Blizzard: “Didn’t want those subs anyway”

Oh look, the D3 scam subs are officially off the books, and Blizzard doesn’t have another game or bundle coming out to bundle players into a WoW sub. And I was so sure MoP would totally save WoW too…

Of course now the real question becomes; when will EVE surpass WoW in subscribers? 8.6m to 500k might seem like a big gap, but when you are admitting to dropping 1m in a few months, while EVE’s growth is accelerating, it’s really only a matter of time.

Unfortunately I don’t think we are going to get a real answer, because at some point (‘soon’) WoW is going to follow the dying MMO model and go F2P for that last one-time cash grab. I don’t think that will happen in 2013, but 2014? Yea, put me down for 2014 being the year WoW goes full F2P.

How’s catering the casuals working out for ya?

43 Responses to Blizzard: “Didn’t want those subs anyway”

  1. Clearly the 50-60 Million $$ per month will show blizzard that they fail at everything. Their CEO might have to wait 1 month before being able to afford another Ferrari. That will show them!

  2. Yeah, I have to admit that catering to casuals appears to be extremely profitable, at least for now. The question is, does Blizz have anything else lined up to slow the decline.

    • SynCaine says:

      Catering to the ‘hardcore’ raider crowd (or whatever crowd vanilla/BC catered to) was more profitable. The kind of social momentum 12m subs gets you obviously takes a long time to slow down, even if you do release junk like WoTLK, Cata, and MoP.

      • spinks says:

        The non-LFR raiding in MoP is actually pretty good.

      • Anonymous says:

        Raiding in Azeroth is certainly tougher now than it was in Vanilla. Outside of LFR, as Spinks said. The advantage of LFR is that it lets the more casual players see the raids (in faceroll mode). The biggest downside for raiders, I think, is that LFR is more or less de rigeur in order to gear up for raiding. That makes your first kill on normal somewhat less heroic than it would have been if you hadn’t already killed the same boss on LFR.

        • Sjonnar says:

          i can’t speak to current content, but for goddamn sure wrath raids were pathetically easy in comparison to BC content or AQ40 / Naxx in vanilla.

          i have a theory (with absolutely no hard evidence to back it up, just an out-of-my-ass idea) that current raiders are dealing with a significant amount of skill rot. the raids you’re doing seem harder because your few good players are carrying three times their number in drooling retards who would have failed miserably at diremaul.

          like i said, no scientific evidence, just my suspicions. take it with as much salt as you want.

        • Matt says:

          It is harder now to carry people, not easier. The 40 man raids had dead weight all the way up to Naxx. I don’t think I was ever in a BC raid that didn’t have at least 5 players being at least subpar, but we still made reasonable progress. Part of the complaints about MOP are that normal raids are overtuned, as Blizzard no longer designs them to be puggable due to LFR.

          There is raider rot though. Too many people are dropping out to just do LFR. It turns out most people don’t really want to play games on a schedule. For that matter, very few people actually care about raiding and most just want the gear rewards.

        • spinks says:

          Your theory is just wrong, though. If I’m comparing Karazhan (10 man, TBC) with Throne of Thunder (10 man, MoP), Kara is laughably easy in comparison.

      • Sjonnar says:

        vanilla and BC were definitely for the hardcore raiders.

        in vanilla, gearing up for raids required the efforts of an entire guild, at least 40 of whom needed to be dedicated raiders. add in more raiders for subs in case one guy couldn’t make it this thursday, etc. now gear all those people in the elemental resist of the day, most of which had to be farmed from smaller raids. don’t forget ony cloaks for absolutely every single one of those people if you’re planning on doing blackwing lair (each one requiring a scale acquired from killing onyxia, another raid). instead of fifteen different bosses whose mechanic was ‘spam these three spells over and over while staying out of the fire / ice / black shit / green shit / glowing shit / big red circle of doom, etc.’ you had a boss that caused durability damage to your weapon every time you hit him, so you had to bring spares, another who you had to mind control to kill huge waves of adds before you fought him, and another who spammed horrific poison damage on the 15 people physically closest to her (who had to be specifically geared for nature resistance above all other concerns, and among whose numbers were, by definition, your tanks, who had to rotate aggro between them to periodically cleanse themselves of a stacking damage debuff, while remaining in place as poison bolt soakers)
        and then c’thun oneshot your entire raid because you all ran in together, hyped up and ready to face the great old one himself. :trollface:

        whew… holy wall of text, batman.

