MMO-Champion - WoW Loses 600k Subscribers, Diablo 3 Beta Q3 2011, Arena Passe, Blue Posts
WoW Lost 600k Subscribers, down to 11.4M
Activision Blizzard's earning call was today and we learned, among other things, that the WoW playerbase is down to 11.4M players. That's 5% less than before the expansion and it seems that players went through the Cataclysm content faster than expected.

Blizzard also promised faster release of new content and expansions during the call.

From Curse.com
During today's Activision Blizzard earnings call, World of Warcraft and its expansion Cataclysm were two very hot topics. Listeners asked a number of questions related to the game, more than any other title or franchise in the publisher's stable.

Of note, World of Warcraft's subscriber base has reached pre-Cataclysm levels, according to Mike Morhaime, CEO of Blizzard Entertainment. He then later stated an actual number, with subscriptions at the end of March clocking in at right around 11.4 million.

That's down by about 5% from the announced 12 million mark late last year. Interestingly enough, that was right before Cataclysm released. In fact, it's actually lower than the milestone reached in 2008 with the release of Wrath of the Lich King.

But one important thing to point out, and Mr. Morhaime touched on this as well, is that World of Warcraft's subscriber base does not change linearly. It fluctuates based on content consumption, which players seem to be doing a whole lot of -- at a more rapid pace -- with Cataclysm. "Subscriber levels have decreased faster than previous expansions," he said.

Surprising? Not really. We have to remember that when these numbers were pulled, Cataclysm was in a bit of a lull. The expansion had been out for close to four months, and most of its content had been consumed by a large percentage of the player base -- aside from heroic raids.



Diablo 3 Public Beta in Q3 2011
The 2nd big interesting thing from the earning call was the announcement of Diablo 3's public beta in Q3 2011, it looks like the summer will be busy between Patch 4.2 and Diablo 3 ... For more Diablo related news, head to Diablofans.com.
Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker)
The 3rd quarter reference in the earning's call today was a calendar quarter, meaning that we're aiming to launch the Diablo III beta between July 1st and September 30th. Keep in mind that it's our current goal, and of course that can change as development continues.

2011 Arena Pass: Phases
Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker)
The 2011 Arena Pass is split into several different phases. To help you gain a more detailed understanding of how this year’s Arena Pass will unfold, you can find an explanation of the different phases in this article. You can also find out which matches are counted towards receiving a pet or title!

Registration Phase
4 May – 21 June (9pm CEST)
During this period you can register for the European 2011 Arena Pass Service. Registration will be closed outside of these dates.

Practice Phase
11 May – 8 June
During this period you will be able to enjoy the Arena Pass Realm and practice your setup with your friends. Matches played during this phase will not count towards the pet and title prizes.

Ranked Ladder Phase 1
8 June– 22 June
All Arena Rating points will be set to zero when this phase begins. Ranked 3v3 matches played during this phase will count towards the pet and title prizes. If a player switches from one Arena Team to another, the Arena Team that the player joins will have their Arena Rating reduced by 150 points.

Ranked Ladder Phase 2
22 June – 4 July (9pm CEST)
Ranked 3v3 matches played during this phase will count towards the pet and title prizes. During the Ranked Ladder Phase 2 of the Arena Pass Service, players cannot switch Arena Teams.

Prize Eligibility
Ranked 3v3 matches that count toward the pet and title prizes will start on 8 June 2011, (once the weekly maintenance has ended) and end 4 July 2011, at 9pm CEST.

Please note that phases begin once weekly maintenance has finished on the dates specified, and end at the beginning of maintenance on the dates specified (unless stated otherwise).

Blue Posts
Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment
Legendary Staff availability
It's actually easier to get started on the path to acquire this legendary; the journey itself is more difficult though. Regardless, players who have cleared the prior tier of raid content are the only ones eligible to begin the quest line -- any player who's part of a group which is capable of accomplishing that probably has a good shot at getting a staff for themselves. (Source)

Legendary Staff - Guild Pet Reward
We're doing something wholly unprecedented in the history of World of Warcraft, by making the acquisition of this Legendary result in a pet for the whole group responsible. Never before has an entire guild been able to acquire any kind of item for helping a member acquire an item or achievement.

We thought that was pretty cool. (Source)

Legendary weapons in 5-man instances?
At least for the foreseeable future, we’re shying away from the model where individuals or five man groups can acquire legendary items, because that could have several possible effects which don't mesh well with our idea of what these items should represent. The items might become common enough that orange becomes the new purple, or so random that the acquisition doesn’t feel particularly good, or we’d have to include a lot of artificial controls on how many of those items end up on a given realm despite a thin veneer of accessibility. Any way you slice it, we think that this would diminish the appeal of these items, and that’s not the way we want to go for now.

