WOW Subscriptions Drop, Blizzard Lays Off 600 Staff

By Adam Smith on March 1st, 2012 at 11:15 am.

It’s boom and bust in the world of The World of Warcraft. With subscriber numbers in the last quarter down to 10.2 million, from 12 million in 2010, VentureBeat reports that Blizzard will cut around 12 percent of its workforce, 600 staff. According to the company, the majority of staff affected are likely to be in customer service and sales roles, with only around 60 development roles being cut. Blizzard says its release and development schedules will be unchanged.

Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime had this to say:

“Over the last several years, we’ve grown our organisation tremendously and made large investments in our infrastructure in order to better serve our global community. However, as Blizzard and the industry have evolved we’ve also had to make some difficult decisions in order to address the changing needs of our company.

Knowing that, it still does not make letting go of some of our team members any easier. We’re grateful to have had the opportunity to work with the people impacted by today’s announcement, we’re proud of the contributions they made here at Blizzard, and we wish them well.”

Seeing these figures really hammers home how many people are reliant on the giant populations of virtual worlds for their employment and we wish all the best to those affected.

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88 Comments »

  1. Simon Hawthorne says:

    WOW!

    (Sorry)

  2. Legionary says:

    A drop of almost 2m subscribers in one quarter is pretty spectacular. Is this the TOR effect? Anyone care to speculate wildly on the cause?

    • Jumwa says:

      The 2million subscriber plunge was in the year since Cataclysm launched, I believe. I think they just made a bit of a slipup in the story above.

    • Ephaelon says:

      Cata-schism? Pand-anger?

    • Snesso says:

      Mostly its WoW’s own fault, Cataclysm was kind of a bummer for most long-time players, plus the Mist of Pandaria announcement wasn’t really liked by many, but I guess ToR probably helped a bit too.

    • Snichy says:

      Maybe just boredom of the same thing over and over. I think the only thing that will save it is a major graphical update as they have been massively overtaken in visuals by people like Trion

    • Jumwa says:

      I think Snesso is likely closer to the mark.

      The whole “It’s just getting old” argument doesn’t really hold water for me. Why did WoW manage to go all these years without ever dipping in subscription numbers then suddenly plunge by a sixth? If it were people just getting tired of the formula, I’d think the number would just be a slow trickle that grew over time, not a sudden dip.

      A sudden dip that just happened to occur after a change in the development team and a big expansion made by said new team. The timing and nature of the dip indicates the changes were displeasing or simply less successful at what they set out to do.

    • Aemony says:

      Having played SWTOR and stalked the forums for quite some time, I doubt it. Some was obviously influenced and converted, but they are among the minority.

    • Necroscope says:

      Too much emphasis on revamping the levelling content below the current 80-85 high level stuff. Re-using past raid content as a heroic dungeon wasn’t cool. Blizz have made the game too easy in certain areas. Such as, switching what were once elite mobs to regular, making it more accessible for solo and casual but less challenging or appealing for getting together with a group. Group challenges as part of levelling content imo could be one thing Blizz reintroduce for Mists of Pandaria. Get players interacting with each other frequently. Need more mobs that instill fear into players lol. The kids need to be shitting themselves with FEAR!

    • Grakkus says:

      It’s pretty much just gross mismanagement of the franchise by the bean counters at Activision. The first WoW content patch whose development cycle was initiated after the Activision-Blizzard merger was Trial of the Crusader, which is generally acknowleged as the point where the quality of raiding content dropped off massively.

      With each new patch or expansion, they are trying to develop content more cheaply, which is turning people away from the game. What is their solution? To develop the next content even more cheaply to keep up their profits. Ha.

    • sneetch says:

      @Jumwa

      In my case I thought Cataclysm added some great content but I found myself moved off the raid team for our guild. So me and a couple of friends split off and formed our own guild and started trying to recruit and we found that with the new guild levelling and rep system people were staying put in their old guilds rather than losing the benefits of their high level guild and moving to a startup and doing it all over again so we couldn’t recruit a raid team.

      So I found myself in the same part of the same process for the third time (BC, WoTLK and Cata): grinding rep and building gear so I can try to get into raids to grind rep and build gear. I started getting tired of not being able to experience the content because, despite being good at my class, I don’t really have the time needed to grind the gear to do it and when you add in the thought of paying a subscription to not be able to experience the content and the announcement of the next expansion and the thought of yet another cycle of the exact same stuff and, well, there was just no point in continuing.

    • Jumwa says:

      Agreed Grakkus. The decline happened after they pulled off the developers from WoW to go work on new properties. It coincided with a new head of development, and the rise of their attempts to milk the player base with microtransactions on top of the subscription and purchase fees. But most importantly it just coincided with a dramatic shift in the content itself.

