Blizzard Hopes Faster WoW Expansions Will Halt Sliding Subscriptions

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Blizzard Hopes Faster WoW Expansions Will Halt Sliding Subscriptions

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Blizzard wants to speed up the development of future World of Warcraft expansions in order to satisfy players who are blowing through the game and then moving on to other things faster than ever before.

Blizzard President Mike Morhaime revealed during the Activision Blizzard financial results conference call yesterday that World of Warcraft subscriptions had "returned to pre-Cataclysm numbers in the West," sliding from more than 12 million subs in October 2010 to 11.4 million currently. And although pretty much every MMO publisher on the planet would kill to have 11.4 million subscribers, it's still a loss of 600,000 players and that's nothing to sneeze at.

Part of the problem, Morhaime said, is that years of experience have made players better at tearing through WoW content, after which they mosey along to other games because there's nothing left to hold their interest. The solution? More new content at a faster pace.

"We need to be faster at delivering content to players," Morhaime said. "And so that's one of the reasons that we're looking to decrease the amount of time in between expansions."

"What we have seen so far is that people have been consuming this content very quickly, and so the subscriber levels have decreased [following the release of Cataclysm] faster than in previous expansions," he added.

Blizzard's notoriously long development cycles are balanced by the fact that virtually everything it releases is mind-blowingly awesome, so the obvious concern is that rushing things will lead to either less content or lower quality. At this point, however, Morhaime said Blizzard isn't ready to get into the details about future expansions, only that it is "look at ways to speed up the development process."

Sources: Gamasutra, Kotaku

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What they need to do is make original content again instead of this rehash bullshit they seem to be pulling. Also making it easier and easier may get the casual crowd in, but it alienates your biggest fans.

It's their own fault really. The Heirloom items, levelling bonuses, guild levelling bonuses, XP from battlegrounds mean that people are reaching the end-game content faster than ever.

I don't feel it should be a grind like the pre-TBC days were, but it could stand to be a bit more difficult.

Cunning.
More expansions = more money form boxed sales, each box is worth ~3 month of subscription.
Want to keep players interested Blizzard? Stop trying to rip them off and instead expansions start releasing promised and proper content patches, you know, for free.

To quote a guildmate 2 hours after the release of Patch 4.1:
"Yup, I'm already done with this new patch. See you when the next one drops."

Part of the problem, Morhaime said, is that years of experience have made players better at tearing through WoW content, after which they mosey along to other games because there's nothing left to hold their interest. The solution? More new content at a faster pace.

Um, try 'harder' content? How many of those 12m subs are seeing the content you have released? In TBC they released figures showing that under 5% (I think it was) were seeing end game content. Follow the example of Rift - end game content followed by more difficult version of said content. It saves on the cost of new expansions and doesn't alienate the rest of your players who aren't clearing all content that quick.

More money than brains comes to mind.

The problem is not with the addons. The problem is with the content patches. Because there are none.

The Non-Raid-Cata-Content was pretty meager for players who didn't have the need or desire to level new characters.

There is just nothing left to do ingame, once you played heroics for a week. (Aside from farming for raids, which is done really fast, or going to a raid)

If they want to keep people, maybe they should offer something new.
And no, Repfaction 3252342 with ugly mount 123321412 doesn't count as new. They already have plenty of these.

We need more Tophats in the Game! I demand more TOPHATS!

In all seriousness though, most of cataclysm is remade content from the past. I admit it, I joined the Game during the Wrath Expansion but I have an Older Sibling who joined earlier than that. But compared to what I saw and what I play now, its nothing but Queing into places and the feeling of Never having to leave the Major cities for quests and dungeons. This is a major toll on Role-Players and fans of the past system.

They made the game to hard again. A lot of raiders were casuals who work jobs/school and only have a couple hours a week to play. When you loose progression, of course your going to stop playing. That is what happen in the last couple months.

Bahahahaahaha, try reinventing a product. But WoW is so heavily entrenched- there is no new take on it unless they make a whole new different MMO.

I personally think WoW is done, it's plateaued, and any further attempt is just adding another geological shelf to what's already dead flat.

Go and focus on innovating up and coming titles- say, diablo 3.

Nyeh. It feels like they ran out of source material and is now just pulling it out of nowhere. Burning Crusade was based on Warcraft 3. Lich King was based on the Warcraft 3 expansion, The Frozen Throne and Cataclysm was based on... backstory.
But Cataclysm offered a whole revamp of the World of Warcraft as we know it. Old areas were completely changed and lots of stuff had been altered.

So now they're abandoning the whole "Big expansion, big changes" to lure back the old folk that stopped playing and are now going for "small expansion, more money" to try and lure new folk to the series while no big changes alienate fans that come back for more.

