Greedy Goblin

Monday, December 12, 2011

Aging or ghettoing?

There is a common claim in forums and blogposts when anyone says that X  or Y causes WoW subscription decline, that the "game is just aging".

This is a fatalists and hands off claim. It says that there is a natural "aging" process that finally kills WoW and there is nothing to do about it. It's complete nonsense. It's coming from the human-centered thinking of socials: people age and die for "no reason", so everything else must be. As an engineer I always have smile/rage on claims that this or that machine "just too old".

Games are machines. They are software. They don't age. There are exactly 3 things that can make machines go down over time:
  • Obsolescence: the machine performs at the same parameters as new. But now the competitors are just better. Years ago it was great or at least OK compared to them, today not. You replace it to get better service and not because it failed to service, even if you feel so (The air conditioner of my old car did not broke. The car never had one. I did not care back then, but today every car has one and I expect to have it too.).
  • Decreasing demand: the machine  performs at the same parameters as new, but your demand for the service is no longer there. My childhood LEGO toys aren't broken, the set is perfectly usable in a bag somewhere in the garage of my parents. Yet I don't play them because I'm not a small kid anymore.
  • Malfunction: some part does not work. It can be from wear over years of service, but also can be external damage or a weak part breaking up now. Doesn't matter. You replace the part that is outside its nominal parameters and the machine will work as new again. Theoretically you can replace every part, making the machine really new.
Let's see the same for WoW:
  • Is WoW obsolete in terms of graphics, effects? Looking at Rift, SW, EVE, it's not. It's updated several times and all competing MMOs have similar stuff. Even better: in case of obsolescence, the better models steal customers from the old one. The new MMOs did not become WoW-killers, they don't grow as WoW decreases, WoW just decreases on its own.
  • Do MMO players just disappeared? Does the genre going out of fashion? Possible, but should at least be claimed. The "WoW is aging" guys don't claim that "people don't play MMOs anymore", so this part is a non-issue.
  • That leaves us to malfunction. Something is messed up.
What is messed up? It's hard to tell because WoW changed a lot and it can more or less be proven that neither of the changes can be responsible for the failure alone. Did WoW lost 2M players due to accessible raids? Really? Vanilla never had 2M raiders, so even if all of them left in disgust it can't be the cause alone.

Let me introduce another process: ghettoing. This term is mostly used for urban decay, but can affect any other machinery. The process officially no unique cause. It's a spiraling process. For example a formerly upstanding industrial city can turn into a rust heap over decades for "no reason". It starts with an economic upturn that decrease demand for the item the industry produces. It rarely causes the total halt of demand overnight and even then the city could be target of another industry coming in, due to the recently vacated factory yards, infrastructure and trained workforce. Yet, at the start of layoffs, the living conditions in the city start to deteriorate. Street gangs show up, shops close down and the industry is starting to have more problems than it economically should, leading to further loss of profitability, therefore more layoffs.

The cause of ghettoing is the M&S. In a city without M&S, 5% decrease of profitability of the companies would lead to a 5% decrease of average income in the city and not destruction. But our friend, the M&S will do the rest. As long as the systems are fully operational, even the M&S has some form of job that organizes their life, stop them from being totally stupid. After being fired from the industry, they will no longer be externally forced to wake up, go to work, behave properly and so on. They start doing their stupid stunts and make life harder for everyone. As their percentage increases, the services aiming for them (pubs, drug dealer, cheap whores, bootleggers, sellers of stolen goods) show up, making M&S life easier and "more fun", making it more attractive to people on the borderline. Also by M&S behavior being more visible, they serve as role models to socials who seek "fun". Typically the most social beings, the kids are attracted to the "fun life" of the M&S, so the most harmful and annoying symptoms of ghettoing are the gangs which are typically made of young adults and older kids.

The downturn of conditions make the effective people move away, making the M&S percentage even higher and the city GDP even lower. The companies that create GDP will run understaffed (despite huge unemployment) or suffer from low work moral. They close or scale down, sending even more soon-to-be M&S and soon-to-be-leaving hard workers. The spiral continues as more and more M&S services appear, more and more the M&S behavior becomes the norm and the life for non-M&S becomes harder.

The same thing can happen to a single machine. If I sell my used car, it gets to a poorer person who will spend less on maintenance, so will break down more often, since repairs are more expensive than maintenance, the guy will find the car "too old" in a few years and sell it to pure M&S who will pin the catalyst drum for "better sound", insert "fun spoilers", burn holes into the seats by cigarettes and completely neglect maintenance. The car, despite not being internally worse than the one which were held by an old couple forever, will deteriorate into a heap of rust in a couple of years.