      It’s not just the slow trickle of people growing tired of the game, it’s been a sudden surge. I wont pretend to pin a single change in development upon it. Even the “laziness” of Trial of the Crusader. Someone said about the leveling process being made easier, which though true was also accompanied by a much tougher more exclusionary end-game.

      A lot of changes hold responsibility, but it stems back to the shift behind who makes the game and how.

      Edit to add:

      I know exactly what you mean Sneetch. As I said, I think how they made end-game much more exclusionary was responsible for a large chunk of the lost playerbase. I found it too much for myself, and as awful as I am at games, most of the people I know are so casual they make me look like a gaming savant. The time investment to get into endgame and the requirements from you once there raised, which inevitably bars more people from it, which means more people with nothing to do once they hit 85.

      It was a dramatic shift from past expansions, where each one got progressively more accessible.

    • Hoaxfish says:

      “Global economic crash actually does effect expensive subscription-based entertainment product” doesn’t sound as catchy I guess.

      As a lot of people say, only Blizzard can kill WoW.

    • Bensam123 says:

      People move in groups and droves. They flock together, they play together, they have fun together. People can argue this all they want, but I think the reason the majority of players play is because of their friends, their guildies, the prestiege of having more shinies then other people, and just having fun. Once you lose that magic spark things die out almost instantly and you’re left with the die hards who aren’t very socially adept, who then discourage others that are.

      Wow became just unfun enough that people got tired of the same crap and there are now slightly better choices to play. A lot of people have been playing for years and now is as good a time as any to quit and move on with their lives.

      This may be pure BS, but I’m pretty sure grind games in general will start to die out. The ones where you have to hack and slash and spend 200-400 some hours just to max out your character (some a heck of a lot more then that). People are tired of the same old repetitive BS.

      I really think this is a precursor to how well GW2 is going to do. If they actually live up to the casual model that they’ve been presenting and how they’ve really changed the whole RPG dynamic, it most definitely will bring people in from all around.

      Wow is now a sinking ship and Blizzard doesn’t care. Blizzard apparently doesn’t care a whole lot about anything judging from playing SC2 and the D3 beta, they’re just clones of their prequels. I’m pretty sure WoW was intended as a controlled bleed with damage control till their new MMO comes out, but it doesn’t look like it’ll last that long.

    • Hoaxfish says:

      I think it’s a little harsh to say Blizzard don’t care because SC2 and D3 are rehashes of the previous game… it’s what a lot of people demanded.

      From what I’ve seen they have at least tried to fit new ideas into D3, though I’m not really paying that much attention.

      Hopefully Titan is something that shows they do “care” since it is apparently a new thing.

    • Bensam123 says:

      I think it’s perfectly fair. Blizzard used to be the pinnacle of video game evolution. They pushed new ideas, concepts, and actually tried to innovate. There just producing clones now like every other studio.

    • Jimbo says:

      It’s down ~2 million from where it was two years ago, not down ~2 million over the quarter. Presumably it went up when Cataclysm came out and then settled back down again once people had played through that content.

      These are not the figures of something that is failing. 10m subscribers is still an incredibly high -almost logic defyingly high- number to have after all these years. I don’t think any of their competitors even have the number that WoW has lost, let alone the number it still has.

    • Harkkum says:

      I would not be that harsh on criticising Blizzard from the “failure” of WoW the past year. They are still putting in more and more features that are then copied by the competition. The same critics that are now blaming Cataclysm were fiercely against dungeon finder and similar tools, that are now widely considered as central elements for a themepark model of MMOs (see e.g. heated debate on SW:TOR forums due to lack of it).

      The dip in subscription numbers might just be because of the age it is showing. As there are no genuine alternatives provided for the end-game in all these years, it is fairly hard to motivate playing the game outside raiding / hard core PvP community. Also, as players are leaving it has also become increasingly hard to find new players to join in as everyone and their niece has already played WoW at some point.

      All-in-all, WoW is not really any worse of a game than it has been before. The leveling content is superior to any other product on the market, the end-game raiding is top notch both in terms of accessibility and difficulty and the PvP is better balanced and more competitive than anywhere else on the MMO-genre. In a word, a top dog on all accounts. Too bad that the amount of new content can never appease players and as making new alts on a game that is already running its 8th (or is it 9th year) hardly is alternative for many, the only logical conclusion is to just drop the subscription.

      So, here we are, the drain of old players cannot any longer be compensated by the stream of new ones and those leaving the game are taking longer and longer pauses from the game as the patched content is not enough to justify a subscription for most. And Blizzard knows this. They have moved most of the more experienced team members to upcoming projects. And having masses of GMs on half-empty servers hardly is reasonable either. There it is, sad news, but fairly rational in the end.

    • jjujubird says:

      “Too much emphasis on revamping the levelling content below the current 80-85 high level stuff”

      This is the most prominent reason, although there are many.
      If you have shiny new stuff at max level there’s a lot of replay value there, for each character. If there’s shiny new stuff from 1-60, each character only experiences that ONCE. The problem with that design is pretty obvious.

