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View Full Version : What is the future of WoW?



CrazyEthan
22-11-2011, 07:13 AM
WoW stayed away from the spotlight recently, the new expansion looks not so good, personally, it's fading.

1. Dilemma of World of Warcraft
WoW is over 7 years, it still attracts more than 10 million players each year, I have to say that it's phenomenal and the game is a miracle. However, admittedly, the peak time of World of Warcraft already disappeared, and it's getting old, it has to face a powerful enemy---not others, but itself. As a game born in 2004, WoW needs fresh blood now.
In May, WoW subscriber numbers declined to 11.4 million, Blizzard took kinds of measures to prevent the falling of subscribers, including free-play for 20 levels and so on. But these measures didn't work well, subscriber numbers fell 10% to 10.3 million in 6 months, according to the numbers released by Blizzard this month.
2. Why Blizzard released "Mists of Pandaren"?
After Blizzard released Padaren, global gamers surprisingly found that this expansion pack was one full of oriental features (Chinese?), and totally departed from a European Fantasy style. You can see Asian characteristics from Pandaren, the problem is, why Blizzard surprised us with a such different pack?
Well, first of all, WoW is very old, fresh blood is needed. "Mists of Pandare" can be treated as a hard try for breaking through this predicament. Blizzard never follow others, they will not stick to one direction, it can be seen from the use of different cultural styles such as Egypt, Maya, Indian and North Europe in the world of WoW. Blizzard knows how to make changes to bring players fun and arouse enthusiasm among players. When WoW becomes old, the conventional style can not attract players any more, Blizzard has to change something again. This time, they put their bait on the Oriental territory, maybe old and magic Asian can bring them more players (Ironically, most of the players they lost come from China).
Secondly, Mike Morhaime once said that Padaren is a gift for Chinese players, though we can not say that Blizzard specially made a pack for Chinese people, but "Mists of Pandaren" expressed the respect and thank for Chinese gamers, 'cause Chinese contribute hugely to Blizzard's profits.
Finally, China is becoming prominent, Chinese culture spread out the world quickly recently, we can see this from the movie "Kung Fu Panda", Dreamworks pocked a huge success in China. Some people said Pandaren is a copycat of Kung Fu Panda, but this is not the point, the point is Blizzard is paving another way to keep WoW alive.
3. Can Pandaren save WoW? (kind of pessimism)
Will the new pack stop the turnover of WoW players, the answer is no.The real problem of WoW is "aged", although Blizzard released some new packs, the framework and features of the game never change. What the new packs can bring us are new plots and contents, just a change in form but not in essence, players' fresh feelings can not last long if Blizzard refuse to do more.
I heard of some info about the new pack, but I am still waiting for its core content. It's not sure whether Blizzard will make some breakthroughs or modify the gameplay in the new expansion pack, but in my opinion, it's highly impossible to expect such changes, it's still a western MMORPG with some Chinese elements, and it's risky to make big changes, 'cause big changes need massive investments. In addition, Blizzard have to face many problems if they do that, they can not guarantee the updates once problems appear.
I'm not trying to say WoW is dying, but a deteriorating situation WoW is facing. It definitely needs changes, but the point is what changes will Blizzard make, they can not just reply on a Chinese Panda, right?
4. Will WoW go free in the future?
Old question again, although Mike Morhaime claims that WoW is still making a lot of money, Blizzard will not renew the operation mode of WoW. But, I must mention a premise of what Morhaime said, it;s "currently", but what about the future?
We all know that the age of Free Game ccoming, many paid games are transforming to free games, and gamers are more likely to play free games. Next, though the 20-level free-play can not stop the decline, it worked--Some players joined the world of Azeroth after a 20-level free experience. What's more, Blizzard earned plenty of money by selling game gears, and Blizzard Store is a nice try for seling game stuff such as pets and mounts. Blizzard has no experience in running freemium mode, but they do pay attention to this mode, and clearly expressed that this mode is very interesting. Now have a look at the problem again, as players are continuously abandoning WoW, will Blizzard make WoW free to paly totally?