WoW is in the state of ghettoing. It started with the first "accessibility" and "casual friendly" features. A few hardcore left in disgust and a few M&S who would have left Vanilla after a month, stayed. It alone was a minimal effect and couldn't be seen instantly. However the M&S made the life of everyone a bit less fun and the community a bit more welcoming to M&S. Also, with the increasing number of M&S, the services for them increased. Gold spamming and account hacking increased, making the life even worse. The interesting part is the reaction from Blizzard. They simply looked at their new demographics and catered to them. It's like the government noticing that illegal drug demand increased in the city and in turn - start dealing drugs to make the voters happy (for some strange reason no government does that). So Blizzard made the game even more "casual friendly" and looking at server loads they could see that their current demographics is indeed satisfied, so their design change was right. Obviously the new system made another batch of good players leave and another batch of M&S stay. It made the living conditions even worse as the M&S style became more and more the norm. In BC time "damaging below the tank" was a major cause of laughter when rarely encountered. Now the tank not being #1 in a random "heroic" run is so surprising that it is mentioned on /g by tanks (who were dumb enough to join alone).

Is it over then? The game has ghettoed beyond repair? Is there nothing left for Blizzard than dealing drugs and cheap whores... I mean sparkling ponies and even more cute pets? Far from it. Real world slum-towns were regenerated by proper government intervention: destruction of the terrible housing, building life space for decent folks, building systems that make their lives easier (child care, school), creating jobs and above all: sending more cops to strike down on the M&S services and activities.

WoW can be de-ghettoed much more easily as Blizzard is not government, it's "god" of WoW. In a single patch by removing all kind of features that cater to the M&S and provide "workplace" to the good players: good raids and competitive PvP, both with proper and exclusive rewards. Soon the M&S would disappear. And no, it doesn't mean mass leaving the game. The M&S population of the de-ghettoed city are not exterminated or commit suicide (quit RL), nor they do a mass exodus from the city. They are socials so they can be reprogrammed. They respond well to rewards and punishment, the former gang member is the blue collar worker of today. He didn't turn into any more "decent", he simply lost the spaces to "hang out and have fun", while offered rewards for doing something useful. The WoW M&S could be turned into hard-grinding bad players who spend their time farming some stuff for rewards while positively affecting the community.


    maxim said...

    Interesting perspective.
    I agree with arguments against ageing interpretation and i accept the arguments for "ghettoing" interpretation.

    Your solution, however, hinges on the assumption that M&S won't leave WoW en masse the instant things get just a wee bit hard for them (after a lot of cryin and whining on all available avenues ofc).

    Moving away from a city IRL is not an easy thing to do, especially for a skill-less M&S, who is only getting food and shelter because he stays in the community that spawned him.

    Whereas the most painful thing about changing WoW to SW or something else is asking a guardian to cancel one subscription and fund another.

    Doing that holds an extra bonus in that you can brag to friends that still play WoW as to how nice and shiny your new game is and how WoW is old and sucks.

    Gevlon said...

    @Maxim: no, the cost of leaving WoW is a resubscription to YOU. To the M&S it's leaving his "l33t epixx" and be a "n00b" again and having no "friends".

    Skathe said...

    A ghetto-ised wow is clearly still profitable for them. Blizzard has the "M&S" market sector won.

    It seems they would be better off leaving wow as is, and aiming another game at the more competent players.

    Single player games routinely (and often automatically) split thier user bases in to "good enough" and "not good enough".

    Blizzard is probably the first MMO company with enough resources to follow suit and offer different games to different groups of customers. A "one-size-fits-all" model cannot work forever.

    Grookshank said...

    I think you leave out one aspect of "the game is just getting old": While in itself software can't age in the sense a living beeing can, it is getting old for people playing it for a long time. This may even speed up the effect of players leaving more space for your M&S.

    The whole WoW principle would need a major overhaul for me to return - even turning back to TBC times before the first big nerf patch would not make me come back. I'm also not looking for another game of the same kind (like Aion, Rift, etc.) and I guess it is the same for many others and the reason, all those WoW-killers can't kill WoW.

    kamster said...

    Perhaps the situation is like the Laffer curve - too little casual catering features (Vanilla, BC) and a lot of revenue is left on the table, too much casual catering (joke LFR one-shottable bosses by sub-tank-dps) and eventually everyone who isn't a total scrub leaves, reducing WoW to the cesspool of bads it will soon be if it continues on the current path. If this casual catering continues (after all, what are the chances that BLizzard will retire the LFR system they spent a fortune developing and testing just to 'fix' WoW? slim to none) eventually there will be only M&S left... and M&S won't tolerate being on par with everyone else for long... a hierarchy must always exist, thus the final stage of 'total M&S domination' will 1) result in everyone quitting; death of WoW or 2) reaching a point of 'too much casual catering' so that Blizzard reverts back to Vanilla/BC style. Perhaps the life cycle of WoW is just one big cycle.

    Bobbins said...

    Cataclysm is a holding position. I expect no great new content to hit until the next expansion. Everyone who bought into the Diablo bribe will probably feel a bit ripped of in 12mths.