      Another thing that should be mentioned (it may have been already, but I didn’t see it) – Blizzard has “10 million subs” but there aren’t 10 million active players. AKA they aren’t actively getting money from 10 million people. A decent number of those are time cards that still have some time left on them, but the person hasn’t played (and thus paid Blizzard) in quite some time.

    • briktal says:

      It’s not quite as bad if you look at it over a slightly longer term, as apparently WoW lost (a small amount) of subs over the course of the last expansion. They peaked at 12m subs when WotLK came out, then dropped down to about 11.5m. When Cata came out, it jumped back up to 12m before dropping back down a bit below 11.5m. Then there was the quarter where they lost 800k subs. Pretty much everything except that one quarter has been a pretty consistent small decline over the last couple years.

    • InternetBatman says:

      I think it’s just because the game’s time is done, and they’ve probably moved most of the talent to other projects. The subscription numbers in the West have been declining for a while, but Asian releases have been taking the slack. It’s a lot easier to churn through the five-man and single-player endgame content then it used to be, and raiding is a huge commitment.

      Also, there was the decision in Cataclysm to make healing significantly harder by lowering mp5. Healers (and tanks) were hard to find before, afterwards it just took a while to even find a pug.

      At the same time a whole ton of new MMOs have come out or gone f2p.

    • afarrell says:

      @Jumwa: The problem with that is that the game is becoming less exclusionary, down from The Burning Crusade, when only .5% of raiders ever got to the last boss in Sunwell, to now when almost anyone can grind their way to the gear to get into the Looking for Raid version of the Dragon Soul raid, and actually kill Deathwing.

    • Ninja Foodstuff says:

      Clearly this is due to internet piracy.

    • Jumwa says:

      afarrell I said that. WoW had been getting more inclusive with each new expansion until Cataclysm. I have no idea what impact a new raid finder has had, because that only came along very recently, after the bulk of those two million players–and myself–left the game.

      I knew my time with WoW was up when I hit 85 and realized the new group mechanics, and the new tougher difficulty level for heroics and raids would require me to invest more time and commitment to the game to continue playing.

    • Swanny says:

      I think the decline had various factors involved in it: There are many points here i’m going to miss/leave out, for the sake of simplifying the general message of this post.

      1) Pvp has mostly been an afterthought throughout all of WoW.

      2) Quality of raiding went down with Trial of the Crusader, which pissed off many hardcore raiders.

      3) In Wrath, 1-60 xp was increased. A lot. Heirlooms and generous quest xp made leveling way too easy. Boring even for many casual players. The world update prior to Cataclysm expanded on this.

      4) The talent system was changed to force someone to specialize- we were forced to have 31 points in a tree so we couldn’t ‘mess up’ our builds. This angered the players who liked to customise their builds, even if they weren’t cookie-cutter perfect.

      So with those seeds sown, Cataclysm comes out- and healers start running out of mana. Everyone is dying, all the time- and healers are forced to relearn how to heal. Groups/guilds without great healers have to wait for them to relearn. This is by design- devs wanted heals to worry about mana again, but nerfed it too hard. Healers mana has been buffed in many ways since the Cata launch.

      So- Hardcores are pissed, casuals are bored, and customisers options taken away. Everyone hits a wall of frustration- healers can’t heal, dps is now responsible for their own health, and tanks can’t hold aggro against dps who are playing like it’s a Wrath of the Lich King raid. Everyone is getting killed, and we all go find something else to play.

      TL, DR: post-Activision, bad decisions filled wow’s house with propane. Cataclysm lit the match.

    • Esophagus says:

      People claimed they wanted harder content. They whined and shrieked about it all during WotLK and listed it is their reason when they quit and so on and so forth.

      Cataclysm delivered the hard content people claimed they wanted.

      It turns out, to no ones suprise at all, that people are full of shit and that when faced with actual content that may keep them out, as opposed to this nebulous other people who access to content enraged and infuriated them, they’ll quit in droves.

    • RedWurm says:

      My experience of this – as an ex-wow player – is that the endgame content keeps getting compressed. The latest raids vary in difficulty, but it’s very tough for a casual player to get in to them. To make it a bit easier for them, and to ensure everyone can get into the newest raids, all the pre-raid gear goes up a notch and the old ones are nerfed. As a result, players who have been raiding solidly don’t have much to show for it that anyone else can’t get much more easily, and all they have to look forward to is grinding then farming the same bosses until the next content patch.

      This – and the fact that I was raiding as a paladin healer when they made the mana restrictions even tougher for me – is why I left the game. I agree with the idea of increasing the difficulty of instances – I didn’t usually need to heal at all in dailies at the end of wotlk – but the vast majority of boss mechanics penalised mistakes by simply pumping out huge amounts of damage, which in turn puts even more burden on the healer, on top of the much tighter mana situation. An emphasis on knowing the tactics and paying attention is not a bad thing, but if you pick up an idiot in the dungeon finder it becomes the healer’s problem, not their own.

