WoW: When Eleven Million Players Aren’t Enough

Rock monsters are inelligible for the campaign.

Blizzard have launched a new drive for their rapidly ailing World Of Warcraft player base, in a last-ditch desperate attempt to drum up interest in the game, before it has to switch off its servers. Called Recruit A Friend, they’re hoping that by giving incentives to the smattering of players they currently have, they’ll be able to encourage new blood and rejuvenate the MMO.

Ha de ha. Honestly, there can’t be bank vaults big enough for storing all of Blizzards dosh, but they can’t stop. Recruit A Friend has players email their non-WoW-playing chums (is that possible?) to give them a trial activiation key. The motive? A zebra.

The website explains,

“For each person you refer who upgrades to a retail version of World of Warcraft and purchases two months of game time, you will be able to give a character on the account you sent the invitation from an exclusive in-game zhevra mount. This unique mount can be claimed through the website, is only available to Recruit-A-Friend participants, and can only be applied to a single character.”

The truth of the Hunter.

If the recruited player only upgrades and pays for one month rather than two, the recruiter will gain 30 days of free play time, which is none too shabby. And if you can convince a bunch of people to sign on, those free months stack up.

There’s also to be some spooky linking between recruiters and their recruitee that lasts for 90 days. This will allow you to summon one another once an hour, and if playing together, gain triple experience. And a third, more confusing thing that I’ll not attempt to paraphrase: “For every two levels the new player earns, the new player can grant one free level-up to a lower-level character played by the veteran player.” Take away the number you first suggested – who is the tallest son?

There are, inevitably, 284 complications and sub-rules about this, all explained here

And hopefully Warcraft will be able to scrape through the 12 million player mark that all MMOs must fight to reach.


  1. cullnean says:

    good idea really not a new one but still a good one

  2. Max says:

    If anyone of my WoW-playing “friends” email me, I’ll beat their heads in.

  3. The Poisoned Sponge says:

    I second Max’s motion to beat in Wow player’s heads. Unconditionally.

  4. The Shed says:

    Jesus CHRIST

  5. Counterculture passed me right by says:

    “Recruit A Friend has players email their non-WoW-playing chums (is that possible?)”

    I don’t play WoW, but ALL my male friends do. I’ve therefore been gradually ignored over the last few years to the point whereby I can’t even consider those guys real friends any more (and I’ve been close to some for decades). So perhaps it’s not possible to play WoW and have friends that don’t, although not from the angle of “All my friends play with me too!”, but rather “All my those who play with are my friends!”. Having lost friends to drug addiction before, I have to say the social parallels are pretty apparent.

  6. cullnean says:

    why the WoW hate?

  7. John Walker says:

    Because indifference is so hard to articulate in a comments thread.

  8. cullnean says:

    nah i would go with “meh”

    but the wow hate is annoying its almost like “i havent played the longest journey but my mate says its shit coz he saw some screenshots so it must be rubbish, also if i hate something popular i must be cool yeah?”

    WOW is quite a good game imho

  9. yutt says:

    @Counterculture passed me right by

    So all of your friends found a hobby they could enjoy together, regardless of physical distance. In response you avoided participating, willfully distancing yourself, and now you blame them for your not maintaining the friendship?

    [pointless smugness removed – Ed]

  10. John Walker says:

    Ok – that’s enough. We’re all having a lovely day, and I’m not having any sniping or fighting.

    If you want to be mean about anyone, be mean about Kieron.

  11. Zuffox says:

    First one’s free.

  12. cullnean says:

    rubbish post ejected

  13. cyrenic says:

    Kieron will be announcing his “Recruit-A-Beard” program later today. Participants will be able to grow their beards three times faster as long as they are within 100 feet of Kieron.

  14. Bobsy says:

    Incidentally, I don’t buy into the whole 11m player thing. Where exactly do Blizzard get that figure from? Are they counting accounts or unique players (which is to say, how many of those accounts are goldfarmers)? What about banned accounts, and players setting up new accounts after being banned? What about trial accounts? I’ve set up two accounts in my time; are they counting both, or the one I continue to pay for?

  15. Duncan says:

    Those Blizzard folk could teach crack dealers a thing or two.

  16. ape says:

    Poor Blizzard with such shallow pockets and minuscule install base no wonder they need to bring in those player.

  17. Del Boy says:

    Do any/all of the RPS staff have WoW accounts?

    If so, could you work out how much money you’ve spent on it so far? And was it worth it?

    There must be people who’ve spent, what, £400-£500 on it by now. Surely Blizzard could let these people go subscription free or give them a year free etc?!