    Carighan said...

    I'm not sure I can readily agree with the whole analysis. While what you say is probably a noticeable part of WoW's change over the years, the "aging" often talked about has to do with game shelvelife.

    And it's not an unknown concept. Even assuming a game keeps up with the competition, even assuming it upgrades visually and mechanically, we - as humans - get used to our drugs. We build tolerance to the excitement.

    As it's unlikely the developers will fundamentally rip out the core of the game and replace it - the WoW's devs did so multiple times and to varying degrees, and unlike previous games lived noticeably longer though I'm not sure correlation implies causation in this case - we'll eventually reach a point where everyone who is still enjoying the mechanics and flow of the game is however getting less and less enjoyment out of it. So at some point, other forms of entertainment, which one does not have a tolerance to already, will become superior sources of fun and distraction.

    Hence, a game "expires". For a specific user.

    Gevlon said...

    @Carighan: if people got used to the old game that would explain rotation in playerbase. Some stops WoW, others start. Old players leaving is normal. No new players is the problem.

    Grookshank said...

    @Gevlon: I think the "problem" is new players have different expectations of the game and Blizzard seemingly losing track of what they want to do.

    To my experience in software developement, good software is made by people having an idea what they think is good. As a customer I can have the same idea or not and base my deceision on that. With WoW it got harder and harder to find any idea behind it but: we want it to be for everyone.

    Azuriel said...

    When people talk about "aging," they are usually referring to the fact that none of us play Super Mario Bros (etc) anymore. Why not? The game works perfectly fine, after all. Even if Nintendo was making new maps for it though, all of us have moved on. We may still play side-scrolling platformers, perhaps, but it will be Mario 3DS or Mario Galaxies and so on.

    As I outlined before, vanilla WoW actually had a population of 8.75 million players before the release of TBC, i.e. in 2007. How many of those 8.75 million are still playing the same game four years later? How many have the same schedules, commitments, and life goals?

    In principal, I can agree with the "ghettoification," but for different reasons. WoW isn't getting worse because of the M&S, but rather because after 7 years of churn, the only people who haven't played WoW are the people who wouldn't have played vanilla/TBC in the first place. The WoW Baby Boomers are retiring. What worked 5+ years ago is not going to work today.

    It boggles my mind that people can't accept that argument. About 4-5 years ago, I was buying Chess on my cell phone for $5.95. Today, that would be a total joke - Apple has fundamentally changed the market to $0.99 apps or bust. Nintendo is going bankrupt trying to sell $50 Gameboy games. Who would buy them at that price anymore? If the portable game industry can be so irrevocably changed in 4-5 years, why not MMOs?

    Deepfriedegg said...

    Hi Glotan,

    so Ultraxion has been killed 5 days ago. But what is the progress on Blackhorn? What phase are wiping at?

    I have a question: What is the attitude of a-socials towards transmogrification? From your armory it looks like that mogging is fine if you want to transmog PVP pieces ;)

    I can just tell you that it will take many, many thousands of VP and many, many weeks in LFR before you will be able to to survive heroic Morchok and then you will probably realize what kind of nonsense this whole "by innefective farming (VP, LFR, BoEs) we will prove that content can be ´killed´ without farming the bosses"
    (BTW, farming tip: it only takes roughly an hour to get to Ultraxion on 25 man)

    Imakulata said...

    Do MMO players just disappeared? Does the genre going out of fashion? Possible, but should at least be claimed. The "WoW is aging" guys don't claim that "people don't play MMOs anymore", so this part is a non-issue.

    Just because people don't claim this at every opportunity doesn't mean they think otherwise. People are stopping to play MMOs and the games need a steady stream of new players to stay at the same level. Sure, some of the players that left eventually come back but not all.

    WoW succeeded in getting many players to the genre who were thought not to be interested in and it's possible this happens again with a new game - or maybe WoW itself. But it's not happening right now.

    Anonymous said...

    I really think that the problem lies in the "hard core players". Hard cores can kill hc bosses, run rated bgs, accumulating achievements, they can get ponies (Invincible reins, Mimiron's head, meta achieve mounts) they can completly SEPARATE themselves from the casual, and from m&s. And they do. When was the last time when you saw someone from big guilds selling profession? They have the patterns because they nailed them in raids, yet they refuse to craft, they refuse to interact with people outside their precious guild. (I tried to offer 3k for a craft, noone answered, and I'm a good guy on my realm)

    M&S and casuals, however CAN'T kill hc bosses, can't (won't) run RBG, they won't do that much achievement, especially the thougher ones. And there was nothing to do these players in game before LFR.
    Yet, hard cores are RAGING over the lfr tool (epixzzz for lamers), DESPITE they use it for gearing up (setbonuses, trinkets, weapons), they exploit the normal battleground, they exploit bosses.
    See what am I trying to point on? Hardcores have more choice than normal players, yet hard cores want more and more, and they want everyone else get less and less.

