Post by Ashelia
Blizzard had their third quarterly call for the year that reported losses. World of Warcraft lost 800,000 subscribers
for this quarter--following a 600k loss this May
and 300k subscriber loss in August
over the past two quarters.
In the call, Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime said the majority of subscriptions lost came from China and other countries in the East. They also declined to provide a forecast for future numbers. However, though this may seem like a shocking number, you have to remember that this is during a lull in the expansion. Without major content patches, WoW tends to lose subscribers only to regain them during an expansion's launch. Here's to hoping Mists of Pandaria brings players back!
Without further ado, here's the news round up.
Wired.com Interview with J.Allen Brack on Mists of Pandaria
Definitely worth reading this interview, thanks to our friends at WoW Insider
for posting it.
ANAHEIM, Calif. — Has World of Warcraft
jumped the shark?
One of Blizzard’s strategies for continually expanding its incredibly popular massively multiplayer world has been the release of expansive add-on packages, which thus far have had serious, tortured names like Cataclysm
and Wrath of the Lich King
At its annual BlizzCon convention in October, the publisher said it would try a different tack with the next WoW package. Titled Mists of Pandaria
, its primary additions to the fantasy world are a new playable race of martial artist pandas and a Pokémon
-style system in which players can battle their virtual pets.
With dipping subscriber numbers (11.1 million, down from 12 million in 2009) and Electronic Arts’ competing MMO Star Wars: The Old Republic
coming in December, it might seem like the unconventional new Warcraft
package is something of a desperation move on Blizzard’s part, adding more mainstream-friendly features just to keep fans’ attention.
To get some clarification on Pandaria
, Wired.com spoke with World of Warcraft
production director J. Allen Brack at BlizzCon.Wired.com:
Pandaren have existed since Warcraft III. Why do the Pandaren race now?J. Allen Brack:
It’s been something that we wanted to do for a long time. We’ve talked about the Pandaren for just about every expansion. That’s definitely not a new idea for us; it was super popular with the fans when we put them in Warcraft III
. It was super popular with us. So it was just one of those things in the back of our mind that we wanted to do even before the original game launched.
We started talking about ideas for the next expansion, and when we were wrapping up Cataclysm someone said, “Hey, let’s talk about the Pandaren again.” We started talking about it more and more. Then one day it just became, “Wow, we’re really excited about this idea,” which eventually became the Pandaren.Wired.com:
The Pandaren are the first race to be playable for both factions . Why do this now?World of Warcraft
production director J. Allen Brack.Photo: BlizzardBrack:
We talked about a great deal back in Cataclysm
for the Goblin race. We thought that Goblins could be a neutral race because they’re neutral in the game already. Players start out as neutral and then you can go Horde or Alliance with that.
Obviously we ended up not doing that . But that was something we spent a lot of the time thinking about. The idea that was really compelling was that you start adventuring with people, and then one day, you have to choose sides. So that’s why we decided to do it this time around. It seems like it worked real well.Wired.com:
So why didn’t you end up doing that with the Goblin in Cataclysm
We were really excited about the Worgens as well. We talked a long time about the Goblin and decided we really needed a more whimsical race on the side of the Horde, and we really need something that’s a little darker, a little more sinister on the side of the Alliance. We needed to bring a little bit more character to both those factions. We were really enamored with the idea of doing a Worgen and doing a shape-changing race. That was something that was one of our first ideas for Cataclysm
. Goblin had been a fan favorite for years and years and years, and so that was on the list as well. Once we made that decision for Cataclysm
that was going forward, we thought, “OK, well if we’re talking about a new race for the next expansion, then maybe we can resurrect the idea of players choosing the faction.”
You’re only neutral for 10 levels. When you get to level 10 you actually decide Horde or Alliance. When you’re in and you’re completing those first 10 levels, that’s very much in its own kind of environment. And the Pandarens that you see out in the world as a normal player, you’re going to see as either Horde or Alliance. You’re not going to see any neutral Pandarens out in the world.