  3. Jumwa says:

    I’m sure the cuts will only effect unimportant and already solid things like customer support and–Hah sorry, couldn’t keep the joke running.

    It’s a shame to hear about the people who lost their jobs. But even if Activision Blizzard makes record profits, WoW has dipped, and the corporate gods demand their sacrifice in honour of the CEOs cocaine party in the sky.

  4. Skeletor68 says:

    One third are being cut in Ireland. We didn’t need that right now…

    • fionny says:

      They shouldve jumped ship to Bioware when they could… at least there is all those paypal jobs to run to,.

    • MasterDex says:

      It’s a big kick in the teeth for the government here who’re struggling to gain some good faith from the population, especially in the run-up to that very important referendum.

    • fionny says:

      @MasterDex haha ya there are in for the land of their lives when the people return a big fat No vote there.

    • mentor07825 says:

      My job prospects are looking dimmer and dimmer…

  5. Snichy says:

    lol, what a headline. Makes it sound like the end of the world for WoW but still, “only” 10 million subscribers. Compare that to the “success” of SWTOR with 1-2 million subscribers (which may just about double now they have gone into Asia)…!

    Im sure with Mists of Pandas, Diablo 3 and Titan, they wont be short of a bob or two in the coming year or two but whether they will survive as market leaders after these releases depends on the success of said releases – basically their fate is in their own hands.

    “There is no fate but what we make….”

    • Jumwa says:

      The headline just states their subscriptions dropped and that they’ve laid off people. Neither of which is sensationalized, it’s just the bare bones facts. Am I missing something?

    • Sian says:

      “Compare that to the “success” of SWTOR with 1-2 million subscribers (which may just about double now they have gone into Asia)…!”

      Er… WoW didn’t come into existence with 10 million subscribers, so yes, 2 million in the first six weeks (numbers taken from press release) are quite impressive. An MMO builds up and maintains its base over time, it doesn’t rely on the first few weeks alone.

    • Jimbo says:

      Yeah, ‘an’ MMO -WoW- did that. Nothing else has come close to repeating that pattern since then. Most do the opposite.

  6. JonathanStrange says:

    Only ten million subscribers left? Poor Blizzard, I’m not sure how they’re even getting by with such small numbers. Ah how the mighty have fallen…

    /sarcasm

    Seriously though one thing that has always bugged me, just from the perspective of an outsider looking in, is how mercenary the gaming industry tends to be with its staff. Laying off staff after each project and laying more off at the first signs of trouble, then laying off staff simply because they don’t seem to have enough to work on. I remember Bioware even used this as an excuse for DLC recently, saying if their staff isn’t working on that they’d likely be laid off.

    Obviously other industry in general can be like this as well, believe me I know, but it’s still a bit disturbing how commonplace and cavalier it tends to be in the gaming industry.

    • BigJonno says:

      I just wonder why people aren’t just hired on a contract basis in the first place. It seems a lot more ethical to contract X amount of people for the duration of a project than to hire them under the pretence of full-time employment when you know that you’re not going to need to keep them all on when the game is finished.

    • SgtDante says:

      Yeah, “only 10m” I suppose if your companys value was lowered by $30mil a month ($360mill a year) you wouldn’t mind in the slightest either….

      It’s always a shame to hear about job losses but from a purely financial point of view I can kinda see why it had to happen teh way it happened. Lower profits means you have to lower costs.

    • Jimbo says:

      It doesn’t average out at anything like $15 a month per user.

  7. Althilor says:

    Blizzard fanboys are really having a hard time coming to grips with this, if you read MMO Champion. I mean, they wholeheartedly, and stupidly accept the myth Blizzard continues to put out that they’re akin to 5 dudes in a basement making games (just bigger now!), that they’re in effect still Blizzard from the block, so how can Blizzard simply cut employees?

    Many of them cling to wording, clearly not understanding corporate speak “They aren’t getting rid of them because of money, they’re streamlining their processes!”, whilst others insist all of the 600 must have simply been bad employees, and those have clearly never worked in a corporation before in their life.

    Seriously, good reading. Makes one realize the lengths the Human mind will go to to rationalize things when they go against its already concieved worldview.

  8. Big Murray says:

    I’ve got a betting pool going on what shuts down first … WoW or Ultima Online.

  9. DeathRow says:

    Hopefully they’ll hire them again when Project Titan releases.