Probably World of Warcraft is an unprecedented miracle, but even a miracle has the possibility to fall through, Blizzard needs some changes, but how?

Nalano
22-11-2011, 07:18 AM
blah blah blah this expansion pack was one full of oriental features (Chinese?), and totally departed from a European Fantasy style blah blah blah

Dude. Nelfs are Korean. Look at the architecture. The food (http://www.wowhead.com/item=21031). The clothing (http://www.wowhead.com/item=13899/red-traditional-hanbok).

Flint
22-11-2011, 08:49 AM
Some people said Pandaren is a copycat of Kung Fu Panda
Considering Pandaren predate Kung Fu Panda by several years, they'd also be wrong.

I'm personally not all too sure about the future of WoW currently. It's going to continue to be big for a long while still, that's for sure - a game so large won't tumble down in significant numbers overnight. But I'm really not sure about Blizz's current direction and its effects on the game at large. They've been streamlining the game down a lot and continue to do so: Cataclysm's incredibly linear direction that rushes you to max level took away the point of a large world and the possibility for exploration it provided, and the talent simplification in MoP seems to be a good sentiment with a really awkward execution.

On a personal angle, as a person who genuinely found WoW to be one of the best things from the last decade for a long while and something that's provided me with countless good experiences and memories that'll forever stay in my gaming histoires, I'm at a point where I feel really apathetic about the game. I loved Cataclysm when it came out (worgen!!!) but the more I played it the further away it felt from the game I fell in love with. The Azeroth revamp was necessary for a lot of reasons and I greatly love a number of things they've done with the zones, but the game's now completely lost the sense of a massive world waiting to be explored because of the incredibly linear questing direction and super-speed levelling. Whereas with the previous versions I enjoyed going through the same zones several times, there's no such hook or magic there now.

I'm not sure though that Blizzard necessarily needs to make any more big changes to keep the numbers insanely high. Seven years is a long time for a game and it's fairly natural for a MMO to begin losing players at this stage while the large core fanbase stays on. A lot of old MMOs have stayed afloat for years after their peak time with much smaller subscriber numbers. WoW's pretty much proven what it can do and brought enough money in Blizz's chest not to make them desperately hunt for more. I'm not saying they should stop changing things in the game, but I'm not sure if trying to change core elements of the game radically (like the new talent changes) at this stage is necessary or required at all: it's clearly got a fanbase and making any huge changes to core gameplay is more likely to reduce that number rather than invite in more.

As for MoP's supposedly radical direction (oriental features) etc: WoW's second expansion was set in more or less outer space with a completely different visual style and plethora of alien (literally) cultures that had never been seen in the history of the entire series. MoP's China-oriented style isn't exactly a radical thing to go and explore, and going to Pandaria is actually far less radical than what Burning Crusade did considering the Pandaren culture has already been somewhat established in the past.

Althea
22-11-2011, 09:41 AM
What the heck? That post is riddled with factual errors.

1. The Pandaren-themed expansion has not released. It has simply been announced.
2. 10M players is nothing to sniff at. It's still above and beyond pretty much every single game currently out, MMO or otherwise.
3. Blizzard do not and have not sold gear. They sell pets and ridiculously overpriced mounts. They have no bearing on the game whatsoever.
4. Where are your sources and attributions? Where did Mike Morhaime say the Pandaren are a "gift to China", for example?
5. The people who say MoP is a "rip-off" of Kung-Fu Panda really need a kick up the arse. WC3/The Frozen Throne pre-dates the film.

WoW isn't declining, not in any real sense. It's in a lull, and that's because it's between expansions. The handling of the last two expansions has caused issues, yes, but WoW has gone from strength to strength. It's been a few months since any content was released in WoW, some more will be coming, but then it's likely a year or so from now until the next expansion comes. People are going to take a break for Guild Wars 2, TOR, The Secret World and other upcoming titles.

When WoW begins to hit single figures below, say, 8 or 9m, then we can say it's dying, but it's lost maybe 10-20% of its player base over a year or two. That is not really a massive drop when you consider the sheer number of people still playing it.