    Why does it hurt a hard core raider that my shaman has 2 piece of 384 gear? If they are in full 397 and soon in 403?

    And interesting, but as I stopped raiding in Cata, I've seen many lame players (booted off from guilds because messing around in wotlk) being in relative good guilds as with cataclysm and 10 man raiding. People who were always (read: always) failing in fire/dispel/dps/tanking/healing less than a shadow priest are in 10man guilds, some of them in heroic gear, and they look down on other people. So I guess Cata raiding isn't that hard. :)

    Overall I agree with your first part of post, till the part wow is getting ghettoed. WoW is not old in they way they use the word. I tried Rift and Aion, I scraped the wall from Rifts graphics, for example when you select target it's like my 8 year old son and photoshop cropping. Letdown. Aion is just boring. Star wars is not my universe. I mean come on, after spacegoats and blood elves sith and jedis? Noooo thanks.

    Anonymous said...

    There is no ageing? So why dont you play final fantasy 7? Maybe you did 10 years ago, maybe you played through it 5 times. But you arnt playing it for the rest of your life and it was an awesome game.
    How often did you read your favorite book? Why do you read other books... you have your favorite.
    Human's get bored of stuff. Why do you think, wow has content updates?
    While they give you new dungeons and new boss mechanics, new daily quests. After years you know how it works and you get bored.
    I dont wanna know, how many player stay because of social reasons.
    -> Make wow a single player game with bots. Would you still play it for years?
    Only the social aspects keep mmo alive.
    However if to many "friends" leave and the new "friends" suck (M&S), you will also leave.
    Systems like the dungeon finder destroyed a whole part of the social mmo aspect. Finding new "friends" is far more difficult.

    Wow's mechaniks are old and there are leaving more ppl that new players / player return.

    Riptor said...

    @ Anonymus: Did you offer 3k with Mats or without?
    Also, it is the first raid ID where the hc Bosses are available and the "true hc" Raiders are probably raiding, farming Points/Rep/etc.

    You see, very very few of these Raiders spend much time ideling. For example, depending on the Raid scedule asking for crafts between 18:00 and 24:00 on weekedays would not be answered as the Crafters are probably raiding with their Guild. The remaining online time they will spend farming and/or theorycrafting.

    I can only speak for me and from the experience i have gathered from 4 years of hc raiding. most of us are/where very antisocial and I personally did not give two shits about Mr. and Mrs Randoom (along with just about every other Raider/Raidette i have ever played with). you are the means to an end. you replenish our Gold after a Patch by buying the overpriced crap we throw at you (i charged 10-15k for crafts in wotlk and sold a shit ton of tailored items), lending your Toons to low level Raids when one of our Alts has to be geared.
    Its not that we don't want you to have nice things, we simply do not care as long as you supply us with Mats we are to lazy to farm and regularly have your accounts hacked so we can buy your whole inventory (or guild bank if lucky) for a couple of 1k Gold from the Chinamen.

    Anonymous said...

    I think you are missing the point about aging. Your confusing the game being fundamentally deteriotating when what is really aging is the way we interpret WoW's content.

    Why most people quit is they no longer have any content they want to do. This is a twofold problem in that either they are completing content before more comes out or people no longer find the task they are working on enjoyable.

    When designing content there are two things you need to determine about your playerbase. How skilled they are and how much time they have. The more you cross people together between various skill and time thresholds the more problems you have. For example if you were to make all dungeons three hours and very easy you annoy anyone with a high skill level regardless of their time alotted to play the game. You also annoy the people who simply don't have enough time to finish the content. The people who are low skilled and have lots of time however will love the content.

    Also many things people find fun when they first try it simply aren't fun by the 5th time they go through it. This ties into the fun you get from exploring something for the first time.

    In short Blizzard can cater to the M&S all they want as long as I don't have to play with them. WoT has become very successful because of this. They match you along skill and while the matches are short the grind for higher tier tanks is very long.

    If Blizzard was to release new dungeons with a heroic mode grouping and scaling content based on the expected skill of the person with a secondary master mode for the high skilled people I would expect it be a rather large success.

    Personally I think LFR raids should be completly separate from conventional raiding.I've always believed that you should only kill an endboss once. Having multiple tiers of difficulty for the endboss often causes problems in the raid groups deciding what their actual goal is. Blizzard would also do good to steal Rift's public grouping and zone events. A little bit of randomness is pretty fun in my experiences.

    It also might be possible for Blizzard to retain subscribers longer if they could redesign WoW to function more like Skyrim. By that I mean having the player constantly involved in what they are doing. Your not just questing, your looking out for dragons, mobs the blend in well with their environment. The creatures in Skyrim feel like they are trying to kill you and often do. To the contrary WoW's mobs feel like they are just lining up for you to kill them. Even the raid bosses feel sort of fake as you know all they really need to do is get mad and they would one shot all of us. I suppose it all ties into immersion but that certainly is missing in WoW. There is nothing immersive about sitting in a city hopeing for a que.