  10. TheWhippetLord says:

    Blizzard are handling their players’ expectations poorly at the moment. They released what they announced would be the final content patch of the current expansion at the end of November. The next expansion doesn’t have a more specific release date than 2012. Do they really think people will just hang about after running out of content? Anecdotally a lot of the higher-achieving players on my server are already taking a break until Mists of Pandaria comes out. How many will get hoovered up by some other MMO rather than come back?
    That said, WoW has always had a falloff in players when a new expansion is announced, as people realise that their hard-won shiny gear will be worthless two or three quests into the new content.
    I really don’t understand why they didn’t either hold off announcing Pandaria until closer to release, or chuck in a couple more content patches. MMO players get grumpy if they start to feel that their game is being left stagnant to fund the dev company’s other projects – look at the EvE thingy. I think WoW players will walk rather than make the kind of creative demonstrations that the EvE crowd have got up to over the years though.

    • Therax says:

      Activision-Blizzard also needs to manage the expectations of their stockholders, and when those stockholders come over and ask “Now that you’ve purchased this Snowstorm company everybody was so hot about, what revenue source are they going to be bringing you for fiscal year 2012?” they expect a more concrete answer than “We’ve got this awesome thing coming. Don’t worry, the customers will lap it up.”

      Remember, this is the same company that talked how how Guitar Hero was going to be an “annually exploitable property.” Of big multi-billion dollar publicly traded companies, I think only Apple actually gets away with keeping their product plans a closely held secret without their stockholders going insane.

      Mark my words, Titan will run up against the same thing. The old iD and Blizzard line of “When it’s done” doesn’t fly after you get purchased by the Goliath.

    • lijenstina says:

      In the end, financial and stock markets will save the day like they did in 2008. And everyone will live in peace and prosperity.

  11. Acerbjorn says:

    Of course they are right, they will output new content just as fast as usual. badumm-tish

  12. Khemm says:

    It’s natural. People have been playing WoW for years and they’re finally getting bored, tired of this thing.

    Blizzard should pretend WoW doesn’t exist or consider it a spin off, “what if scenario” and create proper Warcraft 4, picking up the story where The Frozen Throne left off. Add naval units like in Warcraft 2 and everyone will be happy.

    • Tei says:

      This. If game companies can be saved from wow. Its by returning to the old habit of making games.

  13. Bensam123 says:

    They’re making fucking boatloads of money and they’re already cutting employees. Seems rather ridiculous given the huge success of the game in the first place. I guess CEOs wont take paygrade cuts.

    • drewski says:

      Or, more accurately, shareholders won’t accept lower returns on equity in exchange for the warm fuzzies of keeping around staff who no longer have a job to do.

      If I had $300m I probably wouldn’t pay 600 people to sit on their butts all day, even though I could afford to.

  14. MasterDex says:

    I first heard about this on the radio yesterday. 200 of those jobs are Irish based so it’s a big kick in the teeth for the government here who’re struggling to gain some good faith from the population, especially in the run-up to a very important referendum.

    Best of luck to all those affected.

  15. Flint says:

    They changed too much, too radically. The major old world and levelling system changes, the latter which they’re altering even further in the next expansion, are one of those cases where good intentions end up backfiring. The old world may now have rollercoastery plots and nearly nonexistent grind quests, but it’s now increasingly linear and way too fast as an attempt to rush the player to the level cap (which hurts the unaltered Burning Crusade/Wrath areas even more). The talent/skill system changes had the fine idea of decreasing grind and unexciting choices, but it feels like a shadow of its former self and the upcoming Pandaria changes are turning it into something completely different.

    This is all IMO, of course. But to me, the game’s lost the excitement and flavour that got me playing through the levelling content over and over again with great joy and love. Change is good and often needed, and WoW’s certainly no stranger to them. The Cataclysm changes are just so big that the result feels like a whole different game at parts, and it’s not really a surprise if those who really enjoyed the old game are feeling let down by it.

    • UnravThreads says:

      The talent build change thingies don’t inspire confidence, either. Less than a year into the latest expansion pack and they were talking about overhauling the talent system again.

      Makes you wonder if they know what they’re doing.

    • briktal says:

      I think the bigger problem, what they suggested in their latest post mortem post and what many players thought is that the whole 1-60 revamp ended up taking a lot longer than they had originally intended and planned for. One of the results of this is that they had an expansion where probably most of the work went into the 1-60 experience which would be a great time to get people to try out a bunch of alts, except it took so long that everyone made all the alts they could ever want while waiting for it to come out.

    • skalpadda says:

      I tried levelling a character a little while ago for laughs and to see how I liked the game after being away for a while and I felt much of what Flint describes. The stronger narrative focus has some upsides but it also makes it feel far too much like you’re on an XP conveyor belt. Even without heirlooms or other XP bonuses I also out-levelled zones before doing even half the quests and while WoW levelling content was never a super hard, everything felt incredibly easy, which made it boring pretty fast.

  16. Cryo says:

    Well obviously they can’t support those employees with only 10 million userbase. Corporate loyalty is a strictly one-way street after all.

  17. Lobotomist says:

    This is not effect of SWTOR as some might think.

    Its simply herald of changing tides in MMO world. Subscription MMOs are on their way out and Buy2Play / Free2Play are on their way in.

