Bear Family Unsubscribe

I still love World of Warcraft as a game, and I like the people I play with, but as of this last weekend the Bear family has joined the ranks of the great unsubscribed.

I have some time ticking away on my subscription, due to being on a 3 month billing cycle, but the deed is done.

There are a lot of things that go into this decision, but the single biggest one is a lack of having anything to do in game worth paying $50 a month for the family to take part in.

Note, I’m not saying there is nothing in the game to do. There are certainly plenty of things that any of us could do. We could all log in and /dance in Stormwind for 8 hours a day, but that doesn’t mean it would be fun, exciting, or worth $50 a month to us.

For the forseeable future there will be nothing new to do, nothing that we haven’t already done on some character, somewhere, many times. In most cases, many, MANY times.

I will be back when patch 6.0 is 100% fully released. It is doubtful the Cub or Cassie will return. Until there is something new to actually do, new goals to achieve, new rabbits to chase, we’re out.

For those of you who have been with me all of these years, yea even through the great content drought of Cataclysm when I proclaimed to the sky that you’d have to pry WoW from my cold dead fingers when the server shut down, I’d like to give you more explanation than that.

I love playing WoW, but right now I feel much the same as I did at the beginning of the long, boring stretch during Cataclysm when all we had to look forward to were seven long months of Dragon Soul farming on alts.

The single biggest difference between then and now is, now we can clearly see that the decision not to release any new content during this long intermission before the next expansion is an intentional choice.

I admire the creativity and skills of the programming, art and design teams at Blizzard, but running the game is a business. This isn’t something driven by the creative programmers, this isn’t based on how passionate the developers are. This is driven by number analysis and managing a brand for maximum income versus resource expenditure among a strong fan base.

Someone over there in the business group has run the numbers and determined how long they believe they can go without releasing new content and still keep x number of paid subscribers.

Part of that calculation of maintaining subscriber income comes from how much interest they think they can generate from buzz in social media, news teasers on patch 6.0 info, screenshots, discussion panels at conventions, beta news blurbs and all the other stuff.

Basically, they expect to use words and pictures and promises of neat things to come in the future to keep World of Warcraft visible in social media, alive in our thoughts, and us enthused and subscribed until the new expansion comes out. All without new content until then.

Sure, they know they’ll lose some people, but they’ve got hard figures from the Cataclysm slump before the Mists release to know exactly how many subscribers they lost over time, and how many of those came back once there was a patch.

It’s also reasonable for an analyst to expect the pre-order offer of an immediate boosted level 90 character to bring back old players or new ones, and that influx of new accounts should hide the churn to some extent.

For those of us who are long time fans of a grand adventure run as a business, we have to live in two worlds.

In one, we are romantic. We believe in the game developers, we trust their vision, we have faith that they are working to create the most wonderful game experience we could ask for. And I feel that is very true.

In the other world, we have to remain aware running World of Warcraft is a business, the goal of which is making money, and there are ‘suits’ whose purpose it is to extract the most cash possible from the franchise without risking alienating our romantic role-playing escapist side.

I’d say, the vast majority of the time those suits leave a lot of money on the table, erring in the side of caution. They leave the short term gains untouched to focus on keeping long term trust with us. I admire that. I really do. So many other companies have executives that get greedy and start milking that cow dry. Blizzard doesn’t do that.

All that being said… $50 a month seems pretty steep to us as a family to continue logging in to do a pet battle once in a while, or do a Flex run once a week. We’ve kept active accounts for, what, over eight years now?

I’ve never unsubscribed before. I’ve been one of the faithful for almost as long as my son has been alive. There are kids playing WoW right now that weren’t alive when my subscription began.

It’s time for me to put my money where my mouth is.

I’ve said plenty of times that I pay to play a game, and if Blizzard is going to choose to stop releasing content for a long stretch of time, I’m going to choose not to pay them for that same stretch.

I’m certainly looking forward to Garrisons, and new racial graphics, and a beautiful content that is the same and yet vastly different, and raiding with my guild, and everything that comes with the new expansion.

As soon as you provide them, I’ll be back.

All that being said, I have one foolish optimistic hope.

I hope that the real, true reason we have this insanely long dry spell is because we have to for the expansion coding.

I hope that they can’t do more content patches because they need one stable core software revision to base all their changes from.

I hope that, because first I am a romantic and I’d like to believe there ain’t no suits at Blizzard, just passionate gamers.

And also, that might mean their new file structure designed for easier patching might mean shorter gaps before new future expansions!

Yeah, I know but I can dream.

22 thoughts on “Bear Family Unsubscribe

  1. TBB! Glad to hear you are sticking around the blogging world and unsubbing. The only reason I’m glad for the unsub is because that’s the only real vote we have with Bliz changing how they do things, namely a more realistic release schedule.