Meh.

I stoped playing as it feels more like their tacking more and more on each year without any though of progress.

What else would get more people playing?

FREE EXPANSIONS

It works for EVE Online, it can work for WoW. That's more money the gamers can spend on subscriptions.

"look at ways to speed up the development process."
How about making the dev team 50% larger?
Or buy more free candy for the team.

Baldr:
They made the game to hard again. A lot of raiders were casuals who work jobs/school and only have a couple hours a week to play. When you loose progression, of course your going to stop playing. That is what happen in the last couple months.

And this. I stopped playing because it demanded too much time - it's not the raiding itself that takes so long, it's the herb gathering, fishing, mining and daily quests required (for the gold). I'd get home from work, have a shower and dinner, log on and before I've got what I need for tomorrows raid I'd been online for 3 or 4 hours and I missed Eastenders and Corrie (joke, I don't watch that crap).

It's not that it isn't fast enough, it's just that WoW has become really boring of late. The current season is far, far, faaaar worse than S5 ever was, the dungeons are uninspired and too few, the raids are meh. Instead of redoing the 1-58 leveling (which people forget the minute they level to 58) they should've just focused on end-game content.

Graphical upgrade will come a long way too, but i just think people are starting to lose interest all together.

I think it's funny that on the one hand you have people saying that the game is TOO HARD which is why they're leaving, and on the other people saying it's TOO EASY which is why they're living. When you're making a game for 12 million people, pleasing everyone is nigh impossible.

But man, the actual content that's there? Is some of the best there's ever been. I can't believe that there are people who actually want to go back to the crappy environment of pre-BC. That was horrible, yo :P

GothmogII:
It's their own fault really. The Heirloom items, levelling bonuses, guild levelling bonuses, XP from battlegrounds mean that people are reaching the end-game content faster than ever.

Worst is that now it's more of a shame than ever, seeing how the quality of the questing content has risen in the past 2 expansions. When leveling was relatively boring it took ages, now it's awesome and you race through it in no-time. How odd.

Anyway, everything is pointing to the fact that WoW is starting to reach it's end. No matter how much I love it, I can't deny that now they're pushing the limits of both the ingame universe, because really how much more areas can they add, and the actual game engine itself. I still love the art style, but game mechanics-wise the game is really starting to reach it's limit. There isn't much left that they can do.

Anjel:

Part of the problem, Morhaime said, is that years of experience have made players better at tearing through WoW content, after which they mosey along to other games because there's nothing left to hold their interest. The solution? More new content at a faster pace.

Um, try 'harder' content? How many of those 12m subs are seeing the content you have released? In TBC they released figures showing that under 5% (I think it was) were seeing end game content. Follow the example of Rift - end game content followed by more difficult version of said content. It saves on the cost of new expansions and doesn't alienate the rest of your players who aren't clearing all content that quick.

More money than brains comes to mind.

It wouldn't keep me playing, seeing as it's still, basically, the same stuff. Gets rather repetitive.

Tragedy's Rebellion:
Instead of redoing the 1-58 leveling (which people forget the minute they level to 58) they should've just focused on end-game content.

No they really shouldn've. As it was right before Cata, there was a huge quality gap between WotLK's leveling content and the 1-58 content, with TBC sitting in the middle of it. Potential new players were often dazzeled by commercials and info of WotLK, only to be confronted by the drabness of the Vanilla leveling content they had to deal with.

Fact is still, no matter how good the endgame will be, there's still more game content int he leveling departement. Neglecting that is making any other game complete shit except for the final boss fights, it's just incredibly foolish.

But honestly, I don't know where you got the uninspired bit from. Mechanics-wise there's more variation in boss fights and instances than ever, and there's a much more rich variation of environmental styles to choose from.

Baldr:
They made the game to hard again. A lot of raiders were casuals who work jobs/school and only have a couple hours a week to play. When you loose progression, of course your going to stop playing. That is what happen in the last couple months.

Yeppers.

I have a full time job. I had to give up the goat because it was not fun to use up all my free time raiding.

John Funk:
I think it's funny that on the one hand you have people saying that the game is TOO HARD which is why they're leaving, and on the other people saying it's TOO EASY which is why they're living. When you're making a game for 12 million people, pleasing everyone is nigh impossible.

But man, the actual content that's there? Is some of the best there's ever been. I can't believe that there are people who actually want to go back to the crappy environment of pre-BC. That was horrible, yo :P

This is true.

Personally I've always thought their biggest mistake is not having skills work uniquely for PVP and PVE that way they can balance both sides completely separately and never need worry about side A harming side B.