We do want the path to getting them to be more than a scavenger hunt though, and we’re continually trying to make the experience of acquiring a legendary weapon more… legendary. We learn as we go. For example, we’re unlikely to ever again do the Molten Core / Black Temple style legendary drops where sometimes you get lucky and more often, you don’t. We think that was really excessively random, and perhaps more importantly, it lost the entire sense of ceremony involved in forging your weapon. To return to the point of discussion that spawned this thread, Dragonwrath is almost the polar opposite of that. Sure, there is a “gated” portion of the quest line, which involves killing Firelands raid bosses, because we want this weapon to be something that a group has to work for and so that nobody is completing their legendary on the first week. But there is also a ton of other content as well: many new quests, legendary-specific raid boss fights, and a great personal challenge which evokes the spirit of those old classic World of Warcraft epic quests. The staff is really awesome in itself, and is rewarding for the whole group which completes it. I think that’s pretty cool, and I hope that those who get the opportunity to pursue the staff feel the same way. (Source)

Legendary items are only for people lucky enough to have a raid!
I'm not sure that you can call being a dedicated raider a matter of luck.

When someone plays a video game, they’re usually faced with a lot of choices. World of Warcraft has a ton of choices, and being part of a guild and choosing to raid is one of the more important choices one makes. World of Warcraft has also had a pretty clear structure of progression for a long time. There’s leveling content; all the quests, dungeons, and events which one can experience as they increase in power toward maximum level. Then, at the level cap, there are some new tiers of content. Top end daily quests, five man dungeons and heroics, battlegrounds, PvP zones and the like. This is all extremely accessible, and (we hope) all players who reach maximum level in World of Warcraft will experience all of it. Then, for the players who choose to pursue the necessary preparations and relationships, there are arenas, rated battlegrounds and raids. Those are the most demanding World of Warcraft experiences available, and we hope that most players will make the choice to take their skills there and see at least some of that content, since there are some very rich experiences to be had.

Raids in particular are intentionally challenging environments, and they are meant to stand up as obstacles to overcome, to reward players who are willing to develop the relationships and coordination with other World of Warcraft players to meet and beat the toughest challenges the game has to offer. They represent achievements to aspire to and we put a lot of time into that content and try to make it rewarding because we want you to want to see it.

Legendary weapons are legendary in part because of lore, and in part because of the grand adventure it is to achieve them. They are intended to represent a goal for an entire guild and raid group, and acquiring such a weapon reflects on the raid and guild as a whole. This helps us keep these items rare, which makes them more exciting and prestigious, which, in turn, allows us to make them more powerful. (Source)

The Daily Blink
I didn't post anything from The Daily Blink in a while and they said I can have my Garfield plush back only if I resume posting. I liked this one a few weeks ago but couldn't post it because of all the Patch 4.2 content, fixed!

This article was originally published in forum thread: WoW Loses 600k Subscribers, Diablo 3 Beta Q3 2011, Arena Passe, Blue Posts started by Boubouille View original post
Comments 453 Comments
  1. DrgnDancer's Avatar
    I find it incredibly amusing that at least 15 people have posted with the "real" reason that they lost subs, and each one of them has a different reason. It's the PvP balance/homogenization/10 vs 25 man raids/heroic raids/heroic 5mans are too hard/too easy... obviously. Probably all of you are right to an extent, and Blizzard themselves are right that there's a certain amount of churn from seasonal factors and content release times. Personally I haven't quit, but I've been playing a lot less. Not becasue the content is too hard, too easy, or anything else. I'm just tired. I've played this game for years, it's starting to lose some of the magic for me. It's not anything Blizzard has or hasn't done, I'm just moving on.
  1. Reparator's Avatar
    I am surprised ... just 600k subscribers. Also if 5 millions subscribers bought Cata, what are the other 5 millions playing ?
  1. raffie's Avatar
    This is all mostly because of making the game harder as hardcore people requested.. Harder game= less players=less income. Though im happy with cata myself.
  1. Bahska's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by FrantACs View Post
    March? April? It's May as far as I know and it's f*****g hot right now. May = Summer. A lot of my mates are going on holidays after we graduate in High school... and a lot has already canceled their subs 'cause of graduations and holidays. So this is a valid statement.
    The earning's report was from January - March is what he meant i think.
  1. cease's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Shadamehr View Post
    Its not that players went through the Cataclysm content faster than expected. Its that the content wasn't there to begin with. A lot of Cataclysm's development was spent on redesigning level 1 to 60 leveling content. I don't know about the rest of you but I buy expansions expecting to play new content on my main, not to go back and do all the level 1 to 60 areas. I wonder how much more we would have had if they hadn't of done that ? That and putting the A Team on Titan.