    Aureon said...

    Interesting points.
    One thing though: In TBC, a tank did MUCH less damage than a dps, PERIOD.
    Nowdays, a good tank does 40-60% of the dps of a good dps: Back then, it did 20-25%, unless it was a Paladin spamming AOE in Shattered Halls or something like that.
    Nowdays, a good tank can outdo some good DPSs in aoe situations, due to high stacking Vengeance and aoe scaling.

    maxim said...

    One more thing to consider.

    Looking by how easily Blizz decided to give away free D3s for 1 year of WoW, one can conclude that they don't really care which game you play on their service, as long as you play SOME game on their service.

    If that's true, then it actually makes perfect sense to make some of the simpler games, like WoW and D3, serve as the ultimate M&S ghet...funhouse ))), while games like Starcraft and (i so very much hope) upcoming Titan can be catered towards more skilled crowd.

    Anonymous said...

    Gevlon, when people say "WoW is aging" I think they mean that its playerbase is aging. This is similar to how you no longer play with Legos. For most people, it takes 1-2 years of playing WoW to have some fun and move on to something different. Players seek novelty and, after a while, any game will lack it.

    WoW as a machine is a terrible analogy; WoW as a human activity makes more sense.

    Me said...

    In the U.S. there is another factor that leads to this and it is the desire for what is "new" or trendy. Yes, here people will move from an old to a new house based on nothing more than it is a new neighborhood and the houses look more modern. Their house looks dated and is old. Older houses with a dated design are also cheaper here meaning that those with lower income could afford them. The same may happen in MMO where people are trying to get that feeling back from when they play their first MMO so they move as soon as a new neighborhood opens. But yes, in the end it is the m&s who are left.

    Anonymous said...

    @Carighan: if people got used to the old game that would explain rotation in playerbase. Some stops WoW, others start. Old players leaving is normal. No new players is the problem.
    Interesting article. It could explain some of the loss. I will give it some thought.

    I know this anecdotal evidence that doesn't hold any statistical significance. Most of the people I know who could play a MMORPG have played WoW at some time. They have moved on (being bored of the game, getting married, getting demanding jobs).

    I reckon that the market for new WoW players is saturated. The new players would generally be younger players who are new to WoW (which is a relative low %).

    Eaten by a Grue said...

    Look, I understand that you post an article a day, so no one expect rigorous research, but this is all just such conjecture. As someone with a science background, you should know better than to just make conclusions like this. If you have not isolated for what you are trying to test, it is foolish to draw conclusions with any certainty.

    You have admitted that people can get burned out on a game, so the only question is - why are not new people coming to WoW in sufficient numbers to replace leaving players?

    Maybe the change in the game is responsible for the decline of player numbers, but maybe people just do not like MMOs anymore because there are better games out there, maybe new players are busier with other forms of entertainment. Maybe the changes in WoW have actually helped keep more playerbase that would have otherwise left (due to, perhaps, players not being able to get groups, as the playerbase is too fragmented among different gear levels). Maybe MMOs aren't hip with the kiddies anymore, like any fashion trend. Maybe it's the damn achievements. Maybe it's arena. Who knows? Nobody really knows.

    Anyway, this is just a big game of maybe.

    Goodmongo said...

    Your attacks on M&S remind me of the OWS people, except they attack the 1% and not the 99%.

    You really forget that the rise from 1 Million subscribers to 12 million was mostly due to these M&S players. After all you yourself stated that there are not even 2 million raiders.

    Anonymous said...

    "Games are machines. They are software. They don't age. There are exactly 3 things that can make machines go down over time"

    Games are code, aimed towards the consumer. Consumers are social beings thus the argument (while not necessarily valid for the writer or reader) is potentially valid for a large majority of the player base. The argument made, is exactly what you stated under "Decreasing demand". As newer games are developed which happens in time, people move away to those new games. If a game no longer has the momentum, it fades away. As with "Malfunction" you cannot simply ditch the whole game engine.

    Supercomputers from SUN, IBM, HP etc and ancient VAX, Cray are completely different beasts. Consumers never see those from the inside. Nobody says: thank you AIX and IBM for taking care of my bank transactions.

    Then you say "Do MMO players just disappeared?" No! That is not the point made. If you take the argument the market saturated, then the more games like WoT, LOTR, Eve, Rift, SWTOR are released they will eventually take the time and money of competitors, including but not limited to WoW. People can only spend X amount of time and Y amount of money on games, and both of these amounts are lower due to world wide recession.

