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

Friday, 23 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 2 years 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 2 years ago
  3. noamlol2

    blizzard is the biggest enemy of PC gamers

    they will never sell WoW like hotcakes again, never.

    #3 2 years ago
  4. Armitage Shanks

    So backup has a new handle on here i see

    #4 2 years 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 2 years 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 2 years 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 2 years ago
  8. Pentecost

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

    Funniest thing I’ve read all day.

    #8 2 years ago
  9. TheWulf

    @9

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

    #9 2 years 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 2 years 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 2 years ago

Comments are now closed on this article.

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    AMD has confirmed what most Battlefield fans thought. Battlefield Hardline will indeed support Mantle. Battlefield Hardline will support Mantle, AMD has confirmed. Some players weren’t sure whether the retail version of the game will support AMD’s API, due to its absence from the recent PC beta. AMD did not say whether the feature will be […]

  • Unreal Engine 4 GDC 2015 sizzle reel shows what the tech can do

    Unreal Engine 4 is a pretty versatile bit of tech, as this new sizzle reel shows. As one of the more ubiquitous engines, Unreal will be on show at GDC this week. Developer Epic produced the following sizzle reel to quickly demonstrate what it can do – cutting edge graphics (there are very few games […]

  • Survarium’s latest patch removes limit on battle ammo, rebalances experience gain

    The latest Survarium patch has readjusted the value of experience and reputation points gained and removed the limit to the maximum amount of ammo you can use in combat. Survarium developer Vostok Games has released patch 0.27a to the public, having recently finished testing it. The patch is a major one and covers changes to […]

  • The Hunt Begins in new Bloodborne TV spot

    Bloodborne is so close you can almost smell its coppery tang on the wind – and also you can watch commercials for it. Bloodborne arrives on PS4 at the end of this month (March 24 North America, March 25 Europe, March 27 UK) so excitement is starting to build. Sony isn’t helping keep us calm […]

  • World of Warcraft: you’ll soon be able to buy game time with gold

    Blizzard will soon allow World of Warcraft players to exchange in-game gold for game time and vice versa. Blizzard has announced a new system that will launch soon for World of Warcraft. The system is called WoW Token. Using this system, players will be able to buy game time using in-game gold. Here’s how it […]

  • 3D Realms’ Bombshell returns with the first gameplay trailer

    Remember 3D Realms’ Bombshell? The isometric ARPG that was announced last year? Well, it’s back, and we get to see gameplay footage. The game stars Shelly “Bombshell” Harrison, a bomb technician turned mercenary with a mechanical arm. She will embark on a quest to rescue the president and save Earth, all while shooting aliens. The […]

  • Unreal Engine 4 is now free for everyone to use

    Epic Games has made Unreal Engine 4 available for anyone to download and use, for free. Unreal Engine 4 is now free. Anyone can download it and start using it, the developer announced today in a blog post. The download features the the full set of tools used by Epic, and includes 100% of the […]

  • Call of Duty European Championship winner announced

    The winner of the European round of the Call of Duty Championship has been announced. This past weekend, 28 teams representing UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, the rest of Europe and Middle East attended the final of the European round of the Call of Duty Championship. UK team Epsilon eSports was crowned […]

  • GOG brings back Insomnia sale with discounts up to 90% off

    GOG.com is bringing back its Insomnia sale event with even more games. GOG’s Insomnia sale is back with double the amount of games. This year, there will be two sets of games available at once. The sets are seasoned classics and fresh new titles. Each set will feature games with discounts up to 90% off, […]

  • 2K is shutting down NBA 2K14 online servers, won’t affect career save files

    2K will be shutting down the servers for NBA 2K14 this month. The publisher revealed yesterday that online servers for NBA 2K14 will be turned offline on March 31. “You will no longer be able to play ranked games/online association,” reads the announcement. NBA 2K14 relied on online servers to store save files for MyCareer […]

  • One Dead or Alive tournament organiser is proposing ban of “over-sexualised” costumes

    A Dead or Alive tournament organiser has suggested a soft ban on some of the game’s “over-sexualised” costumes, and not everyone is happy. Tournament organiser “The HuBBs” took to the FreeStepDodge forums to suggest a list of rules that other offline tournaments can follow. The list goes over stages, characters, moves, which is certainly in […]

  • Destiny: all the news from Bungie’s open house Q&A

    Bungie hosted an open house Q&A session with the community last week and lots of exciting news have come out of it. Arekkz Gaming has gathered all the information that came out of Bungie’s open house Q&A in one handy video. The list is massive, going over Exotic weapon balance, upcoming events, PVE, Crucible rewards, […]

