Cheating on WoW: Neverwinter + WoW Loses 1.3 Million Subscribers

It’s that time again. The time where I give a new MMO a spin and let you know why I’m not going to keep playing it.

My Half-Elf rogue in NeverwinterThe newest victim is Neverwinter, a game I’ve nursed a mild fascination with for several months now. This time, I had the opportunity to post my thoughts on WhatMMO, so head on over if you’re curious what kind of a game Neverwinter is. It’s essentially the same review I would have given here. The only difference is I got paid for it this time.

I would like to add a few thoughts to what I said over there.

One thing that surprised me is that I actually rather enjoy the PvP in Neverwinter. Normally, I loathe PvP regardless of the game. But there are a few things that make Neverwinter’s PvP a bit more interesting.

One is that the teams are mostly silent. I think this is due to how much more active the combat is; you can’t type and fight at the same time. But the end result is that you don’t need to deal with the nerd-raging and general asshat-ery that marks battleground chat in WoW.

The other is that — at least at low levels — the fights actually take a decent amount of time. You’re not constantly getting one-shot. It takes some effort and coordination to bring down a player, especially a hardy one like a guardian fighter.

Although it should be noted that I am playing a class that is, by all reports, insanely overpowered. That may have something to do with how much fun I’m having. I did note that it seems to take at least two or three players dog-piling me to put me at any risk of death.

The moon over Blacklake in NeverwinterBut with all that being said, I am already feeling my eye wander to other games for the simple reason that its story is abysmal. I just can’t maintain my interest in a game if it doesn’t have a good story.

I may dip back in every now and again to check out the new Foundry missions, though. I’m already amazed by some of the stuff players have come up with.

World of Warcraft subscription numbers:

I had this post all ready to go, and then Blizzard goes and drops a bombshell in the quarterly conference call.

World of Warcraft lost 1.3 million subscribers in three months, and now sits at 8.3 million active subscribers. This is the lowest that number has been since around the time Burning Crusade launched and only two thirds of what it was at the game’s peak in Wrath of the Lich King.

Perhaps most telling is that Blizzard is predicting even more losses as the year continues — they’re not even trying to put a good spin on it.

My warlock completes the first stage of the Wrathion legendary chainNow, I don’t think anyone in their right mind expected subs to actually go up at this stage of a game. I was certainly expecting a loss.

But not so much, nor so quickly. Even the haters seem kind of shocked by this.

Yes, it remains the biggest subscription game on the market by a wide margin, but still…

I’m honestly not sure how to react to this news. I’m not terribly happy with this expansion, and I’m tempted to make like everyone else and use this to back up all my complaints about the state of the game.

They did mention that they’re having trouble keeping casual players engaged, so I might actually have a leg to stand on for once.

But ultimately, I can’t conclusively prove that the things that are driving me away from the game are also driving everyone else away.

My paladin is not your typical heroAll I can say is that it just takes too much time to get anything done for my taste right now. Alts are what gave WoW its longevity for me, and I can’t play alts when I’m already totally burnt out on the game by the time I’m done doing everything I need to do on my main.

I’m just tired of Blizzard’s belief that more time spent in-game is always better, period, no argument.

Couple that with a really lackluster patch in 5.2 and several other games distracting me, and WoW just isn’t as sexy as it once was.

As much as I want to use this as proof that all my complaints are justified, though, I do think a lot of the drop is just the inevitable result of time.

Let’s be honest: WoW is a good game, but it’s not head and shoulders above the rest of the MMO world. Even when I was most in love with the game, I never would have claimed that it deserved the massive lead over the rest of the genre it enjoys. I don’t know what mixture of luck, timing, and inertia has allowed WoW to stay so big for so long, but it couldn’t last forever.

My warlock at the shore of the Well of Eternity in Mount HyjalIt is entirely possible that the sub loss is due to nothing Blizzard has done. It could just be time.

