Friday, August 19, 2011

Did WoW Predict Their Subscription Drop?

Everyone is talking about WoW again due to the threat changes, transmogrifier, and Mists of Panderia. Right so soon after they report a large drop in subscribers...

Yaknow, it seems kind of fishy to me. Far be it for me to assume the blogosphere is a representation of what a population is thinking, but fact of the matter is that WoW is suddenly getting a lot of publicity from us, good or bad, when we were once talking about SWTOR, Guild Wars, and the other new releases and news.

And they rolled out news of all of these things pretty rapidly. To me, this says that they are putting into motion a contingency plan, as I've mentioned in a couple other locations. I'm inclined to think they predicted this happening. Not necessarily some sort of evil conspiracy to only release the good stuff when they are in trouble, but I'm assuming they have a backlog of popular player requested things that they could easily roll out to appease their longtime subscribers. And suddenly that is their market: Longtime subscribers. I'm sure we're all aware that WoW players are popular for their revolving door policy with the game: Resub, do the new raids really quick, and then unsub until the next content patch. This worked as long as the numbers kept going up. Now that those players are, in larger and larger numbers, not coming back again they have become an unreliable source of income.

What I'm trying to say is: Blizzard is really good at getting us to talk about them when they want us to. It's rather quite impressive. I can't help but feeling they've had most of these "new" features in their back pocket for quite some time now.


  1. Maybe they're lifting a play out of Rift's playbook? More content, faster, to maintain higher sub retention rates?

    At the end of the day, I think this paradigm is flawed, though. Think of old MMOs where players are consumers as TV; you only consume. On the flipside, newer MMOs that embrace player created content (or old ones like EVE that have always relied on it) are like the internet; we are part consumer, part producer.

    That's the future, I hope.

  2. There's an idea. It's hard for me to believe that the investors and devs behind WoW could be spooked by RIFT's comment of "Oh, hey WoW. We found all your lost subscribers." But given the sharp drop in numbers for them lately, it's a distinct possibility.

    I have to agree with your statement there. These types of games have a cap for growth because the content is one sided. No matter how much money you are raking in, you cannot keep up with the amount of players coming in and consuming it. I think what we are seeing with WoW right now is the extreme end of that.

    And if that's the future, I am so there.

  3. I think WoW's sub losses in the valuable markets was even higher than the number they've been tossing around for total sub losses. This would be enough to spook them, without any comments from the Rift peanut gallery.

  4. Ooh, that's a good point. Losing a million of the types who only resub for a new patch isn't bad. Losing a million dedicated subscribers would make anybody over there have a panic attack.