Binho
22-11-2011, 09:47 AM
In my opinion, the problem with WoW might be fairly simple: It's been around so long that it's already gone through almost everyone who would be interested in playing it. Now it's just not getting enough new players to support the churn rate.

WoW has always had as high a churn rate as pretty much every other MMO, with 46% of players dropping out within the first month: It's no more "sticky" than any of it's competitors (Ducheneaut et. al. 2006: 290-291). It is just that so many people were initially drawn to it for whatever reason (Advertisement, word of mouth, etc.). So if the churn rate increased by a meagre 5% since 2006 due to the game being older and thus perhaps less attractive, they would very slowly be bleeding players.

Check out the article, it provides some very interesting metrics on early WoW.

Ref:
Ducheneaut, N., Yee, N., Nickell, E. and Moore, R.J. (2006). Mass Appeal. Games and Culture. 1 (4), 281-317. Available HTTP: http://www.nickyee.com/pubs/Mass%20Appeal%202006.pdf

EDIT: Didn't cite all the authors in reference.

deano2099
22-11-2011, 06:12 PM
WoW isn't declining, not in any real sense. It's in a lull, and that's because it's between expansions. The handling of the last two expansions has caused issues, yes, but WoW has gone from strength to strength. It's been a few months since any content was released in WoW, some more will be coming, but then it's likely a year or so from now until the next expansion comes.

I think numerically it is in decline. It's speculation, but I'd guess the Western player numbers have been dropping slowly for a while, but that's counteracted by their expansion into new markets. There's no other major markets left to go in to, so we're starting to see a fall in absolute numbers. The post-expansion jump wasn't as high with Cataclysm as it has been before, and it tailed off more quickly. I mean, right now is still meant to be an 'up' period as they're still pushing major patches. The 9-12 months after the next patch but pre-expansion will be the tricky bit.

That all said, so what if it's declining? It's still probably the most profitable thing in gaming. The rate at which it grew was phenomenal, even if today it started to decline at that 'phenomenal' rate, it'd take seven years for it to reach launch numbers. WoW launch numbers, at the time the biggest MMO launch ever. It's not going anywhere.

Althea
22-11-2011, 08:58 PM
I think numerically it is in decline. It's speculation, but I'd guess the Western player numbers have been dropping slowly for a while, but that's counteracted by their expansion into new markets. There's no other major markets left to go in to, so we're starting to see a fall in absolute numbers. The post-expansion jump wasn't as high with Cataclysm as it has been before, and it tailed off more quickly. I mean, right now is still meant to be an 'up' period as they're still pushing major patches. The 9-12 months after the next patch but pre-expansion will be the tricky bit.
I don't know, everything has a saturation point and perhaps 12-13m was it for WoW. I'm sure the numbers will jump again when this final patch comes out with Deathwing, but they'll certainly lull again until the next expansion. It's constantly going up and down like that.

For all we know, this is just a temporary dip in numbers. It might be permanent - it's too early to truly tell, and as I said above, it's nothing to worry about just yet.

Nalano
22-11-2011, 09:01 PM
I don't know, everything has a saturation point and perhaps 12-13m was it for WoW. I'm sure the numbers will jump again when this final patch comes out with Deathwing, but they'll certainly lull again until the next expansion. It's constantly going up and down like that.

For all we know, this is just a temporary dip in numbers. It might be permanent - it's too early to truly tell, and as I said above, it's nothing to worry about just yet.

Remember: Those subscription numbers are greatly inflated due to east Asia, where the subscriptions are not done on a monthly basis like here. American subs are something like 2.5 mil, which is not gargantuan considering popular releases of late, and the gains from the last expansion only temporarily shored up those numbers.

No, WoW is declining like all MMOs decline. And Blizzard will release Titan before it stops being profitable to run WoW.

deano2099
22-11-2011, 09:41 PM
I don't know, everything has a saturation point and perhaps 12-13m was it for WoW. I'm sure the numbers will jump again when this final patch comes out with Deathwing, but they'll certainly lull again until the next expansion. It's constantly going up and down like that.

