I know it doesn’t sound like a lot, in fact it probably sounds a bit silly to say that a game has “only” 8 million subscribers, but for World of Warcraft and its creator Blizzard, it’s really bad news. It was only a year ago that a dip in about 1 million subs produced hundreds of layoffs within the company, so there’s no telling what will happen after losing almost twice that. Starcraft II continues to cater to a smaller and smaller community of dedicated fans, good for the brand, but not nearly as influential to the bottom line as WoW. Diablo III is pretty much dead in the water at this point, especially after this week’s disastrous gold duping scandal where players figured out how to scam the auction hall for trillions, that’s trillions with a T, of gold. It’s one thing to lose subscribers when your other projects are doing well, it’s entirely another to lose that much revenue when your other brands are hurting as well.
According to Kotaku, the bump given to WoW by its latest expansion Mists of Pandaria is beginning to dwindle as subscriptions fell from almost 9.5 million to around 8 million from February to May of this year. With nothing else in the pipe for the aging MMO that means that content for those who have seen everything is drying up. That’s not to say that people will begin leaving in droves, but I doubt there are many new players out there willing to try the game if they haven’t already; at this point those who wanted to play have. The market for the game is shrinking partly because it’s an aging game, but also because there’s a lack of new players trying it for the first time – those days are over. Blizzard better think of something big and soon if they wish to keep the status quo, if they can’t make up for the loss of revenue then I have a feeling the layoffs we saw last year will be but the tip of a very large iceberg.
Saints Row 4 is shaping up to be as fun and ridiculous as its predecessors, no surprise really given how much success Volition has had with the series. Still though even for them this sequel looks to be adding even more features that the team feels will breathe new life into the series. There’s additional weapon customization as can be seen in the video when the player turns a hum-drum rocket launcher into a guitar case of doom. They’ve also added super powers, a whole new way to play the game that gives players super hero like abilities allowing them to wreck havoc in a way that’s unique to the series. I’m really looking forward to the game this time around.
I’m always on the lookout for the next great Kickstarter project and with Risk of Rain I may have found it. It’s a rogue-like platformer that’s heavy on the gameplay and the retro style. The team at Hopoo was only looking for $7,000 to finish up the project, but fans pumped in over $30,000 for the title giving the team enough to secure many if not all of their projected bonus features. This is really a Kickstarter done well. Even though the project is small and they didn’t have a lot of resources, it’s still a better pitch than most games I’ve seen, with more information about the project than the last 3 or 4 projects I’ve seen recently combined.
2k Games is rolling out the red carpet for their newest Civilization V expansion a Brave New World. It seems this expansion focuses on culture not just as a way to customize cities and societies, but as a way to rule over and control your opponents. Players will be able to crank out this new resource, claiming victory with all new win conditions. This all doesn’t sound like a lot, but as a Civ V player it can end up being many more hours of gameplay. Instead of scrambling to release a new Civilization, the team at 2K Games is content with further iterating their most recent release. It may be old fashioned, but as long as they’re creating great content I’ll take it.
Today’s final wrap-up piece is one that many Starcraft II fans are most likely already aware of, but Idra, everyone’s favorite rage-filled professional Starcraft player has been released, ok fired, from team Evil Geniuses. Having seen Idra literally quit in the middle of professional matches in the past, the only surprise is that he lasted as long as he did. Perhaps known for having one of the most unprofessional attitudes in E-Sports, Idra will sadly be known more for quitting when things got tough than anything else he’s done in his career. The PA Report article in the link above has a handful of videos that show exactly what I’m talking about and it’s really sad to watch someone fight to get to the top and then quit the moment it becomes too difficult.