        BC sought to eliminate the awfulness of the resist gear grind, but the raids themselves were much, much harder, if anything, and you still had to get everyone keyed for them by running lower level dungeons in scaled-up heroic modes (most of which were themselves hard as fuck; these were not your WotLK heroics, faceroll-able by four random retards and one good tank)

        man, i could reminisce about the good ol’ days forever.

        wrath was the beginning of the end for wow. of all the raids, only uldaman hardmodes even approached the challenge level of BC and the later vanilla raids. i feel no shame admitting that i never got yogg +0 and never killed that secret boss (don’t remember his name), but icecrown was a goddamn joke, LK was firstkilled in less than 48 hours if i remember correctly, and i quit the day after we downed him. never felt tempted to resub. the good old days of wow are long past, except on tiny pirate servers scattered here and there.

  3. Ephemeron says:

    Of course now the real question becomes; when will EVE surpass WoW in subscribers?

    My guess is ‘right after CCP starts counting Dust players as “EVE Universe accounts”‘.

  4. Kasinder says:

    I don’t think you put enough animosity in your post there, Syn :P I find it interesting how you seem so giddy about EVE overtaking WoW in terms of subscriptions, when the thing that is really closing the gap is WoW’s failure, not EVE’s success. But a win is a win, right? I don’t think anyone’s surprised that WoW is bleeding players, MoP was a bandaid on a festering wound, and it’s only a matter of time now before Blizzard abandons ship and focuses on Titan or w/e their next big project will be.

  5. carson63000 says:

    Gloating over a company’s misfortune looks a wee bit silly when they have dominated an industry for nearly a decade and made multiple billions of dollars in that time.

    Yeah, WoW is spiralling downwards, I think we can all see that, but it has been one of the most successful things in the history of.. well, history. All 8.6 million could log off tomorrow forever, and Blizzard would shut down the servers with the calm knowledge that they had the biggest win in the history of online gaming with WoW.

    • Rammstein says:

      @carson, have you thought through the implications of your argument? You’re saying that it’s a bit silly to gloat over the misfortunes of a strong, vital opponent whose ideals conflict with yours–so, what’s the opposite of such an opponent? A weak, naive opponent whom you have no intrinsic conflict with, perhaps? The implication of your post then, is that you beat up small children, steal their candy, then gloat about their misery? That’s kinda twisted, yo.

      Or are you saying one shouldn’t gloat about anything? Well, if so, why didn’t you just say that?

      @syn: 5 or so commenters seem to be totally convinced that you are gloating based on severe feelings of animosity towards blizzard. Is that actually the case, or is this a broader snarky i-told-you-so type of post, which is how I interpreted it at first glance? Seems to me that on a scale of 0 to EA, this post is about a 2; but perhaps I’m missing something.

      • SynCaine says:

        WoW is responsible for shaping years of MMO design, and not in a good way. Seeing it die raises the odds of me seeing titles I like. Granted, DF:UW is out and EVE is still getting better, but I’m greedy like that.

        • “Seeing it die raises the odds of me seeing titles I like.”

          Possibly.

          But it’s worth considering that the majority of players that are leaving WoW are not flocking to EvE/DF:UW.
          A % have moved to F2P themeparks like SWTOR and GW2 but the rest appear to no longer play MMOs.

        • msp says:

          It depends on how you choose to spin the numbers. To say that 1.3mil are fed up with themeparks and want something different is one way to do it. Saying that there are now 1.3mil x $15/month available and looking for an updated WoW experience is another. Just add F2P, shiny new graphics and more sparkle ponies for guaranteed results. Given Warcraft’s financial success, I bet it’s the second version that’s going to be pitched.

        • While the mmo market did stagnate during the early half of WoWs reign, we are now seeing a real fragmentation of the market into theme-park and sandpit. I’d suggest that there is little direct competition betwen the segments but there is some useful cross-pollenation of ideas.

        • SynCaine says:

          It’s less about the number of people looking for another MMO or not, and more about companies looking at the genre and seeing that WoW is the only real option to make money. When one game has 12m subs and everyone else combined has less, its no surprise that all you get is more WoW-like games.

      • carson63000 says:

        That’s not really what I’m saying.