Also a small part of me wishes pvp achievements weren't art of holiday requirements for the majority of their population that plays strictly PVE :P. But whatever.

Nostalgia is their biggest enemy these days, well that and their forums.

Sounds like it may be a promising begining of the end for WoW. Can hope.

I hardcored through BC and Wrath and quit, likely for good, right after Cata came out. Personally I despaired any upcoming expansion as each one promised to instantly turn every epic you had labored for into obsolete trash replacable with the first new green junk item you came across. It just makes all your efforts futile as the treadmill grinds ever onward.

Between that and their new penchant for recycling old content/dungeons I'm gone and gone for good. Not the first and not the last by a long shot.

I caancelled mine when my account was hacked and subsequently banned and they didn't do shit about it. Just sayin'... maybe improve account security? A lot?

And learn how to rectify it better. I imagine they'd have a lot more players still, um, playing if account hacks weren't so common.

Baldr:
They made the game to hard again. A lot of raiders were casuals who work jobs/school and only have a couple hours a week to play. When you loose progression, of course your going to stop playing. That is what happen in the last couple months.

I thought it was because they made the game to easy in wrath that caused this. I quit like a month after cata came out but the starter raids were still much easier then anything pre black temple/hyjal. They made it so your nearly every single fight you could just tap a button while not even looking at the screen and still clear the raid.

When they reveresed the change so you could nolonger charge into 5 mans and pull 3/4 of the instance people got annoyed. They were used to content being balanced for somebody 5 levels lower then them not their level. This is what created the problem since for so long they never actually had to work for anything they wanted it to stay the same. Instead of getting handed everything on a platter they had to put in effort and they did not like that. Faster expansions will not help keep wow alive they dealt the lethal blow the second they released wotlk, it just takes awhile for a beast that big to realise its dead.

To the people debating too easy/too hard:
It's not the most of the fights are too hard, it's simply that they are too long. There is absolutely no point in having a heroic dungeon with 50 minutes worth of trash and 10 minutes worth of boss fights. The bosses themselves were quite honestly very easy... I don't think any group I was in really had a problem with any of the fights except for maybe the harvester one in Deadmines because no one knew the machine. Almost all wipes we had were from trash. It tells you something is wrong when a terribly geared tank who can't understand how to pull trash can tank a boss perfectly.

I know they are not exactly hard. In Wrath, one well geared person could carry 4 scrubs through a heroic, which made it easier to get gear. It so much harder in Cata to get the gear required for Raids and if you don't have everyone in good enough gear in Cata, it makes it just that much harder.

It not that the bosses are actually harder, the time commitment is harder.

hunkajunk94:
To the people debating too easy/too hard:
It's not the most of the fights are too hard, it's simply that they are too long. There is absolutely no point in having a heroic dungeon with 50 minutes worth of trash and 10 minutes worth of boss fights. The bosses themselves were quite honestly very easy... I don't think any group I was in really had a problem with any of the fights except for maybe the harvester one in Deadmines because no one knew the machine. Almost all wipes we had were from trash. It tells you something is wrong when a terribly geared tank who can't understand how to pull trash can tank a boss perfectly.

That's completely not the problem we had at all. Actually, I thought that the amount of trash in Cata was pretty much perfect, even in raids. Yes, even in BOT.

Cheesus333:
I caancelled mine when my account was hacked and subsequently banned and they didn't do shit about it. Just sayin'... maybe improve account security? A lot?

And learn how to rectify it better. I imagine they'd have a lot more players still, um, playing if account hacks weren't so common.

Get an Authenticator if you ever go back. The program is free if you have a smart phone, and oh so worth it.

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How about some of the things people have been screaming for since day one? Like customization?

NO NO NO! Blizzard, I don't want to pay $40 for more content that you will inevitably alienate a large part of the people who play WoW. Case in point this expansion, find a way to make raiding a little more accessible for the causal player and then we'll talk.

John Funk:

Cheesus333:
I caancelled mine when my account was hacked and subsequently banned and they didn't do shit about it. Just sayin'... maybe improve account security? A lot?

And learn how to rectify it better. I imagine they'd have a lot more players still, um, playing if account hacks weren't so common.

Get an Authenticator if you ever go back. The program is free if you have a smart phone, and oh so worth it.

Yeah, my friends had those and advised me to get one. But since they had iPhones and I didn't have any kind of smartphone, I couldn't. Which is apparently punishable by account theft.

If I do get an iPhone, I might though. If they're all still playing, that is.

Exterminas:
The problem is not with the addons. The problem is with the content patches. Because there are none.

