My prediction is that if they don't retune the Cata dungeons and heroics so that they won't take 3 hours and have 5 minute runbacks after a wipe, they will rapidly lose a lot of subscribers about 2 months into the expansion.
WORLD OF WARCRAFT® SUBSCRIBER BASE REACHES 12 MILLION WORLDWIDEIRVINE, Calif. -- October 7, 2010 Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. announced today that the subscriber base for World of Warcraft®, its award-winning massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG), now exceeds 12 million players worldwide. This milestone was reached in the wake of the mainland Chinese launch of World of Warcraft's second expansion, Wrath of the Lich King®, and also as global anticipation continues to mount for the December 7 release of the game's third expansion,Cataclysm™."The support and enthusiasm that gamers across the world continue to show for World of Warcraft reaffirms our belief that it offers one of the best entertainment values available today," said Mike Morhaime, CEO and cofounder of Blizzard Entertainment. "We are as committed as ever to taking the game to new heights, and we look forward to demonstrating that with Cataclysm in December."Since debuting in North America, Australia, and New Zealand on November 23, 2004, World of Warcraft has become the most popular subscription-based MMORPG around the world. It was the bestselling PC game of 2005 and 2006 worldwide, and finished behind only World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade®, the first expansion pack for the game, in 2007. For 2008, the World of Warcraft series represented three of the top five bestselling PC games, with Wrath of the Lich King finishing the year at #1, and in 2009, World of Warcraft titles claimed three of the top six spots.*World of Warcraft is currently available in eight languages and is played in North America, Europe, mainland China, Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Chile, Argentina, and the regions of Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau.To keep pace with the continued growth of World of Warcraft as well as development on other Blizzard Entertainment games, the company is currently hiring for numerous open positions. More information on career opportunities available at Blizzard Entertainment can be found at www.blizzard.com/jobs.
Blizzard has always been one of those game developers who really understood how to tie people to their game. In Wrath, the expansion that everybody is complaining about now, they only gained subscribers. And this is mainly to thank to understanding what their buyers want. People wanted to feel like heroes, so Blizzard gave them great gear, and a lot of people feel like they've beaten the Wrath content.
The world today is a fast world. We do half an hour of this, an hour of that, and we move on to do the next thing for a bit. Everybody wants quick and easy satisfaction. Well, with Wrath they gave it both to us. Dungeons take 15 minutes and I don't think it's ever been easier to get your gear in the history of the game.
But, and surprise surprise, it seems that the grand audience has discovered that getting things for free diminishes the value of them. Wrath is too easy, and if you don't at least have a kingslayer title by now you must be a crappy player.
Blizzard must have thought, "We must change this in Cataclysm. Otherwise people will be bored and we will have to pump out new content way too fast to keep them happy. You know what? Lets make it more challenging!"
Well, from what I've seen from the beta so far, they succeeded. Not only did they succeed in making it so challenging that every pug group I've been in over there loses 3 people at the start because they find it too difficult, they also succeeded in making everything take more time, a LOT more time.
When a heroic Deadmines run takes close to 3 hours with a full guild group the only thing I can think is: "Omg, I won't even have time to run a heroic on an evening during the week, 3 hours is close to a full raid."
Losing 3 people out of 5. That's 60% saying that they don't enjoy it, already at the start of the instance.
The other thing I'm noticing is that halfway through the instance people go, "Jikes I didn't expect this to take this long, I have to go now." and poof, they're gone.
What happens is that by the end you may have 1 person left who originally joined the group, and who did the entire run.
Now I know that what I'm seeing is a ridiculously small sample, but if I pull my general beta dungeon experience onto a larger scale, this means that a lot of people will quit shortly into the expansion, they give up on it because they cannot handle the difficulty, and another smaller part will give up a bit later into the expansion because they do not have the time that progression in this expansion requires.
Maybe Blizzard has some evil plan to tune it all down a little after the first month or two, but in my groups about 40% didn't even make it past the first pull or two. And losing about 40% of the subscribers in those first two months would make quite a dent in that 12 million.
"After 8 wipes and about an hour of playtime I was praying that another good MMO would come out sometime soon." This is what a guildie said after Foe Reaper in heroic Deadmines.
Another of his quotes when I asked him to tank an instance on beta, "I'd rather have my teeth pulled."
I know people always jump to quick and easy conclusions, and that they have a tendency to be negative towards change. And I absolutely love this game, but I do sincerely hope that they'll retune the 3 hour dungeon runs. I like a challenge, but if I simply don't have the time to face that challenge, well...challenges can be found elsewhere.