Blizzard announced that their subscriptions for World of Warcraft tanked again last quarter, dropping to the lowest levels in nearly a decade. The flush they got when version 6 came out has ended and players are leaving in droves with a nearly 50% drop since the end of 2014.
Frankly, the numbers, while terrible, are better than I expected. The 6.0 patch has been terrible and has done so much to alienate players that I expected their subscription numbers to be under 5 million.
Just as one example, WoW6 took away flying, forcing players to give up ta key feature of the game. This angered many users, myself included.
The tendency of Blizzard to design new content with a rigid breadcrumb trail of mandatory quests continued to new depths in this patch. There are many points in the game where there is nothing you can do but one specific line of quests. To make matters worse, there are times when you are stuck on one specific quest, but have no indication that that quest is required to proceed in the game.
On top of that, the game is stupidly easy, I stopped playing two months ago. I decided last week that I might as well use my in-game gold for something and so I bought a 30 day token. In the week since I have had no problem running the end-game content and have boosted my item level nearly 100 levels simply by doing not much of anything.
Blizzard still treats PVP as this odd step-child, gimping PVP gear to placate whiny raiders and requiring players who want to do both raids and PVP to carry two sets of gear.
The attempts to ‘simplify’ the game mechanics have failed entirely, and there’s still no way of knowing if a specific piece of gear is better for you or not.
In a sign of just how bad things have gotten, the official Blizzard suggestion on how to get information on ambiguous (or misleading) quest descriptions is too use an outside site like wowhead. Seriously? Instead of fixing your UI and your quest descriptions you decide to offload support to third party sites? Wow. Just wow. (And no, not WoW).
I don’t foresee ever paying for WoW again, but right now I can keep playing for as long as I want to since making the required gold to buy a monthly toke is, like nearly everything else in the game, trivial.
Of course, over 5 million subscribers is still a semi-truck of cash every month, so it’s not quite like WoW is hurting. They’re certainly hoping a new expansion and a big movie next year will pump up their numbers, and they probably will. At least temporarily.
In about 10 hours from now, Blizzard will announce their next expansion. Meh.