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WoW Subscribers down by 800,000. Will Warlords of Draenor Save It?

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Once again, we see WoW’s subscriber count dip to a new low. According to Times, It now stands at 6.8 million, down from 7.6 million from the last quarter. To put into perspective, the last time WoW stood at this low was in mid-2006, one and a half year since its release. However, it was quoted that this decline is seasonal and expected, since the expansion (Mist of Pandaria) is nearing its expected life cycle. Furthermore, a new expansion will be released that is supposed to bring people back to WoW.

The question is: Will it do so?

From my previous article: The Death of WoW, I have shared reasons on why I believe that WoW is dying: From a gameplay perspective and from an overall perspective such as analyzing Blizzard as a whole.

Check it out here.

This article will seek to justify whether Warlords of Draenor (WoD) will truly save it, and what is next for Blizzard.

While WoD is set in the past with Orcs generally portrayed as the ‘good guys’, the game has been improved with many features such as a level 90 jump and a visual improvement for the entire game.

With many features in place, there are good grounds to claim that Blizzard can effectively bring back the old gamers, and even bring in fresh faces who are willing to give WoW a shot.

That being said, I do not deny that there will definitely be a jump in the number of subscribers once WoD is released, but there is a good chance that the numbers will fall short once again in the next year. Here are some of the reasons why:

Tasteless gameplay

The gameplay for WoW has been the same throughout. Even if you change the storyline a little, people are going to come to realize that they’re doing the same thing throughout: PvPing, PvEing, questing and adventuring. I’ve mentioned previously that the repetitive gameplay is one reason why I felt WoW was dying. Introducing new dungeons can solve this issue, but only temporarily. There is still a need to revamp gameplay, such as introducing new battlegrounds, or new ways that players can engage in PvP.



WoW seems like the best choice in a MMORPG of the past, and rightfully so. WoW faced very weak competition, and Blizzard was at its peak a few years ago, with a very nice MMORPG and with strong entrants such as Warcraft 3 and Diablo 2. However, the gaming environment is different now. There are many new entrants that give WoW a run for its money, such as Elder Scrolls Online, and even new genres such as MOBAs like DotA 2 and mobile MMOs. WoW faces competition so stiff that it becomes more questionable whether the model that became so successful would apply now.

Many people would now ask: What’s next for Blizzard, especially so now that it is rumored that WoD seems to be WoW’s final expansion.

Change of Gameplay

With all else said, it would be refreshing if Blizzard chooses to revamp the gameplay of WoW. They will have to do it in such a way that the original gameplay will not be affected, but there is a taste that the expansion will be different. The changes should not only focus on the visual aspects, but involve more things a player can do other than exploring new regions. Players now hunger for more things to do even after they have attained level 90.

Focus on other projects

It would be surprising if Blizzard chooses to cash out of the WoW franchise. But I would not take it as a major shocker. After all, there is evidence that the gaming world is now moving towards a new form of gaming. Major entrants are now MOBA and Mobile gaming. Blizzard has definitely picked up hints of this shift, and has therefore released major game titles like Hearthstone and Heroes of the Storm to cash in on this shift. Would Blizzard shift all its resources to these games? Unlikely, but I would not be surprised.
Blizzard definitely has much to do for WoW, and I would argue that WoD is not enough.

Blizzard can be said to be the ‘Apple of Gaming’ and consumers look out for more radical entrants, as compared to small improvements of gameplay. Such is the standard that Blizzard has set for itself. Either Blizzard has to suit up, or face major disappointment.

First Impressions: Warlords of Draenor, Boosted to level 90

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This article will be the time when I boosted my level to level 90 in the Warlord of Draenor beta.

“Check out my funky armour. Also, I realised how ugly Worgens looked after playing them, so I’ll only post my human shot. Anyway, this is the starter armours for anyone who boost to level 90.”

I chose a Worgen Mage (simply because I have never tried both the race and the class before) and was instantly thrown into the fray of the skirmish between the Gul’Dan and the heroes of Azeroth.

Iconic faces litter the entire map. Expect the likes of Thrall, Khadgar, and plenty other familiar faces as you fight across the hordes of orcs trying to stop Gul’dan from achieving his evil ambition.

Except that I have no idea what this evil ambition is.

In the arguments for an immersive gameplay, new players will have no idea or will be unable to appreciate the likes of these iconic faces. You need to be well-equipped with WoW lore before you can even begin to understand what is happening when you are thrust into the midst of battle.

When the game begins, you find out that the Shadow Council is being used to fuel the portal. Why? What is the Shadow Council? Who is Gul’dan? What is happening? Is this just a regular dungeon?
No matter though, you’re just thrust into the heat of war and instantly being labeled as ‘The savior of Azeroth’.

Not only do you not get to know these iconic characters, you will not even get to have a sense of what they are like. When you begin a quest with characters, you get a feel of who they really are. Basic character development has been one of Blizzard’s strong points, and in WoD, they simply whisked it all away. It was quite a disappointment.

Don’t get me wrong, I know WoW. At least enough to write a review about it. WoD has been featured as players being able to cross swords with the likes of Hellscream, Blackhand and Ner’zhul. But what’s the point of doing so if you don’t know who they are? WoD does not sufficient develop their characters.

Nonetheless, you will find yourself completing quests and trying to escape the onslaught of orcs coming at you. The gameplay was well-thought through with plenty of fun instances, like a cannon mission to slay waves of orcs.

“This, and a lot of other quests, are like competing on which is the best way to kill someone twistedly.”

