(The image seen above is from Blizzard’s official website, it is some of the artwork for the game. Yet another reason to come back to the beautiful MMO.)
World of Warcraft is one of the biggest and fastest growing Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game (MMORPG) to be released. In the 3 years that it has taken Star Wars: The Old Republic to gain 2 million active subscribers, World of Warcraft had 10.7 million. (source: Statista) Blizzard’s franchise, Warcraft, started back in 1994 – and has now been around for 20 years, versus the star wars films that first came out in 1977. Star Wars has an ever-growing fan base, and with the recent announcement of a new trilogy – episodes 7, 8, and 9, respectively – the world has gone a little Star Wars crazy.. And yet we still haven’t seen a large influx of Star Wars fans running for The Old Republic.
World of Warcraft’s graphics aren’t anything to write home about, the combat system certainly isn’t unique, the classes and Player VS Player interaction (PVP) is anything but balanced.
So, with all this in mind, how has World of Warcraft survived for so long, and is gaining numbers since the release of Warlords of Draenor?
Taking a look at World of Warcraft prior to cross realm functions(and even after), the first thing that people [often] mention is the community. World of Warcraft has the following realm types:
- Player vs. Player(PvP)
- Normal(Player vs. Environment, PvE)
- Roleplaying Player vs. Player(RPPVP)
World of Warcraft offers a unique experience not just based on realm type – but what realm you also chose to call ‘home’. Thanks to useful sites, such as Realmpop, you can check ahead of time the balance of Alliance and Horde. Sites like Reddit or the official Blizzard Forums can offer useful insights to the community within each realm.
Although World of Warcraft’s community still goes strong, there is many more opportunities for the Lone Wolf play style(aka single player) to jump in on all the action. Adding cross server functionality to Looking For Group(LFG), Raiding, Battlegrounds, and Arena, anything you need other players for can be provided for you – over you making friends and seeking out the Guilds that offer such services.
Although the good side to these features being installed into the game is that the guild drama that would cause guilds to disband and ruin something great over ‘someone not getting a raid spot’ no longer exists. Blizzard has worked to prevent the guild drama that was once there, but while doing this, killed the community.
Mists of Pandaria changed the way that we saw World of Warcraft as it quickly felt like somewhat of a spoof on Asian culture, which didn’t seem to quite fit with the rest of the fictional, high Victorian setting.
Even if the spoof on Asian culture didn’t happen, Blizzard found a way to bring back the most tried and true storyline for the Warcraft series – the Alliance and Horde were ‘back at war’ again. Yes, we get it – they hate each other. We don’t need 4 more expansions to reaffirm these so-called suspicions. I’m not saying the Alliance and Horde have to be best of friends, but it wouldn’t kill them to get along for a little while.
Enter Warlords of Draenor.
Draenor takes us to an alternate time line – yes, we are talking J.J. Abrhams Star Trek 2009 esque alternate time line – where the Alliance and the Horde are working together to take down Gul’dan, arguably one of the most powerful warlocks in Azeroth.
The story line is emotional, and follows well known characters to help those interested in the story find common ground with past stories, easily understand the plot, all while keeping the ideas new(something that felt oddly forced in Mists of Pandaria). Blizzard was also smart enough to make characters for the upcoming World of Warcraft movie some of the main characters in Warlords of Draenor.
The story is, however, not the shining gem of Warlords of Draenor.
Warlords of Draenor is hard.
Not as hard as Vanilla(World of Warcraft prior to any expansions), but Warlords of Draenor requires players that can learn dungeon mechanics and work together as a team. Warlords of Draenor has changed each class and their talent tree choice, and taking away some abilities that have been in the game since vanilla.
Not to mention, World of Warcraft’s subscribers have gone up to 7.4 million from 6.8 million in only one quarter. Again, that is almost half the subscribers that The Old Republic has achieved in 3 years (with free to play added on) in three months. Although every new MMORPG offers a small threat to Blizzard’s giant, It is hard to picture a world where World of Warcraft no longer exists.
Blizzard, perhaps, has found the secret formula by offering no free to play components. Although World of Warcraft offers a trial for 30 days, it comes with many limitations, and doesn’t allow the player to properly explore World of Warcraft. This does not seem to be a problem with the growing amount of active subscribers to World of Warcraft.
Although we always see an influx of players shortly after an expansion releases, the amount of players that have joined leading up to Warlords of Draenor is a little bit different from past expansions. (World of Warcraft actually lost subscribers after Cataclysm and Mists of Pandaria)
With the only other costs being battle pets, a mount, or a boost to 90, World of Warcraft’s $15 a month fee keeps players satisfied. It should also be noted that there are only a handful of battle pets and mounts that are at extra costs, or come with deluxe versions of expansions.
Blizzard’s dedication to World of Warcraft, and the promising nature of the game only continues to grow the number of players. It will be awhile yet until we see the end of World of Warcraft. And for those of you that haven’t returned the game, I think I would be correct in saying now is the time to give World of Warcraft a second chance. Have you seen the new models?
(By the way, even with only 8,000,000 players, Blizzard makes approx. 120,000,000 off the game per month. If nothing else, I think that’s a bit of proof that they aren’t going under anytime soon.)