    "It's like the government noticing that illegal drug demand increased in the city and in turn - start dealing drugs to make the voters happy (for some strange reason no government does that)"

    Untrue. There have been methadone programs for heroin users, and people get subscribed drugs only for the placebo effect and only that. The anti depressant industry in the United States and other Western society is rampant as well. Children get Ritalin prescribed for no apparent reason whatsoever except a flaky ADHD diagnosis.

    As for cops, Blizzard should ban everyone who buys AND sells gold. Since that comes from account hacking and farming (more the former nowadays) it is both bad for support (support staff costs money), and competing with their Guardian Cub market.

    We've seen the M&S quit raiding in WoW after ICC "lol teh epix too hard to get with my unenchanted gear bye".

    This did not work. The 3-tier system of LFR for casual and bad, normal for the non-M&S and OK players, and heroic hardmodes for the devoted and hardcore players. They are not mutually exclusive: if you are in group 1 and completed that, you can dabble into group 2. And so on. You can also play less, spend less time, and go a group back.

    Everyone wins. And stupid players, M&S, are very good for the goblin's income.

    Jon said...

    Tetris has not malfunctioned. It's still working properly.

    Tetris will never go out of fashion. It's eternal.

    Tetris will never become obsolete. It's TETRIS!

    Yet it will never be as popular as the Game of the Week whether it's Skyrim, WoW, SWTOR, and so on and so forth.

    People desire change. Yet the way WoW has given you the appearance of "earning things" it lures people psychologically to keep playing, even when they aren't enjoying it anymore.

    Which is why you have people who have played WoW for longer than any other game, yet would rather keep playing - and complaining - than move onto something new.

    If you hate the M&S so much, find a game where you don't have to deal with them. Like Tetris :)

    Kurt said...

    @Eaten by grue:

    " As someone with a science background, you should know better than to just make conclusions like this. If you have not isolated for what you are trying to test, it is foolish to draw conclusions with any certainty."

    Every situation is not best handled with the pure scientific model. There is only one WoW. We can't make repeated and independent tests on many different WoW's to generate a verified hypothesis. Science is a wonderful tool in your toolkit, but it's nice to have the ability to pull some other tools out for important life tasks where science doesn't really apply. Logically speaking, the situation is even worse, as not only is the claim that science is the best and only method for handling every single problem obviously false, but you present it as an assumption and make no effort to back it up. You could have just said he wasn't being scientific, and then the obvious response would be of course not, there's not enough data; but you went further and said he was being foolishly conjectural, by means of advancing an unsubstantiated and unsupported conjecture of your own. How ironic.

    Trelocke said...

    While your theory has merit, I do think you are ignoring some other viable explanations. If there are two million raiders, and for the sake of arguement, another two million PvP players that are not M&S, that leaves a full 60% of the user base as M&S. Clearly, catering to majority of your user base is the goal of any company. They still provide enough services for the minorities, and clearly a subscriber base that fluctuates around 10-11 million is superior (from the company's perspective) than a game that holds a steady 4-6 million.

    I also think your belief that WoW's graphics come close to competing with the latest games on the market is way off base. Rift and swtor are absolutely georgeous, and make me feel like I'm playing a game designed in this decade. WoW's low pixal count, old character skins, and constantly reused "other stuff" skins definitely contribute to my belief that I'm getting less for my money than I would/will get with these other, newer games.

    Caramael said...


    "To the M&S it's leaving his "l33t epixx" and be a "n00b" again and having no "friends"."

    I think you might be surprised how fast M&S opinion can change to "WoW is dumb, only suckers and oldtimers play it, who cares about gay WoW items, SWTOR is where the cool peeps are, my lightsaber is larger than yours olololol!".

    I'll be playing SWTOR the next few months (unless it's as horrible as all the other WoW clones), so I hope I'm wrong though.

    Anonymous said...

    To some degree I agree with you. Remove the hardcore elements of the game and you chase away your more serious players leaving your less serious ones.

    But, the start of tier 11 was kind of a move in the direction you indicated that Blizzard needed to go (tough heroics and raids requiring effort from the player base). Now, I know that you have decried this as simply the "dance" but its purpose I believe was to try and rekindle the notion that raids are hard and not for everyone.

    The question though is, what happened why did Blizzard change their mind and direction mid expansion? Yes, they saw some lost subscribers, people who left because there was no endgame for them (heroics and raiding was too hard) but why did they not choose to stick to this new philosophy of raiding == hard and perhaps create more content for casuals at the same time?

    Anonymous said...

    The aging of WoW discussion seems is mainly driven by the common idea from business called the product life cycle. One MMO veteran even has a quote that MMO designers can not change the subscriber curve, all they can affect is the peak and the width of the curve.

    Anonymous said...

