Tobold's Blog
Friday, May 08, 2015

You know that feeling you get when somebody is wrong on the internet? I got that reading several blog posts about the fall in WoW subscription numbers. I'll just quote one from Belghast, because he made the statement very explicit, but the same thing was reported by several other people. What Belghast said is "what we are seeing is a lot of people who came back and played the game for the month that came with their boxed copy, decided that they did not really like what they saw and left again all without actually subscribing.".

That is factually wrong. Only the original game of World of Warcraft comes with a free month. Somebody who bought the box of Warlords of Draenor either already was subscribed or decided to "actually subscribe" before being able to play, because WoW did not come with a free month of subscription included.

So, I did it, I fixed the internet. :)

Of course that doesn't change the fact that the people who came and subscribed just in order to play Warlords of Draenor then went and unsubscribed a month or two later. Personally I am still subscribed, but A) that subscription is now paid in gold, and B) the content I am mostly playing is pet battles and leveling through Cataclysm content. Besides garrison maintenance I am not actually playing Warlords of Draenor content. So I don't disagree with the view that WoD had only 1 or 2 months worth of content, and lots of people came, saw, and didn't stay to conquer.

I am happy to report that in my comfortable middle age I have almost entirely trained myself to respond to that "someone is wrong on the internet" feeling by pushing away the keyboard, switching off the computer and going outside for fresh air. Any other course of action is just too fraught with pitfalls.
I now realise that my comment may appear to be a criticism of you post Tobold. It wasn't meant to be. I have no opinion of WoW subscriber numbers.
We have obviously already talked about why the drop happened, but there are two questions I still see remaining.

1) What will be Blizzard's takeaway from/reaction to this? For the last 5 or so years, their response to basically everything seems to be "I guess we aren't pushing people into raiding fast enough." Will they continue along that path or go back to more successful strategies?

2) How big of a spike will the next expansion get? Obviously this will depend on several unknown factors, the two biggest being what is in the next expansion and what the MMORPG market looks like by then. But we can ask how much WoD has shaken players' confidence in WoW and Blizzard. If no significant competitors join the MMORPG market in that time (which sadly I have come to no longer expect), I could see myself returning in 18 months.
Apologies, I seriously thought we always got a free month with every box like everyone else out there seems to give us for buying expansions. I guess my question is.... why the hell have they not been giving us a free month? >.> I admit I don't really pay that closely to mmo subscriptions and when they charge me or don't charge me.
Not a single World of Warcraft expansion came with a free month. Only if you buy either the basic game, or a bundle which contains the basic game plus some expansions (battle chest) do you receive a free month. I also don't remember any other game which ever gave out a free month of subscription with its expansions.
Expansions never had free game time and the reason surely is some hard cold cash.

Next report sees me with two accounts btw. My main account is still paid until july, enough time to watch the up and down of token price. After that I'll pay with gold. I recently revived my second account with gold. It has a couple lvl stop characters on it. Equipping an 85 with everything from Cata now, no intention on buying WoD for that account.

About the reason for subscription loss I have no idea. Not a single person in my guild/friendlist has stopped playing.

Btw, I still don't get the argument WoD wouldn't have enough content. What exactly is different to being a couple months into previous expansions? Waiting for the second raid tier, running overgeared 5man as always.
Oh yes, the expansions are charged separately from the subs.

I think the issue is that Blizzard is under pressure from their board to constantly "grow", even though all logic and history says that's not going to happen.

When WoD came out, I decided to close all accounts but one so I wouldn't be paying more than what I had to for what I felt should be thrown in to keep subs. You either sell a game, or sell subscriptions. Having your cake and eating it too isn't working anymore.

I think this pressure to ignore moral hazard and "make more money" to produce the illusion of growth will eventually steer the "WoW token" to be more cash cow than "good for the game." More than it is now, I mean.
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