Gaming social network Raptr, which has over the past few years published yearly lists of the most popular games based on its users’ gaming habits, last month began doing so on a monthly basis. Earlier this week, it published the second such monthly list of “most played games.”
World of Warcraft's subscriber-base is on the decline. That's hardly shocking for a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) that was launched over 9 years ago. But this isn't just any online game, it's the world's largest subscription-based MMORPG and it lost 1.3 million players in the last three months. Who knows where they went, but more importantly, what can Activision Blizzard do to retain its remaining 8.3 million subscribers?
Throughout history, wars and plagues have wiped out entire cities and civilizations, leaving behind nothing but corpses and tears. Strangely enough, the same thing happened yesterday in World of Warcraft when hackers took advantage of an exploit that allowed them to march through various realms, destroying every character they came across, even non-player characters (NPCs).
E3 isn't just about the games, it's also about the peripherals and accessories that go along with them. It makes perfect sense, then, that SteelSeries would use the E3 convention as a launch pad for its new 'World of Warcraft Wireless Mouse', a rodent co-designed with Blizzard Entertainment specifically for WoW players. It has 11 programmable buttons and an illuminated world Maelstrom design on top of a world map background with pulsating options "that help immerse players in the game."
Hey, remember that whole Mass Effect 3 ending thing? Mercifully, I don't plan on giving it any further attention beyond that sentence. But it did – in its less oppressively obnoxious moments – give rise to a renewed discussion about videogame endings. The general consensus? It's the point where even the mightiest fall, tumbling from a perch of lofty regard to the turgid depths of disappointment. BioShock, Fallout 3, Knights of The Old Republic II – even the most beloved franchises have proven all-too-capable of heinous back-stabbery at the 11th hour.
And those are only the standouts. Plenty of other series have committed last-second crimes both large and small, so you could be forgiven for thinking we're in the midst of an epidemic fatal specifically to fond memories. Where, after all, is your satisfaction-fueled victory lap? Why, instead, is there an angry mob waiting at the finish line, pitchforks, torches, and voices raised in a howling thunder of angry regret? Why do games seem incapable of producing satisfying endings? That's the question many gamers have been asking themselves, and they've yet to uncover an answer.
Perhaps that's because they're asking the wrong question.
While Blizzard may taketh away with one hand, it giveth away with the other: disappointed Blizzcon fans are still smarting from news of the convention's 2012 cancellation, but hardcore WoW-heads now have reason to rejoice. Through the 30th, Blizzard is auctioning off hundreds of server blades used to house World of Warcraft in its infancy. All of the proceeds will be donated to the St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital.
As is its way, Blizzard has scarcely uttered a peep about its next MMO opus, codenamed “Titan.” The notoriously secretive developer may, however, have provided us with a rather large hint via a job listing on the prowl for someone who can “Work with major consumer brands to facilitate product placement and licensing within the world of Blizzard Entertainment's next-gen MMO that enhances the gameplay experience." You don't often see Orcs, for instance, drop their battle axes to pick up their T-Mobile Sidekicks and respond to a text. So then, odds are that the ads will make sense one way or another, which pretty much narrows the setting down to present or near-future. Well, unless World of Warcraft 2: Electric Boogaloo Fueled by Dew is on the way. But that's a world we'd prefer not to live in. Or think about. Ever again.
Seven. That's easily the smallest number that's ever been associated with Blizzard's record-smashing MMO opus, but it's an important one nonetheless. While the game's small country's worth of rabid fans isn't quite as foamy mouthed or prone to biting over-eager children as it once was, it's still going remarkably strong. To celebrate, Blizzard's giving away a free, er, “Celebration Package” in game, which consists of some fireworks, a snazzy new tabard, and a temporary experience buff. Meanwhile, in the real world, Blizzard's commemorating the big seven with a seven thousand year-old meme about a seven million year-old martial artist (apparent encounter with the Fountain of Youth notwithstanding), because... we're not really sure. Check it out after the break.
While Everquest and Ultima Online helped define MMORPGs, World of Warcraft is the game that most people think of when the genre is mentioned. But could its heyday in the sun be coming to a close after all these years? A Reuters report released late last night would have you believe so: its headline trumpeted “World of Warcraft loses steam” and the article went on to describe how Wall Street investors kicked Activision Blizzard after it said that the game lost almost 1 million subscribers in the past quarter. We actually read the report, though, and we’re calling it nothing but FUD.
Every MMO with any sense is headed for the bountiful hills of free-to-play, and it's not hard to see why: Down in subscription valley, two Godzilla-sized juggernauts are about to go to war. In one corner, we have perennial 800 lb gorilla king World of Warcraft, and in the other, EA's own Death Star, The Old Republic. And as it turns out, TOR's decided to rush WoW head-on this holiday season. That's right: $15 a month. It's as if a million wallets cried out in terror and weren't suddenly silenced – but will be eventually after many expansion packs and half-hearted utterances of “Oh, I'll cancel it later.”