More WoW content faster? Sounds good to me.

Some haters might be celebrating the fact that Blizzard dipped to 11.4 million subs, down from 12 mill, but I’m celebrating for a different reason.  In the earnings conference call it was announced that Blizzard is stepping up WoW’s expansion content to try and combat this decline as well as prepare for the competition of GW2 and SWToR.  More content faster?  I’m just disappointed more people didn’t quit sooner.  Everyone, including those who canceled, get more content because they can always come back.

I have some concerns about this coming from the Activision side of the marriage.  Call of Duty gets pumped out as fast as possible and the quality problems are showing.  It’s Blizzard, though, and I have never played a bad or unpolished Blizzard game — ever.  And to further the ‘everyone wins’ motif, if this whole plan blows up in their faces then the haters can celebrate what might be the one thing that causes WoW to fail; we’ve always known it will be Blizzard that kills WoW and nothing else.

Maybe the worst case scenario, even if it means turning a good into a bad, is that WoW’s stranglehold on the industry tightens as no other games can keep up the pace.  It’ll be somewhat sad if we have to end up negatively critiquing WoW for improving itself.  How dare Blizzard make the best game that they can, right?


  • 2nd post. let’s also hope we get some info out about their new MMO soon, kinda eager about that.

  • The solution is not more content faster, it’s better quality content at whatever time is needed to produce it. The biggest problem with WoW recently is that it’s aimed too much at trying to be everything to everyone and it seems to miss the target quite often. Cataclysm already had a number of interesting things dropped due to time pressure of getting that expansion out. I don’t think it’s coincidence that this started happening after the merger with Activision either.

    I can anecdotally point to a number of friends who readily admit they are still playing (or only recently stopped playing) purely out of habit and not wanting to “lose” the time they’d already invested – sooner, these people will lose interest. I used to love WoW, was an unbeatable fantastic game but it’s lost its sense of wonder in exchange for a game of chase-the-epics. I gave it another chance with Cata but after I finished levelling I realised how unsatisfied I was. It was a very well polished levelling experience and was fun at the time but the thing that really stood out for me was that I didn’t die *once* during 80-85 and nor did I ever feel at risk of doing so. There were no group quests that I found (every elite had a MacGuffin to remove it’s elite status) and nor do I particularly have to try to get to 85 – everything was nicely served up to me in perfectly sized portions without any real effort on my part. This felt dull to me and I couldn’t face playing again after I finished.

    Anyone care to recommend an MMO to me that recaptures WoW vanilla? I love the genre but am struggling with the current crop (I found some joy in EQ2 but the empty world due to low numbers made it feel not very massive or multiplayer). Maybe Titan will be awesome but I fear the “Activision influence” will do damage either from the outset or eventually.

    (Disclosure – I’m not a hater or fanboi of any game (well, except maybe Elite on the original BBC Micro version) and I couldn’t care less how many subscribers WoW or any other MMO has)

  • @Sunkzero I kinda agree on what you are saying. And Rift sounds right up your alley, if you want some kind of Vanilla WoW feel. You should check it out!

  • Sunkzero, Rift isn’t the answer to your dreams, but it offers a solid WoW-classic like leveling experience. I wouldn’t recomment the endbgame right now, though. Depending on the specc you run with, there are some quite difficult mobs and even some that you cannot beat on your own.

    That’s actual diversity in the power of mobs – even of mobs at the same level. Imagine what kind of brilliant and expensive game designer was necesarry to achieve such design evolution 😉

  • They still have 11 million more subs than any other game and as their CEO said their sub-base has always fluctuated it’s just this time rather than announce a new record high they’ve revealed figures after one of the dips – albeit a huge one.

    I think WoW might well have actually peaked though since no matter how fast they release “content”, or how good it is – it’s still constrained by an old engine which is super-fast but very ugly (by modern standards along) with gameplay that people might be getting fundamentally bored with.

    The WoW players are increasingly polarised too with large numbers complaining things are “too hard” but also large numbers saying it’s “too easy”. Blizzard just can’t win when everything they do is simultaneously attacked by both factions and millions of players sit somewhere between wondering why the Hard/Heroic and similar mechanisms change so often.

    I’m finally playing tons of other games now but I do have a tempting 7 free days offer now so might take a look at what they’ve done over the last few patches.

