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World of Warcraft “can’t really be revolutionary”, says lead designer

Friday, 23rd August 2013 06:40 GMT By Brenna Hillier

World of Warcraft’s user base is in decline partially because Blizzard can’t afford to innovate, comments from lead designer Tom Chilton suggest.

Quizzed by PCGamesN on the subject of why World of Warcraft’s players vase is down to 7 million – quite a drop from its peak of 12 million – Chilton had multiple answers.

“For one, the game has gotten older. We can only be evolutionary, we can’t really be revolutionary without betraying the existing playerbase,” he said.

“It does limit how much we can change the gameplay experience to keep people engaged all the time.”

The expectations of the hardcore player base also make it difficult for Blizzard to attract new players with expansions.

“If you imagine mapping our expansion model onto Call of Duty, and what kind of impact that would have,” Chilton explained.

“What if when Call of Duty: Ghosts came out, it was only relevant to you if you had beaten [all the others]. You would imagine that the market for that game would decline. So we have to do a better job of getting people into the new content when we release a new expansion.”

In the full article, Chilton touches on World of Warcraft’s expanding microtransaction offerings, and the possibility of eventually going free-to-play.

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11 Comments

  1. Kabby

    They’re in the best position to innovate. They’re just too jaded to see it.

    One thing they do need to drop is the ‘requires previous expansion’ bullshit. It makes it really confusing for new players.

    #1 1 year ago
  2. GrimRita

    @1 spot on. In order to innovate, they need to understand what they word actually means and the one thing Blizzard certainly havent been doing for over 10 years

    #2 1 year ago
  3. noamlol2

    blizzard is the biggest enemy of PC gamers

    they will never sell WoW like hotcakes again, never.

    #3 1 year ago
  4. Armitage Shanks

    So backup has a new handle on here i see

    #4 1 year ago
  5. fearmonkey

    When I played the betas for Wow in 2004 it was amazing. I was so addicted and loved the game and the time between when the betas ended, and the game actually released was an eternity. I had played many MMO’s up to the launch of Wow and never felt as addicted to one before, it was an incredible game.

    After a year of playing, I felt bored and quit. I have got the expansions when it went on sale and have visited from time to time, but its lost its charm for me, i cant seem to get back into it. It’s kind of like trying to go home again.

    I thought i would find another MMO that would gran me but I never did. I enjoyed Rift for a bit, Conan for a bit, but never stayed near as long. I tried a bunch of them when the went to FTP and none of them grabbed me either.

    I hope TESO gives me that feeling again, but im not counting on it.
    Wow was just a great product at the right time, and nothing else has come close since.

    #5 1 year ago
  6. sebastien rivas

    Rhum rhumm,

    Yes Blizzard, everything has an end, even mighty wow. Though I wish them best for the rest of its life but they know, and we knowas gamers that wow has long past reached its life cycle.
    To every gamers, do not attempt to look a bit of wow in other company’s installment, you will be disappointed with one or the other feature, mechanic, style while the game itself may be just that great.
    blizzard should do what they do best and not yet done in awhile. That is, bring us something new on the table…
    Again, this is a warning.. gamers can only take so much…

    #6 1 year ago
  7. TheWulf

    They’re afraid to innovate because if they do the illusion will finally fall. The thing is is that humans aren’t inherently stupid creatures, they are, however, very naive ones who’re easily taken in by ploys. Which, conversely, is why cons and social engineering work really well to condition us into certain ways of thinking.

    But once again — humans aren’t inherently stupid creatures. I’ve long been saying that people need to be more self-deterministic, they need to be more analytical, they need to examine and question things more rather than blindly buying into them. We have zombie status with a few things, like MMOs and brands, where people will just allow themselves to be comfortably conditioned into a state where they won’t ask questions.

    That won’t last forever. And what we’re seeing now is that people are actually coming around, because this is about as long as a cycle of conditioning lasts. Fans of WoW are starting to question what they found so fun in the first place, and they’re looking at their hobby and wondering what they could be doing better with their time. They’re also examining empirical evidence that shows that the operant conditioning chamber-qualities of WoW have lead to tragedy and loss of life, and they realise how easily that could have been them.

    They won’t fall for this kind of thing so easily again, but they’re finding that now that they’re thinking, they’re bored. So they’re trying other methods of dealing with that, wondering whether they can find their state of blissful brainlessness in other offerings. And offerings there have been, since Warhammer Online, up until the recent The Old Republic. It seems that some developers may still be willing to try to bet on this, even considering past failures.

    What people will eventually realise though is that a worthwhile, fun, engaging experience is more fun than a compelling, addictive experience. And that they don’t want to throw away their lives again for absolutely nothing. In the decade that some people have played WoW constantly for, what did they lose, and what did they achieve?

    So it’s obvious what’s happening here, really. But Blizzard can’t “innovate” because by changing the formula they risk waking up the rest of their userbase, the ones that are still in that stupor.

    It’s funny, I was presented with an interesting scenario in Shadowrun Returnst he other day, and that was chipheads. Chipheads are people who use addictive, compulsive Better Than Life chips to escape reality. And these chips are very, very addictive, so soon enough the providers can just offer the same experiences over and over, or even more mundane ones, just to keep making a profit. And they’ll keep paying to get the same experience, over and over. They’ll keep doing this until it affects their health, their life.

    And I thought to myself “Holy shit. They’re WoW players.

    With that kind of situation, you can either keep doing something until it makes you really sick, or you can actually be smart enough to stop and realise why replacing something addictive and compulsive (yet ultimately unfulfilling) with something worthwhile and genuinely enjoyable is actually a good idea.

    Humans aren’t inherently stupid creatures.

    Sometimes it just takes them a while.

    #7 1 year ago
  8. Pentecost

    Can’t afford? Blizzard can’t AFFORD to innovate?

    Funniest thing I’ve read all day.

    #8 1 year ago
  9. TheWulf

    @9

    Yeah, it’s less “can’t” and more “won’t” because they know what I do.

    #9 1 year ago
  10. JB

    Wow is in decline because they`re giving the non-raiders substandard content and focusing their resources on the needs of the hardcore players.

    New players face so many barriers, it`s a small miracle some of them stay subscribed past the first month or two.

    The massive gap in skill between new players and veterans, toxic player behaviour, bad design and the increased grind and gating will scare many players away long before they reach max level.

    http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/blizzard-70-percent-of-new-wow-players-dont-get-past-level-10_1

    #10 1 year ago
  11. Tarawa

    @8: Everything you do in life does not have to yield physical results, digital results are just as good. If you have having a blast in an MMO on your choosing, and you sink 8 years of your life into it, what does it matter? No one is to judge that person to be wrong, they pay their bills, they go to work, and in their free time, they play.

    #11 1 year ago

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