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.