Category Archives: World of Warcraft

SuperData Shows Blizzard Still Slipping in March

As the end of one month approaches, SuperData Research posts their top ten revenue list for the previous month.  I’ve now come to expect this pattern.  Anyway, here are the usual categories.

SuperData Research Top 10 – March 2017

We shall see if they come up with a revision like they did last month.  However, no revision can keep the unified World of Warcraft from sliding as it dropped to sixth place, falling behind World of Tanks and a resurgent New Westward Journey Online II, the latter a Chinese title that hasn’t been on the list since December.

Pokemon Go has also slipped, dropping from fourth to eighth place on the mobile list, while Lineage 2 Revolution, a mobile MMORPG using the Lineage II lore licensed from NCsoft, dropped from first to tenth place over the course of a month.

Items that SuperData noted as part of their post:

  • In March, Overwatch generated less total revenue than Counter Strike: Global Offensive on PC for the first time since its launch.
  • Ubisoft continues their string of successful post-holiday releases with Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands, finding surprising success with both the western and eastern audiences.
  • Mass Effect: Andromeda disappoints, as digital revenues only increased by mid-single-digit percentages against 2012’s Mass Effect 3, despite the growing shift towards digital purchases.
  • Hearthstone shows signs of recovery. Hearthstone’s mobile March revenue doubled what it was in February, but is still significantly less than its recent peak in December. Growth came on the back of pre-sales for an upcoming expansion.

As I usually add, SuperData’s perspective is limited, they watch only the digital market and likely only that of companies that agree to share data with them directly, but I do find some value in seeing how the results of their specific measurement change over time.

A Barrier to My Eventual Return to Azeroth

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, what I am playing is driven as much by what I am in the mood for as anything.  No amount of “I should be playing…”  will get me to launch a game.

And moods come and go.  Today I am playing a lot of Pokemon.  Next week I might tire of that and move on to something else.

But mood alone can only go so far.  Mood gets me to log in, sets up the scenario.  Then I need a task, a direction, a place to go.  I can be very task oriented, so I need a plan or a goal to work towards.  I was in the mood for EverQuest II back in December, but the plan for progress never solidified and I walked away.

All of which brought my thoughts to World or Warcraft.  I am not playing it currently, but I expect that I will eventually.  Curse has been keeping my addons up to date.  The Legion expansion lost my interest after running through all the zones and finishing up the quest lines.  Beyond that and hitting the level cap I ran out of goals there.

But the 7.2 update introduced both new content and a good goal.

now running in Azeroth

Unlocking flying in the Legion expansion is the sort of task I could see myself coming back to the game to run down.  It requires a lot of work, but the tasks themselves are not insurmountable on their own… they were even reduced in scope… and knocking them out as I went would provide a feeling or progress.  Progress feeds the soul of the MMORPG achiever.

The problem is that Blizzard threw a monkey wrench in the gears for me with the 7.2 patch.

The new feature where mobs scale to your item level seems bizarro world bad.

Yes, I know they cut it back a bit.

And I even understand the problem they are trying to solve, a problem I have bitched about myself, the trivialization of content.

You can see that issue just by starting a new character in WoW and running up to level 30 or so.  If you insist on running all the quests… which is to say, you want to consume the actual content and see the various zone story lines through to their conclusion… you will soon find you have out leveled the quests as they go gray on you while any foes are now so weak in comparison that Blizzard actually made a piece of gear that was effectively the “false swipe” move from Pokemon that would not kill mobs so you wouldn’t sneeze and slay an NPC you needed alive. (I think it was the toy foam sword, though I could be wrong.)

So there is an issue there.  This was addressed to a certain extent in the Legion expansion at launch by making the initial set of zones auto-scale to your level.  After you were done there, everything else would be at level cap.

You still had to keep up with gear progress.  But that wasn’t so bad, and gear progression is one of the things in WoW that makes you feel good, especially in the case of weapons.  Few things make you feel like you’ve grown stronger than being able to smite down a foe more easily than before.

But now when that hot new piece of gear drops and your item level count goes up, your foes get tougher as well.  That effectively kills the good feeling you get with gear progression, at least out in the open world.  If you’re running instance or raids it is a different story.  And, as somebody with a strong achiever streak in them, this rains on my achiever parade.