  18. The Poisoned Sponge says:

    I don’t really think it’s WoW hate, I think it’s more people who used to play WoW, got deathly bored of it, and now can’t understand why on earth people still play it….. at least, that’s how I see it.

  19. McFool says:

    I’ll pass, thanks.

  20. darkripper says:

    Those Blizzard folk could teach crack dealers a thing or two.

    In case you haven’t noticed, the whole videogame industry is more similar to the drug industry than to the movie or music ones.

  21. cullnean says:

    lol time for my yearly dabble in eve

  22. Counterculture passed me right by says:


    Believe me, I’ve tried to maintain those friendships over the years, but it gets difficult when all they want to do is talk about or play WoW. There was no wilful distancing involved and I still, to this day, try and strike up conversations with them just to see how _they_ are doing, to see if they’ve gotten themselves out of the hole, but all I get is “game progress this, imaginary items that”. They tell me they’ve gone past the point of enjoying the game, and feel trapped because of obligation to their guilds, yet that stuff tumbles from their mouths every time they open them. It makes me sad seeing bright, fun people that I care about become over-weight, black-eyed zombies.

    Hobby is not the correct word for the reality of the situation. If you weren’t being facetious I’d be happy you had no understanding of what I’m talking about.

  23. Jim Rossignol says:

    I don’t think any of us still have an active WoW account, but we’ve all played it til exhaustion.

  24. Dexton says:

    Alot of people that hate wow are ex-addicts that put on this lady doth protest too much front of hate to disguise their cravings for more wow crack.

    It was a great game and I have plenty of happy memories from the years I spend playing it, along with a bunch of bad ones related to both in game stuff and the real life stuff I neglected for it.

    @Bobsy I am guessing Blizzard count 11 million active accounts. That is 11 million accounts that paid money into the Blizzard vaults this month, how many of those accounts were actually played isn’t really as important in gauging the games success.

  25. The Sombrero Kid says:

    it doesn’t matter if it’s not actually 11 million, it’s 11 times the size of any other moo game cause they all track their stats the same way and it’s more accurate than companies reporting boxed sales or hardware install bases btw.

  26. cyrenic says:

    Here’s how Blizzard defines an active subscriber. I imagine it’s pretty accurate:

    World of Warcraft subscribers include individuals who have paid a subscription fee or have an active prepaid card to play World of Warcraft, as well as those who have purchased the game and are within their free month of access. Internet Game Room players who have accessed the game over the last thirty days are also counted as subscribers. The above definition excludes all players under free promotional subscriptions, expired or cancelled subscriptions, and expired prepaid cards. Subscribers in licensees’ territories are defined along the same rules.

  27. The Hammer says:

    All I could say upon hearing news of the benefits you got from this was, “Jesus Christ on a Bike.”

    (although I was under the impression the teleport and experience stuff happened as long as you wanted it to)

  28. Noc says:

    You know, years and years back, when Warcraft III was the new thing, I read an article about this “World of Warcraft” thing that Blizzard was doing. It was like, what, Everquest with Warcraft? It looked like a stupid idea, and I was sure it wouldn’t take off.

    I mean, who needs that in an RTS?

    Seriously, though, I want to note this in reference to what I said about the WoAoR release in the previous article. Superficially this is bribery, but it’s also the removal of a barrier: it looks like it’s engineered so veteran players will start a new character and play along with the new folk. Which removes the element of stepping into a big ‘ole world where everyone knows what’s going on but you, so you lag behind because you don’t have anyone to help you figure out the nuances of the game.

    Not that WoW’s a prohibitively complex game, but I suspect it’s still a double-handful for people who aren’t familiar with MMOs.

  29. Ian says:

    That whole triple-experience-for-linked-accounts thing is more enticing than the mount. Now if only I knew somebody who might have an interest in playing the game but doesn’t already. :p

  30. Leelad says:

    Bought another account for the mount and remain happy. not to bothered about the XP gains but I have an account to give away should one of my pals wish to partake.

  31. Kieron Gillen says:

    Following on from Jim, my exhaustion was a lot lower than everyone else’s.


  32. cullnean says:

    what to do, what to do?

    resub to WoW, eve or give air rivals a shot?

  33. Wurzel says:

    I played WoW for about 2 and a half years, and have been clean for about a year now. I can honestly say that I have no ill feelings at all towards the game – it was fun, engaging and full of interesting things to see and do. I stopped, though, because its affect on me was getting ridiculous – it was so addictive that I stopped seeing friends, socialising and so on and became a recluse. Thankfully I as able to realise this was happening and stop.