The Non-Raid-Cata-Content was pretty meager for players who didn't have the need or desire to level new characters.

There is just nothing left to do ingame, once you played heroics for a week. (Aside from farming for raids, which is done really fast, or going to a raid)

If they want to keep people, maybe they should offer something new.
And no, Repfaction 3252342 with ugly mount 123321412 doesn't count as new. They already have plenty of these.

Exactly. All 4.1 really was was 4.0.5, because they felt the playerbase wasn't far enough along through the raid content to justify a new raid zone yet.

If that's true, but people are still leaving (thank god), perhaps its just proof that their handling of WoW is antiquated. They can't decide whether or not they want their raids to be open for all, with Hard-modes being the real meat, or making it all a pain in the arse from the start, and restrict all the real lore behind hard-modes where lore-buffs for the game will probably never see it.

Hell, I doubt they still even know how to handle gear and stats. Every expansion released, they've had to implement a mandatory stat debuff to the final raid zone, because of "unforeseen" issues with tanks and their stats. Its been the same exact issue each time, and I'm betting it'll happen once again for Cataclysm and whatever junk expansion they release.

Cheesus333:

John Funk:

Cheesus333:
I caancelled mine when my account was hacked and subsequently banned and they didn't do shit about it. Just sayin'... maybe improve account security? A lot?

And learn how to rectify it better. I imagine they'd have a lot more players still, um, playing if account hacks weren't so common.

Get an Authenticator if you ever go back. The program is free if you have a smart phone, and oh so worth it.

Yeah, my friends had those and advised me to get one. But since they had iPhones and I didn't have any kind of smartphone, I couldn't. Which is apparently punishable by account theft.

If I do get an iPhone, I might though. If they're all still playing, that is.

I THINK it might be available for other phones, but not sure. It also comes in physical form if you don't mind paying what, $10? I had one of those, but I eventually ditched it for the smartphone one just because it was much more convenient.

Of corse! Have us spend more cash on expansions every year on top of subscription fees to "keep" those customers. That Yacht isn't going to pay for itself you know! I mean only 11.4 million subscribers? How ever will Blizzard live with itself.

600k is a lot of people. But its still a drop in the bucket, Blizzard is still making more then enough money. I still look foward to Guild Wars 2. Hell they may have expansions, and content you CAN buy, but none of it is forced upon you, and anyone is free to play it once they bought the game itself.

Maybe with WoW subscription numbers falling, Bioware won't be so scared to finally release The Old Republic? :-P

WoW: Cataclysm was great, it brought a lot of new mechanics, interesting new zones and a great referesh for the older zones, I quit a month after the launch.

I'm done.

I've just played it enough, there is no more fun for me to have from this game, I suspect that other people feel the same way.

No they really shouldn've. As it was right before Cata, there was a huge quality gap between WotLK's leveling content and the 1-58 content, with TBC sitting in the middle of it. Potential new players were often dazzeled by commercials and info of WotLK, only to be confronted by the drabness of the Vanilla leveling content they had to deal with.

Fact is still, no matter how good the endgame will be, there's still more game content int he leveling departement. Neglecting that is making any other game complete shit except for the final boss fights, it's just incredibly foolish.

But honestly, I don't know where you got the uninspired bit from. Mechanics-wise there's more variation in boss fights and instances than ever, and there's a much more rich variation of environmental styles to choose from.

Most of the bosses are just "don't stand in the void zone" kinda thing, sure there are some "new" mechanics, but they are just too rare and far in between to be noticeable. Wotlk leveling sucked, i don't know where everyone is getting this "wotlk leveling is my messiah" idea from, because it was just vehicle quest after vehicle quest.

I agree 1-58 needed a polish, but not at that massive scale. They should've just made the quests and zones flow better and concentrate on end-game.

About the instances being uninspired i meant from in-lore point of view and them being abysmal in number. Most of them have nothing to do with the established lore, they just made the lore up as they go. The 2 recycled dungeons don't help much and now with 2 more recycled dungeons it's getting a bit out of hand. Also, you aren't "choosing" the environment, they are forcing you to do them if you want to go anywhere.

Andy Chalk:
The solution? More new content at a faster pace.

Ahh, the old "If you throw enough crap at a wall, something will stick" development plan.

Pilkingtube:
WoW: Cataclysm was great, it brought a lot of new mechanics, interesting new zones and a great referesh for the older zones, I quit a month after the launch.

I'm done.

I've just played it enough, there is no more fun for me to have from this game, I suspect that other people feel the same way.

Yeah, I felt this way about CoH after their expansion. The expansion was OK, but the game was still the same under all the new paint and such. After one plays the same game for X years, it's time for something new, typically.

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