Players who want to play as the Pandaren monks in Pandaria
can do so whether they are Horde or Alliance, a first for the MMO. Image: Blizzard
Some critics are saying that Blizzard is “jumping the shark” by having cute “kung-fu pandas” in their expansion. What do you say to that?Brack:
We don’t really worry about that because we really feel that our fans are going to be really excited about it. We have the community that’s really excited about what we’re doing.
The team is really excited about doing it. So that’s really what’s important. When it comes out, it’s going to be great. I can understand the concept of “Why isn’t there a big bad guy?” in this expansion? But how many times can we say, “This bad guy is going to destroy the world now and this time it’s serious? No, this guy, he’s really, really, really, really bad!”
So taking a break from that was very conscious and just having a very different tone. Instead of Horde and Alliance, we team up to defeat the big evil. It’s about the discovery of this new land and how the conflict of the Horde and Alliance influences that. With Outland and then with Northrend we had these self-contained areas where players came for an adventure in the higher level. That was really successful.
, we didn’t have that. It was very much focused on redoing the entire levels 1-60 experience. You didn’t have, “This is the high level area.” So that’s something we actually want to get back to, that kind of experience and that kind of visual.Wired.com:
As far as the Pandaren lore, clearly it was inspired by Asian cultures. How do you play to that without resorting to stereotypes?Brack:
We’ve always tried to make Warcraft
very much its own thing. Certainly we have influences from all around the world. And certainly the panda is the symbol of China. Obviously, there’s a lot of influence, but it’s a very light touch of how much China it is or how much it is the rest of Asia. We just tried to take little bits here and there and incorporate it into our own thing.Wired.com:
Was there any consulting with your Chinese office, as far as that goes?Brack:
We talked with the office obviously, and they were really excited about what we were doing. The most important thing for the game is that the team making it should be excited about it. Because people who are excited about things that they’re working on they are going to put a lot more of their heart and soul into it and that’s really what makes great games.Wired.com:
Another thing that people either love or hate is the pet battle system. Would you liken it to Pokémon
, as some are calling it? How would you describe the gameplay? Is it just a fun side thing, or are we going to see some serious pet PvP tournaments?Brack:
That’s a really good question. I think a lot of that is going to determine on the tuning which we haven’t actually made yet. The point of it is just to be a very fun thing that players can do. But you’d be amazed how hardcore people get about certain things. Actually, you probably wouldn’t be amazed…
So that’s definitely a goal for us, but more importantly it has to be fun and give something to players to do with their pets. People have been collecting pets for a lot of years now. When we put the very first pet in, people were super excited. Some said “Hey, I want my pets to battle each other.” Now we’re saying, “OK, that sounds great. Your pets should be able to battle each other. Let’s build a system around that.” When we did Cataclysm
, we removed pets from your actual bags and put them all in your spell book, which means there’s a lot of people who have a lot of pets.
Mists of Pandaria's new environments bring a decidedly Asian visual influence to Azeroth. Image: Blizzard
You said you’re still working on the pet tuning. How are you going to balance that? Are rare pets better, or is it how players equip them?Brack:
It’s definitely going to be how players equip their pets. So you’ll be able to say, “Hey, I want this pet,” and that pet maybe is the ultra rare one that has these three or four abilities. Someone else can have a common pet that has similar abilities or different types. It’s much more a rock, paper, scissors kind of approach in terms of how the combat is going to work as opposed to, “I’ve got the one uber-rare pet and now I’m all powerful.” That’s how we’re going to do it.Wired.com:
Are you worried about farming for rare pets, then? I can see China starting pet farms for rare pets because pets are…Brack:
Pets are very special. They’re close to people’s hearts. We haven’t seen a whole lot of farms in terms of stuff like that. That’s a really interesting question. I really hadn’t thought about how that would work. We’ll definitely be looking at all the various drop rates and how people actually get all the various pets in the game. Our goal is to actually have all the pets that you currently have translate right into that system. So there will be new pets for you to get. But you’ll also be able to start using your existing pets as well.Wired.com:
With so many expansions out, are you worried about new players being confused about which ones they need to have and which ones they should buy and in what order? How do you solve that?Brack:
That’s something that we talk about all the time. Over the summer we actually rolled the Burning Crusade
expansion into the , so there is no Burning Cruade
expansion. And that’s something we evaluate on a pretty regular basis. “How many boxes should we have on the shelf?” It can be very overwhelming. We don’t like that. And we want it to always be clear what players need.
