What is up with World of Warcraft?

Some two years ago I got a buddy invite from my brother in law to join him on World of Warcraft (WoW) and play alongside him in his guild. I was hesitant at first until he sent me a video of a World Boss fight with over 40 level 85’s attacking this mighty Boss. I could see healers, tanks and damage-per-second players (DPS) going at it, bright lights flashing in front of my eyes which was all the lovely magical powers in the game. I used to think the open world from Grand Theft Auto (GTA) was big, until I got a glimpse of the mass environments within WoW. If you see a hill in the distance, you can actually get there. Do you want to learn more about honor points powerleveling ?

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So, I rallied myself some courage and bought the game and its expansions. Now at this stage my brother in law was living in Holland and playing the game with his wife and other guild members. They had over five years experience in playing WoW. I was going to have to learn just how much time is spent in this massive world. I remember reading an article online that said WoW had over 13 million subscribers, and that at any given time there was about 2 million people playing the game. Now coming from an online gaming community, I mostly played first-person shooters (FPS) such as Call of Duty (CoD) and I have never seen those numbers online. The intricacies of WoW was unfamiliar to me, so it was great having skilled guild members taking me through the game and character building that is needed. I first had to decide on my race, alliance and class, then whether or not I would become a healer, tank etc. I chose DPS because, as I said I was mostly into FPS, this choice seemed more familiar to me.

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As time went on, I was able to level up fairly quickly to level 85, then with the subsequent release of Mists of Pandaria I levelled up to 90 in a fair amount of time. The days and nights flew by and it was clear that I was hooked. I did a good number of raids and dungeons, and got to see the ugly side off players online who were clearly too involved in the game and had no ability to teach, assist or speak to other gamers. I know that if you played WoW, you either are/were this player or experienced this type of player. These players would inspect your layout even before a dungeon starts, and if you are even remotely out of sorts with what they feel is needed, you get kicked. Talk about “A Tough Crowd”, they were downright out of line.

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Non the less, I ventured on and eventually did as many quests as I could. Then with the release of Battlefied 3 and Black Ops 2, I went back into my familiar gaming click, because at least there I was more comfortable and even if I experienced a rude gamer I was comfortable enough in my playing to retort back. So I left WoW, nicely stored on my PC, my hard earned dragon mount placed somewhere in limbo, perhaps waiting patiently for my return.

I started to read articles of late that indicated that quite a number of WoW players have started to leave the game, and the numbers started to fall more rapidly. Of course there is no real way to determine the cause of this as there are many variables to it. For some of the gamers may have started families, gotten jobs, moved away, refused to pay the monthly fees that continued to rise, or just got bored with the game and were looking forward to Blizzards new game, Project Titan which sadly got shelved, at least until 2016. Whatever the reason, the numbers have almost halved in such a short period of time.

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In the beginning of the year, the first three months recorded 1.3 million subscriber losses which was around 14% of its total subscribers at the time. In October 2010 the number of subscribers sat at just over 12 million, but by August 2011 that number declined to 11 million and dropping by another million by November 2011. This year and as at June 2013, the number of still active subscribers is sitting at 7.7 million. That is a considerable drop, and for whatever reason, it looks as though it will still continue to show decline. The Santa Monica, CA based publisher is surely trying its best to bring in new and old subscribers to the massively multiplayer online (MMO) game, and they have committed to maintain it for its current subscribers whilst regaining the lost gaming numbers. How they plan on doing this is difficult to see. As I mentioned in previous articles, Free-To-Play games are really doing well, whilst still in a young development stage, they do offer some gamers the free alternative in gaming. Of course there is nothing that can truly compare to the WoW world, and the beauty that it is. Whether or not there is another expansion on the cards, it remains to be seen as to whether Activision Blizzard may remain a force in the MMO genre, and that Project Titan may indeed be their saving grace, it will be interesting to see what transpires in the upcoming year or so for WoW, its gamers and developer. There are some good MMO titles out there, depending on what you feel most drawn too.

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Only recently have I tried my hand at Eve Online, and although I rallied to WoW on seeing such a fantastic World Boss fight and its 40 or so attackers, it is nothing compared to the massive battlewhich took place on the 28 July 2013 in the Eve universe, where over 4 070 players combated each other in what was a brutal and magnificent event. With over 2 900 deaths, who can argue that MMO’s are fantastical, enduring, and most certainly games that can take away your hours and days without you even realising where the time has gone.

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I hope that we haven’t seen the inevitable decline in WoW, and 7.7 million subscribers is nothing to ignore as that is still a substantial amount more than Eve online’s 500k of active subscribers. Blizzard never attained such greatness for nothing, and I am sure that at their HQ something is brewing, but what it is will only be clear in time. At least I hope so, because the MMO genre is very competitive.

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