Okay not really. But something very unprecedented happened today. Blizzard announced the current subscriber base. And the number is lower than the previous one. By over 600,000 players. Is this the beginning of the end for WoW as the behemoth MMO?
Calm down. Put away your last log out plans. It’s really not. It is however likely the beginning of the shift.
What is the shift? Well, Cataclysm was hailed as the return to the “true essence” of WoW. Harder heroics, rarer epics, harder raids. No more sailing through heroics with the greatest of ease. No more spamming chain heal. No more buffs that are incrementally increased as you play through the expansion. Also, despite ICC being out longer without a patch, currently, we are way behind schedule in raids as compared to both BC and Wrath.
I have already talked about the problem. The shift is going to be Blizzard’s solution. Let’s hope that the designers working to “fix” the subscriber loss are a bit more in tune than Mr. Morhaime. Players aren’t churning through the content faster, they are getting bored with the content faster. There is a huge difference there.
I know people who bashed their heads against the wall of Arthas for 7 WEEKS. (*raises hand*) But in all that frustrating time, it was never boring. We were running alts, running 25 mans to get better gear, running heroics, all the while returning to our little 10 man to fight the good fight. Many of those same people have left the game, despite having bought Cataclysm and played for the first few weeks.
Why? Why are people leaving?
The game hasn’t changed. It’s still the same old thing.
The game has been artificially increased in difficulty. Dying from a random something doesn’t make the game more challenging, it makes it more frustrating.
In Wrath, if you were stuck on a boss, there were options. You could go to a 25 man and get better gear. You could farm the early bosses on 10 man. There was something easily obtainable for each slot. Now, it’s not the case. My guild has been 9/12 for over 2 months now. Despite making progress and getting a ton of gear. The truly sad thing is that even though we can’t down the end bosses of each raid, there is NOTHING we can do to improve our chances. My character has every available upgrade other than the few that drop off those bosses. We are a competent bunch. We made progress through the first parts of the raids fairly consistently. And suddenly faceplanted into the wall of Cho’gall, Al’Akir, and Neferian. In Wrath, we would just do some more 25 mans, and over gear it a bit, then bam, get the boss down. Now, we sit there, impotent, as we watch raiders get bored with wiping for weeks on end and bail.
I trust Blizzard to do what is necessary to keep players. The shift is coming. They are going to change *something* to make the game not boring. Something to decrease the difficulty. Something to bring players back. But they better do it quick.