    Your analysis of demand is flawed. You rightly start by identifying specific demand for an individual product or service such as LEGOs but then generalize demand to the MMO category when applied to WoW. Noticing that people still play MMOs is like saying that people still enjoy component building (the category for Legos) without acknowledging that the demand for the category is different than the demand for the product. People can enjoy the category and play Minecraft or buy any number of other building products while demand for Legos falls in comparison. Demand for fantasy MMOs can remain strong while demand for WoW declines. People can become bored with WoW while still remaining generally enthusiastic about the genre so claiming that the category is robust is not an argument that declining demand for WoW is a "non-issue." Lastly, confusing products and services does you no favors. WoW is a service unlike your car.

    Your analysis of malfunction also reveals an interesting insight. If WoW is seen strictly as a machine/software, then malfunction must also be technical: bugs, crashes, uptimes, server security, transactional performance, etc. In these terms, WoW is functioning better than ever. Server crashes are less common than they were at launch, bugs are minor and technical performance is good. Where you see malfunction is at the sociological level: how the game is played, by whom and towards what ends. These are not mechanical considerations; if "ghettoing" is what's wrong with WoW, then the game-as-software is irrelevant to your analysis. Rather, your view depends on seeing the game as a social ecosystem.

    The proper line of analysis is how the experience of that ecosystem relates to market demand for WoW subscriptions.

    Anonymous said...

    Were you born this stupid, or did you take lessons? Saying that we can't analyze WoW scientifically because it is unique is like saying that geology is invalid because there is only one Earth.

    There are somewhere in the (very rough) neighborhood of 15 million former WoW subscribers. Every single one of them is a data point, with their own motive for leaving the game. This data can be collected, analyzed, and broken down into significant trends. I have no idea how large the pool of people who could play WoW but never have is, but I expect it's an order of magnitude larger. Again, every individual is a data point which can be analyzed.

    Gevlon does none of this, but is perfectly happy to skip ahead to conclusions based on personal opinions. His blog, his right to do this, but no competent person with a technical background is going to take it seriously.

    Anonymous said...

    first i thought this was on of your stupid rants, then after looking at it again i see it has some merit.
    as you most of the time at a second glance, especialy with the tank/dps thingy.
    wow/tbc had its flaws but overall the game were unpopular (relative) and thus held a much higher degree of hardcores to idiots, whereas now later we have moved quite far into the stupid category (the game also has become more sophisticated in terms of rotations and gearing)
    nad you have a point i think about the dancy raids.
    however while this is "true" i faill to see that any mass exodus of raiders could be solely responsible for the Huge loss of people, there is a pvp version of this but cant be bothered.
    good read at least on the second try.
    ps: you dont play with your leg anymore? I weep for you lego´s are awesome!

    Anonymous said...

    @anonymous speaking to kurt

    first of you want the scientific method not science.
    second the field we are curently in is sociology.
    sociology is not a science.
    the geology only one earth similie was stupid, and we cant change the parameters of wow and conduct any experiments, we cant for instance change all dungeonmobs to have 2x hp and see how the players change acording to that. we cant construct any falsifiable theories because we cant experiment, my point is while we could make statistical arguments (very hard for a blog) there would be no way to prove or disprove them rendering all aplications of the scientific method unsound.
    second you want academic not technical and also since when does computor (anything) programing qualify as a Science?

    Anonymous said...

    @Anon 22:34-
    Your argument boils down to "we don't know everything, therefore making shit up is valid." Making shit up is never valid. Fun sometimes, but not valid.

    The comparison to the earth is perfectly valid. Unless you want to claim that there are geology labs out there drifting continents around at different speeds, or regenerating the limestone deposits of Texas with different marine organisms. Not everything is repeatable, but that doesn't make it magically exempt from technical anaylsis. For example, "WoW lost two million subscribers because Cata raiding is more unique mechanics-based than TBC raiding" is a falsifiable hypothesis. If you don't want to bother to gather the data needed to test it that's fine with me (I don't want to bother either), but don't tell me that Gevlon's conclusions are anything more than guessing (which was Eaten By A Grue's original statement) or I'll suspect you took lessons too.

    LeaT said...

    @Anonymous who claims sociology is not science: Wait, what? You clearly haven't heard of surveys if we have to speak about statistics, that is far from the only analytical tool science has to offer.

    I honestly believe the situation of the global economy is one huge driving factor here. Further, I am of the belief that WoW's playerbase has always been shit. It's just that by engaging with other parts of the playerbase more actively through LFD and LFR this becomes so much more apparent. I do not believe the amount of so called "S&M" players have grown percentage wise, but that we just notice them more than before.

    Basically, the argument is very similar to those who claim "it was better before", but just because you didn't notice the problem it doesn't mean it wasn't there. My grandma always complains over the increase of crime levels in her hometown, but why she is aware of it now? Because there are better news reports of them and she is paying more attention to them thanks to sensationalization media. Yet it doesn't mean that there was no crime committed when shen was younger.

