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WoW Subscription Drop

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As you might have heard from, well, all over Twitter and the various WoW news sites, Blizzard released some Q1 numbers and guess what? Yep, they dun lost about 3 million subscribers in three months. In three months, Blizzard managed to drop back to their Mists of Pandaria numbers pre-WoD. Yes, there’s always a drop in subscriptions during an expansion, but three million in three months? That’s pretty steep.

So why? Why did so many people pull the plug on WoW? I put the question out on Twitter and got much of the same responses:

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Now as someone who has just hit 100 on their eighth character (WTF is wrong with me), I feel much of this pain. I’m a casual player. A dirty casual, some take a great deal of pleasure in pointing out. Doing garrison missions on eight characters is just mind numbing. Log in, click a couple of buttons, gather gold and gear, and log out. Garrisons were interesting at the beginning, a fun little distraction. But it slowly evolved (or not so slowly, given the dropoff in three months) into a chore. Blizzard has used a retention mechanic to keep people logging in, and players have slowly resented it.

That feels like a theme with this expansion, really. Players resent a game function and Blizzard rubs salt in the wound. People are pissed at the lack of flying, Blizz tells them “Hey guess what, we’ve got another patch coming and still no flying. Nope, probably not in the next one either. Keep climbing trees and getting all the cute little treasures we’ve left for you.” People complain that garrisons are becoming a chore, so Blizzard gives them MOAR CHORES!

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Now you’ve got garrison missions in two zones! Fun!

Honestly, it feels like Blizz has really dropped the ball on this. Leveling was easy, which is something I am thankful for. But there’s a reason I didn’t stop at two max level characters. If you don’t raid, what else is there to do at level 100? Apex crystal missions to get gear you can also get from doing nothing (aka garrison missions)? Sure, maybe if I have four hours an evening, every evening, I might care about mulling about trying to build reps for some kind of reward. I don’t know. Personally, it feels like the part of the game that gives me the most reward (gear and gold) is something I don’t even need to do. I don’t need to play my class at all. I could do it on my bank alt.

Bellular covered this topic in one of his recent videos. This video, actually.

I’ve touched on my disappointment in a previous post. I just hope Blizzard comes up with some compelling content that can staunch the bleeding and keep people from leaving the game in droves. But things like this –

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– is not going to do it.

Back In The Saddle

My SWTOR run has come to an end.  For now.

When I originally switched over to Star Wars: The Old Republic, I had moved my subscription money to the new game.  WoW was given a time card and a kind thought.  At the time, it was like putting Granny in a senior’s home – you give her a hug, push her towards the orderlies who are waiting to start stealing her pension bingo money and all the good shit in her room, and you promise to visit when you can.  Just like visiting Granny in the Home, I’d pop into WoW long enough to make some money and then get right back out.

But the new hotness didn’t stay hot, and for that I actually have WoW to blame.

What was good about SWTOR:

  • The Story.  I knew right off the bat I’d be playing a Jedi/Sith Warrior.  There was so much to like about the class.  I’ve always been a fan of standing in the pocket, going toe to toe with the mouth breather in front of me and hoping I’d kill him before he killed me.   After I started playing a Sith Warrior, I really dug on the class.  I had the black lightsaber due to my pre-order (the same kind I had in SW:The Force Unleashed) and loved using it.  The story was boss, and the interactions were pretty slick.  It kept me wanting to move forward.

What was bad about SWTOR:

  • The Class Specialization.  At level ten, you get to switch between the two branches of the primary class.  In my case, it was either Sith Juggernaut (tank/dps) or Sith Marauder (dual wield dps).  While they do a passable job describing the subclasses, they have to be played to get a good grip in them.  Sure you can dps as a Juggernaut, but how does that compare to dropping fools as a Marauder?  You really can’t tell until you try.  The problem is, once you try you have to buy.  You pick a subclass and that’s it.  No going back.  If you find that after a level or two of trying the class out in the World that it isn’t clicking with you, you’re screwed.  You have to start over from level one.  What kind of bullshit is that!  The subclass has no bearing on how you progress in the main storyline, so why lock you into it?  It felt, like most things I didn’t like about the game, as if it was designed just to slow down the leveling process and extend the game life.

  • The Story: Don’t get me wrong, I like the class story.  The first time through.  The second time it’s not as shiny as it was the first go round, but maybe you make different selections during your interactions that can change things up.  The third time through, you’re hitting the space bar to skip the chatter.  And I found myself going through storylines multiple times (switching subclasses, starting on a new server).

  • The Quest/Mission layout is stupid.  This is where WoW spoiled me.  In World of Warcraft, you would arrive at a quest hub, pick up 1-4 quests, travel for maybe a minute to find the quest objectives, and then go back for the hand-in.  There was an efficient time to quest ratio that SWTOR just didn’t have.  Not only were they the same style of quests that WoW had (kill X, loot Y) but they were kinda all over the place.  There’d be one or two quests in an outpost, sending you either west or south, clear off your current map.  We’re talking multiple minutes of walking in various directions just to reach the objective.  Finish that up, trek all the way back to the questgiver, and they want to send you back out across the map again.  Plus, they don’t identify Heroic missions until you accept it and it pops up as HEROIC +WHATEVER in your mission menue.

That’s when it started to get to me.  After leveling multiple toons into the teens,  it came down to my Sith Juggernaut.  I picked the subclass and hoped the dps spec would be as much fun as the Marauder was on another server.  I tried, and tried, forcing myself through missions I had just finished on my other character and running all over the damn zone to do so.  But I just wasn’t feeling the Juggernaut.  I knew I’d have to start over as Marauder.

I was done.  I couldn’t go through all of that AGAIN.  All of that chattering.  All of the WALKING.  All of the stupid layout missions that felt like they kicked me in the BALLS every time I accepted them.  It felt like the game developers knew that people would chew up the content quickly, so they put in artificial speed bumps to slow them down.  Make you start over for class choices.  Force you to run through entire zones that existed only to add time onto the quest objective.

I decided to walk away from SWTOR.  It wouldn’t be forever.  I would probably go back at some point, but I needed some time to forget.  Forgive.

As luck would have it, both SWTOR and WOW subscriptions were running out on the same day.  I’d be switching back to WoW, just in time to start hoping to get into the MoP beta.  Even if I didn’t get in, there was plenty of other things I wanted to do.  Maybe I’ll feel that way about SWTOR one day.

But for now, Granny has left the Home and is kicking up her heels out on the town.