WoW down to 9.6M subscribers - Thoughts?

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Activision-Blizzard made the press release for their quarterly results (Q4 2012) available before the actual conference call. On page three, you will find the announcement about the WoW subscribers, which they define as follows (on page five):

World of Warcraft subscribers include individuals who have paid a subscription fee or have an active prepaid card to play World of Warcraft, as well as those who have purchased the game and are within their free month of access. Internet Game Room players who have accessed the game over the last thirty days are also counted as subscribers. The above definition excludes all players under free promotional subscriptions, expired or cancelled subscriptions, and expired prepaid cards. Subscribers in licensees' territories are defined along the same rules.

I'm a bit disappointed by the number, I have to say. I find Mists of Pandaria to be a really good expansion and things will only get better with Patch 5.2 (the new daily quest hub is just awesome, so far).

One thing I regret is that they never release the numbers by zone. In particular, I would like to know how the number of subscribers in Europe and in North America has varied over the years (mostly because this is the readership we target with this website).

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That would definitely be interesting to see which areas gained/lost the most players. I've only been playing for the past 2 years but I love this game. My guess may be that, at least in the US, with the declining economy people can't afford it. I know a good bit of people that stopped playing due to money. Could also just be the length of time WoW has been out. Some players may just be burnt out. I know I lose interest sometimes and stop playing for a few weeks.

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There's also many more gaming options these days. For Wow to manage 9.6M subscribers today is absolutely amazing.

Also, "Mists of Pandaria was the #3 best-selling PC game at retail." Amazing.

Edited by Stasis

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A game that has been running since February 2005 still has 9.6 MILLION subscribers? I think that says everything. I can't even remember a game in past history that keeps millions of people playing 8 years after it's initial release. Very impressive overall in my opinion!

Edited by Tiitch

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I am not surprised as they have lost some people over certain changes to make the game more friendly to certain players. Also with the release of Diablo 3 they had a lot of people change which games they were playing. Starcraft 2 also has a pretty good base of players who switched form WoW plus I have noticed a couple people on my friends list playing it more often and I would attribute that to the upcoming expansion.

Nothing can stay huge forever and one thing stopping people from joining the band wagon is the cost to get started. Vanilla cost me 40 when I started to play. Right now even with sales it would cost around 100 to get started on top of the monthly fee. If they were to throw a free month in on each expansion or at least the newest one it would probably get some more people to convert.

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This tier of raiding is always daunting. The progress of most guilds is stunted because 3 separate raids makes planning for them difficult. Consider this:

Heroic Stone Guard is often killed before normal Sha of Fear. This gives the allure that heroic modes are easy. Groups then go and attempt Heroic Feng...and wipe, but they get it eventually. Lots of 2/6H MSV guilds out there. Gara'jal is the first 'DPS Check' wall. Once you have the gear, this fight is trivial. But consider the difficulty of Spirit Kings...many guilds skip over this to do Heroic Elegon due to its ease. In fact, you have 2 (or arguably 3) heroic mode encounters in Heart of Fear that are easier than Spirit Kings and Will of the Emperors. There's even an accessible Heroic mode in Terrace that you can do before knocking off Spirit Kings. A passable progressive order looks like this:

Stone Guard - Feng - Gara'jal - Elegon - Blade Lord - Wind Lord - Garalon - Lei Shi - Spirit Kings - Will of the Emperors - Vizier - Amber Shaper - Protectors - Shek'zeer - Tsulong - Sha of Fear

In terms of zones, it looks like this...

MSV - MSV - MSV - MSV - HoF - HoF - HoF - ToES - MSV - MSV - HoF - HoF - ToES - HoF - ToES - ToES

Some groups have tried to clear MSV before moving on which limits their growth and gear acquisition as well as their progression. This creates frustration amongst some groups as others go on to clear more and be better because of a better planned access path. Think back to T11 when we had to bounce back and forth between Blackwing Descent, Bastion of Twilight, and Throne of the Four Winds. Halfus was very accessible as well as the double dragons...but Ascendent Council? Guilds often didn't down this until their 9th or 10th heroic out of the 12 (13 if you count Sinestra). However, most of these groups came back in Firelands and tackled 6/7H either before nerf or definitely after the nerf. At least they all got to do progression in the same place.

I'm anticipating a number of players returning for 5.2 and sticking it out. This raid looks as if it will be Ulduar 2.0 which will make many people, myself included, absolutely ecstatic. I personally have dealt with people leaving and quitting the game only to come back for a new patch, so I'm sure the general population will repeat that pattern.

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I quit mid WotLK and didn't play Cataclysm at all and was quite surprised at the "ease" the game has been equipped with. Lots of improvements, yes. But still...

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Curious to see what impact Elder Scrolls online has on WOW subscriptions. I'd probably still play WOW but I would like the variety if ESO manages to show some originality.

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I'm anticipating FF14's improved release. Most games I enjoy have lost their values...I have to do crazy things like take the Nemesis out with a knife only in Resident Evil 3...or play one of those ridiculous Super Mario World hacks. 5.2 has brought a lot of fun for me back, and the new dailies string is nice. I dreaded that it would include doing all of Stage 1 over and over + Stage 2. Instead, Stage 2 gave you 1 new set of dailies, 2 old ones for familiarity, and it showed you HOW they actually got there. Pretty cool all in all...it's taken the best of the MoP daily system and made it less tedius yet still require some time commitment. The extra you get from dailies (keys, summonable creatures, etc) are a nice perk to keep the monotony down. The normal modes of the raids were a bit relaxed as once you learn the mechanics, the fight gets super easy. There is no DPS wall or anything, so hopefully heroics bring out the best in players and finding ways to overcome obstacles.

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