    No, what I really think one of the most flawed yet brilliant moves in this whole puzzle lies in cross-realm interaction. Cross-realm was necessary as some realms have such low population that it was impossible to do anything that required more than your lonesome, but at the same time, cross-realm made people more anonymous and psychological studies have well proven that people tend to behave worse when there are no social repurcussions against their actions - and how can there be when they are anonymous? Internet alone provides with anonymity, but on a server you used to be confined. If you took active part you eventually built up a reputation and it affected the way others behaved towards you. Social repurcussions or rewards, that is. However, nowadays, even if they someone is kicked out from the group, they can merely requeue and get away with their behavior in the next group they join. Thus behavior becomes reinforced rather than discouraged.

    Further, we also know that there is a tendency among humans to copy behavior, especially bad behavior. This means that if one starts acting badly more will soon follow, especially again if there are no social repurcussions involved. Thus, more and more people start to act badly and the good people leave or confine themselves.

    Ultimately, Blizzard has to start making demands on its playerbase for this behavior to disappear, yet this is not something that can be done. Blizzard has no moral obligation to teach people how to behave towards others, and it is obvious they are scared carrying some changes through that would still help removing some of the anonymity involved of cross-server interaction. Again, the implementation of forum real ID was a brilliant yet flawed idea. Flawed, because it at the same time challenged the playerbase's integrity.

    It's a lose-lose situation in the end. Blizzard are basically trying to pigeonhole its different franchises now to cater to the various groups, so WoW will remain the "casual friendly" game, whereas D3 will probably attract more of the people who are fed up with the "casual-ness". Why D3 will work out so well in Blizzard's favor is because D3's main concept is that you can do any end-game content on your own and never have to group up or interact with somebody else unless you actually want to, as opposed to say, SC2. Both games are multiplayer games, but they cover different aspects. For us who like PvE, we will probably go to D3. For those who enjoy PvP more there's SC2. And for those who prefer to run around collecting mounts and vanity pets WoW will still be very much functional.

    Anonymous said...

    I realize I'm probably pissing in the wind here, but I'm one of those people that actually finally got to raid again thanks to LFR and quite frankly, your assertion that the only people that use it are essentially this scum that's ruining your precious game is insulting at best and ridiculously stupid at worst. Between you and that Raptor gem that believes other "scrub" players are there as some sort of resource for the betterment of his epix and epeen, you really see the ugly underside of what WoW devs are trying to avoid. Because, quite frankly, you and your kind don't pay the bills. The other millions of players do. A business would be completely stupid and begging for failure if they intentionally ignored a massive part of their consumer base just to quiet the petulant whines of the uberl33t.

    Okay, so, "ghetto"ization, it makes sense. Except that you assume that anyone that doesn't crunch numbers and stomp around gleefully on the backs of other players to show off how awesome they are are somehow less than you. You imply they're stupid, ignorant, willing to do whatever no matter if it's illegal or not (and I'm sure there's never been a hardcore raider that bought a sparklepony or bought gold, -ever-) and treat something you hold in respect like a garbage bin (your car analogy comes to mind).

    At the end of the day, though, your precious used car could be purchased by someone with plenty of cash in the bank and does all the maintenance he can to keep it running, but face it: machinery can and WILL fail. Age helps this process, but it isn't a defining factor. Your assumption that LFR is somehow corrupting the core of the game and turning it into the barrio is completely asinine. The game IS aging, because the players that started playing in Vanilla are aging. They get lives, jobs, families, and their time can't be taken up by killing internet dragons anymore.

    Oh, and also, your assertion that the scrubs that make your wondrous pretendytimes so gosh-darn awful won't leave because they can't staaaand to lose their LFR-earned epix? That's completely bullshit. It's YOU, the epic l33t hardcore crowd that'll suck on this WoW teat for as long as you possibly can, because while John Scrubdoe who spent a couple hours in LFR every other week and got some purps really feels no value in the stuff he got and therefore is more willing to give it up, you bozos with your 40 hour a week raiding schedules can't stand the idea of giving up all your ego, your bragging rights, your status, your gleaming set of testicles claimed from the very corpse of H-Deathwing. You claim you don't mind because you like new challenges, and maybe that's true for some...but the idea of losing your status and starting at square one is what keeps the "hardcores" playing these games even when they're reduced to a shriveled husk of what they once were.

    Soooo...I'm going to go back with the majority of people playing in LFR that just have time constraints or don't want to deal with guild drama or just want to see the content or are hardcore raiders trying to get a leg up (lol noooo I'm sure this never happens) or are ex-raiders that realized spending 40 hours a week on being the best on the internet is ridiculous. Am I going to run across some assholes, or people that don't know what they're doing, or decide to run around tanking in healing gear? I'm sure I will. The amusing thing is I wonder how many of them are butthurt hardcores. :D

    Anonymous said...

    I liked the article, your explanation is reasonable and well structured. I've seen this is in another games as well, and as a former WoW player I agree.

    However, I cant figure what exactly does M&S stands for (even if I deduced the meaning in the context).