world of warcraft

Should World of Warcraft Players Be Worried Over The Player Drop?

In a recent announcement, it was revealed that World of Warcraft subscriptions have declined to 8.3 million players.  While this seems to be high (and in fact,it is the most populated in the world), it is a far cry from its glory days of 12 million subscribers.  So should World of Warcraft players be concerned with this?  What could possibly cause so many people to leave the game?

world of warcraft

The expansion that saw the end of growth in World of Warcraft, Wrath of the Lich King.

World of Warcraft hit its peak of approximately 12 million subscribers twice:  soon after Wrath of the Lich King was released, and at the launch of Cataclysm.  The last time there were 8.3 million players in the game was on the game’s upswing, right before the release of The Burning Crusade (World of Warcraft’s first expansion pack).

While it may be concerning that the game has dropped to pre-BC population levels at first glance, we need to consider an important fact: World of Warcraft is nearly nine years old.  EverQuest is still around, with a small, dedicated player base, but older games eventually lose their pull.

World of Warcraft

Early raids turned into rehashes, expected of a game recycling its lore. What WoW needs is a fresh lore line to explore, like Mists produced.

Also, the release of new games like Guild Wars and TERA have drawn some World of Warcraft players away permanently.  The encouraging thing is that upon the announcement of each new expansion, the game sees a spike in players.  It’s possible (though I don’t find it likely) that Blizzard could announce their next expansion at this year’s BlizzCon.  Further expansion content has been discussed here on Leviathyn before, and it could be a promising sign of commitment to World of Warcraft if they do announce one, but with such an old game, one can’t help but wonder if there’s something else up their sleeve.

If they do decide to continue with World of Warcraft, they’ll need to do a better job in Mists than they did in Cataclysm of keeping content fresh.  At the end of Cataclysm, it wore on players to grind on the same raid for nearly a year.  We need to see a more spread out content flow, or an earlier release of expansion content, if Blizzard expects their players to want to stick around for more.

So in conclusion, as long as Blizzard continues to show their commitment to the community and the game, we likely don’t have anything to worry about.  Players come and go ever since Wrath of the Lich King released, so it’s likely we will see a rubber banding effect as new content comes, is consumed, and then becomes boring.  The fact that World of Warcraft has rode at the top of the MMO charts for as long as it has is astonishing.  Don’t expect it to die a quick death.

Nefarion image courtesy of BlackMysticA