Right now all of our expansions extend the level cap. So there’s really no way to just buy the brown box and Mists of Pandaria
, because how would you get from level 60 to level 85? So they do need everything to get the newest content. Will we roll Wrath of the Lich King
into the brown box? Eventually yes, just like we did Burning Crusade
. When will we do that? I don’t think we know yet.Wired.com:
Both Diablo III
and Mists of Pandaria
feature the Monk class. Did you talk to the Diablo
team about this? Did you get together to discuss the name or the class traits?Brack:
It’s pretty separate, honestly. Sometimes we’ll have discussions like, “Hey, we’re using the same name for this kind of system.” That can maybe cause some confusion, but that’s super rare. All the various teams are very solo. Which is not to say we don’t talk, but we don’t have the design council of Blizzard that decides, “OK, for World of Warcraft we’re doing monk. For Diablo we’re doing monk. For this game we’re doing that.”
It really doesn’t work that way. Each team decides what they want to do. On the couple times we’ve had a name collision, we’ll say, “Hey, we need to name this a little bit differently or something like that.” It’s really rare.Wired.com:
In the past, Blizzard has promised a World of Warcraft
expansion every year. Has that just become too unrealistic?Brack:
A long time ago, someone made an on-the-record comment it would be great if there were expansions every year. I think that would be great. That’s not really something that we can really do today. Mostly, we just try to do the best thing we can and make sure it’s a great experience. The most important thing is when players get the game that it’s a great experience. We are trying to make the expansions faster. There’s no question about that. We haven’t been really successful with that at all. Every expansion has taken about two years. In fact, Cataclysm
took longer than all of our other expansions. So, yeah it’s something we’re definitely trying to get better at, but we’re not quite there yet.Wired.com:
Having worked on so many expansions, do you find the process becoming faster and easier?Brack:
Well, there’s always new stuff. What ends up happening is we get faster at making some of the content in the various pipelines. But at the same time, we add things to that pipeline. A really good example is the Encounter Journal, which we released in 4.2. It’s awesome. It lets player know about all the bosses, all the abilities and the various things that they can do. But including that increases the amount of work that we have to do for every single boss from now. So even if we made content faster, we also add things to slow us down at more or less an equal rate. It’s super challenging.
Talk on Dailies and Bad Design
This is just a bad design. A game should not ask for daily commitment to enjoy what it has to offer.
They ask nothing - they merely reward a choice.
We typically provide some boundaries because, as you've illustrated, something that we allow, is something that can all too easily seem mandatory. That's not what we want, but we do want to provide a reason to come into the game, be in the world, and see what's happening on a frequent basis. It's nice to also be able to offer some rewards for doing that. Naturally, dailies shouldn't be the only way to accrue rewards, and they aren't. Dailies were, in part, a response to a World of Warcraft where there wasn't a lot of incentive to come play on non-raid days, since for many players, the only way to progress became dungeon runs and, for a few, raiding. We also wanted to provide another means of acquiring currency aside from professions, and new ways to acquire reputation with important factions too. They're designed to hit a lot of notes (I'm probably missing some), and I think that they're pretty successful. You don't have to hit your cap, (indeed, one of our fears about a raised daily cap is that players might feel compelled to hit the new, higher cap) but you can if you want to put in the time. Naturally, we also want to continue to add other means of progression to the end-game, and we're looking for ways to do so in a fun and compelling way.
I get concerned when I see players throwing out words like 'bad design'. Perhaps an individual dislikes a design choice, and that's fine. We do our best, but World of Warcraft can't be all things to all people, all the time. That said, making a value judgment about whether the design is 'bad' or not is not only un-constructive, but in the vast majority of the cases I've seen, such an assessment reveals that the design was not well understood to begin with.