For all we know, this is just a temporary dip in numbers. It might be permanent - it's too early to truly tell, and as I said above, it's nothing to worry about just yet.

Yeah, not worried at all, I think it has pretty much hit saturation point and it'll drop off, but it'll happen so slowly it barely matters...

[QUOTE] American subs are something like 2.5 mil, which is not gargantuan considering popular releases of late[/QUOTE
Still $25 million per month in the US alone. It's a long way off not being profitable. The trick will be transitioning people to something else or winding it down sensibly, which is awkward. I don't see Blizzard being able to do another WoW and while WoW isn't in trouble, the company might be if they try and keep operating at this level. So it's a tough concern - do you keep everyone on, moving them to the new MMO and hoping to keep numbers up, or acknowledge WoW is starting to drop off a bit and be prepared to make redundancies in support, etc... alas the graceful way of handling it has a high human cost...

Nalano
22-11-2011, 09:49 PM
The trick will be transitioning people to something else or winding it down sensibly, which is awkward.

They're developing Titan. That's their long-term plan.

I mean, c'mon. What's with this nitpicky debate?

CrazyEthan
23-11-2011, 01:18 AM
Dude. Nelfs are Korean. Look at the architecture. The food (http://www.wowhead.com/item=21031). The clothing (http://www.wowhead.com/item=13899/red-traditional-hanbok).
As Chinese, it's weird for me to see such an ugly panda from a western MMORPG.

Nalano
23-11-2011, 01:24 AM
As Chinese, it's weird for me to see such an ugly panda from a western MMORPG.

I didn't say they were very good at it.

CrazyEthan
23-11-2011, 01:58 AM
I didn't say they were very good at it.
Yeah,l know that, just try to say WoW is too old, Blizzard now is out of ability and guts to make drastic changes.

deano2099
23-11-2011, 12:06 PM
They're developing Titan. That's their long-term plan.

They've always stressed Titan isn't a WoW replacement though. I think it's down to how you define a decline... I mean WoW exceeded expectations for so long, the expectations were raised. I have a feeling at the moment WoW isn't matching the expectations Blizz has for it at the moment... we'll see I guess.

Rii
23-11-2011, 04:31 PM
Patch 4.3 is the future of WoW, duh.

Nalano
23-11-2011, 04:36 PM
They've always stressed Titan isn't a WoW replacement though.

That just means they'll run 'em both concurrently for a while. Not that they plan to run WoW as their primary cash cow forever.

Durkonkell
23-11-2011, 04:52 PM
I've seen this kind of discussion all over the Warcraft community, recently. Personally, I'm blaming 'Cataclysm Fatigue'. Cataclysm added a load of really cool, really necessary things to the game - flying in the old world and a completely new 1-60 experience (effectively a new 'old world'), comprehensive changes to the talent system and several classes (Hunters basically play like a completely new class in Cata compared to Wrath). 3.3 in a couple of weeks brings the Raid Finder (the ability to queue up and be placed in a random raid group so that you can raid even if you're not in a very good guild) and an entirely new (lower) difficulty tier for PUG raids along with the highly anticipated ability to 'transmogrify' gear to look like some other piece of gear you own.

Cataclysm is actually a really big, important expansion. So why am I saying that people have Cataclysm Fatigue?

1. So much development time went into essentially re-doing the 1-60 game (thousands of quests were redesigned or built from new) that there wasn't actually that much content from 80-85. There just didn't seem to be that much to do once you reached the cap, and it didn't really take very long to get there. Of course you could run 5-man dungeons of which there were quite a few, but...