    Not to mention that the revamped content takes about a day to get through until it's time to go to Outlands.
  1. Ironhandx's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by DrgnDancer View Post
    I find it incredibly amusing that at least 15 people have posted with the "real" reason that they lost subs, and each one of them has a different reason. It's the PvP balance/homogenization/10 vs 25 man raids/heroic raids/heroic 5mans are too hard/too easy... obviously. Probably all of you are right to an extent, and Blizzard themselves are right that there's a certain amount of churn from seasonal factors and content release times. Personally I haven't quit, but I've been playing a lot less. Not becasue the content is too hard, too easy, or anything else. I'm just tired. I've played this game for years, it's starting to lose some of the magic for me. It's not anything Blizzard has or hasn't done, I'm just moving on.
    Yeahhhh. Less than 5% of the player base made it past Raz. Content that was over a year and a half old when TBC was released. I could have gotten another year+ enjoyment out of Vanilla and I only made it to twin emps(no, I didn't kill them). Even after you got your gear upped to current content level, current content was still challenging. Not hard, but the bosses that were meant to be gates still acted as such and if you didn't bring your A game you would wipe to them.

    Blizzard is right to an extent about the churn, but never have the minor balance issues that people QQ about constantly caused a huge sub loss. Also I see a lot of people posting with an opinion similar to yours as well. Most of the problems I see with the game are systemic, not balance related.

    The major problem is that a lot of these changes are coming from a group I like to call "moderate elitists". Which means blizzard is attempting to cater to all sides of the spectrum at once, and they can't do that. No one can. The closest its ever been was somewhere in between Vanilla and TBC and even then I'm fairly certain it was accidental. There was a period in WotLK where they came close again, but in a different fashion that wasn't so great because it more or less invalidated a lot of content.

    40 mans forced people to take bad players and train them. I know, I did it. In TBC+? Bads just get booted. We had 20+ good players already no problem. Its not a huge feat to get 20 good players. fill in the other 5 with people that don't suck too terribly and you're good to go. No incentive to train, no incentive to help, and much less room to carry people. I saw some of the worst players turn into top 5-10 DPS consistently in 40 mans.

    Itemization is also a problem. There was never a problem for us getting people to go back to MC to either gear up alts(giving those players something to do) or gear up new players. There was always one or two awesome drops that folks didn't have yet. our second tank didn't have his TF, the token ret pally didn't have hand of rag, two or three of the rogues wanted a brutality blade. Etc. Even into AQ40 progression getting people to help others was easy. Out of 100+ possible drops the good consistent raiders wanted 10 or so of them, and the remainder of items were still big upgrades for whoever we were gearing out.

    This, while a lot of people(wrongly) say it was catering to the "elites" was, although I think accidentally. catering to both at the same time. TBC's major saving grace was Kara, and later ZA. I don't even know how many hours I spent in those two. A large portion of the player base never raided anything much beyond those two. WotLK's saving grace was double lockouts. Cata.... has no saving grace. Thats why its getting so much flak. There's no room left for maneuvering. You're going to play the game the way they want you to play it or not at all. Unsuprisingly(myself included shortly I think, unless firelands fixes a lot of systemic issues) a lot of folks are choosing the "not at all" option. As for sub numbers, thats just 600k that have canceled. Of my entire friends list most log on maybe once a week at best. Several haven't logged on in weeks and its just a matter of them taking the time to cancel their account when they realize the game isn't fun and they don't want to play anymore. In guilds etc. I see on my server 80%+ activity decline. A lot of guilds are being forced from 25 mans altogether, having to do 10 mans. Its the same on both factions.

    Another problem is the LFD tool. It basically rendered anything that gets put into it "inconsequential content". Crap thats meant to be easy, and thus provides little value. The LFD tool was good when it was realm-only. There were still consequences for terrible players. People had more incentive to try to help someone out simply because they were liable to be grouped with that person again. Cross-realm LFD is and was a terrible idea and whoever actually pushed it through the door at blizzard is responsible for one of the most major systemic issues with WoW at the moment.

    I'm not saying Vanilla was perfect, Vanillas list of problems were generally simply a lot smaller than what has been created since then. Albeit the list was a bit longer, the items on it were of less consequence.


    Note: Cata is not too hard. I have a 95%+ success rate for random heroics with pugs. Most of the complaints seem to come from folks who run with guilds all the time who can't handle stuff that isn't exactly as they expect it to be IMO. Bad players are bad players. Deal with it somehow and move on, it won't kill your run.


    What I would like to see:

    As a Band-Aid:
    Vanilla realms, and TBC realms for those who liked that xpac better.


