Overwhelmed by delays, is World of Warcraft faltering?

World of Warcraft players have waited 7 months between the release of the Shadowlands expansion and the release of the first additional content patch. The competing MMOs, Final Fantasy XIV in the lead, tried to take advantage of this moment of weakness of the mythical license.

Good news: Wednesday, June 30, World of Warcraft update 9.1Shadowlands has been deployed. The patch ” Chains of Domination »Comes with a new zone with its quests and monsters, a new« mega-dungeon »and the usual new raid. Highlight of the show, the final boss is none other than Sylvanas, mythical character of the license.

Bad news: This update comes 218 days after the expansion was released. That is to say 7 months and 6 days, unheard of, because usually, players only have 5 months to wait. WoW expansions – Shadowlands is the 8th – always follow the same construction: after launching, three major patches (named .1, .2, .3) inject content at regular intervals. This operation is essential to the massively multiplayer game model: as a reminder, you have to pay a subscription (over 11 euros per month) to the game, in addition to the purchase of the extension the most recent. So players should always have something to do.

Against WoW, FF XIV is gaining ground. // Source: Final Fantasy XIV

The problem is that the months of delay are as many months when Blizzard risks seeing its subscribers leave the mythical license, temporarily, or for an indefinite period. And these departures are translated into less money in the cash registers. The delay of patch 9.1 seems all the more problematic as the studio had already postponed the release of Shadowlands of several months because of the sanitary situation. The last patch of the previous expansion had therefore already lasted more than 11 months.

Since Blizzard only communicates very occasionally on the number of World of Warcraft players, and third-party sites are satisfied with rough estimates, difficult to estimate the precise impact of these successive delays on the number of subscriptions. But one trend is emerging: the game is not at its best and the new patch could determine the future of the license. Because opposite, other MMOs likeThe Elder Scrolls Online and especially Final Fantasy XIV (released in 2010) are doing better than ever. Before the patch was released, one site even estimated that the number of players from FF XIV was superior to those of WoW : Shadowlands.

“The end of WoW”

« It’s the end of WoW Is a recurring prophecy if you browse the official Blizzard forums or those of fans. It is announced by players tired of hundreds of hours spent on Azeroth or strongly opposed to changing their game forever.

According to this prophecy, the game dies both from its shortcomings, but also from the arrival of a “WoW killer”, a competing MMORPG more attractive than the benchmark of the genre. This title, far from being self-proclaimed by the publishers of the games in question, has been attributed in turn toThe Lords of the Rings Online, Guild Wars 2, Rift, Wildstars or Star Wars : The Old Republic. This vision of the MMO market is built on the idea that there would only be a finite number of players in the genre. It also puts in the same basket games with very different universes and gameplays.

The “Classic” versions limit the damage

But one point still holds: MMOs are time-consuming games if ever there is one, and many of them run on a relatively expensive monthly subscription system. As a result, it would be virtually impossible to play two licenses at the same time.

Thus in 16 years, no “WoW killer” has dethroned WoW from its number 1 position, but many have managed to coexist, and to build their own community of players. Even at the lowest (at the extension Warlords of Draenor between 2013 and 2014), the “end of WoW” was never really near. Certainly, to keep the attention of its players, the game released in 2004 has gradually relieved slowness, annoying for some, essential to the social life of the game for others.

Result: to satisfy the old nostalgic, Blizzard has released a reissue of the original game, called World of Warcraft : Classic, followed by a reissue of the first expansion, Burning Crusade, released on June 1 of this year. This return to the past is also a way of inflating subscriptions, since it is common with that of the recent version of the game.

Final Fantasy XIV on the offensive

In the past, World of Warcraft has had no mercy on the competition, not hesitating to roll out major patches the same week as the release of other MMOs. This time, the balance of power seems to be reversed. Final Fantasy XIV, for example, launched a massive advertising campaign with figures in the World of Warcraft community. To support this seduction operation, publisher Square Enix has reduced the price of the game and is offering a free trial period.

The effect has been seen in World of Warcraft: some guilds have emptied themselves of their players, left to test the competitor rather than repeat the same content over and over. New players praise the flexibility, the frequency of updates and the history of Final Fantasy.

Fortunately for WoW, FF presents very important graphic and universe differences, too important for some players. The codes of Japanese video games diverge from those of Western games, and you have to be able to appreciate this difference.

World of Warcraft puts itself in danger

The difficult pass that is going through World of Warcraft This is all the more regrettable given that players had received the expansion relatively well when it was launched. But without changing the content for 7 months, they had time to see all the flaws in it.

The delay, even more than the quality of the game, is therefore at the heart of the problem. Admittedly, the switch to teleworking of development teams during the pandemic did not help. But several pillars of the community, like the videographer BelluarGaming, also recall the waves of regular layoffs of Activision Blizzard, despite record sales. And even when the publisher recruits, his behavior is pointed. In other words, these delays would also be the symptom of fewer developer teams.

World of Warcraft is not about to die: it has years of history, nostalgia for former gamers and one of the most famous names in video games. But his difficult time must serve as a wake-up call for Blizzard. In the past, the publisher has been able to do this. For example, he completed the dud of Warlords of Draenor after only two patches to come out Legion, one of the favorite extensions of players.

The continuation in video

Source: Numerama by www.numerama.com.

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