Last week in a quarterly report, Blizzard Entertainment announced that their giant MMO, World of Warcraft, had lost 1.3 million subscribers. This news, as is almost expected, has created a lot of talk especially among the community. Like always, whenever bad news surfaces about WoW, the internet is flooded with people saying that World of Warcraft is dead. With still over 8 million players worldwide, anyone with half a brain knows that the game is not dead, however, with such a drastic drop in subs, it is definitely worth looking at why this drop happened.
One detail, which I found out via MMO Champion’s post on the subject, that many people do not realize is that most of the subscription lost came from Eastern Asia. This is most likely to do with the fact that this area seems to be putting out new MMOs much more quickly, so people stop playing WoW to at least try out this new game. Though MMOs created for Western audiences, like Guild Wars 2 and SWTOR have not recently been “WoW-Killers” like they thought they would be, if the drop in subs in the East is due to new games, Blizzard may start to worry about new MMOs coming out, most notably Elder Scrolls Online.
The second thing to keep in mind about this subscription loss is the age of the game. Eight years is almost ancient when it comes to video games. Though the game is constantly receiving updates, many things about the game, such as graphics and gameplay, are simply becoming out dated. In all honesty, it is extremely impressive that World of Warcraft is still so big after almost a decade.
Finally, and probably most important, I feel, is the fact that the pay-to-play business model seems to be going the way of the dinosaurs. It seems that so many games nowadays are free-to-play, with micro-transactions. Even pay-to-play games are merely one time investments, rather than a monthly subscription like WoW is. Even if World of Warcraft was simply the greatest game in the world, many people would still not play it simply from a financial point reasoning.
Losing 1.3 million subscribers is definitely huge news, however, it is by no means the end of the World (of Warcraft). Even if what I have mentioned above is true, that WoW is simply too outdated to keep up with new, free-to-play games, it is still a massive game. As far as MMORPGs goes, it is still king. Even if some people are not willing to pay the subscription fees to keep playing, there is still so many people who enjoy the game and do not mind the monthly fee. The only thing that seems troublesome, is as the game loses population, Blizzard needs to find a way to fix low population servers. The more players the game loses, the more of an issue this will become, so hopefully Blizzard finds a way to fix this.