    Especially with new giant that is going to be GW2

    WoW is also old. Who ever wanted to play it , played the heck out of it. And since most were kids and teenagers. These all ready grown and have different hobbies.

    What worries me far more is the status of Diablo and Titan

    If these two are potentially good – Blizzard would keep employees.

    Like this I suspect that D3 will not be all that was expected to be ( i point you to the post from one of community managers for D3 that wrote “prepare to be disappointed)
    And also Titan might turn out to be just vaporeware.

    • anduin1 says:

      I really hope Diablo 3 isn’t as bad as everyone is saying its going to be but this could just be the changing of the times, the once proud and successful developer has become a shadow of its former self when its ideals were compromised.

    • HothMonster says:

      “WoW is also old. Who ever wanted to play it , played the heck out of it. And since most were kids and teenagers. These all ready grown and have different hobbies.”

      10 million people say otherwise. 3x as many people as any other mmo.
      http://users.telenet.be/mmodata/Charts/Subs-1.png

      “And also Titan might turn out to be just vaporeware.”

      Anything could, but no reason to think they wouldn’t release another MMO. It would be nice because they are probably the only people that will make a AAA MMO and won’t make a WOW clone. Everyone keeps repeating wow’s mistakes instead of improving them. I get that they want to use a formula that works but dear god please take out the things that are only still there because they can’t take out those pieces of 6 year old code, don’t write that shit into your new game.

      “If these two are potentially good – Blizzard would keep employees.”
      I see your logic but if a game company with ~6000 employees can trim 600 and only 10% are developers it might have been time to trim the fat. Especially since part of the reason they signed with Acti was so they could handle the sales/support/marketing adminy stuff (iirc). Still sad for the people that got labeled as fat though :(.

      “Like this I suspect that D3 will not be all that was expected to be”
      Yeah, but have seen what those people expect. They want everything, they want it perfect and they want it yesterday.

      “the once proud and successful developer has become a shadow of its former self ”
      Not yet, they still have to release a bad game. Here is to hoping that isn’t D3.

    • Erithtotl says:

      I’ve been totally underwhelmed by the Diablo III hype. Honestly, I never though the original Diablos were as amazing as people talk about them. I think they were the first ‘accessible’ RPGs and thus drew in a lot of people who otherwise would not play that sort of game. But technologically they were way behind the times and they were pretty shallow.

      But I can’t imagine why a D3 community person would say something like that. Does he still have a job? It almost sounded tongue in cheek, with his M. Night references.

  18. Timmytoby says:

    Well, it’s no wonder Blizzard has it’s customer service staff almost exclusively in countries with barely any employment protection (USA, Ireland).
    They even moved the majority of customer service jobs from France to Ireland, because Ireland is one of the most employer-friendly countries in the EU (hence Irelands position as the India of Europe for Call-Centers) while the laws in France lean way more towards employees.

    So who would have thought a corporation that did everything they could to minimize the job security of their employees would then actually go ahead and fire them at the first chance? *raises hand

    It’s very sad for the employees now losing their jobs in Ireland. A lot of them relocated to Ireland from France/Germany and I know of at least 2 who first relocated to France a couple years ago and then were persuaded to relocate again to Ireland to help setup their new customer service there.

    EDIT:
    And just to be fair: The SWTOR support is located in Ireland as well.

    • MasterDex says:

      But what laws protected the French/German employees in this case? I don’t think the move to Ireland was motivated by a lack of employee protection, as Ireland does have a sufficient amount of it, but rather that the lower corporate tax rate – the lowest in Europe aside from Estonia – ensured that for something of tertiary importance to the corporation like customer support, it made the most sense to locate in Ireland.

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      Apple, Google & loads of other tech companies have UK/Europe tech support based in Ireland. It’s not a new thing & it’s not purely due to the employment regulations there.
      Hell my ISP & mobile provider o2 have a call centre right here in Glasgow but whenever I’ve had to call them for tech support over the last 3 years, I think about 90% of the time I’ve been connected to someone in Dublin.

    • Buceph says:

      What rubbish is this? Comparing Ireland to the US in regards to employment law? We have fairly strict employment laws. Once you’re employed for six to nine months (depending on the circumstance of your employment) you can’t be fired unless there’s cause. So that would be some serious misbehaviour from an employee.

      However, I don’t think there’s anywhere in the world that stops a business making employees redundant. If a business is simply ending a position, because it’s not profitable or needed, what do you expect the business to do?

      This is a big hit for my area, I know quite a few people working for Blizzard. Most of them with degrees and even a few with masters. They’re all very worried for their jobs. Of course they should have known this was coming, but the allure of working for their favourite games company was too big.

      But to say we have no employment protection is downright wrong.

