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  1. #1

    Blizzard's Long-Term Goals for WoW

    I had a thought last night, that at first was strange, then started making a lot of sense.

    What if Blizzard's long-term goal is to get a stable core of around 2-3 million subscribers?

    Considering the current number is 7.6m, and has been as high as 12m, this might sound like a dumb idea, but I think this is what they are going for. Here is why I think this:

    Mists of Pandaria was significantly less casual and alt-friendly than Wrath or Cata. A lot of the easy-mode gameplay, leveling, and catchup mechanisms that were there in Wrath and Cata were not there in MoP. On top of that, you were rewarded for taking the time to get your legendary, whereas if you did not put the time and effort in to get your legendary, raiding at the top of the end-game in the final patch was difficult, or impossible to find a raid if you were a pure dps.

    This, on top of the first expansion since vanilla where you were not eligible to fly on any alt until level cap.

    Over and over, we see elitists complain about casuals/carebears. We see the casual/elitist argument brought up again with flying in WoD. Then we see - the lead systems designer, Ghostcrawler, comes down on the side of the elitist - not the casual.

    Despite having been an elite player doing high-level progression raids at different times of my wow career, I've always been staunchly in favor of casual policies. So I was very unhappy with the insane rep grinds and removal of tabards. I was unhappy with the removal of the Dalaran portals. I was unhappy with no flying - even on my first toon - through pandaria leveling. And I felt it was even worse not flying on my 10 other alts as I level through Pandaria.

    But the Blizzard designers decided this is how they want their game. Less casual friendly. More in-line with the hardcore elites.

    Then I started thinking about the psuedo-server merges. How multiple realms are being connected together - not just to fix population issues now, but for the future.

    And then I realized - holy heck, this all goes together.

    The way I see it, the lack of flying, another long mandatory legendary quest, no reputation tabards, hard elites that require travel time, requiring flight point usage - this is going to drive away the more casual customer.

    Those of you who are self-described elitists are going to love it. But it will drop subs, significantly, as more people who are strapped for time are just not able to be competitive, or to accomplish much in the new hard(er)core model.

    And then I thought - what if this business model actually is the long-term plan for success? I think an MMO, even of wow's size, could scale down their servers, their developers, their GM's, and make themselves more streamlined for the next 20 years, even with a sub loss of another 50%+.

    And then I thought... man, that could be really, really smart. It will make me personally sad, and others personally sad, because of the large amount of us who prefer more casual-friendly gameplay. But from a purely business sense, as well as an artistic sense, in terms of "making the game we really want to make," this could be a really sustainable model going forward, with the idea that the more hardcore/elitist player will be more loyal to the game than a casual player, therefore smoothing out their overall subscription numbers.

    I would guess that to make up the lost revenue, Blizzard will be attempting to shift demand for the more casual player to their other IPs - Hearthstone, HotS, Titan. Since Titan is expected to be F2P, we could be seeing a setup where blizzard is purposefully pushing away it's more casual WoW customers and into Titan.
    ______________________________

    Here's a tl;dr: Blizz hard(er)core game design will reduce population to a sustainable 2-3m more hardcore players, and this is their long-term goal.

  2. #2
    Legendary! Evil Inside's Avatar
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    Why would they intentionally kill their biggest cash cow? Honestly I dont see the logic in this, if they were down to like 2-3mil subs or less then yeah, but 7.6 million is a totally different story. Also you do realize that "hardcore players" are a minority in the pool of 7.6mil subs.
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  3. #3
    I am Murloc! Valyrian Stormclaw's Avatar
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    No.

    Blizzard isn't trying to push away the casual's they just want to reorchestrate the game in a way so that in the long run, it's more enjoyable. Blizzard can't make money off of just hardcore players, they gotta bring in casuals too.

    In any event, even if Blizzard does drop to half a million subs, it'll still be subscription based. WoW isn't dying, its just starting to let it'self take a back seat.

  4. #4
    Blizzard is a company, they want to expand numbers and thus profits.
    We have felled demon commanders, cowed the master of death, conquered Old Gods, and stopped the Aspect of Death from destroying the very planet. Now, we need to kill this dude who managed to enslave pudding eating panda's, slobbering sauroks, and hilariously inept hozen. Awesome. Really epic.

  5. #5
    I don't see anything in MoP or WoD that suggest Blizzard is going to a "hardcore gamer" approach. Seriously, I just don't see it.

    Maybe they think the game is actually unhealthy when the minimum standard is 6+ characters per account in head to toe raid gear. I'd be inclined to agree with them.
    "There is good and evil in this world; we must find the black and white in the gray."