    Even now I still occasionally get the urge to play it (£9 for a month not being a bad deal) but thankfully resist. One side effect seems to be that I can’t enjoy any other MMOs due to them not living up to WoW, however, which I guess is good for me in the long run :)

  34. Biscuitry says:

    It seems like a sensible enough idea to get new subscriptions, but… isn’t everyone even remotely interested in WoW already playing anyway?

  35. John Walker says:

    Well, every time I hear the subs numbers, they seem to have gone up another million.

    I was just about to say what a small fraction of the Earth’s population actually play, but bloody hell, 1 in 545 people on Earth are playing WoW. That’s EXTRAORDINARY.

  36. wcaypahwat says:

    I see people who play WoW, and don’t even have their own computer. They’re effectively paying not only their sub fee’s, but also an hourly fee to play the game. And half the time they just stand around some town.

    Then they tell me I should start playing.

    Also, im great at pretending to know what they’re talking about :)

  37. Andthensobecause says:


    You are forgetting about the children who are tasting the internet and video games for the first time. Think of what WoW must look like to them.

  38. Subject 706 says:

    Kids! Just say NO to the MMO!

  39. bleeps says:

    Correction: *unicorn* zebra

  40. RiptoR says:

    WoW still exists? I thought most of the players would have gotten a life by now… Guess you must never underestimate the power of the ‘internets’ :p

  41. heliocentric says:

    i kinda used to be big into competitive team play muds. Guild drama, grinding, re specing? All familiar to me. Course the mud was more like eve in that it had space ships and you could lose everything. I dont think i’ll ever want to play a game where i am defined by my stats, rather than my actions defining my stats again, not least under a monthly fee. My latest gambit? Getting my mmo playing contacts to play games like hl2 and bf2.

  42. Verdugo says:

    I don’t do MMO’s. Mainly because of the Pay-to-play stuff and it bores me when you just click on enemy and wait and see who wins.

  43. Dorian Cornelius Jasper says:


    You vastly underestimate this thing’s cultural impact. It’s reached the point where D&D now takes inspiration from WoW instead of the other way around. And speaking of “life” and how this mysterious thing could be “gotten” is a bit disingenuous here. On the internet.

  44. Gorgeras says:

    Not playing WoW again until they make it the Alliance VS Horde PvP-fest they were promoting it as from 2003-2005 which never happened. Will be giving Warhammer a go.

    Honestly, if the box had advertised grinds, raids, bad AI, communist in-game economics and an undynamic world, I would have told them to cram it in their ass on that fine january afternoon in 2005. It ended up being the complete opposite of Warcraft as I understood it.

  45. Alex says:

    I’ve never played WoW. I don’t really like multiplayer games. Nothing I’ve seen or read on the game has made it seem particularly appealing. So I tend to paraphrase Monty Python:

    “On second thought, let’s not go to Azeroth.. it is a silly place.”

  46. Konky Dong IV: Heartbreak on Moonbeam Mountain says:

    I actually do think WoW is on the downturn.

    Myself and just about everyone has grown fairly tired of WoW’s formula. I (and a few of my friends) got into the WotLK beta and even that has done little to rekindle our interest. WoW has been a truly great experience and it won’t die anytime soon, but I think a lot of people are hungry for something new and fresh. WoW is such a good game that I binged on it for the past four years. The “quest/grind to level and then raid for loot, rinse and repeat” style MMO really holds no interest for me any more.

    I’ll tell you what I really want. In my ultimate dream scenario, the new Star Wars MMO comes out and it has FPS combat, a complex, intricate crafting system (that goes far beyond just being another menu on your toolbar), and a heavy emphasis on exploration. Also space battles, free-for-all pvp, and the ability to customize and create my own ship. And bronze bikinis. Yup. That’s the game that would get me to quit my job.

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  48. Dan says:

    Gold spam outside of Orgrimmar? Get back to the bank there, you level 1 Troll hunter, you.

    I’m getting bored of WoW now. I still do 2 raids per week with my guild, since I don’t want to abandon the friendships I’ve made there, but other than that I don’t touch it. I’ve got a WotLK beta key and tried it out, but got bored very quickly. It’s all very pretty, but still just the same old “Kill 10 boars/Kobolds/giant vikings” grind.

  49. E-we says:

    Just felt the need to echo @Counterculture

  50. Paul Moloney says:

    “I’ve never played WoW. I don’t really like multiplayer games.”

    I think 99% of my time in Azeroth has been single-player, though not always by choice. The last time I played WoW (I tend to play for 6 months, then take a break) it was hard to form casual groups to take on particular quests – bearing in mind I was still playing a late 50s level character. And I’ve no interest in hard-core guild nonsense. I bought “Burning Crusade” just before my last break, and haven’t actually installed it.