    To fix issues:
    Removal of cross-realm LFD. Lockouts returned to 10 man and 25 man. Hardmodes eliminated, and a return to gated progression systems in which there was a real sense of progression rather than a "Well.... we cleared all there is to clear... wanna do it again for slightly better loot and epeen?" (Hint: Most guilds are choosing not to do heroics, either directly or indirectly due to their players not wanting to crawl through the same crap but harder. Its not due to a lack of competency for many of them).

    Last, but not least. A return to 40 mans. I put this one last, because its more opinion and anecdotal evidence related than the rest. However most folks I've talked to that played through the 40's in Vanilla agree with me. The guilds that failed to do 40 mans were often the guilds that weren't worth playing for anyways as they wouldn't help their own players out.

    /endrant
  1. Azoth's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by pickley View Post
    11.4m is still a pretty large number.
    It's roughly $150-170 MILLION a month... Somewhere between $1.5 and 2 BILLION a year! Blizzard couldn't care less about losing a few customers, and their line about faster deployment of new content is a joke. If they could have rolled out new content you would think they would be doing it already as people are crying for new content for more than a year. I highlighted new because rehashing old content (Naxx / Deadmines / SFK / ZA / ZG / Ragnaros with legs.) just doesn't cut it for players that were here for vanilla and BC. They have seen the content sometimes hundreds of times only to have to do it all again to get new loots...
  1. Bahska's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Reparator View Post
    I am surprised ... just 600k subscribers. Also if 5 millions subscribers bought Cata, what are the other 5 millions playing ?
    China got wrath around the end of wrath for us, im guessing some of that 5 million is them. Probably not all though and that is a great question.
  1. Hobb's Avatar
    11.4 mil is very nice number, more than any other paid subscription MMO out there. But it is less than it was two years ago with WoTLK's release (11.5 mil) which does show WoW is in a slow decline. While WoW isn't dying, it's not increasing either as new MMOs come out they'll continue to chip away at WoW's population base.
  1. Many's Avatar
    Ok. Cataclysm isnt easy in raid HC terms. But WoW is easy in overral. Game mechanics are easy. Tanks are almost same. Warrior and Paladin 95% are same. Tanks have same defensive abilities. Healers are almost same. Same spells. Etc. And this is bad.

    TBC model was best. It wasnt HC as Vanilla. It was more accesible for players then Vanilla. But everything was slower. Reputation was slower, gearing was way slower. HC players had top tiers raids. And casuals did they reputations, HC dungeons and sometimes low tier raids. Everything was in "balance".

    Now? You hit 85. You log in, touch one button and you are in dungeon. You dont have to do anything for it. No key, no reputation nothing. After dungeon ther is nothing to do. Only log on your alt. In this game you have everything TOO FAST. That why is there boredrom.
  1. Arbs's Avatar
    Pfft hopefully that all the bads and whinners that left, we still got 11.4 better than anyone else
  1. krunksmash's Avatar
    its the normal flow wow losses ppl every time a "wow killer" is released. they will come back. and at 11.4mill blizz will just shrug them off
  1. Cakka's Avatar
    This just Blizzards lies. Rift already has 2 million subscribers, so WoW has lost at least that many.
  1. gibborim's Avatar
    I guess now we know making the game too easy is bad for it!
  1. Joán's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Cakka View Post
    This just Blizzards lies. Rift already has 2 million subscribers, so WoW has lost at least that many.
    Because EVERYONE who plays Rift must have played wow before and every single one of them must have cancelled their wow account? That's logic right there!
  1. Maklor's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Brogdan View Post
    But seriously, this is to be expected during a content lull like right now.
    Why would it be expected that it's lower than during WotLK ?
  1. Sargerus's Avatar
    This is the beginning of the END!!

    MWHAHAHHAAHAHAHAHA
  1. thewookiee's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by ElAmigo View Post
    hardly that big of a deal...
    Sure, $8,994,000 US per month is no big deal at all! I sure wouldn't complain about losing that much of my investment right after an expansion. Clearly, nothing at all is wrong with the product. By Jove, products are supposed to lose colossal amounts of money every month!
  1. soulkeeperx's Avatar
    "Regardless, players who have cleared the prior tier of raid content are the only ones eligible to begin the quest line"
    Finally, some resemblance of BC attunement in some way shape and form
  1. Golemstw's Avatar
    Blizzard strategy, rip off you much and cut off investments, every single expansion amount of raid dungeon drops, they just doing HC modes or something similar instead of new content , also recycling old content is short and cheap way .

    They saying way more than any times before but doing nothing. They were so happy like month ago saying they dont want release firelands too early but it looks like they dont want to spend money on developers.
    Also rift may have very smal % in that amount, wow is better than rift but dont mean rift wont be same good soon.

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