3.5 million subscribers can’t be wrong… can they?

[World of Warcraft] I pose a question to our readers. A simple question that I will use as the basis of my next post.

What is different about WoW that has caused it to get so many subscribers?

A plain question, but one that has many answers. 3.5 million subscribers is more than any MMO ever. What about WoW has caused this explosion? Is it sustainable? Was the MMO market truely such an untapped resource? Are we the new Korea (including the millions of players dying in front of their computers after 60 hour marthon sessions)?

Thanks ahead of time for you input, and I can’t wait to tell you how wrong you all are! ^^


15 thoughts on “3.5 million subscribers can’t be wrong… can they?”

  1. What about WoW appealed to me? Quest driven. Lots of races and classes. Interesting visuals. Fairly simple to get started playing. Very solo-friendly. Levelling speed is quick.

    Regardless, I quit. After a few runs up to around 30ish, I just can’t enjoy it any more. I do not see anything appealing about 40-person raids. PvP holds no interest for me. I could see no reason to continue playing into the endgame. There are no more carrots for me to strive for.

    I think that 3.5 million subscribers is a drop in the bucket still. It could be a lot bigger if done right. Also, remember the 3.5 million is counting several countries.

  2. As Ethic above.

    I’m a casual gamer, and have never really pretended otherwise. WoW’s low-end catering to my style (get together on Skype with a couple friends, hook up in some region or other, start thwacking reasonably short quest ends, play for a few hours, do something else) is really the whole of its appeal, with a bit added in from the really smooth and artful art-style.

    However, we’re closing on 40 with our high-end characters and the quests are becoming more annoying, if such is an applicable descriptor. Too many rare-drop hunt-quests, not nearly enough green and better toys dropping (even things we can’t necessarily use; we play to see new stuff as much as to see new places and do new things), too much increasing focus on needing much bigger groups than just the duos and trios we prefer to play with.

    Warcraft’s XP-from-missions focus, and the friendly art and interface are really where it gets 3.5mil folks from.

    (Notably, I actually think I like Guild Wars’ combat style more; faster, more agressive, fewer things to juggle at any given time, but it suffers from a dearth of missions on the table and a much, much more linear structure. I prefer GW’s art, my grrl prefers Warcraft’s.)

  3. I’ve played a lot of online RPG’s (MMOs) and what’s different to me about WoW, that is probably why it has so many subscribers… it’s easy to play, it’s intuitive. Also there’s the “right game at the right time” factor. Tons of people are “of age” now that grew up with computers that weren’t there 4-5 years ago. Online gaming is becoming more acceptable to people as a form of entertainment, rather than looked at as “why is that adult playing a game on a computer?” like it used to be.

    I’ve told people for years that asked me why I play online games “It’s interactive, I’m using my brain and I’m a part of what’s going on unlike TV where you’re just an audience.” This is why I keep moving from game to game I guess, if it stops being stimulating/entertaining I move on. Stopped playing WoW about 2 months ago and really haven’t had much interest in going back. The game should hold it’s numbers though, I think the market is growing and until the next “fun and easy to pick up and start playing” MMO comes along (which shouldn’t be too far in the future) I’m better WoW will be able to hold that 3.5 million number.

  4. WoW appeals to the casual gamer more. You can solo all the way to 60 despite what the WoW bashers say. I did it so I know. The leveling slows down in the 30s. Which I think is a good thing otherwise you would have all these people who complain about it taking to long to level complaining about there are too many 60s.

    WoW appealed to a lot of people I know who never played an MMORPG before. I can count at least 6 that I work with. Will it hold it’s numbers? Sure. For a while then they will dwindle a bit too.

    It agitates me when people talk bad about a game they haven’t played all the way through. There are way more quests out there then what you have done in 30 levels of play. At level 30 if you want to see a new part of the world there are many places you can go. Go and experience it! At 40 it opens up even more!

    You don’t NEED to do the 40 character raid. PVP is not a requirement either. I would suggest that you play through the game once.

  5. Mannox wrote: “It agitates me when people talk bad about a game they haven’t played all the way through. There are way more quests out there then what you have done in 30 levels of play. At level 30 if you want to see a new part of the world there are many places you can go. Go and experience it! At 40 it opens up even more!”


    If the game is not fun to play, I stop playing it. I really don’t care if it gets better later on, I’m not having fun right now. I’m not going to force my way to 60 just so I can have the right to say I am not having fun. Someday I will probably go back and continue, but for now – no thank you.

