World of Warcraft has been in trouble since the release of Cataclysm. Subscriber rates have dropped and there has been a sizeable fan backlash after Cataclysm's release, with many feeling there wasn't a big enough level increase and that the changes and additions, particularly the two new races, weren't done well.
Outside of its own mistakes Blizzard also has to deal with the rise of free to play, I've mentioned this in a previous article as being a real thorn in Blizzard's side. Even newer MMOs like The Old Republic, which started as a subscription based game, are being forced to go free to play, is it only a matter of time until World of Warcraft is forced to follow suit? After all, it's clear a lot of people don't want to pay for their MMOs these days and the market is full of free ones so with the drop in quality with Blizzard's expansions can they hope to continue charging money to play?
Of course Mists of Pandaria could change things, it could be the expansion pack that Cataclysm wasn't, it could be a worthy successor to The Wrath of the Lich King. Or it could be panda's. Pandas. Yep.
What WoW needs is a big level increase, cool new races, new powers, awesome new areas and great new PvP and PvE areas. What it got with Cataclysm was mostly mediocre and so people didn't like it, the new PvP grounds weren't very good, the Horde got Goblins whilst the Alliance got Werewolves (seems like the Horde got a raw deal there) and why did the Tauren have Paladins? They don't fit with Tauren religion at all! I have to say Mists of Pandaria doesn't look like its going to be much more than mediocre either so perhaps it's time for WoW to go free to play?
I know Blizzard have made it free to play up to a certain level and I know they launched it in new territories like China but nothing has managed to stop more subscriber drops and if they continue releasing content that screams of complacency rather than a desire to improve and survive then more and more people are going to jump ship. Probably to an awesome free to play MMO like The Old Republic.
Of course Blizzard could prove me wrong, Mists of Pandaria could be awesome or maybe the subscriber rate will simply inexplicably pick up again. I hope so because, although I don't play it right now (I'm one of the many who jumped ship shortly after Cataclysm) I have had some good times on WoW in the past.
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