  6. #6
    There will be plenty of casual-friendly content to explore. They are just gonna slow players freedom of movement down a bit when they introduce new content. The amount of churn they get when the casual player "saw what they wanted to see" will still happen but maybe they will buy another month of game time? If that is the case then I don't blame them. I'd do the same thing in their shoes.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Pyromelter View Post
    I had a thought last night, that at first was strange, then started making a lot of sense.

    What if Blizzard's long-term goal is to get a stable core of around 2-3 million subscribers?-snip-
    Even if it was true (which is insane to think that it is), why would they hurry themselves TO that number?

    Also, It seems more likely that if they're driving anybody away - it's the Hardcore. A "casual" isn't going to give a damn about flying/no flying. Only a Hardcore min/maxer would care about such things.
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    That's the ONLY reason you would post 9600 posts over 3 years: a mission of hate.

  8. #8
    That is not their goal. If it were, they would focus on retaining long-term subscribers rather than fighting a losing battle trying to keep the ADD generation strung along.

    THeyre forsaking long-term for high churn.

  9. #9
    That's crazy talk really, equating flying to catering to the hardcore is just nonsense. WoD is shaping up to be the most casual friendly expac ever created by streamlining gear, user interfaces/quality of life, garrisons and the ease and flexibility of getting into raids.

    This game has been built on attracting players a typical mmo has no business attracting, to not try and continue to build around those players would be a poor decision. If that wasn't the case the game would be bleeding more than it has.

  10. #10
    Scarab Lord Mokoshne's Avatar
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    they should focus on making the game better. that is all they need to do.
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  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Faroth View Post
    I don't see anything in MoP or WoD that suggest Blizzard is going to a "hardcore gamer" approach. Seriously, I just don't see it.

    Maybe they think the game is actually unhealthy when the minimum standard is 6+ characters per account in head to toe raid gear. I'd be inclined to agree with them.
    To your first point: No flying until cap, removal of rep tabards, removal of Dalaran portals (in cata) significantly long grinds for double-gating of VP rewards, and profession recipes. Significant grinds for every aspect of the game (pvp, pve, dailies, pet battles). These are more hardcore than the more casual approach of wrath and cata.

    To your second point: I believe Blizzard developers agree with you. I don't - I had 6 toons in head-to-toe raid gear during Wrath, and it was fun being able to play multiple classes, specs, and roles without having to do zillions of dailies to get them gear. I didn't enjoy being forced to over-spend time on my main to be competitive. That said... again, I agree that Blizzard doesn't want people raiding on 4, 5, 6, 7 toons. Which again would be another point towards them wanting a less casual friendly environment (because more casual friendly also = more alt friendly).

    Quote Originally Posted by Valyrian Stormclaw View Post
    No.

    Blizzard isn't trying to push away the casual's they just want to reorchestrate the game in a way so that in the long run, it's more enjoyable. Blizzard can't make money off of just hardcore players, they gotta bring in casuals too.

    In any event, even if Blizzard does drop to half a million subs, it'll still be subscription based. WoW isn't dying, its just starting to let it'self take a back seat.
    My theory is that there are a core of around 2-3m players who would legitimately be considered as hardcore. I'm not saying Blizzard is dying, or moving to f2p - in fact, just the opposite. And in fact, if they can streamline both their server farms as well as their staffs, it's possible they could even bring in more profits with a smaller sub base, by cost reduction.

    And I feel if they were trying to expand by bringing in casuals, the design decisions I mentioned above never would have happened. Both flying and rep tabards were IMMENSELY popular, especially in Wrath. They would have never implemented the incredibly soul-crushing daily grinds and removed tabard/dungeon rep if they were looking to be more casual friendly.

  12. #12
    Titan Kalyyn's Avatar
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    This would make sense for a F2P game, but when you're running subs, every player counts.

  13. #13
    They want the game play to take longer. That's it, call it hardcore, casual, elitist, self-centered?!!?, whatever you want, but that's the goal, they don't want ppl finish all content within a week and get bored. They are creating artificial drag.

  14. #14
    It IS a strange thought OP, as Warlords is certainly shaping up to be a casual players wet dream. The second consecutive expansion to fit that bill, in fact. I'm not sure where you'd get the notion that the delay of flying makes this even remotely hardcore.

    The whole 'carebear' phrase that people like to trot out is nonsense as well, called out by folks who have no prior MMO experience. Every last person playing this game is a carebear (whether they realize it or not)

    Server merges are likely the answer they came up with so they don't have to hear some backlash that they're "shutting down realms due to inactivity". (I've no proof of this, it's just a guess). As long as I've been playing, it's always seemed like there were a lot of rather low pop servers, perhaps they just overbuilt.

