Quote of the Day: The decline

“Over the past four years (Cataclysm launched at the very tail end of year six) [World of Warcraft] has lost an extraordinary number of subscribers.  Its growth has stalled.  This is a stark reversal when the game was in an upward trend for the first six years of its lifespan.  Why is that?  What’s changed its fortunes so thoroughly?”

~ Eliot Lefebvre

9 thoughts on “Quote of the Day: The decline

  1. tententacles May 20, 2014 / 1:06 pm

    I honestly think it’s mostly the addition of viable competition to the marketplace. I think things are balancing. I don’t believe it’s a death knell for WoW so much as a sign it no longer dominates the market so absolutely.

  2. Wilhelm Arcturus May 20, 2014 / 1:16 pm

    Where did World of Warcraft go wrong? It got older. It changed. People changed. The market changed. Hairstyles changed. Interest rates fluctuated. Time moved on.

    The flip side of the question is, as always, who else is ever going to get as many paying subscribers as WoW has today, much less what it had at its peak? It remains, even at 7.6 million subscribers, the annoying data point that wrecks your chart by being so big as to dwarf any five competitors you care to name.

  3. bhagpuss May 20, 2014 / 1:18 pm

    “What’s changed its fortunes so thoroughly?””

    People found other things to do?

  4. othnieltcs May 20, 2014 / 2:17 pm

    This question seems bizarrely backwards to me. Ultima Online is not heard of anymore. SWG had its plug pulled. Even EQ is a shell of itself. Perhaps EVE could be said to have had similar success and still be thriving. Newer MMOs seem to fare much worse. The locust-swarm nature of MMO players has been increasingly well documented. That WOW is in decline should surprise no one, least of all those who have stopped playing. The question in my mind is, how is it getting ready to celebrate its 10th year and still maintaining a playerbase in the multimillions – at least 5 times what most competitors can muster?

  5. Redbeard May 20, 2014 / 2:47 pm

    Well, Syl, you definitely pick out quotes that’ll stir people up. 😉

    I know that one of the reasons why I don’t run dungeons is because of the toxic atmosphere in heroics, but another reason is that exact reason that Eliot pointed out: I could at least get a current tier set of gear in Wrath by slow, laborious dungeon running, but there’s simply no way of getting a current tier in Cata or Mists that way. You have to raid, but raiding –even via LFR– requires a time commitment that I don’t have.

    In the end, running BGs is quicker, and in spite of the Horde-victory-heavy nature of the BGs in the game, at least I’ve a shot at getting current tier PvP gear.

    But yes, I’ve noticed that while there’s lip service paid to “choice” in the game, the devs have made their decision that end game is all WoW is about and have oriented choices around raiding (and, to a lesser extent, arenas).

    Perhaps what we’re seeing in the subscriber numbers are the majority of people who like to raid in-game, as more and more other people have wandered away.

  6. Tyler F.M. Edwards May 20, 2014 / 4:25 pm

    Every time Eliot gets up on his soapbox, I always just end up going, “Amen, brother.”

    I don’t think any of us can say for certain what’s caused the subscriber losses, but I can say that the things he mentions are largely what has been driving me away from the game, even though I’m a huge Warcraft fanboy.

  7. Elinnea May 20, 2014 / 5:56 pm

    It reminds me of the finale of M*A*S*H. At the time it shattered records as the most-watched television program aired in American history. It has since only been surpassed by the Superbowl. At this point it’s not likely that any comparable show will ever beat M*A*S*H’s numbers, simply because there are so many shows, so many different channels to choose from now, and options abound for watching after the fact. The reality that once was, of the entire country sitting down together to experience a broadcast, is over. (Putting aside the Superbowl, apparently.)

    Similarly, the MMO landscape has changed so much that I doubt any single game will ever capture the market the way WOW did at its peak, including WOW itself. I don’t consider that particularly shocking.

  8. Zombiepirate May 21, 2014 / 6:03 am

    I quit WoW back in 2011 and went on to other MMOs, Rift and then TOR. I got a scroll of resurrection from a friend in December last year and got a surprise as to how much the game had changed in those 2 years. I’m now playing it again quite casually and enjoying it. I can spend as much or as little time as I want. It doesn’t feel as grindy as the older expansions did. I’m looking forward to WoD too. Cataclysm killed the game for me after having fun with Wrath. While I don’t think that the Pandas really add anything I can’t deny that, even after all these years, it’s still a game I can get enjoyment out of.

  9. Azuriel May 21, 2014 / 7:32 pm

    It’s always worth mentioning that whatever happened to WoW also happened to the entire MMO market. Even if one argues that the decline was entirely due to WoW, it’s still rather shocking how little growth there is in the genre as a whole.

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