  • This is good news indeed if it materializes. Releasing good quality content more often, is really the only way to avoid the perceived grind after the level up and initial dungeon crawl. The hardcore people will always complain that there never is enough content because they powerlevel through it and beat the instances to submission. It’s for the other people who constitute the core of the 11.4M subscribers that having neweness and more variety matters the most.

    As for why now, yes, it is because the competition is around the corner and is already present (Rift)

    Like or hate Rift, you need to be thankful it exists and the same with WAR and Age of Conan. Had those games not been released Blizzard would have never toned down their BC coc*block policy of progression to artificially spread out content.

    They may claim that it was too easy and they went more towards BC style in Cataclysm and I agree to that to a point, but I believe it was mostly hypocricy. Increased difficulty artificially spreads out content, but when people see through it, they get aggravated. I guarantee you, that if the release date of Rift, SWTOR and GW2 was near the release date of Cataclysm they would NEVER have touched the difficulty of Cataclysm and they would have left it as it was in Wrath to appease the masses.

    If anything, Blizzard has the resources to make quality updates more often. I for one, is looking forward to some Emerald Dream action.

  • There are a lot of routes that Blizzard could have taken to inject new content into their broken system starting with the release of BC. Yes, that expac. was chock-full of content but was it really necessary to put 23 bosses on the same tier of gear? (That’s T6, spread across three dungeons of varying difficulty.) Was it even necessary to put 17 bosses on that same tier of gear?

    They compacted down gear sets and enlarged the number of bosses you need to kill to see your sets, keeping you in that content longer before you could move forward. Like wise, they recycled Naxx in LK, a 12 boss instance for the first tier of loot. Ulduar, which was another 13 boss instance, backed off with ToGC, and then gave us ICC which was another 11 boss instance (I am counting Gunship solely because it took time to complete). Four tiers of raiding content that lasted about two years, with ICC lasting the longest. I’m not counting Sarth, Maly, or Halion because like Ony they weren’t even a content bridge, just a 1 boss loot pinata.

    In this model, what we have is about four high end dungeons that keep you there not because the content is challenging but just because of how expansive they made everything. (Save for ToGC).

    If they spread things out to be 6-8 boss dungeons like MC/BWL/AQ40 you’d still be kept in the content because it was hard, not because you were farming for a BiS item from Hazezon Tamar and his 80 sand-warrior buddies that inhabit the instance. (some one’s going to get that reference)

    But if they push content too fast or make it too hard you’ll lose people to that as well. Casuals couldn’t keep up, they’ll eternally be behind and that’s not part of the WoW business model any more. Blizz wants their casuals to be able to get some form of BiS gear even if it’s just the non-heroic version. Or you’ll have high end guilds that get lost in the shuffle from one instance to another because content was too easy in a smaller instance or they didn’t have the proper time to gear up.

    It’s a fine line they have to walk with this and I’m sure they’ll get it 80% right. Even if they introduced more mid-tier content like ZG and ZA (when they were timely) you can keep things interesting and flavorful. Do they need one between each tier of raiding? No, but having one or two small stepping stones that offer a piece of gear or two that are relevant to current high end content isn’t a terrible addition to the model.

  • By more content faster does that mean just retuning out dated content for max level again, because I don’t think that will work long term.

    WoW is doing fine. I wont say it’s started to die but I do think the unstoppable locomotive may have lost a little steam. They’ve more or less stayed around the same sub numbers for the past few years.

  • If SWTOR and GW2 bomb, WoW will likely spike to 13 million. People are really putting a lot of hope into those two games, as am I, and I think it’s showing in an overall mindset that people are fine waiting for them to come out. If they fail, people will know the future looks bleak for another year and hop back onto the WoW train.

  • those people did not drop out because they did not have enough content, few completed everything there is to complete and that number is not in hundreds of thousands I think. More likely they were just bored with same old same old model. More of the same faster will fix it. They should just keep this cow alive and concentrate on building a new game

  • @smthin

    They are. Titan will be announced this fall and it will be the, to coin a term Tobold uses, new “Jesus game”. I have a feeling that just by announcing Titan they will get people back to WoW. Hell if I was Blizzard I would announce that they will be offering beta invites to people who subscribe to WoW, leave out that beta wont start for another 2 years, and see how many people sign up that don’t play.

    SC2 Beta keys were going for $80-200 during the closed beta phases so it isn’t to far fetched to think people would sub to WoW just at a chance to play Titan early.