    • Timmytoby says:

      My apologies, I should have clarified: Compared to their former customer service location in France the laws in Ireland lean way more towards employers, which, as was correctly pointed out, is only one of the reasons Ireland is very popular for all manners of corporations to set up their customer support. The other (main) reason would of course be tax related.

      And as I immensly enjoy my vacations in Ireland, I applaud them for finding their unique niche in Europe.
      And of course they have way more employment protection laws than the US (since they are part of the EU).

      What I should have made more clear:
      Blizzard launch WoW and hire people from all over Europe for customer support in France.
      The american corporate culture has clashed badly with the laws and employee expectations in France (I have heard several stories from employees which boil down to: No you can’t do that in Europe Mr. Manager, and especially not in France).
      So they relocate most of their support to Ireland, and now, when a lot of their staff are about to reach the maximum time for a fixed term contract, they are going to lay off people.

      Had they kept their support center solely in France, they would have a lot of staff with indefinite contracts by now, and since France has very generous redundancy payments compared to Ireland, would have to pay way more for firing people.

      So yes: From a business point of view it made total sense, but it’s still a sucky move. Especially for a company that still tries to appear all positive, guys-from-next-door. I’m actually suprised they didn’t repeat their performance, shut down their operation in Ireland completely and start over in another EU country.

  19. Njordsk says:

    Got so much gear memories of WoW I can’t say anything bad about it. Playing with my wife, molten core raiding, UBRS 15 men rush, 60 stratholms runs to get MY DAMN CHEST PIECE §

    Good ‘ol time.

    • goettel says:

      “gear memories”, a Freudian slip, surely ?

      Drakefire amulet for Onyxia attunement: memories.

  20. daf says:

    With the anouncement of Italian realms and game translations (and maybe more in the future), I wonder if the cuts aren’t being made with to trim general enGB support as big slices of players move of it to language specific versions which would need to be serviced by a new support/sales team.

    Of course that’s just a guess, they could simply be cutting jobs to reduce costs and maximize profits, like every other company in the world ever…

  21. Tolkfan says:

    Number of Pirates Drops, Global Average Temperature Rises.

  22. Dances to Podcasts says:

    SWTOR set a new standard for support, and Blizzard’s gonna try to meet it.

    /badum-tsh

  23. Shooop says:

    Blizzard has a development team and isn’t just a massive hype/marketing machine? Woah, when did this happen?!

  24. HothMonster says:

    Horrible news for 600 people. :( Best of luck.

    Here is what erks my chain though, when are people going to stop acting like having more than 3 times as many subs as the second most popular MMO is a sinking ship in its death throes? Yes they lost a lot of subs but its not like are still not the most subscribed mmo by a looooooooong shot. WOW isn’t going anywhere until Blizzard releases their next mmo.

    These numbers are going to keep going down too. No new content until panda land and the current stuff is pretty meh. Everyone who didn’t buy a year to get free diablo should drop sub and get perpetuum!

  25. fenriz says:

    i bet Blizzard couldn’t even wait for such a thing to happen, that they couldn’t stomach working on this old sticky dingy game anymore. Why work on something new when you got a game that buys you a villa per day?

    I bet they feel relieved, they can go back to making new stuff. If i concentrate i can hear em groaning, the pissing way.

  26. Ajh says:

    They lost me in Wrath during Trial of the Crusader. I said screw this call me when the next expansion comes out.

    They nearly lost me when they revamped ZA and ZG. I didn’t like those raids to begin with and now i have to heal a bunch of halfwitted wrong armor wearing morons who can’t stand out of the poison or shoot what you tell them to in them? AND IT’LL TAKE FOREVER. I actively refused to do both of them for a very long time, and even then I was hesitant, and often went in tanking, as no one in their right mind would WANT to heal that mess.

    Firelands made me want to fall asleep. People still want to go there. I have to be dragged kicking and screaming. LFR makes me want to smack people till they get a brain. DS10…is actually quite pleasant, and I don’t mind being dragged with the raid guilds that know me.

    To be entirely honest, the main reason I play WoW these days is because I’m the leader of an RP guild, but we could seriously take our RP to any MMO. We don’t need to stay.

    I adore the new 1-60 content, but it has a huge huge flaw. After 60 you have to go to outlands, which feels EXTREMELY dated. Especially when you pick up a piece of mail with agility and intellect. Blizzard, at least change the gear so the current way the classes work WORKS with it? I also am resigned to getting no new trinkets from 60 on to 80 on my baby warrior tank unless i form a group for rarely run places such as shadow labs. 60-80 feels, even with the increased speed in getting through it, dated and strange, and like it doesn’t fit with the game at all. Everything’s still in the past there. That’s a problem.

    And I think a lot of people are sick of these sorts of problems. I KNOW healers are tired of being complained at. Tanks are tired of being complained at. We have NO ability to get rid of a completely abusive jerk in our parties, and on top of all the stuff I listed above, we have to deal with someone like that? Most of the time when I attempt to kick a truly abusive person from my party, i get a message “player can not be kicked for 4 hours.” …so I have to leave and re-queue, often taking a deserter penalty.