        I’m saying it’s silly to gloat over the misfortunes of an “opponent” when the extent of that “misfortune” is the fact that after making a billion dollars a year for a number of years, they are now sliding in the territory of merely making many hundreds of millions of dollars a year.

        If that’s “misfortune”, I wish I was a bit less fortunate.

        • Rammstein says:

          Since it’s already been clarified that no one is doing that, you might also consider the fact that it’s silly to point out that a thing is silly when the thing doesn’t actually exist.

  6. Matt says:

    If WoW ever gets lower than EVE, it will be because WoW has lost so many subscriptions that it is merely a shadow of its former self. Schadenfreude is fun, but another way to interpret the statistics is that WoW has just lost 2.5 EVEs and has another 16.5 EVEs to go.

    And what do you think EVE’s subscription cap is, anyway?

    • SynCaine says:

      No clue about EVE’s cap. 5 years ago if you said the cap was 500k, I’d say you are crazy, and yet here we are. Would 1m surprise me? Not really.

      • Azuriel says:

        Right, but could EVE handle 1m without splitting to multiple shards or having permanent time dilation? Even if the servers were juiced to the point where concurrency was not a problem, you would still have, ahem, space issues. An expansion of null or wormholes wouldn’t help much when a large majority of those new subs would stay in high-sec 24/7.

        The question would be: how much can they change/add to EVE and it remain EVE (at least in your mind)?

        • kalex716 says:

          The great thing about EVE on a fundamental design level is, space is infinite…

          You could open up new regions of whatever kind of space you want rather cheaply art resource wise, throw it on a new server shard, and slowly let the populace migrate to the new areas of the sand box naturally.

        • Rammstein says:

          Currently, there are just under 8000 systems in EVE. Jita is capped at 2k players, and with the recent growth in subs, it is starting to hit that cap regularly. The record concurrency in EVE has been 65000 players or so. 2k players per system * 8000 systems = 16 million players, so that’s quite a bit of room for growth. Now, if you’re talking about the more realistic issue of how many more players could EVE handle without feeling crowded; you don’t need to expand null–null has huge areas that are basically unused right now. It’s more a matter of moving people (back) out there through rebalancing content; which is something that CCP has already been working on and is pretty much the main focus of the summer expansion to be released next month.

          BTW, this ‘majority of accounts are in highsec’ thing is vastly overstated. ‘I’ live in a wh, but the majority of my pilots are logged off in highsec space right now.
          These low sp trade alts are not where ‘I’ live, they’re where trade hubs are located. By the logic of strict character logoff count, the majority of WoW players are Orgrimmarians, and new expansions for WoW should focus on adding new content inside Orgrimmar. Azeroth outside capital cities is much less crowded than capitals are, but it’s also much bigger–just as low/null are much larger than those crowded trade hubs in highsec. I prefer to look at other measures, such as, what percentage of the player elected CSM live in highsec? (14%).

  7. Anonymous says:

    If I recall correctly last time they showed numbers, it sid NOT counting free pass accountsl, may be wrong on that, but I could swear it was somewhere on the text, so better start looking for some diferent reason.

  8. Kasinder says:

    “It’s less about the number of people looking for another MMO or not, and more about companies looking at the genre and seeing that WoW is the only real option to make money….”

    I think we can all agree that developers are starting to realize they can’t beat Blizzard in a red ocean type of way. Hopefully they’re not just saying that and are actually trying to innovate and appeal to a different niche. I can’t remember what it was called, but there was a video that likened WoW to Micheal Jordan, in that it ruined MMORPGs just like he ruined basketball. Someone above mentioned that the subs leaving WoW aren’t necessarily going to any other MMORPG and I believe that is because those people see WoW as its own genre, outside of the MMORPG scope. The reason WoW was so popular is because it appealed to all gamers, not just mmo gamers.

  9. Azuriel says:

    “Catering to casuals?” By must accounts – specifically Blizzard’s in this case – they are seeing less engagement by casuals. Indeed, this expansion has been the most casual unfriendly expansion perhaps in the history of the game. There is the LFR and pet battles, sure, but the hyper-focus on dailies/reputation gating, lack of 5m dungeons, and a general anti-alt attitude really saps what I see as the core of casual play. Mists is a catering to people who hyper-focus on one character day-in and day-out, which is a much more hardcore playstyle IMO.

