Are Blizzard Digging Their Own Grave For WoW?
An interesting interview on Wired with Blizzard’s Chief Operating Officer Paul Sams (thanks to Tobold for the link) made me a little concerned about the subscription thought process behind Blizzard’s next MMORPG. Although the interview was likely designed to intrigue and encourage us about Blizzard’s next project (still unnamed, by the way), it had the opposite effect on me and made me wonder something – are Blizzard just digging their own grave for World of Warcraft?
To paraphrase the interview, Blizzard are essentially creating a new MMO which will be “significantly differentiated enough” as to not cannibalize existing players from WoW. Yes, it seems that Blizzard are actually under the impression that if they create a new MMORPG that is different enough from WoW, players will actually choose to subscribe to both. Now, I don’t know about you, but I don’t know anyone, aside from bloggers, who subscribes to more than MMO at a time and, if they do, actually has enough to time to actively play them all.
Now, that’s not to say that no one will opt to have two subscriptions or manage to maintain an active presence in both games but I do feel that they will be in the vast minority. I’m currently subscribed to two MMOs (EVE Online and World of Warcraft) and I don’t have enough time to play both in the quantities that I would like, so, ultimately my maintaining of multiple subscriptions falls down to the fact that I can afford it without strain and love the MMORPG genre so much. However, I think that most gamers – particularly WoW ones – are very unlikely to maintain two subscriptions for an extended period of time because they just aren’t hardcore MMO players. Whether Blizzard like it or not, ultimately they are going to lose a big chunk of their WoW player base to their next MMO and I just hope that they aren’t not counting on this fact. Apologies for the double negative there
You also have the Chinese issue. Wired (annoyingly) did the old “11.5 million” players routine when introducing WoW yet failed to mention that 2/3 or so of this number is actually made up by Asian gamers who pay to play by the hour. Of course they can’t play two games at once which means if Blizzard launch their MMO in China it’s highly unlikely that they will make any more money than they currently do – they’re profits will come from new gamers alone, not existing ones, and any player that switches won’t give them any more money other than the initial box purchase.
Perhaps we’ll see a Blizzard “all access subscription” like SOE’s and that wouldn’t be so bad but it would have to be at a reasonable price point to make it enticing. Regardless, Blizzard are certainly not going to make “11.5 million players x2″ with the release of their new MMO and, if they’re depending on this fact, then they might be naively putting the nails in their own coffin.