  • Elite: Dangerous and Star Citizen to honour Nimoy with in-game memorials

    Developers behind space exploration games Elite: Dangerous and Star Citizen will honour the memory of Leonard Nimoy through in-game memorials. The develops of both games have confirmed separately that in-game memorials will be established to honour the memory of the late Star Trek actor, Leonard Nimoy, famous for playing Spock. Elite: Dangerous executive producer Michael […]

  • Deal: get a PlayStation 4 + three exclusives for $399

    Amazon’s latest PlayStation 4 deal is not one to miss. With purchase of a PlayStation 4 console from Amazon in the US, the online retailer will throw in digital codes for Infamous Second Son, Killzone Shadow Fall and The Last of Us: Remastered, all for the same MSRP of $399. The Last of Us Remastered […]

  • Destiny: this is how one player predicted House of Wolves details and Xur’s inventory

    The method one Redditor possibly used to leak some details from Destiny’s House of Wolves was the same one he used to predict the inventory of Xur: Agent of the Nine. Last week, Reddit user Megamanexe4 leaked a few pieces of House of Wolves expansion content. The leaks included strikes, new Crucible mode, and a […]

  • Mortal Kombat X is coming to iOS… as a card-battler

    Mortal Kombat X will be releasing on mobile devices in some form, just not the one you except. Mortal Kombat X is coming to Android and iOS devices as an extension of the main game. It will launch in April alongside the console versions. The mobile game will be part card collecting and part fighting […]

  • Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain announcement coming this Wednesday

    Kojima Productions will unveil something about Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain this Wednesday. Metal Gear Solid fans should standby for a Phantom Pain-related announcement on Wednesday, March 4. According to developer Kojima Productions’ Twitter, there’s going to be an announcement at 2pm GMT on Wednesday. The developer posted the following image. The image […]

  • Reader survey: time to let us get to know you better!

    We’d really appreciate it if you could fill in this survey about the websites you read and the games you buy. It massively helps! You can fill out the survey right here and obviously all the information you supply is confidential. It helps us build a better picture of the people who read our site […]

  • Battlefield Hardline Premium: here’s everything you get for $50

    Battlefield Hardline’s Premium membership will give players access to 4 new features, early access to expansion packs and more. EA detailed the offer today – it costs $50 in total (£40 in the UK) and gives players a whole bundle of new gear and content. Check it all out in handy list form below: Masks […]

  • Hayter’s gonna hate: the voice of Solid Snake wouldn’t answer my Metal Gear question

    Voice actor and Hollywood writer David Hayter discusses the differences between movies and games. And politely declines my leading question. “It might be fun to do a crazy, over-the-top film version of Saint’s Row.” Yeah, that headline is a bit cheap but you’re reading the work of a man who once asked the maker of […]

  • Xbox One bundle gets £100 price cut in UK

    Microsoft has knocked up to £100 off Xbox One bundles in the UK. The Xbox One with Kinect Assassin’s Creed bundle is now £100 cheaper and comes with a free £20 voucher to be spent on the official Microsoft online store. Over on the Xbox online store there’s a £70 price cut on the white […]

  • Pokemon Shuffle downloaded 1m times, free stuff given out to celebrate

    Free-to-play 3DS title Pokemon Shuffle has been downloaded over 1 million times. As a reward for playing the match-3 puzzle game Nintendo has gifted players a Complexity -1 item for free. The item reduces the difficulty of a level, according to Eurogamer. By all accounts Pokemon Shuffle is a cynical game with poorly implemented microtransactions. […]

  • Trine 3: The Artifacts of Power sure is pretty

    FrozenByte Games has revealed Trine 3, due for release in 2015 And what better way to reveal a new side-scrolling adventure than with a very pretty trailer full of gameplay? The latest in a series that has already sold 7 million copies is earmarked for PC and “other” formats. Trine 2 released on PS3, PS3, […]

  • Dying Light takes UK number one

    A month since it was released on digital platforms, Dying Light’s physical release has topped the UK charts. Techland and Warner’s zombie survival game has proven to be one of the big hits of the year so far. It was released on digital formats a month ago but has only just been released on good-old […]

  • GTA 5: that’s some seriously accurate grenade throwing

    Think you can take down a jet plane with a grenade throw? This guy can. In fact, he can do it twice. This is in a variation on the player-created deathmatch “Stunters Versus Snipers” which seem to be all the rage in GTA Online at the moment. One team has a sniper rifle (and grenades) […]

  • Metal Gear Solid 5: Mother Base turns pink in the morning sun

    The Phantom Pain looks nice even when Kojima just takes a quick pic with his phone. Look at that beauty. We get nice reflection in pink at the first gray of dawn. pic.twitter.com/aERTBoZT9z — HIDEO_KOJIMA (@HIDEO_KOJIMA_EN) March 2, 2015 The game doesn’t have a release date yet, which makes us a bit nervous for it […]