I recently contended that those who felt that WoW Patch 5.0.4’s drop date was some sort of scheme by Blizzard to undermine the Guild Wars 2 launch were… not aligned with reality.
My main point was that there was nothing in the patch, and I went through the release notes section by section to be sure, that would get people to resubscribe to WoW. If it was a deliberate plan, it was a bad one and hardly worth Blizzard bothering, in my opinion.
Most people reading my post seemed to agree, if the poll I included is to be believed, though some people had anecdotal evidence and/or a firm belief in the evil of Blizzard that allowed them to continue to cling to the patch 5.0.4 conspiracy. And I couldn’t really gainsay them, not being a Blizzard insider and having nothing but tortured logic and anecdotal evidence of my own.
But now there is a bit more evidence.
The Nosy Gamer does a weekly round up of MMO stats from Xfire. Specifically, he takes the number or hours Xfire measured every Sunday and pulls out the top 12 MMOs.
And while as an absolute measure of MMO populations Xfire is complete crap, it can serve as an indicator of population swings over time. You are measuring the same pool of people week after week and what they are playing.
And when it came to MMOs, Sunday, August 26th, which included the GW 2 head start but preceded the GW 2 launch and the Patch 5.0.4 drop, the top two MMOs measured in Xfire hours recorded were:
- Guild Wars 2 -79,622 hours
- World of Warcraft – 48,913 hours
That is a lot of Guild Wars 2 hours. The full top 12 list for that day is here.
The following week, this past Sunday, September 2nd, Xfire recorded the following:
- Guild Wars 2 – 92,946 hours (up 16.7%)
- World of Warcraft – 25,033 hours (down 48.8%)
Guild Wars 2 was up some more, which is to be expected, but WoW looks to have taken a dump. The full list is here.
That is an epic drop in hours for WoW. To give perspective, looking at the data Nosy Gamer makes available, 92K hours is a “Sunday when Cataclysm was fresh” level of WoW number, while 25K is in the “SWTOR hits the 30 day mark and the exodus begins” sort of number.
Now, you can argue about the accuracy of Xfire… that is such a drop that I wonder if there was an Xfire problem or if the servers were down… or that it was a holiday weekend (except GW2 went up, so no holidays in Tyria), but it looks to me like the first bit of hard data that Patch 5.0.4 wasn’t a big draw for people who were not subscribed to WoW. Or even people who were.
And if this was a Blizzard initiative to mess with GW2, it does not look like it went as planned to me.
What do you think?