Personally, the entire story was a little long, but there was no better way to depict how the hero (you) manages to escape with the heroes of Azeroth into Shadowmoon Valley, before the Portal opened.

The last point would be that the tutorial was outrageously poor. The instance starts with a level 90 character, and people expect to be slowly guided into a game, especially when it’s the first time I’m playing a class. WoW could not even provide an opportunity to teach a new player how the game works, other than a few pop-ups like ‘This is what this does’. Even I had problems finding out what skill rotation to use, especially so with new talent trees available. What it provides is several very simple quests and regions that don’t really challenge you to learn much.

There’s no event leading up to assaulting the Iron Horde in the jungle; you’re just there, devoid of any sense of urgency or any reason to care.

Overall, WoD was detrimental to new players as a whole. The learning curve became remarkably steep, even for an experienced player like me. The whole early stage instance lacked character development, which was ironic given that one of the main features of WoD was to ‘cross axes with the likes of Grommash Hellscream, Blackhand, and Ner’zhul at the height of their primal power.’

Stay tuned, where I will then discuss more about Garissons.

The Death of World of Warcraft

Taken from my article at

World of Warcraft , or WoW to most people, has been the epitome of a MMORPG. They had once perfected the formula of an intriguing lore, interactive gameplay and a generally fun MMORPG, to the extent that new entrants of MMORPGs can only hope to follow WoW and hopefully differentiate itself along the way. Games I’ve played after WoW (admittedly not much) such as RO2, Allods Online, etc, all fall into the same trap that makes it noticeably similar to WoW.

So why does it seem like WoW is dying?

According to Forbes (2013), WoW has lost nearly 2 million subscribers in the past 2 quarters, and its revenue dropped almost 54% (VG24/7,2013).

Ask any experienced player, and the reasons they will most probably quote are ‘boring and repetitive gameplay’, ‘player fatigue’ from doing raids over and over again, and the ‘seemingly aimless expansions’.

While certainly not dead, WoW is experiencing a heavy loss in user traction. Let’s examine the reasons.

  1. The Aging Gameplay
Oh look. I’ve gained another level. Hope this level is different from the other 12 I’ve been through.

Don’t get me wrong, WoW has some of the best lore I’ve ever read. The depth and the storyline are fascinating till this very day. It is certainly comparable to the depth of Star Wars, Elder Scrolls, Lord of the Rings, etc.

But gameplay is a totally different thing. While some may argue that the experience in WoW is about experiencing the world of Warcraft and its richness, there’s much to be said about the experience in-game.

With over 9 years of gameplay, any experienced player will mostly probably have explored the entire world, and expansions only add on to the list of exploring. I will argue that the high point of WoW was in Wrath of the Lich King (WotLK), where I felt that it was a remarkable end to the experience. In Cataclysm and Mist of Pandaria, it seems that Blizzard is just trying to pull back subscribers. The gameplay was not as fascinating as what I felt in Burning Crusade and WotLK. It was getting boring, repetitive and I found myself constantly asking why I’m grinding to get better items to grind better.

  1. Pay to Play Model
This is probably the saddest image for anyone who just wants to go home and play a little WoW.

Probably one of the most controversial topics was WoW’s pricing model. Paying for a month’s worth of subscription only appealed to hardcore players. While the numbers exceeded expectations initially, we have to all agree that the model is not entirely applicable 10 years later. Free-to-play, or maybe the freemium model may seem like a more viable alternative.

I’m not saying WoW’s model is bad, but this could be a reason why people stop playing WoW. The first cause is simple demographics: The players that used to play WoW are moving on. Teenagers who once played WoW in their 17-18s are now adults, and what was deemed casual gaming is too much of a commitment. New teenagers are spoilt for choice, with plenty of gaming platforms (mobile, PC, Console), let alone MMORPGs, to choose from. The attraction towards WoW is much lower as it was compared to the past.

The second is the advent of mobile games. While seemingly unrelated, mobile games brought upon the rise of casual gaming, which is more viable in a busy and industrialized economy. WoW subscribers may see more sense in investing less time to a game (perhaps another MMORPG) on their mobile phone which can be played on the go, instead of devoting time and effort to a hardcore MMORPG.

  1. The ‘Apple’ of Gaming

Blizzard has been seen as the forefront of great games from irrefutably unbeatable franchises such as Starcraft and Diablo. This brings about the ‘Apple’ effect, where users want something that only a giant can provide. WoW’s expansions are coming so generic that users can only live in their own disappointment, much like a relationship that was once fiery and passionate now seems too stable for comfort.
Such like the iPhone, where the onset was amazing, and each subsequent improvement only draws more ‘meh’ than the initial crowd pleaser.

The Evolution of MMORPGs

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a huge fan of WoW, and I’m not saying it is dead. WoW, although dying, is still going strong.

Undoubtedly any game that has experienced a high point will reach new lows. It’s the process of nature. Hype dies down after certain time, and WoW is no exception. New entrants appear time to time and there are better alternatives compared to Pay-to-Play MMORPGs. Just like Lord of the Rings online which changed its pricing model, it can be seen that there is a general shift in preference to free games, as compared to games with an investment to play.

What does this mean?

While we may go on debating on whether WoW is truly dead, what I place on the table is this: Now is a good a time as any to bring in a game that re-defines the MMORPG genre. While it certainly pleases me to see more games coming out, what I wish is that there is a big hit that sets itself apart from WoW and drives the world ape-crazy again.

Right now, it seems like virtual reality gaming might be the next big thing. For that, only time will tell.