  6. I don’t recall there being any significant change in the game. I mean it opens up more so you kind of need to wander from land to land doing quests. But essentially the game stays the same as it was at level 10 as it was at level 30. I mean sure you need more XP to level. So you can’t level in 2 hours. But did anyone really think you could or should?

    I guess I have trouble with “Everything was fun until level XX.” I mean it doesn’t make sense. What made it stop being fun? Did you not like a specific line of quests? Was it too hard for you to solo? Too hard to find a group? I mean I just don’t get it.

  7. What made it not fun? Takes longer to level than I liked, grinding becomes more prevalent, doing the same old thing over and over (how it feels to me anyway). Nothing against WoW specifically, all MMORPGs do the same thing for the most part. I had fun for a while, now I am not having fun. I’m not really cut out for today’s MMO. They all want more time than I am willing to give and it only gets worse the higher up you go. I’m a perpetual newbie, play out the early levels, feel the grind coming and move onto something else.

  8. It’s all new and sparkley for me just now, being only two weeks in, but I’m not sure it’s success is really in it’s own design as an MMO so much. Out of the 3.5 million, it’s probably fair to say that maybe 2.5 million of those had never played *any* MMO before, so comparisons to Previous Big Thing can’t be made by most WoW players.

    My guess is that the great majority of WoW subscribers simply thought WoW was actually Warcraft IV and arrived here that way. But I can’t wait for you to tell me how wrong I am too :)

  9. Level 30 is an odd level to get bored of WoW…that is, if you were in a PvE/RP server. At level 30, you’re probably just entering areas where both horde and alliance share frequently, and on a PvP server, you know what that means. IMO, PvP is what kept WoW alive up until where I am now. If all I had to do was grind and quest, I would shoot myself. So having the ability to gang up with some friends and fight the other faction whenever I felt like it was fun. Hell, even on PvE servers, level 30 is a good level for WSG considering you’re the top dog in all 21-30 WSG, but that’s only if you like WSG. And please, spare me the “well I didn’t want to get ganked” comment because it’s totally untrue. Ganking is not a huge problem. Whiners tend to make problems sound worse than they are and ganking is one of them that they over-dramatize.

    40 is a more acceptable level to leave. At 40, after I bought my mount, I literally felt like “what the hell else is there to do?” Now that I’m almost 60 (I should have been there already but I took about a month and a half break this summer), I can tell you that I have plenty of things I’d like to do.

    What’s keeping me to WoW currently is the functionality. I personally hate the quest/grind system in WoW. Quests become repetitive for the most part once you start nearing the leveling end. Quests serve their purpose. It’s something to do while I’m trying to figure out what to do next. Plus, quests are fun when you do them in groups, I will admit that, but I rarely group when questing. However, the ability to jump from instance, to PvP, to solo whenever I feel like it is what’s keeping me to WoW. My feelings may change. I might find, like many, that level 60 is just a boring romp through instances trying to get your one in twenty chance of getting a piece of your equipment. Right now, my feeling is that I want to be 60 now. I might regret it later, but oh well. I’m gonna try and hang on with WoW until an expansion (I believe one has been confirmed but not named).

    If I’m done with WoW, then I might check into FFXI again (though I doubt it due to the huge time commitment it has on everything and the fact that I’m going to college), or else just stop MMOs all together and get back into the FPS clan scene.

  10. It is sounding more and more like the higher a lot of us get in the game the more we are dissatisfied with it. This is odd, as around level 30 is when we’re not only getting into the more interesting parts of the realm – but also when we’re starting to really become forces to be reckoned with.

    Now – I *am* worried about getting up in those lofty realms when the only thing left to do is instance raid and PVP. With commitments to family and work – it’s often tough for me to be able to log on and commit to anything more time consuming than a little farming or tying up loose quest ends. The fun of the game often comes from grouping and hitting the instances like the Deadmines or BFD and the like. Problem is, once you’ve committed to a group – they’re depending upon you to stick it out. Leaving the instance because you’ve used up your available game time for the evening often puts the group in a bad way survival wise. Still – I run into that problem every time I hit an instance. So far I haven’t left anyone hanging – but I hate the feeling of dread I get before signing up for an instance run. That sucks.

    As I level higher it seems people are claiming that you *have* to raid more or there really isn’t anything to do. I hope that’s not the case as I rarely have time for a 4-6 hour raid run.

