The massively multiplayer online role playing game (MMORPG) World of Warcraft has released a huge patch last Tuesday, September 10. We’re talking about patch 5.4 and it is very heavy on new content. In addition to including a new raid for a Siege of Orgrimmar, the patch also includes flexible raid system and a new solo proving ground area. If that is enough to make your head spin, wait there’s more! There’s also going to be a new zone in the game called “The timeless Isle”. This new zone is not a giant zone with tons of treasures, giant creatures, five bosses and a place where you can hold tournaments for battling pets and a redesigned arena in the game. With all these things mentioned, there are more features that we don’t know yet.
Why such a massive update? Well, if you’ve been playing World of WarCraft you’d know that its content updates are developed in fits and starts. Another reason, there are some updates with a lot more bug fixes than content and updates with functionality fixes and more game play balancing fixes rather than content. Well, with these updates, we are treated to a huge amount of content. There are a lot of speculations why this particular patch is very heavy on the content; it is not a big mystery why World of War Craft is trying to step up its content game.
The truth is the MMORPG market is changing. It is quickly becoming a free to play game arena. As you already know, World of WarCraft is a hybrid system. While you can play up to level 20 for free, once you pass level 20 you have to pay. World of WarCraft is solidly based on a pay to play system- that’s its soul. The problem is the rest of the industry has changed and a large part of World of WarCraft’s global membership is in China and Asia. These markets are quickly being converted to a new MMORPG called “League of Legends” which is free to play and is causing World of WarCraft hemorrhage millions of users. At its peak, World of WarCraft has over ten million members, now it’s down to seven million subscribers every single month. It’s still a cash cow for Blizzard and Activision, but who knows how long this cash cow will last. As you can well imagine, World of WarCraft has huge overhead and large amount of fixed costs. It may reach a point where it becomes unprofitable and while seven million is still quite healthy, World of WarCraft really needs to step its game up for it to hold off the possibility that it will glow in the red sometime soon.
While there’s a lot to love about World of WarCraft, I mean it’s a huge game with a fantastic content offering which is very deep, that might not be enough because the game is still kind of cartoonish. It tends to attract more casual players who tend to be younger ones. It is also very addictive and it requires a lot of time. The big selling point of League of Legends is you get to play and have a good time online, but it’s in short burst so you can have a fairly productive life and still play League of Legends. With World of WarCraft, it’s easy to get addicted and eats up a lot of your time. Unless World of WarCraft is able to fix these problems or unless it cranks out 5.4 type patches frequently, it might lose out on its huge member base over the long haul.