World of Warcraft's Subscribers Decline and Blizzard Promises Quicker Expansions
Activision Blizzard earnings call
touched on quite a lot of World of Warcraft and its future as well as a little bit of Diablo III news.
During the call, Blizzard Entertainment's CEO mentioned that subscriber levels had fallen down to 11.4 million this March from its former peak of 12 million. Initially, this seems staggering, but it's important to remember that subscriber levels do not decline linearly and tend to fluxuate. Furthermore, it actually makes quite a bit of sense given two factors: RIFT's launch in March and the absense of a major content patch at that point of time. The new and shiny feeling of Catalysm was disappearing by March and we've only just gotten a new patch a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, 4.1 was fairly light on content for a patch--luckily Firelands will be this summer and it looks much beefier, so it's likely a lot more people will resubscribe to check it out at that point.
In response to the declining subscriber levels, Blizzard has
made some promises for WoW development speeds
. They're currently looking for ways to make the process faster to reduce downtime in-between expansions. "As our players have become more experienced playing World of Warcraft over many years, they have become much better and much faster at consuming content," Morhaime said.
For the most part, he's right. Content becomes much more accessible with each expansion in conjunction with players simply improving with experience. Personally, as a player who has raided since vanilla, it's hard to really throw me a curveball anymore--and that can lead to boredom and burnout when content is cleared and there's nothing left to do but repeat kills.
Of course, if you're getting bored with World of Warcraft, there's always Diablo III to get excited for.
also shed some light on the much anticipated game and Morhaime hinted towards a public beta likely for Q3 2011. While it's hard to say if Diablo III will really make it out by the end of this year, development does seem to be picking up pace and Blizzard is trying hard to get it out before 2012.
So what do you think? Personally, I'm fairly unsurprised at this recent announcement, though their response of quicker expansions seem promising to me--as long as they don't become minor ones. Expansions should be monumental changes in Azeroth and storylines; I'd hate to see it head down a route where it loses quality and depth.
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