    Basically their lfg system seems designed to promote the WORST kind of behavior, and to reward it.

    And those are the reasons a lot of people I know have quit.

  27. TsunamiWombat says:

    Likely caused by a conflation of issues – the rise of F2P, the Games age, MMO Migration, player fatigue and boredom. I honestly hope this is a death knell, not because I hate Blizzard or WoW, but because I wonder what would change in a market without the 6 billion pound gorilla in the room

    • HothMonster says:

      Like I said above, 3 times the number of the number 2 mmo is not a dieing game. They just opened up real big in china and new and young players start all the time. I am sure the vast majority of their infrastructure has been paid for by now so I imagine they could easily lose another 70% of their playerbase and still be profitable.

      I agree that it would be interesting to displace those 10 million into other games but I think it would lead to a lot of games making themselves even more wow like. IMO the only people really trying to break the MMO mold are GW and EVE (not so much trying to break the mold they were just happy to make their own) and perpetuum (which is really just fitting to eve’s mold but damn its nice to see someone else move that way). Eve is never going to get wow’s numbers the learning cliff is too high but I do hope that GW can pull off all the things they want to because it sounds like a huge step forward.

      These days I am sadly resigned to thinking that the only thing that can ever displace wow is blizzard’s next mmo. Everyone else (mostly) is too happy to just repeat their formula instead of innovate.
      tl;dr
      Unfortunetly the only thing that is going to get rid of the 6 billion pound gorilla is Blizzard releasing their 10 billion pound gorilla.

  28. thestage says:

    Having to dramatically slash your operating budget as a result of only having 10 million paying customers a month means you are doing it wrong. Good job, economic model of video game publishing.

    • HothMonster says:

      Well at 15 bucks a month thats only like 150,000,000 a month. That probably barely covers the virgins they need to sacrifice to appease Kotick. /snark

  29. D3xter says:

    You’ll excuse me when I say YES, and I hope this continues xD

  30. Suits says:

    And down it goes, it’s been fun now scram.

  31. geldonyetich says:

    It does lend a certain question of how you can have $15/mo coming in from 10,000,000 people and yet be unable to afford 400 people’s salaries. I imagine this news will result in them losing another 2,000,000 subscribers.

  32. Jonith says:

    I played it last summer and you could easily tell that the numbers had dropped. There must be many people who still had a subscription and didn’t ever play, because the servers did feel empty.

    I don’t think it will ever die, it’s lost more subs than most MMO’s (other than TOR, and I won’t count the Guild Wars series) will ever hope to get, and still has the most of any MMO, but I feel they will make it F2P with a ridiculous amount of Noncombat pets as micro transactions. (Either that or reduced sub fees)

  33. Jaylah says:

    I’m obviously way late on this one, but….

    I lost interest in WoW when they started coming out with expansions every time I turned around. We worked on end-game content for quite a while, waiting for Burning Crusade to come out. Even then, and even though our guild was #2 Alliance on the server, we hadn’t killed every boss in every raid by the time it did.

    I was still working on getting the rest of my Priest tier set when Burning Crusade came out and….wow, all of my great gear got replaced with greens within about 2 hours of heading to Outlands!

    So we all leveled up to 70, and then started running dungeons to get raid-worthy gear, and were really just starting to get into end-game when Bliz announced that Wrath would soon be upon us.

    Didn’t even get half-way through BC end-game when Wrath came out. the purples all got replaced with greens, and the level grind started again. Get to 80. Run the dungeons to get raid-worthy gear, get a couple of purples, get enough people geared to start on the raids and …what’s this? Cataclysm?

    I started losing interest even before Cataclysm was released, to be honest. I simply didn’t have 6 hours per day to devote to running dailies and farming and doing all the raid-prep stuff, just to spend several more hours in raids.

    As a result, I dropped my subscription for a while and, when I came back, I didn’t even ask my guild if I could join again. I didn’t want to get back into that same grind. So I just played around with my few level 80 characters, working on rep with factions I hadn’t had time to work on before. I also toured the post-cataclysm world and went back to do some of the new quests.

    I never did bother to buy Cataclysm. I hadn’t even finished half of Wrath end-game. (Neither had my previous guild.) And the next thing I knew, they were talking about Pandaria.

    I know some people here have commented on people getting tired of “waiting” until the next expansion comes out, but I do have to wonder exactly what percentage of WoW players actually finishes end-game before the next one gets released.

    WoW has become a hard-core player’s game now, as far as I’m concerned. If you don’t have 10 hours to devote to the came every day, you get left in the dust.

    I eventually just cancelled my subscription entirely (I’ll pay for one month each December so I can continue to get my annual Winterveil gift), and — if I need a WoW fix, I have a “trial account” and I can go level a new character up to 20.