In an attempt to solve what I will cop to as a legitimate problem it feels like they have just made a new one.  It reminds me of the tale where a guy gets cats to chase away the troublesome mice, then dogs to chase the troublesome cats, and so on until he ends up with elephants and has to get the mice back to rid himself of the pachyderms that are literally knocking his house down; it feels like a solution that just changes the problem rather than solving it.

Of course, I haven’t actually resubscribed and logged back into WoW to give it a try, but the feeling that this may suck makes that less likely to happen.  And all the more so since I haven’t seen much about the topic of late.  Maybe it wasn’t that bad.  Maybe people quit and left over it.

So how bad is it, or is it that bad at all?

April Fools at Blizzard 2017 – Not Much to Talk About

Here we are again, another April Fools has rolled around and… Blizzard doesn’t seem in the mood.

There are a couple of items up for StarCraft II that have an April 1 date on them, so I assume they are humor.  There is the the Instability / Co-op Mutation announcement.

D4rK V0ic3? What does this picture even mean?

Then there is the Overlord Announcer customized announce package.  It speaks Zerg.

Overlord, with sound samples

It’s funny because you can’t understand anything in the sample sounds I guess.

And that was about it.

Over on the World of Warcraft site they are still focused on the Tomb of Sargeras 7.2 update and its ongoing hotfixes, all of which has turned into a bad joke in and of itself.

On the Diablo III site, season 10 opened (finally available on consoles!) and there something about the coming necromancer update announced back at BlizzCon, but nothing humorous.

The Hearthstone site is on about the upcoming Journey to Un’goro card pack.

Heroes of the Storm news is all about the 2.0 plan to fix the game and make it popular.  I am sure you can make a joke about that, but that likely wasn’t Blizzard’s intent.

And the most recent update about Overwatch involves a statue of Windowmaker for $150.  That they have to say, “Limit – 2 per customer” should be funny… or sad.  I can’t tell.

So not much of an April Fools from the team down in Irvine.  Digging around, it seems like there may have been some things done in-game for players, but the usual medium of outrageous new features and fake patch notes on the various sites seems to have fallen by the wayside.  I’ll have to check Blizzard’s April Fools archive next week to see if anything else was added for today.  But for now, that is all I have seen.  I’ll amend the page if something new comes up.

Addendum, thanks to the comments:

My own archive of past years:

World of Tanks Passes WoW West According to SuperData Research

SuperData Research put up their top ten lists for February 2017 this week.

SuperData Research Top 10 – February 2017 (original)

I noted last month that Blizzard decided to break out their World of Warcraft numbers for SuperData into East and West, which one can assume meant China and the rest of the world.  There was no statement as to why that change occurred, but I speculated that it might have been done to give Overwatch a boost on the list.  Splitting WoW in two pushed Overwatch up into third place.  Or maybe they just wanted to push somebody else off the list.

A month later things have changed. While the East/West designations are absent, I think we can assume that the higher WoW is “West” as it was the higher of the two last month.  World of Tanks swapped places with Overwatch in February while the nineteen year old Korean MMO classic Lineage jumped ahead of WoW East.

Otherwise the list is unchanged from February, with only Blizzard titles losing ground.  I wonder how Blizzard felt about that?

Oh, wait, I bet I know!

It seems as though they called up SuperData and told them to get rid of that East/West split, so that first chart disappeared from their site to be replaced by a new one.

SuperData Research Top 10 – February 2017 (revised)

The recombined World of Warcraft is back ahead of World of Tanks, Overwatch is still down in sixth place, DOTA 2 is up a spot, and For Honor gets a spot on the list.  I suspect we shall hear no more of an East/West split in WoW numbers.

Meanwhile, the report also has more bad news for Blizzard:

Hearthstone hits a new low on mobile. Hearthstone marked its lowest point since releasing on both Android and iOS smartphones. Revenue is down significantly year-over-year and month-over-month. Recent gameplay decisions have been unpopular with the Hearthstone community, and the result has been a sharp decrease in conversion on mobile. Desktop revenue is also down, but to a lesser extent, perhaps due to the more “hardcore” demographic on PC.