  • @Keen – Don’t speak such blasphemy. If SWTOR flops I’m going to crawl into my closet naked with a bottle of tequila and not come out until Titan.

  • Blizzard has touted this line of faster content and less time between expansions for a long time without anything actually changing.

    Looking at the facts it takes them longer these days from expansions and content patches. 4.1 for instance was not even done so they had to delay Firelands and call that 4.2.

  • @Keen: Mmm, having recently resubbed to WoW I’m pleased that more content is coming. Now I just need to find a good guild on the EU realms to enjoy it with, and Blizzard’s woeful Guild Finder isn’t nearly enough, and website applications have never worked out for me (as in the guilds Iv;e joined have never fit me.)

    @Nils: “a solid WoW-classic like leveling experience.” This baffles me. How is RIFT anything like WoW classic, other than there’s not as many varieties of quests are there are in current WoW? I actually had a taste of classic WoW when I took my Horde druid through Dustwallow Marsh: my quest log was full of quests, all across the zone, all requiring one thing be done, with their follow-ups being back at the original questgiver. And the follow-ups were the same thing: go kill mobs, in a wide variety of places, and report back. Do you know how satisfying it was to be out adventuring all across a zone for an hour or more, then return and get a lovely few levels for my efforts? *That’s* classic WoW levelling, and RIFT has none of it. RIFT has max 6 quests from a hub, before moving onto the next. Fun fun fun.

  • Interesting they think more content solves the problem. I doubt there are many players who seen all existing wow content and not just current crop of du jour heroics

    Id come back if they bring “world” part back. Alas I dont think ever happens

    p.s. and rift is not vanilla wow.

  • Hmm, well I guess it does go hand in hand that the only way to improve a treadmill is to make it faster.

    Not my cup of tea, but at least it will keep the runners happy.

  • I love this quote from Nils “there are some quite difficult mobs and even some that you cannot beat on your own.”

    It makes me chuckle that MMO’s have come to this. Where not being able to solo some mobs is a notable thing, instead of the norm. I miss my forced-group leveling days.

  • Rift is not vanilla wow, but it isn’t Cata WoW either. It still has alot of the restrictions in place that make a MMO social.

  • @Rawblin – you speak the truth, whatever happened to a challenging encounter requiring you to group up in a MASSIVELY MULTIPLAYER game 🙁

  • I thinking about WoW the other day and something dawned on me. What is there to do in WoW that requires a group and isn’t instanced? I can’t think of anything really. Doing dailies in a group, but that’s it. There aren’t in open world mobs or events that require me to group with people.

    It was kind of a sad realization. Every group activity in WoW is now instanced… unless I’m missing something please feel free to let me know if I am.

  • If only that were why many left. I think this isn’t just in answer to losing a piddling amount of subs, but also in answer to Rift’s mini-events every other week. If there is one thing Blizzard does well, it is react. So I have a feeling these won’t be content patches like previously in WoW, but more like small events.

    @Dril: it really depends on which side you play. If you like the constant back and forth from a quest hub that then sends you back to an older quest hub to pick up more, then that would be guardian.

  • @Epiny: As far as I’m aware the last things left are the Ring of Blood-style things and the elite, epic-dropping mobs. That’s about it; a far cry from ye olde days of yore, but group quests are a victim of streamlining and accessibility.

    @Barrista: Are you just using Silverwood as an example, because you visit Argent Glade a grand total of twice on the levelling path (well, I did, anyway; it might be more, I just stopped doing Rift’s quests because they were so awful)? Does it continue after Silverwood? I don’t just mean re-visiting hubs, I mean that in Rift, you’re rarely if ever spending more than 20 minutes on your current crop of quests. In classic WoW you could be spending well over 2 hours running around the zone and doing each objective, before going back to a central hub and doing it all over again. As opposed to doing 4 quests, being shunted to the next tiny, boring hub, and doing 4 more quests. Etc etc. To say that Rift is like classic WoW is incredibly false; hell, I was lured into Rift thinking it *would* be like classic WoW. I can’t tell you how crushingly disappointed I was when that particular delusion was shattered.

  • I wouldn´t read much into it, it´s not the first time they have said this. However it would be nice for the players if they would keep their word.

    I don´t think they have improved the game in any way, but that of course is my opinion. It´s also not such a big drop in numbers, so i don´t think they care that much, would be more interesting to see numbers after TOR gets out, the IP alone should steal away some people, but i doubt they will release numbers then.