I think the really interesting, and perhaps worrying, aspect of this story is how Blizzard will react. It seems obvious to me that much of Mists of Pandaria’s design was based on a direct attempt to counter the complaints from Cataclysm, and I think a lot of MoP’s problems are due to over-corrections.

I’m worried about how Blizzard will over-correct this time.

On the other hand, if Blizzard really gets desperate, it could lead to a revolution for the game. WoW hasn’t taken a lot of big chances lately — or ever, arguably — and a major redesign of the game or certain aspects thereof, if done well, could really breath new life into WoW.

Or they could break it completely.

It’s definitely not going to happen anytime soon, but I hope for a day when WoW goes free to play, or at least adopts some kind of more relaxed business model. I’ve had it with subscriptions and the game design they encourage.

I do think something dramatic needs to be done if they want to halt this slide, but even then, there’s a pretty strong chance nothing will stop it. As I said, it may just be the inevitable result of time.

10 thoughts on “Cheating on WoW: Neverwinter + WoW Loses 1.3 Million Subscribers

  1. These are some great insights on the subscription loss. I have a lot of the same feelings. I hope they do find a way to reinvigorate the game, because I would be genuinely sad if the game goes away entirely (although an end at some point is inevitable). At this point, though, I don’t know what they can do to breathe new life into it except go back to a model similar to TBC…but that doesn’t seem possible at this stage in the game.

    • I don’t think we’re at any great risk of WoW disappearing entirely in the foreseeable future. It still needs to lose at least six or seven million more players before it loses its lead over the other subscription games. Keep in mind EVE is considered one of the more successful non-WoW subscription games, and it just hit 500,000 subs.

      What we should be worried about is how Blizzard will react to the losses. What are they going to change? What over-corrections will they make?

      An argument could be made that they did try to go back to a BC model a bit in MoP. They made reputations meaningful again and brought back a certain level of progression. Personally, I think backwards steps like that are what’s driving people away, but I obviously have no conclusive proof of that.

      The game was at its most popular in Wrath of the Lich King, so if they were going to emulate any past period of the game, that would be the smartest choice, but I really think it’s more complicated than simply going back to a previous golden age of the game.

      • Yep, agree completely. Any change they make will piss off some piece of the population, and they’ve never had a real, true balance between casual and hardcore (although I agree that Wrath came the closest). I suppose all we can do is wait and see.

      • Sometimes I think WoW’s size and success are its downfall. They’re trying to please everyone, but they often end up pleasing no one.

        By comparison, games like GW2 and TSW that focus more specifically on certain niches have (from what I’ve seen) much happier communities. Go check out the official forum for TSW sometime; it’s night and day compared to the QQ fest of the WoW forunms.

    • I would also throw in that they failed to create longevity in the expansion content by providing an adequate reward and pacing for end game content. The gear system being entirely based on valor and therefore LFR and non-raid content has taken away a key element of large-group social gaming. 25 man is dead, and cannot be revived because there is a simplified version available and can be fully accessed by part-time players, drop-in players and players who do not care to learn the full mechanics. So that core group of players is all gathering on Kel Thuzad, while the minor servers are suffering from low-population issues > silence in trade chat, guild chat, world bosses etc…

      Overall, they’ve done the best they can with their “customer service” model of game development. But they’ve lost the vision for creating a compelling game. They’ve just sifted through their suggestion box (forums) and pulled out a bunch of loud voices and developed those ideas because I’m not sure if the developers and designers enjoy the game much themselves. I’m not sure if Blizzard knows HOW to make WoW fun and engaging at this time.

      Plus whenever they get these bright ideas, their development cycle puts them behind the curve. Farms (Farmville) is two years old, Pet Battles (Pokemon) is 10 years old, Small-Party instancing (DC Online) is 3 years old. In the meantime, they’ve let the IP kind of fall apart in front of their eyes by failing to develop the movie in time, or develop WoW into a true-MMO leader for innovation and gameplay.