These forums represent an opportunity to have a dialogue about the game. I think that choosing words that have context and meaning, and offering alternative solutions, makes for feedback which is more readily useful.
what is a proper description for rehashed content?
A response to many, many requests over the years from the community to revisit old dungeons and characters?
I have a question then: If the intent is to give players a choice, why is it that the Molten Front dailies award gear upgrades from tier 11? Unless you raided firelands, those dailies weren't a choice, they were a path to progression (which, in my opinion, was a wrong decision to make).
Daily quests like the Netherwing ones in Outland or the Argent Tournament in Northrend feel like a "choice" because ultimately the rewards involved have no bearing on your character's power (mounts and pets are cool to have, but aren't by any means mandatory). They feel optional. For non-rading characters, the Molten Front (and to a certain extent, Tol Barad) dailies don't "feel" optional at all, because opting out of them means you're giving up gear upgrades, which is never a cool thing to do.
Any comments on that?
There are plenty of other dailies where the rewards have been non-power related. The goal was different for Molten Front, and we deliberately wanted to offer a separate path to power for interested players. So, we wanted it to be compelling in that way. Still, it remains that there are alternative, non-raid, paths to power aside from Molten Front.
If the Time Lost protodrake, Poseidus, that drake in Deepholme, and the camel figurine in Uldum qualify as "enriching" then I'm going to suspend my account again. >.<
It could be argued that, by adding nuances to the zones they're in, they do enrich the game.
They add things to hunt for, to seek out, and achieve. They're not easy to get, and that's fine, because they weren't designed to be easy to get. It's a very particular kind of goal for a particular kind of player - we don't expect everyone to pursue them, and if it's not fun for you to do so, then hopefully there are fun goals for you to achieve that are suited to your playstyle.
So are you saying that your employer has never implemented a "bad" design? By that logic, they'd never have to change anything, ever. Fact is, your employer makes bad design decisions all the time. The saving factor is their willingness to correct those flaws when presented.
I don't think it would be reasonable to suggest that we haven't made mistakes. We've made them, and acknowledged them throughout the years. There are, however, differences between mistakes and bad design.
That said, those mistakes haven't typically aligned with the criticisms of 'bad design' I was referring to. Like I said, in just about every post where I've personally seen the words 'bad design' used, there was also a fundamental lack of understanding about design in general.
Usually, it boils down to just another way for people to try to enforce their vision of what World of Warcraft should be. I'm just pointing out that using that tactic in one's feedback is a good way to start off on the wrong foot.
WOW is the only game where I found myself generally doing the exact same thing I was doing over a year ago.
Forgive me for saying so, but that seems like a strange statement to me because most games I've played don't change much from year to year, if they change at all. Actually, I'm not doing the same thing in World of Warcraft now, that I was a year ago. The same general gist of things, sure. Games don't tend to radically change their core gameplay in a year's time. Most never change their gameplay at all. In that context, World of Warcraft changes quite a bit more than most games.
Gear Look Customization
I like transmogrifying in the new patch. It puts emphasis that our characters are strong and not just our gear. Sometimes wearing a dress or shirt looks really bad with shoulders..
At least for now, there are no plans to make other slots 'invisible'. We're starting things slow with the first roll out of Transmogrification, so the feature set has a good chance of expanding in the future.
It's also worth mentioning that shoulder items are highly distinctive, and a lot of effort is invested in making those items look cool and interesting. It's not currently a high priority to hide gear which is so integral to the overall look of World of Warcraft.
Your opinions have been duly noted. Fortunately, even if you can't turn them off, using the Transmogrification option will allow you to choose more aesthetically pleasing shoulders. If you happen to find all the shoulders in the game ugly, then I can't help you.
I understand that there are particular looks which are more minimalistic. Transmogrification isn't being added with the intention of making every conceivable look possible - at least, that's not the current intention. It's being added to provide more--a lot more--customization options. I think it's fair to say that it will achieve that goal admirably.