    I’ve been following you since WOTLK when you helped me find the best entry gear for bear tanking, and I just wanted to say thanks for doing what you do! Have a nice break! (And if you have Guild Wars 2, their quick content release is pretty darn cool and enjoyable)


  2. I hear that, 3B. I grew frustrated with the legendary quest on my warrior and my guild dwindling away to nothing. One part RL emergency and one part fatigue with the game led me to let my account lapse and not up it again. I’ll be happily back once 6.0 and WoD land, but ’til then, I’ve been poking into other games that amuse me. Right now, Hearthstone and Everquest 2 (also has an F2P option) have been getting the most of my gaming attention. I’ll wait and see before I try out another MMO. I’ve been chipping away at Diablo 3 on our PS3 while patiently awaiting RoS, which is supposedly going to be out for PS4 in late 2014.

    Here’s to hoping whoever cocked things up this time gets called out on the carpet and forced to change, yeah? I don’t have the patience like I did back during the gap between cata and pandaria. I like LFR and all, but not enough to run 3+ alts through it each week again.


  3. I unsub WoW a LOT. Months here and there, on for new content, off when it is done. It’s nice to use the sub fee to your advantage. They make plenty of money and do not need you subscribing when you aren’t getting the value. Enjoy the break – just in time for summer!!


  4. I started following you when I had a druid and wanted to tank. I kept following you through all my alts. I even followed you after I unsubbed right before Kung Fu Panda and the Pokemon Pet Parade…

    I enjoy your writing style, your Cub updates, and your comments and outlook on life. If you don’t go back, please tell me you’ll continue with a blog?!? 😛

    Enjoy the time off!


  5. That’s quite the claim – if I understand correctly, you’re saying they have (or will have?) something that they can release but won’t? I mean, obviously they could release something, they have the Alpha, but I’ve not heard anything to suggest it’s near Blizzard’s usual levels of polish.

    If anything I’m worried about the converse, that they’ll rush out something unfinished in Julyish if the subs take a hammering.


  6. Applaud you for totally reasonable approach: when you’re not getting your money’s worth, do something else. If things change, you can always reconsider. There’s no achievement for uninterrupted membership and no penalty for spending your entertainment $ on something more enjoyable 🙂

    I’ve been in since early vanilla and have paid straight through. Only Mists failed to get my interest — I did GW2 for a while instead and my son occasionally ran his hunter on my WOW acct. Now, at the tail end of MOP, I’ve finally checked in and quickly got 5 chars to 90 and have run through LFS SoO (with my work schedule, LFR is the best time commitment I can support). If I had to do it again, think I would have been smarter to unsub and come back when my interest revived.

    So good for you. Hope you and your family have a great summer and fall.

    Hope WoD lives up to the hype and that later this year we’re both playing on another planet.

    PS. to echo another poster, I remember you posting some pretty great stories back in the day. If you get bored, you’d certainly have some readers on the blog!


  7. I have had my subscription since the beta Vanilla WoW days. As a fellow Minnesotan from Pine Island, I commend you on unsubscribing. Hopefully you will not have to wait to long for 6.0 to come out. I look forward to more posts from you as well. I’ve enjoyed every single one since they day I found your site many a time ago. I want to say over 2 years ago or longer. My how time flies. Anyways, enjoy your time away and we’ll see you on the flip side.


  8. I think that’s mismanagement. Woeful mismanagement.

    Who in their right minds would allow the devs to spend 6+ months redoing stats and spells – and not be done yet? Who in their right minds would allow the devs to spend 6+ months on garrison art – and not be done yet either? I am not even talking about the models. This is bad management, whoever is in charge of the product as a whole dropped the ball and let the focus drift.


    • Who in their right mind would agree to a content patch release schedule that leaves such a huge gap between the last raid tier and the next expac. Whoever is organising the development should probably be replaced, cos they did a really bad job.


  9. I too am considering taking a break, but for slightly different reasons. While I’ve enjoyed the current xpac, I’ve also had guild issues. My old guild, The Interior Guard, collapsed to differing interests in our direction. Most of us went over to another guild in the belief that bigger meant more people to play with, but it soon became apparent that the drivers behind the “merge” really just wanted to form a hardcore progression raid team. Other than the few who wanted to be on said team, I have watched my old friends from the IG slowly drop off to other servers and or guilds.

    It’s been rather depressing. As a casual player myself, I have never been part of the progression team and logging on has become more and more frustrating as though there might be 15 or 20 on at any given time, none of us actually do anything together.

    I long for a guild like Cheers, where everybody is your friend.


  10. hey bear, long time no type. I kinda dropped off the blogosphere for a long long while. I quit wow pre-cataclysm. I took up Eve online, but got tired of paying to go to work.. now I’m only playing F2P games. Lotro, STO, and Champions Online. It’s quite amazing what they can afford to do on the F2P model. There is no lack of content on those games. Maybe you just need a change of scenery. I am planning on reactivating Boomtank albeit going in a different direction with it. I remember how much fun I had writing. I’m ready to get back to that now.

    I still have no plans to reactivate my WOW account. having 4 kids under 10… Game time is sporadic at best.
    Any of y’all that want to hit me up in one of my games drop me a message over at boomtank.


  11. I believe in cock-up rather than conspiracy. I think there’s something that’s turned out to be much more work than they previously estimated. My bet is the new character models.

