6 Aug 2011

If Not You, Who Else?

I’m beginning to feel like there’s a crunch brewing. It’s almost like the shocks that happen before the earthquake, where you know something is going to happen but you can’t quite put your finger on what.

It started off with the comments I’d spot on Twitter from players saying they were hanging up their Warcraft boots and going to Rift. Not because Rift was the hot new game (that’s supposed to be Star Wars: The Old Republic) but because they were just fed up. Fed up of the repetition of daily quests (and let’s be fair, the Molten Front daily grind is by far a huge one) or fed up of the raiding content.

Then there was the news that Warcraft had lost 300 thousand subscribers. This, after Blizzard gave every North American veteran player a free 2nd copy and they opened up trial accounts to be infinite in duration. If I were an analyst on the Activision-Blizzard investor calls I would seriously be asking what their churn rate is.

So what gives? Where’s everyone going? At this point I could only do what any self-respecting blogger would – ask people.

It turns out there’s pretty much three groups of people, although there’s a lot of overlap between them.

The first group is a core of players still having fun in the game. They’re either finding their own fun or digging into the game in new ways, either by trying new jobs like GM’ing or by rolling alts to play with new people. You’ll probably find that these people will still be around when Blizzard finally switch off the servers sometime in the year 2025.

A fair number of players are keeping an eye on the horizon, waiting for a new game to come out. The most popular choice by far is Diablo 3, indicating that where Blizzard lose subscribers in one game they’ll gain them in another. There’s also a ton of people who intend to leave as soon as Star Wars: The Old Republic comes out and have it on preorder for early access. TERA and Guild Wars 2 also got a mention, but The Secret World seems to have dropped from the radar. A lot of those who already shifted to Rift are planning to switch again as soon as Lightsabers Online goes live.

The most saddening result for me is those who said that they’re planning to quit Warcraft, and when they do they’ll either leave the MMO genre or gaming entirely. Indeed, some have already done so. While some have left due to other priorities in their life, others mentioned the cost of keeping in the game. After all, think of all the fun you could be having if you take that monthly subscription and spend it on new games instead!

The most damning response I got was from those tired of the experience they get in the game. For MMOs the playerbase can be the biggest repellant against getting people to stay. And let’s not even get started on just how self-destructive the gaming community can be. I mean, seriously guys? What are you going to do when it’s just you, your ego and a whole bunch of dust bunnies left on the server? Declare yourself king of the hill?

Reminds me of the kid who ate the hotels in Monopoly just so no-one else could use them. I kid you not.

For a lot of people, World of Warcraft was their first PC gaming experience. Heck, for some it was their first gaming experience at all. And yet we’ve done pretty much nothing to keep them as gamers. For a fair number of them it’ll be their last gaming experience outside of the occasional sneaky game of Angry Birds during their office break.

World, I am dissapoint. Play me out JoCo.

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7 Responses to If Not You, Who Else?

  1. Longasc says:

    Dropping WoW is a bad thing? :)

    Well, they could try other MMOs for a change. How about LOTRO? Right now I play offline strategy games like Panzer Corps and Sins of a Solar Empire till the Enterprise F come along in Star Trek Online. See the supposed “crisis” as “chance” to try new genres and other MMOs.

    • Gazimoff says:

      Dropping WoW isn’t a bad thing, but I’d say it’s a shame if you quit MMOs or gaming completely at the same time.

      You’re right though – there’s a lot of single player/offline stuff out there at the moment that would probably be perfect for them. I’ve fallen into the Civilization 5 trap myself…

  2. I don’t think Gaz is saying that leaving wow is bad. Of course, I can only speak for me not him, but I can guess.

    Leave WoW, but give the other games a try; take a break from night elves, tauren, orcs and humans go play a sith or rebel; go play a hobbit, or an elf; or whatever the races in Rift are.

    Just..don’t give up in general. There’s a quote from an anime called Hellsing that I love. The main character, Alucard watches his master, and vampire hunter, Integra Hellsing as she’s having surgery and speaks to his fledgling. All he says (at least the short version) is “giving up is what kills people.”

    I think that’s appropriate here. Giving up an MMO kills a community a little bit, as it’s one less person to be friends with, and kills the individual a little bit inside because it’s one less person that gets sunshine, happiness, and friendship passed to.

    I hope that last part made sense. It did in my brain. lol!
    Lou Gagliardi recently posted..How I feel about my hatersMy Profile

  3. Askevar says:

    Well first off, as a veteran [been here since vanilla] North American player, neither hubby nor I got our free second copy that was so widely proclaimed to be coming. :P

    That aside, eh… we’re trying to shake things up at the moment. We’re going to be server xferring. Guild leadership has really burned us out and we’re wanting to back out of the game a wee bit more…

    But we are also looking to the horizon toward SW TOR – which we intend to try. No idea if it’ll hold us, but we shall see.

    After 5-6 years of gameplay, stuff is bound to start becoming stale for everyone at some point. We have discovered new aspects of the game, and we do hope the server xfer will rejuvenate our interest in the game even more, but again, have to see. We still want to be here at this point, but guild leadership can really weigh you down.
    Askevar recently posted..Interesting Times…My Profile

    • Gazimoff says:

      Aye, we didn’t get them out here in Europe either. Not sure what gives there.

      I did a server xfer myself recently and it really worked out for me. If things are getting a bit stale it can be really refreshing to have new faces etc.

      I’ll be picking up TOR on release as well. After that, who knows?

  4. Moogyver says:

    “What are you going to do when it’s just you, your ego and a whole bunch of dust bunnies left on the server? Declare yourself king of the hill?”

    Nope. They move to the next game/online experience and start again. Because the behaviour of a troll or griefer, nonsensical and pointless as it may seem, gets them going and motivated to play. Trolling and griefing is not a means to an end, it is an end itself.

    The original Diablo had PKing, Everquest had deliberate mobtraining and killstealing. WoW has /trade trolls and PvP rogues.

    Diablo3, KOTOR and any future games will have their own despised subset of players, most likely griefing in ways we haven’t yet imagined, but they will be there.

  5. Jessica says:

    I’m afraid you’re quite spot on regarding what happened to me. I wasn’t a gamer before I started to play WoW, and now that I’ve quit it, I’m not playing anything apart from some occasional Angry birds… I have a couple of single-player RPG on my computer though and I think I might pick them up again. For the time being I’ve got too many books to read and too many movies to watch. So many geeky interests are competing for my time… and to be honest, knowing what a time sink an MMO inevitably is, I’ll think twice before going that path again.
    Jessica recently posted..A happy surprise – or a sad disappointmentMy Profile