    Games like this can be scaled up, and down, without too much issue. I don't think Blizzard is actually AIMING for a 2-3 million sub playerbase, they want to make as much money as they can. They're probably expecting numbers like that eventually, but that isn't the same thing.
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  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Pyromelter View Post
    To your first point: No flying until cap, removal of rep tabards, removal of Dalaran portals (in cata) significantly long grinds for double-gating of VP rewards, and profession recipes. Significant grinds for every aspect of the game (pvp, pve, dailies, pet battles). These are more hardcore than the more casual approach of wrath and cata.

    To your second point: I believe Blizzard developers agree with you. I don't - I had 6 toons in head-to-toe raid gear during Wrath, and it was fun being able to play multiple classes, specs, and roles without having to do zillions of dailies to get them gear. I didn't enjoy being forced to over-spend time on my main to be competitive. That said... again, I agree that Blizzard doesn't want people raiding on 4, 5, 6, 7 toons. Which again would be another point towards them wanting a less casual friendly environment (because more casual friendly also = more
    your speaking of a time where 10 man content was easy for pugs nevermind organized groups not to mention 12 months of ICC to grind out. The devs realized the mistake of taking this content out and gave us flex, flex will be the most raided difficulty by the end of 5.4 and it will dummy all other raid content in player completion next xpac with people running it on multiple toons.

    Everything else u stated is a design choice to prevent players from consuming content on a exponential lvl and is shit most people prob don't give a fuck about. The 5.0 daily gating bullshit was a mistake and they know this and won't repeat it but if u think it was any less grindy in vanilla or bc ur sorely mistaken.

    None of what u said has anything to do with making this game for the hardcore, mmos are a time sink always have and will continue to be so. WoW is the most casual one out there, garrisons are going to be a massive time sink, is this catering to the hardcore? No this is providing casual content that people can do over the course of the entire xpac.
    Last edited by Quilm; 2013-11-16 at 06:19 AM.

  16. #16
    Brewmaster Skeletroll's Avatar
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    Not sure about that. Personally i think that they just want WoW to be a "sunday afternoon game with HC grind options" where millions play with their friends (without real obstacles, i'm looking at you, instant lvl90), doing some casual-ish things "for fun" and that game still have content for real HC gamers. But they still value those "sunday gamers" more than hc elitists, so hc players are going to get more compromises.

    So, "every kind of content for every kind of players", they don't have one clear target group.

    And no, i dont count myself as hc gamer as i did not even raid. I just wanted options that they will no longer support.
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  17. #17
    I think you're being way too cynical about this, especially when saying that MoP hasn't been catering to your kind as much as humanly possible. What I do agree with is that some kind of change of perspective has seemed to happen because these updates and blueposts indicate that they've slowly started to realize the consequences of trying to please everyone only to end up pleasing no-one. It's extremely hard and a complete waste of time trying to cater and create content to players who aren't genuinely interested in the game and are unlikely to stay around even if they get what they want.

    A very large number of the playerbase seems to suffer from nostalgia and the inability to think past the positive memories, and therefore lose all credibility to make serious requests and should by all means keep their thoughts to themselves - but instead keep spouting out an endless amount of threads. Part of the problem has always been that unreasonable requests have been taken too seriously and the devteam has had to alter their vision of the game because of it, where after blizzcon it seems like they are creating Warlords of Draenor on the premises of their vision which definitely is a good thing.

    They are all competent well meaning people and I bet Warcraft will be a better experience for everyone and have a less fluctuating playerbase if they do a game THEY like instead of taking bits and pieces from here and there and creating this shallow frankenstein.

    It also needs to be said that people should really stop overreacting about radical changes like 20man mythic and ground mounts only. The only way to both completely rule something out and shut a crapton of players up is to implement something and see how it works out. Both the yay and naysayers should be positive about this because rest assured, if it is indeed a bad idea and doesn't work out I guarantee that it will be overruled and permanently removed from the game by the next patch.
    Last edited by Strafir; 2013-11-16 at 06:42 AM. Reason: spelling :C

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by Xjev View Post
    they don't want ppl finish all content within a week and get bored.
    85-90 about 6-7 hours -> Timeless isle -> Get seals for both ToT and Soo -> Auction house -> ToT LFR -> SoO LFR = ilvl 500-520 within first reset. Aaand thats it you have now seen all the endgame content, see you next year. You dont even need a week.
    Last edited by mdfx; 2013-11-16 at 06:53 AM.