    These are being revealed incredibly slowly, and seem to be a ton of work. I think they’ve backed themselves into having all the models updated (bar the recent ones) by WoD launch. They probably realised that launching WoD with only half the models done would create a very negative community reaction.

    This was then reinforced by the release schedule of their competitors: ESO in April, Wildstar June, WoD in Sept.

    My gut feel is the new character models will be to WoD what the redesigned levelling zones was for Cata. A massive timesink that was considered essential, but turned out in retrospect to be a mistake. Playing WoW my camera is set so far back (due to raid mechanics) I can’t even tell what armour I’m wearing, let alone what my toon looks like. Hence, I don’t think they’ll get the “value” back for the massive time investment.

    I’ve also unsubbed for the first time since Vanilla. Sad, but I’ve had a great run with many fond memories. It’s just that either the game or me have lost their soul. 😦


  12. I’ve actually been thinking about doing the same for a while. I’m just bored. I’ve been playing since right before BC came out, and No I have no idea how many years that is. I’ve resurrected my Rift account for something different to do. If they would fix their FPS issues, I might actually be more into it. They have a couple pretty neat features that I think would benefit WoW.

    They have something called mentoring that allows you to artificially lower your level to play with lower level players and zones.

    They also have something called “Instant Adventures” that basically transport you somewhere in the world to do random events/rifts etc with other people, cross realm and faction.

    Not to derail the thread but I thought those were pretty cool.

    Honestly at this point, I just don’t feel up to much of anything. I’m just…..meh.


  13. Do you think it just has to do with what I believe is a reduction of player hours in the summer? During the “school year” I am an avid game fan, over the summer (partially due to my career) I don’t play very much at all. Even when I was in a hard-ish core raiding guild, over the summer things seemed to cool off as people were going on vacations and playing outside more. I could be wrong, but perhaps Bliz thinks that if you have to have a stretch of downtime or lack of content, it’s best for it to happen over the summer months?


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  15. I have to say i agree with your reasons, I won’t do it but its only $15 a month for me, but its becoming increasing obvious the marketing crowd is in charge and this expansion will probably last 2 years to the week.

    Sure I can collect a few more pets, I can collect a few more mounts, I can farm a few hundred more achievement points, I can even get that one single last profession pattern I am missing. But I have never had as little to do as now.


    • It sucks, oh yes it do.

      The only thing that I was considering that might have kept me engaged was trying to form another “Bear cross-server raid night” like I did before Pandaria came out, only for cata raids. But with OpenRaid and OQueue being out for so long, even a fast scan shows that almost everyone has already done all the old raids, including the cata ones, to death. Everyone keeps saying to try doing those, because we did and it was fun.

      Yes, you did. Everyone did. Past tense. 😦

      Even those are worn out.



  16. You have eloquently described my exact feelings on WoW, only for me it was the Pandaria expansion. I had been a faithful and constant subscriber from Day 1 Vanilla WoW, and it was hard to hang up my cat/bear suit.

    Eagerly awaiting the arrival of WildStar; the beta testing has been a blast. Because, housing. And, big raids. Warplots. Dev humor.


  17. Hi Triple B,

    I, too recently unsubscribed for the first time since I joined WoW. Even while I was going to college and getting my degree, I stayed subscribed, all during my heaviest of work seasons, I subscribed but this past February, after over 7 years, I cut the cord.

    My guild fell apart and changed servers. While I was welcome to join them, I had to agree to be a hardcore raider and that just wasn’t for me.

    I got involved in Pet Battles and Pet Capturing and that sure was a whole lot of fun for awhile but I couldn’t beat the tournament and got frustrated. I grew bored with the Isle, there are only so many times I can run around chasing rare mobs and there weren’t any rare pets my hunter wanted to camp or stalk.

    For me, it just seemed like the end had come. Nothing has come close to the joy I used to feel raiding ICC with my guild back in the day.

    I hope to go back one day, maybe when WoD is released. I hope my hunter understands as she sits by the water with her pet wondering where I am.

    Thanks for the above post. I don’t feel so alone in Warcraftless world now 😀


  18. Sorry to see you go – I’ve really enjoyed your perspective on the balancing family and WoW. That said, if I weren’t trying to get my legendary on my bear main – I might be right there with you – maybe I’ll unsub for 3-4 months once I get it. Even w/o RoS, Diablo III is still pretty fun for ‘free’ – and there’s still a pile of community maps for portal 2 to waste some time with…


  19. Have a fun vacation! Maybe it’s time to pick up some board or card games. 😉

    …speaking as an artist within the game industry, yes, I’ve also decided that as a player and even as an artist, the “suits” are my natural opponents. (OK, Marvel Puzzle Quest has really underlined this too, and I’ve always hated the subscription model… but just speaking in generalities here.) Not enemies, really, just opponents. They want to pull in one direction, and I want to pull in a different one. Sometimes that tension makes for a better game. Sometimes it doesn’t.

    As a cog in the machine, it’s not worth putting my job on the line for my “passion”. I need to pay the bills, and no matter how righteous or sensible my cause, I still don’t actually call the shots, so I can’t push too hard. As a player, yup, I put my money where my mouth is and just pay for stuff I think deserves it. Not much else I can do, really.


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