2. They were quite hard. Cataclysm re-introduced the harder difficulty level of Burning Crusade. Wrath was quite accessible, to the point where you could run most heroic dungeons without thinking about it or even playing particularly well. Cataclysm's harder heroics required more concentration and a higher level of skill as well as knowledge of the dungeon. For the most part, this was welcome - Wrath heroics got boring as all hell after a while - but not without problems. If you did make mistakes, the WoW community is not generally known for being forgiving or understanding. Some of the dungeons are quite long too, so you may have to concentrate and play to a high level for some time (almost all people get to heroics using the random dungeon finder now, and you don't know which dungeon you'll get. Will it be 15 minutes? Will it be an hour?). Sometimes you want to play, but you don't want to play hard and really focus - just blast stuff for a while, while still accomplishing something. There isn't really an outlet for that kind of play in Cata until you fairly dramatically outgear heroic 5-mans. Additionally...

3. There weren't any daily or reputation quests at the beginning. Traditionally, if you didn't want to do dungeons you could go off and build up your reputation with one of the factions to gain rewards like gear, pets or mounts. In Cataclysm, there were only a very few daily reputation quests - reputation was earned by wearing the tabard of a certain faction and then... running heroics.

4. And crafting decent end-game gear required materials that only come from heroics. And the points which you use to buy current-tier gear come from heroics. So you run heroics. Then you run more heroics. Then you notice that a certain faction has a really good set of boots or something that requires Exalted reputation, so you buy their tabard and run heroics. You do this until your gear is good enough, and then hopefully get into your guild's raiding team. Many guilds raid only once a week. The rest of the time? Heroics. In the most recent patch, they introduced a zone of quite good daily quests, but it doesn't take very long to blast through them. Then? Heroics.

5. I suppose you could fish or do archaeology or go mining or something too, if you really wanted. I really lost interest in Archaeology quite early on, they didn't quite get that right I think.

6. The new zones are spread out all over the place. I found Burning Crusade and Wrath really compelling - you went off to Outland or Northrend and pretty much spent the expansion there. There was always the feeling that the war against the Lich King was going on, and you were always surrounded by the environment of that expansion. Outland and Northrend were both stunning in one way or another. The new Cataclysm zones are very pretty too, but after levelling through them... you pretty much sit in Stormwind or Orgrimmar most of the time and don't really see them very much.

7. Escalating Disasters. Oh no! The dark portal has re-opened! Illidan and the Burning Legion want to destroy us all! Go through and defeat them all! Ah, thank you. Now the world is safe again, and... Are that a necropolis? Raining undead down onto the city? Ack! The Lich King is back and he's trying to kill everyone and raise them up as his decaying minions! Go with this war fleet and invade Northrend. Ah, you're back. Lich King dead and his armies defeated? Excellent. Wait, why is the ground shaking? Look, it's Deathwing! Bloody Deathwing's back! Man! And the whole world is really badly damaged! Better go and stop him before he burns the whole world to a crisp.

There's only so long you can keep introducing EVEN MORE EVIL AND DESTRUCTIVE enemies to come and destroy Azeroth before it becomes ridiculous. I think we're at that point. What next? Sargeras the evil Titan and the entire Burning Legion? Then the Lich King and Illidan come back and combine to become the Ultimate Evil. Then all the other Titans turn evil and attack for some reason. Then the Lich King, Illidan AND Deathwing come back and combine to form the Ultimate Ultimate Evil.

I seem to be particularly verbose this afternoon. Apologies. Here's the bit that's actually about Mists of Pandaria.

MoP doesn't have a 'big bad' enemy on the box. There will be a threat to Azeroth, but it'll a lot tamer than Deathwing. It'll have to be, the world's pretty much destroyed! It's on a new continent, where we'll spend most of our time. All of the development resources will be spent on Pandaria content rather than improvements to the old world. There will be shorter 5-man dungeons with a slightly more forgiving difficulty. I think it'll be exactly what Warcraft needs at this stage.

deano2099
23-11-2011, 05:36 PM
That just means they'll run 'em both concurrently for a while. Not that they plan to run WoW as their primary cash cow forever.

You might be right. I kind of got the impression that Titan would be a huge departure (online FPS or such) and that they do have a WoW 2 or World of Starcraft or something in the wings that'll be a simpler transition for WoW players...