    Even if your “catering to casuals” line was intended to point out the futility of investing design-time in chasing casual dollars… well, the casuals are leaving. So… it’s good news for Blizzard, right? One might even suggest that this is a “refining of the playerbase down to the core audience.” ;)

    • How is catering to casuals working for Blizzard?

      We don’t know, since they haven’t done that since Wrath. LFR is lip service for casuals, and like any halfbaked scheme it doesn’t work very well.

  10. Derrick says:

    Not to defend Blizzards litany of terrible decisions, but wow is nearly a decade old. You can’t expect to maintain a username of millions over a decade no matter what game design choices you make.

    • Rammstein says:

      Yes I can.

    • Ephemeron says:

      Magic: the Gathering is celebrating its 20th birthday this year. It’s doing better than ever, with over 12 million players worldwide. This success can be attributed, among other things, to certain game design choices that resulted in a major resurgence in the game’s popularity.

      • Heh, leaving aside the glaring “apples and oranges” objection, how did Hasbro come up with that “12 million players worldwide” number?

        Blizz at least has some sort of direct financial relationship with its user base and is trotting out numbers within the constraints of financial reporting to shareholders. Which means they have to be somewhat honest, lest they get sued.

        What has Hasbro got?

        • Ephemeron says:

          Well, Hasbro releases quarterly reports, just as Activision Blizzard does. According to the latest one, Magic is one of the brands that showed over 30% revenue growth in Q1 2013.

          As for player numbers, I think they count them via tournament registration data. So casuals don’t count. :)

        • I don’t doubt the brand makes money. It is very successful. But I was on about counting players, so that is beside the point.

          You “think” they count player totals via tournament registration data, but you don’t know, and Hasbro conspicuously doesn’t mention how they arrived at that number. And that number doesn’t appear in that financial report you linked, so it is again unlike Blizz numbers. There is no GAAP constraints on what Hasbro is saying.

          It could just be an estimate of what they believe the number of packs they think an average player buys divided by the number of card packs they have shipped.

          My point is, that is a very soft number compared to Blizz’s subscription numbers and so not a very useful comparison, all other drastic difference between the two products aside.

        • Rammstein says:

          “My point is, that is a very soft number compared to Blizz’s subscription numbers and so not a very useful comparison, all other drastic difference between the two products aside.”

          The original post that started this discussion didn’t even mention subscriptions, it mentioned someone with a username of “millions”. That is my username, so it’s all about me. I also possess the usernames “billions” and “eightythree”, just in case you want to talk about those usernames instead.

          ” But I was on about counting players, so that is beside the point.”

          I concede that you are, were, and will be, “on about counting players”, but refuse to concede your ability to dictate the terms of a multiway discussion– into which you were the last to enter– merely by deciding to go “on about” some random fact.

          Now, you might argue that instead of “username”, that Derrick meant to write “userbase”. Even if we grant this wildly unlikely scenario, ‘userbase’ still doesn’t necessarily imply a subscription model–if he’d wanted to say that, he would have said “subscriber count”. Even if we descend further into the depths of madness and grant that he meant to say “subscriber base”, one can name many organizations which have a subscriber base of over 10 million, and which are more than a decade old. To reach the argument you are making, where examples must be nicely comparable to WoW, we have to assume that Derrick said username, thinking userbase, by which he meant subscriber base, AND that he meant to include a qualification that he was only talking about fantasy themepark MMOs in the WoW style, which he did not. If this is what you want to talk about, why not simply say so clearly and succinctly, perhaps in your own new thread, instead of randomly going “on about” something in a strange and wondrous thread such as this, subsequently expecting everyone to jump into your haywagon like befuzzled lost ducklings?

          /endlongjokeeventhoughIwaskindaserioustoobecauseoftheirony

          Isn’t blizzard’s 9 million subscriber base not actually 9 million subscribers, but ~6 million subscribers plus ~3 million asian players who pay a relatively small amount to play WoW, and perhaps we’re not actually sure about those numbers at all? Or has Blizzard gotten much more exact on their reporting since I quit playing/caring-about WoW? Seems to me that if you were being fair, you’d acknowledge that there’s a lot of vagueness to go around here.

        • @Rammstein – And I refused to concede your ability to write on some complete and utter off-topic nonsense without being called on it.

          Consider yourself called on it.

        • Rammstein says:

          Consider yourself called on it as well, before you called it on me calling it on you :)

  11. No way man! No ex post facto nonsense calling! I’m rubber and you’re glue on this one! :)

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