    I really enjoy WOW – but have to say that if Blizzard addresses one thing in the future – they need to address *that* aspect of the game. Give us a real life between 40 and 60+ – not just more of the same. They’ll have to do something. After all – the main thing most of us do when our higher level characters start to get dry is to create an ALT. That’s going to be a dry well soon too though.

  11. Well, if Blizz would get off their ass and figure out what they’re going to do with hero classes, you might just get your wish. Its the only thing that’s been under the “under development” page for a while and still no news about it.

  12. I like to think they’ve got it sorted – but are taking their typical damn sweet time about actually releasing it :)

    I think most of our questions will be answered (all save the stability questions – which I’ve grumbled about on my own blog) when the rumored expansion pack comes out. Whether that happens sooner rather than later is a great big black hole of information.

    Personally – I figure we’ll see something of the sort show up in time to celebrate the 1st anniversary of the game (that would make it what – November?)

  13. A simple question. Hah.

    1. More people on the planet = more potential subscribers.

    2. More people have computers now than ever before. Many have more than one in the household.

    3. Re-playability. Multiple servers, multiple characters, and two major factions to choose from make this a game that players can play from start to “finish” multiple times without repeating a lot of quests. (Yes, many quests are shared between factions, but each faction has about three major group areas of quests to choose from, which gives players more choice in leveling and character development than any other MMORPG out there today (as far as I know)).

    4. Uncomplicated. Although some recipes/patters/whatnot require material from other professions or rare material, the profession part of the game is smooth and anyone can do it with ease. Also, the interface is efficient and simple, and allows for players who execute actions mostly with the mouse (clicking everything from actions to moving) to play well and enjoy the game.

    5. Modifiable. What other MMORPG endorses players’ ability to modify the UI (as long as it’s not exploiting) in numerous ways with third party software?

    6. Grinding is significantly reduced, although still present. The mechanics of the game require much more human interface and manual progression than a game like SWG, for instance. Example: I bought SWG, and determined quickly that without being maxed out in a set of skills, I was rather worthless, let alone poor. So, I quite easily programmed a mouse macro to replicate production, and literally slept while my character grinded. When I finally became a Master Blacksmith, the in-game economy was so disrupted by material farmers that I couldn’t sell a thing I made for any amount of profit. Major flaw? NPCs never bought anything. The economy was 100% based on PC trading. Bad idea when most of the players are ages 10-20, and don’t know or care about the economy. WoW, on the other hand, has a similar problem with the AH. However, you can still survive by selling to the NPCs, and you won’t die if you can’t get that Calibrated Boomstick that some dolt has for 999g at the AH, since, unlike some MMORPGs, most of the best stuff is not made, it’s dropped.

    7. Light death penalty. Players don’t like being punished if they die, regardless of how they die. Though, everyone admits that some punishment is absolutely necessary. WoW has the lightest death punishment I’ve seen, but it’s nicely balance. What a player loses upon death are two very important things, but not enough to frustrate the player into quitting — time and wealth. It takes time to run back to one’s corpse. When you’re raiding, or in an instance, exploring, or anything, time is an important factor. Also, the minor at first, but continued and more costly in the future annoyance of having to repair your items is a suitable punishment for death. What WoW nicely avoids is punishing levels for death, or automatically taking a percentage of gold, or random items, or whatnot. Sure, that would undoubtedly happen IRL, but we play these games to avoid RL, right?

    8. Finally, lack of anything better. I’ve played my share of MMORPGs throughout the years, and I’d have to say that, although not perfect, WoW has certainly learned from the mistakes of earlier MMORPGs, and, in general, the “feel” is right.

  14. Umm.. easy. Viral Marketing. Blizzard pitched a good first inning and therefore the masses spoke, to each other. Word of mouth got them this amount of subscribers.

    The piece of information which would greatly interest me is concerning how many of those subscriptions are still active.

    You know, the Catholic church claims anyone as a member who has been babtised, even if they never stepped foot in a church ever again.

    It’s easy to grow yours numbers if you never clean out the deserters. :)

  15. From the press release:

    World of Warcraft’s Customer Base Definition

    World of Warcraft customers include individuals who have paid a subscription fee or a prepaid card to play World of Warcraft, as well as those who have purchased the installation box bundled with one free month access. Internet Game Room players having accessed the game over the last seven days are also counted as customers. The above definition excludes all players under free promotional subscriptions, expired or canceled subscriptions, and expired pre-paid cards. Customers in licensees’ territories are defined along the same rules.

Comments are closed.