      We love wow, those of us who play today, but it’s getting harder when there are no pugs available or interested in your 10 man progression and when 25 man is impossible to recruit for. And then there’s pvp, which is still working the same capture the flag model over and over again…

      We’ll see, I hope our guild makes an easy transition if it doesn’t work for Blizz.

  2. I’ll be worried when I want to play WoW one day and get the “servers all gone!” message 😀

    I enjoy your reviews because you paint a good “picture” of a game without all the marketing hype and I can tell right away if it’s something I might find interesting.

    One comment about the “Foundary”…player-created content is good in theory but the ones I’ve seen fail miserably. I would seriously question if the content you experienced was actually created by “regular” players and not…ummmm…someone else? /tinfoilhat

    Gamers might be passionate about their games and have a whole lot of ideas/opinions about how to improve it, but seriously – what actual percentage of these players would have any knowledge, expertise or experience in game design, writing, graphics, etc.?

    Yes, there are always one or two who rise to the top and create decent content, but the majority end up looking like a very bad amateur night and the few who can actually “write” something well…it’s hardly enough to justify using it as a game mechanic.

    It will be interesting to watch what happens with the game and see where it goes, but your review has all the keywords to scare me away – “F2P”, “cash shop” and “lockboxes” 😀

    • Oh, I can guarantee it was players who actually made the Foundry missions I did. Having done the professionally made quests, I know Cryptic isn’t nearly that good. 😛

      I thought it would be like you say — amateur hour — but while some were a little rough around the edges, I was really blown away by the quality of a lot of them. I just avoided any with uniformly bad reviews or that were obviously just mindless XP farms, and I was rarely disappointed. The best ones were easily on par with the more high quality WoW quests or the more basic Secret World missions.

      But I can guarantee you would hate the F2P model in Neverwinter. I’m much more tolerant than you, and even I found it wearing pretty quickly. Seriously, every five freakin’ minutes they had to spam the whole server about some schlub winning the mount from the lockboxes.

      On the plus side, it’s heartening that, of all the F2P games I’ve played, Neverwinter was the only one that even came close to matching the negative stereotypes.

      • I think my rage against F2P started with iPad games – I had purchased a few I enjoyed playing and essentially ignored anything labeled “free” because of the excessive in-game ads. Then when the F2P model hit full force, games I had *already paid for* updated, now wanted me to pay again and were littered with cash shop ads and gating.

        I deleted them all and haven’t looked at any mobile device game since. It makes me sick to see all games folding to this model.

        I’ve resigned myself to the fact that at some point in the (probably) near future there won’t be any games left to play without all this blatant cash grabbing/micro transaction crap.

        Hehehe…can’t even go back to photography for my hobby unless I find an alternative to Adobe since they’ve jumped on the subscription “pay to use” bandwagon with a monthly fee at a whopping $49.00/month.

        F2P, cash shops, pop-up ads, gated content in everything from games to e-books – is nothing free of this crap anymore? Oh well. I can still do my artwork with pencils and paper – no “cash shop ads” popping up on my sketchbooks.

      • I can see why situations like that would piss you off. My experience has been very different, though. The F2P MMOs I’ve played, barring Neverwinter, were largely painless in their monetization.

        I was talking to some guy on Massively the other day, and I was trying to explain that there’s basically two philosophies of F2P: make life miserable unless people pay, or make the game fun with an option to be even more awesome for those who pay a little extra.

        TSW and GW2 are examples of the latter. SW:TOR and, to a lesser extent, Neverwinter are examples of the former. One I support; one I do not.

        Personally, I feel more nickel-and-dimed by subscription models and their need to keep you playing as long as humanly possible. I don’t believe for a second that MoP would have included so much grindiness and gating if WoW had a F2P model. It would have had a zillion cash shop mounts and funny hats instead, but the difference is that not buying those things doesn’t stop me from enjoying the content I do care about.

  3. Pingback: Piss off Perfect World, your sales spam sucks | TyphoonAndrew's – Eye of the Storm

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