If you keep banging your head into the wall, eventually you get to the other side… right?

This amuses me. The people that are responsible for driving the most popular MMO into decline propose a way to stop that decline, and its accepted as fact.

Let’s ignore real facts though. Like the fact that when raiding (and the whole game) was harder (vanilla, TBC) subs grew by the millions, yet when the game got easier (WotLK, Cata) they ‘stagnated’ (dropped in current regions, supplemented by new regions) or outright “we can’t spin this now” dropped. Or that when the leveling game was not a solo-RPG, subs grew, yet the more phasing you added, the more linear you made things, the faster people ‘burned out’.

Hopefully MoP does bring all the aspects of WotLK/Cata that ‘worked’ and removes all the ‘bad’ stuff. That way we can track WoW’s decline monthly, rather than quarterly.


About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
This entry was posted in Mass Media, MMO design, World of Warcraft. Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to If you keep banging your head into the wall, eventually you get to the other side… right?

  1. bhagpuss says:

    There’s a much more obvious explanation as to why WoW is starting to decline. It’s seven years old.

    WoW was a popular culture fad. It had a great run, but pop culture is fickle and it’s just not possible to be the latest, hottest thing forever. WoW’s not going away, but it’s never going to generate the same mainstream media attention it did when the media hadn’t seen it’s like before. and it’s never again going to be the cool new “hey have you played?” word of mouth zeitgeist snowball either.

    WoW’s moving to the “popular classic” category. That means it’s always going to be there but no-one’s really going to get very excited about it any more. It’s just the way of things.

    • kezki says:

      i think it’s mostly that new players will see this and realize it’s crappy graphics from 2004 and not raid vs solo vs difficulty..at this point it’s just an outdated game

    • Carson says:

      I was on my way to post exactly that, but you beat me to it.

      Much simpler and (I think) more likely hypothesis:

      “Let’s ignore real facts though. Like the fact that when the game was brand new and clearly an order of magnitude more technically advanced than the competition (vanilla, TBC) subs grew by the millions, yet when the game aged and started to look more than a little old-fashioned (WotLK, Cata) they ‘stagnated’ (dropped in current regions, supplemented by new regions) or outright “we can’t spin this now” dropped.”

      • SynCaine says:

        Who’s fault is it that WoW looks like a game from 2004? Certainly not the same group that, oh I don’t know, could do something about that? And remember all that wonderful “WoW has low system reqs, which is a huge plus for it and more can play”? Why is that not working now?

      • Gaugamela says:

        As Syn said. Blizzard could very well have updated the graphics engine with the release of Cataclysm since they redesigned the entire game world. By relaunching the game they lost an excellent opportunity to make the game feel fresher and that’s also their fault.

        So they’re loosing subs for a multitude of reasons and looking and feeling old is one of them. The other is that there are finally other competitive theme park MMOs.
        Rift stole WoW’s thunder by showing to every MMO player the amount of content a player should get when paying a subscription while SW:TOR will steal a big chunk of WoW’s subscribers.

    • Sparklight says:

      Magic: the Gathering is twelve years old, and it’s still doing great.

    • mararinn says:

      WoW is not a pop culture fad. It is an opiate.

      Has heroin use declined over the decades due to heroin being passé? No it hasn’t. If heroin use declines it’s because the suppliers are doing something wrong.

      The same applies to push button/receive bacon gaming such as Cow Clicker and most MMOs.

      If you don’t like the opiate comparison, let’s go for the “network effect”. In EVE Online this is known as “people go to Jita because Jita is where all the people go.” Perhaps the popularity of WoW is not so much due to the low system spec required, the low intellect required to succeed in the game, or any number of features of the game itself. Perhaps the popularity of WoW is simply due to its popularity. Driving people away from WoW means you’re doing something really *really* wrong.

  2. rulez says:

    I think Tobold was focusing on raids and in that regard Cata was quite a step up from LK, at least the first heroic tier.

    Nobody seems to mention the changes introduced in Cata, about 10/25 man loot and achievement equality and guild experience/reputation. In my little world those were mostly responsible for a steep increase in the difficulty to recruit capable raiders for our semi hardcore 25 man guild. And as a result half a guild in lost subscriptions. Otherwise I would most likely be banging my head against heroic Ragnaros these days.

    • Percy says:

      Exactly, why go through the hassle of 25 mans when you can do 10 mans now with no penalty at all?

      And once you are in an established 10 man group good luck upgrading to 25…

      Terrible systems like these in addition to the fluctuating difficulty curves are what burn out raiders and stall the progress of new ones. Basically I believe its safe to say that WoW is losing its experienced raiders MUCH faster then its gaining them.

  3. Dink says:

    Syncaine you login completely ignore the fact that MMO players have aged 10+ years. The MMO player tastes have matured/changed and they have less time.

    There are a small percentage of players (like you) that are pineing for the “old” days. But most of the money wants something new that takes less time and is less gimickey than current WoW.

    Blizzard sees what they need to do, they are just late.

    The next MMO era won’t pass you by because it will make room for dinosaurs like you and the new players.

  4. valkrysa says:


  5. Esteban says:

    Is it okay if I say really quietly that really early Cata (particularly with the sound spanking delivered to healers) wasn’t actually like… all that easy?

    *barely unintelligible whisper* We even had to use cc in five mans, like in BC, early on.

    What? No. That was just the wind. You’re imagining things.

    • Telke says:

      Just ignore syncaine going on about how WoW is easy, he hasn’t played since early BC if I recall right. He has no knowledge of the difficulties of ICC 25-H, Yogg+1 or +0 or heroic Rag now.

      And yeah, early cata (heck, even now we CC in some 5-man heroic pulls) was a massive bitch to heal, to be honest. I quit playing healer because I was tired of the stress. I’m a much better tank than healer, anyway.

  6. thehampster says:


    Early Cataclysm heroics did require CC. However, in TBC, even regular dungeons required more CC and more aggro management than in cataclysm.

    Also, a big big change was how the whole dungeon system was reworked b/w TBC, WotLK, and Cata. Dungeons used to be epic and require a team of people who were communicating over vent. Blizzard changed that with the dungeon finder, which made dungeons very grindy speed runs. So CC is “bad” b/c it slows down the speed grinds.

  7. Esteban says:


    I don’t recall ever using teamspeak (in vanilla or bc) to complete regular dungeons. Even the original vanilla Stratholme/Scholomance which were pretty heavily overtuned (fast patrols, dense packs, correct pull order required) until nerfed.

    Still, they did require communication in /party which was best done between mates from the same server whom you’d see again and therefore you cared about working as a team with. I agree with you about the introduction of LFD ruining a lot of things and prompting a McDonaldisation of dungeons, and now raids too. (see: new nerfed LFR 25-mans)

    My aim is not to stick up for Blizz in general, but to point out that after the lolworthiness of Wrath, they did try to make things a bit harder in Cata. It didn’t work.

  8. Kingerz says:

    I was interested in returning to WoW having dropped both my subs during Cat, which has been a very disappointing experience for a couple of million of us. I do miss the Vanilla days of LF39M MC and I’m almost sad to see how dumbed-down, jokey and flat-out uninspiring MoP looks and have no plans to get it. I guess it’s good in a way as MMOs are just too addictive and it does get people free of them as they are waking up to realise they have been stuck doing ‘dailies’ for years and have nothing to show apart from RSI and a big gut?

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