Friday, June 03, 2011

WoW's magic winding down

An article from The Motley Fool wonders why Activision/Blizzard stocks are remaining flat, and the author points out that "it's the games." Activision/Blizzard games tend to be concept games, which is hard to sell to a public that likes character games, like Mario Brothers, Tomb Raider, Witcher, Dragon Age and so on.

The best-selling Activision game Call of Duty: Black Ops is the sixth in a series of concept games that is wearing thin.

World of Warcraft is slipping after losing 600,000 subscribers between 2010 and 2011, according to The Motley Fool. That loss shows the latest expansion, Cataclysm, was not well received by subscribers. It also shows the number of subscribers has peaked and will never grow beyond what it is. The number of hours needed to play the game is a deterrent to casual play. A player should be able to pick a game up and just play for an hour or two, then go back to it on a casual basis. World of Warcraft is much more demanding than that, requiring hour after hour of character development, crafting and raiding. Blizzard then makes huge changes in how characters are played for every expansion, leaving players to wonder how to play characters they have been developing since game launch. Blizzard seems to want to encourage new players, rather than keep old players.

The way Blizzard develops a game is also illustrated by how Diablo has changed drastically every time it is upgraded. Diablo I was launched with three character types: Rogue, Warrior and Mage. The non-Blizzard expansion added a couple of characters. Diablo II was launched with five entirely different characters: Amazon, Paladin, Barbarian, Sorceress and Necromancer. The Lord of Destruction expansion added two characters: Assassin and Druid. Diablo III is taking an entirely different direction with characters, except for one: Barbarian, Witch Doctor, Wizard, Demon Hunter and Monk. It is hard to guess what an expansion will have for characters, and Blizzard likes it that way. The concept again encourages new players, rather than keeping old players.

Blizzard is working on a new concept for an MMO, and it must make that game a reality soon or risk losing audience as its current lineup grows old.

No comments: