone for the iPhone


Hearthstone released for the iPhone just a couple of days ago, and I’ve already clocked 5+ hours…. all of which may or may not have been during the work day. I’ll be the first to admit that I am not great at Hearthstone. It’s not the deepest or most difficult to understand or even master card game out there, and like all card games you are only as good as the cards in your deck. Since I haven’t been into the idea of playing a lot of Hearthstone on my PC, as I’d rather play on the go, I’ve held off playing and thus haven’t earned cards. So take this review for what it’s worth — not that of a Hearthstone master, but rather an iPhone 6 Plus gaming enthusiast and still a fan of the game.

Hearthstone on my iPhone 6 Plus runs well enough. I have moment of slow-down, and loading times aren’t fantastic. These feel like something that I bet will be patched within a couple of weeks. This delay and often finicky nature of the touch controls has lead to more than one mistaken selection or card placement resulting in my utter defeat. The image above is actually of a match I was playing today. I mistakenly healed myself because the touch control let go when I was dragging it to my minion.

Blizzard’s implemented of the game on the iPhone does, overall, work. A few extra steps like having to click on my hand to bring it up, and touching to hold cards to see what they do adds to the time it takes me to execute my turn, but over time as I learn cards these will be less of an issue. The extra steps are a little annoying, but at the same time I’m willing to put up with them having Hearthstone in my pocket where I go.

What I love most about this whole thing is how integrated the Battle.net experience is, and the fact that I am playing on my phone with people on their computers, tablets, or phones. I have full access to my friends list and can chat, see what everyone is up to, and whatever I do on my iPhone is completely linked to my exact same Hearthstone account anywhere else. Wonderful integration that has, thus far, worked flawlessly.

Yeah, Hearthstone isn’t perfect. As a card game you can rip it apart. It’s pay-to-win, governed by incredible meta game, luck., etc… but it’s hard to beat free, and it’s hard to beat having it on my iPhone. The pay-to-win aspects are no different than the hundreds I’ve spent on MTG cards. I’m just trying to convince myself that a digital version is essentially the same thing when my brain is telling me it’s not. Bottom line, I have to spend money on cards for Hearthstone to realize its full potential.

Blizzard Rumors Once Again

Rumors are usually something best left alone, but when it comes to Blizzard rumors they might as well be true. The most recent rumors have made their way to Reddit and are worth a read if you enjoy Blizzard games as I generally do.

Hearthstone is doing incredibly well.  As I have often said, I think this is a great path for Blizzard and any company to take. I think Hearthstone is brilliant and I’m eager for it to come to iPhone. The fact that Blizzard is profiting so much from Hearthstone and outsourcing WoW art asset creation does lend credence to my insane notion that they are slowly phasing out WoW in favor of games like Hearthstone.

Gutting the Diablo 3 team is no shocker as the game itself has seen growing pains and failed to really gain the traction of other Blizzard titles. What’s surprising is that the staff are working on a Starcraft game with Left4Dead, Dayz, and Smite elements. I have no idea how that will all combine together into anything feasible… but I imagine how awesome it might be to play as a Marine in a FPS scenario against other players taking control of zergling and hydralisks.  That could be a blast!

The news that Heroes of the Storm might not be doing so hot, or at least expected to do so hot, saddens me. I like it a lot more than DOTA and definitely way more than LoL. It’s not even out of beta yet and if the rumor is true it might end up being scrapped before it ever begins — Blizzard has done it before (SC Ghost).

Lastly, Overwatch’s business model is being tossed around. I’m convinced it’ll be some sort of TF2 F2P meets B2P (hows that for acronyms?) which will make stupid amounts of cash. That will surprise absolutely no one.

I wouldn’t mind if the rumors all came true. I’ll be sad about HotS but otherwise seems like a direction I’d be happy to see Blizzard go.  Now, any news about Warcraft 4?

P.S. WoW expansions and all that yada yada.


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.