Let's see how things shake out. =)
Outlook on Loot System
What we are doing for 4.3 with the Raid Finder looting system (detailed here: http://us.battle.net/wow/en/blog/3608426
) is an experiment in order to try and reduce loot drama without removing the chance to benefit from offspec gear completely. In fact, a lot of what we are trying with Raid Finder for 4.3 is our very first attempt at a design that is going to need a lot of iteration before we’re happy with how it works. We’ll use the information we gather on the new looting system (we can call it Need+, for simplicity's sake) and Raid Finder in 4.3 to make both features even better for Mists of Pandaria.
The game currently does not have a very robust notion of what your spec is, so for now we can’t make the loot rules very stringent, other than checking your current role. In Mists of Pandaria, the game will have a well-developed "concept" of spec, and we can do things like let an Enhancement shaman roll need plus on an Agility axe without letting the Restoration shaman roll need plus. (The Resto shaman could still roll need though, since shaman can use axes and the player might presumably have an Enhancement offspec.)
EU Portuguese Realm Available Soon
With the release of the next World of Warcraft content update, Hour of Twilight (patch 4.3), players on European realms will be able to play World of Warcraft in Brazilian Portuguese. On December 7 a realm dedicated to the Portuguese community will open with optional time-limited free character transfers from specific European English realms with high Portuguese populations. Please stay tuned to these forums for additional information.
Post by Linkno1
It's kind of ironic, really; WoW started with a focus on the tension between the Horde and the Alliance, and now that the focus is returning to that point, it's not nearly as popular.
That is one of the main things I remember hearing about WoW just before I started. The hate between Horde and Alliance players.
I havn't played WoW from vanilla, I started in 3.0 but from my understanding players used to HAVE to pick Horde OR Alliance, not one of each. If this is true then all the tension would have been lost when players got a choice to use both factions and too me, a massive bad move from Blizzard in the way of future gameplay and storyline.
I quit the game because of the people/community, not the game itself, WoW is still a good game, no doubt! But the whiners and "1337ers" ruined it with all their QQ'ing and big mouthing.
The Pandaren sounds fun, blaming thing on pandaren with kung fu panda "jokes" is idiotic IMO, this shows what kind of majority of people that are playing the game, narrow-minded fools. And the QQ'ing about all the new stuff, and the "I miss vanilla"-^&*!, "ohh.. we wan't vanilla" "vanilla was so much better" "wrath babies..".
No wonder people are quitting, when you can't make a mistake without getting yelled at and kicked, instead of explaining what they should have done different etc.
In my opinion Blizzard didn't kill this game, the players did!
I tottaly agree with this guy. The game has it's problems, so what? All games do.
It is very rare to find other players that are not, well, tottal %^&*!@s. And don't say guild members please, as soon as you join most guilds they are nice too you but still @#$%^&s to non guildies. Just today I was in a PuG with a tank who could barley keep aggro telling us "watch and learn" and telling people to "shape up" (apparently the DK in the group needed to shape up for ninjaing the DPS plate the tank wanted)
And there is nothing wrong with Pandarens. People QQ'ing with the 'kung fu panda' stuff need to calm down for 2 reasons.
1) Kung fu Panda is a good film anyway
2) Pandarens came first. If anything you should be looking at Kung fu Panda commenting on how they stol WoW lore.
People should learn their lore before commenting on how most of the content is stupid. The only part of MoP I can see being slightly failed right now is the story, not because of how it is written or played out but because the Horde vs Alliance is pretty much dead these days, an entire expansion based around HvA just won't have the same feel to it since there is little hate between the factions players now. That still isn't even a problem with the game or story when you think about it.
It also annoys me with all the "I want Vanilla back" stuff, just go and find a private server that only has vanilla content and problem solved. I miss 16-bit console games, I don't moan about it and cry when playing xbox though.
The player base mostly will never be happy and will for a long time be filled with bad players who THINK they are 1337, 12 year olds and failed trolls. I don't even know why most of the players are here since Blizzard havn't done anything right since 2006 anyway in their opinion. Nearly 6 years of playing whilst hoping it gets better? I think most of you just moan for the sake of it, I wouldn't play for 6 years hoping for change, you obviously do enjoy the game but it just hurts to admit it.