In the world of MMORPGs World of Warcraft has stood as the undisputed king for years. Whether or not you enjoy the game is irrelevant, you cannot deny its success. With over ten million subscribers it is simply huge. But is all that gradually changing? In recent years the number of subscribers has begun to drop, despite the game being made available in more regions and, on top of this, the game has been made free to play up until a certain level. Whilst Blizzard remain confident surely they must secretly be worried about the future of the franchise?
Of course there are still ten million subscribers, hardly an unhealthy amount and many of those ten million are die hard fans who are unlikely to go anyway but there is still plenty of room for the numbers to drop. Many thought that Cataclysm was a step in the wrong direction and even more feel that Mists of Pandaren is yet another step in that direction. In normal times they would have been able to get away with it but nowadays the quality and quantity of both subscription based and free to play MMORPGS is increasing rapidly, as is the number of platforms the games are available on. Indeed with the rise of free to play games in terms of quality many have found that it simply makes more financial sense to move to free to play games, and in this recession who can blame them?
With Guild Wars 2 launching this year and looking like it may very well have the potential to outdo World of Warcraft on almost every level can Blizzard hang on without some drastic, desperate actions? If they made World of Warcraft free to play then their business would probably collapse so this is hardly a likely scenario. Surely if they changed things up a bit, released better expansions, improved the graphics, changed the gameplay etc. then the end wouldn't have to be so inevitable? Personally I left the game because I felt that the graphics were dated, Cataclysm wasn't a good enough expansion, there were only five more levels and I felt that there wasn't enough to do once you reached level 85 and quite frankly the combat just started to feel a bit bland.
If more and more people stop playing the occasional free to play game and simply move to them completely and others start playing other MMOs such as Guild Wars 2 and The Old Republic then Blizzard will need to act fast to stop more people from doing this, or else their game might simply die.