The Factor of WoW

Posted by Swick (223 posts) -

You all remember this infamous timeline of releases that got leaked, it made a lot of sense at the time.

This chart came to light in 2010 and many used it as a metric for how close Blizzard was to their targets, something they've been notoriously cagey about. Mists was released in September of 2012, represented by 'WOW X4' on the chart. The following expansion, whatever that is, was slated to be released at the end of 2013. I seriously doubt that will happen, but it's easy money to say that it'd be released in 2014. Originally, Titan was scheduled to be released at the end of 2013, but we all know that will not happen now.

So the question I've been mulling around with is: With Titan going completely back to the drawing board then what happens to WoW? I can see the business meeting where these timelines were originally decided, by the time the majority of the subscriber base tire of WoW then we can roll out Titan and maintain the base along with the natural influx of new gamers. Now this won't happen, it can't. Not with ever-decreasing number of people willing to pay a subscription fee and the ever-increasing number of free-to-play MMOs. At best, we're looking at least three years before Titan v2 goes to consumers. If that's true, then is WoW supposed to carry Blizzard through it?

WoW is old. We all know this and have known it for years. And whether we like it or not the end of WoW is coming ever-closer to being a reality, or at least the end of it being the MMO of choice. This isn't to say that WoW subs will hit zero sometime soon, but I do think that WoW's place as the de facto MMO in the market grows more questionable with each passing day. The delay of Titan, I believe, will force WoW to even further increase it's lifespan longer than Blizzard had originally intended and I'm not sure players will stick around. My point here is simple, given the decrease in subscribers over the years, I do not believe WoW can continue to have a substantial impact on the market without some significant changes.

It would appear that the Titan delay will mean that WoW needs at least one more expansion other than the one being announced this year. This means more than simply adding a dance studio, new races, new classes, or even brand new models for every asset they have. A fundamental change to the game appears to be the only thing that can turn around WoW's subscriber base. I have no doubt that Blizzard has considered this point as well, but what they will do about it... I really don't know.

Of course, it is possible that Blizzard may not feel the need to turn around the decreasing subscriber trend. They may just ride out the wave until the end and then release Titan whenever they feel like it. It certainly sounds like something Blizzard would do. Though I would imagine that's not exactly an easy sell to Activision share-holders who are used to having subscriber money.

Regardless of what ends up happening, it'll be interesting to watch. This Blizzcon will be very telling.

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