  19. #19
    Blizzards long term goals seem pretty obvious to me: New character models, upping the graphics, heavier on the segmentation (but gradual this time), instant level 90's so you can jump straight, facebook style UI game like the Garrison. Blizzard is making the game attractive to new players so they can sustain sub numbers and be less vulnerable to fluctuations. They are probably closer than ever to making this game feel right for a larger, more diverse player base. If they include more mythic content for the casuals who knows how to play this game, they could be looking at 8-9M stable subscribers.

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by melodramocracy View Post
    It IS a strange thought OP, as Warlords is certainly shaping up to be a casual players wet dream. The second consecutive expansion to fit that bill, in fact. I'm not sure where you'd get the notion that the delay of flying makes this even remotely hardcore.
    Can you explain to me why the removal of several casual and alt-friendly mechanics is "a casual players wet dream"?

    Specifically: Flying, tabard reps, portals (the guess being they will remove portals from the shrines like they did the portals from Dalaran), requiring flight points, and if we talk about the transition from cata->mop, the removal of Have Group, Will Travel, double-gating of VP items behind intensely long and boring daily grinds, profession recipes behind the same grind, no flying in the main dailies areas of 5.2 and 5.4.

    And if you can't explain why these are casual friendly things, can you explain to me which part of the new expansion will be more casual and alt friendly?


    And to answer you regarding the delay of flying:

    Elitist types are all over MMO champ and the internet complaining about how flying ruins immersion - which is another debate - the point being, restricting flight is what elitists want, not casuals and altoholics. I shouldn't need to link you the myriad of threads that have popped up over the past week or so, they are all over the place, and it's firmly the elitists saying "they should have never added flight in the first place" or "flight killed world pvp" or "good, it should take you 10 minutes to run across the map," whereas the casual/alt crowd is like "okay, i did it once, can I have flying on my alts now plz and thx, and why are you hardcore types so mad because we wanna fly, it doesn't ruin your game."

    My overall point is... Blizz has decided from both a business and a game design decision to go in the hardcore/elitist mindset, and the only reason for that would be to purposefully reduce their numbers now, in exchange for the long-term stability of the game. That they may have thought that granting flight was "selling out" so to speak to the more casual customer, who might unsub at any whim, and that restricting flight will appeal to the more hardcore gamer, who is more likely to stick with the game for any number of years.

    My point is Blizzard is now catering to the hardcore elitist types for the long-term stability of their subscription numbers, at the expense of shedding short-term casual players and altoholics.

    And for the people who say "oh they just want more and more and more subs"... I don't agree with this stance either. They disabled /follow in battlegrounds, making multiboxing either ineffective or much more difficult, as well as shutting out vision impaired players - this certainly cost them some subscriptions. They did this to combat botting though - meaning they are prioritizing the integrity of the game over raw subscription numbers.

    Please don't mistake this as criticism of Blizzard... I think this is a brilliant strategy on their part to be honest. If someone said to me "Pyro, I'll give you 50% less pay this year, but a guaranteed 20% more for the next 20 years"... I would do that in a heartbeat.

    All I ask is that any of you just read what I write, and think about it. It all makes sense when you put it all together - the server merges, the more hardcore game design, even the new normal/flex/mythic design - it just points right to Blizzard no longer scrambling to just sell as many games and subscriptions as possible, but focusing on the integrity of their design philosophy, with the long-term financial viability in mind.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by Mokoshne View Post
    they should focus on making the game better. that is all they need to do.
    And I think that is what they are trying to do - perhaps my point in the OP was a bit lost, but it seems to me they are now trying to make it the game they have always wanted to make, and not just the game that will bring in as many subs as possible.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by Quilm View Post
    None of what u said has anything to do with making this game for the hardcore, mmos are a time sink always have and will continue to be so. WoW is the most casual one out there, garrisons are going to be a massive time sink, is this catering to the hardcore? No this is providing casual content that people can do over the course of the entire xpac.
    While wow is not the most hardcore, it certainly isn't the most casual. Any number of mobile phone games are way more casual, plus games like maplestory, DCUO, are also way more casual than wow will ever be.

    And I'm not sure about garrisons, but if it's more like player housing, again that will cater to the hardcore type to fill their walls with trophies, versus the casual/altoholic who is likely more interested in just getting whatever gear they can from LFR/scenarios/heroics than they are from painting their walls with the blood of heroic end-game raid bosses.
    Last edited by Pyromelter; 2013-11-16 at 08:30 AM.

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