Not a good month for Blizzard.

Other items of note… at least items that interest me… Pokemon Go is still holding on to 4th place on the mobile chart, a surprising performance for a game several people have told me is “dead,” and Candy Crush Saga dropped off the chart completely, having lost its hold on the 10th rung of the ladder.

The Ongoing Tension Between Solo and Grouping

In which we are reminded that the “group-solo” dynamic in MMORPGs is not settled and likely never will be.

I have been thinking about the solo/grouping dynamic a bit after a couple of previous posts regarding World of Warcraft and EVE Online.

Yesterday the 7.2 patch went live for WoW, and one of the key items in it for a lot of people was the ability to finally finish up the achievements to unlock flying in the expansion.

Now available

The grind to get there seems, to me, to indicate how much the devs would like you not to be able to fly until you’ve walked the whole expansion. (WoWHead has a nice little tool to track your progress towards unlocking flying.)

However, participating in a raid… which at one point was never going to be available via LFR, then was going to be available via LFR at some much later date… is no longer on the list.  The achievements for unlocking flying are available to the dedicated soloist.

Given the situation, where we learned back during Warlords of Draenor that a very vocal subset of the WoW population believes that flying is part of the social contract between them and Blizzard, and where Blizzard seems to have agreed after its own protestations, making it a soloable venture is the right decision.  “You must raid” as a prerequisite for flying is a non-starter, even with something like LFR available.

Then over in New Eden, CCP announced their plans for refineries in EVE Online.  One key aspect of the change involved moon mining.  Rather than being the passive activity it is now where, once the POS is setup and configured all you do is flying out to it once in a while and collect the resulting moon goo, moon mining is going to become an active process where chunks of the moon will be ripped from its surface to float in space where people will need to undock and harvest it.

Moon chunks in spaaaaaaace!

My own reaction to this was to wonder if this new method would be fun for people as an ongoing mechanic or initially fun before turning into yet another aspect of EVE Online that is grindy boring.  But I do not mine moons… or asteroids or anything really any more… so my thoughts on the topic were fairly brief.

Kirith Kodachi though, he saw this as a blow against the null sec empires.  Rather than being able to simply put up towers and collect the proceeds, people were going to have to work to get those essential… essential to tech II production… moon resources.  And that certainly seems to be the case.  Harvesting moon goo is going to be more work.

Enter Neville Smit, whose own follow up post to the CCP announcement takes this thought a step further.  He sees this as yet another squeeze on the solo New Eden entrepreneur.  Who besides the null sec alliances is organized enough to adapt to these new mechanics both effectively and efficiently?  It is the CSM elections all over again, where a large group that had to organize by necessity is thus already poised to take advantage of something where organization is a critical element.

Basically, the rich get richer and Malcanis wins again.  What is a solo capsuleer to do?

Azeroth and New Eden are drastically different places, but they both still end up walking that same path between what can be done solo and what should require a group, organized or otherwise.

World of Warcraft owes a healthy chunk of its success to enabling solo play.  It is one thing to pine for the good old days of EverQuest, but the fact that solo wasn’t a thing put a cap on its popularity.  So WoW has to keep on the path of allowing solo play to be viable to keep subscribers.  They have to play it safe and not do anything crazy like… say… making mobs in WoW Legion scale to your item level rather than just your level so your daily faction grind becomes a chore… and give solo players crutches in the form of dungeon finder to let them dip their toes into grouping without commitment.

EVE Online, on the other hand, does pride itself on being… difficult.  That alone has put a cap on how many subscribers it can ever hope to have.  But it has been reasonably good at not explicitly killing the viability of solo play, at least for specific definitions of “solo.”  Are you still “solo” if you are multi-boxing multiple accounts?  You don’t need half a dozen people to sign your corp charter or need to form a fleet of a given size to attempt content… you’ll likely get blown up if you do, but if you want to try you’re welcome.

And, in that spirit, there is nothing that specifically prohibits a solo player from trying to set up a refinery to moon mine, just like there isn’t anything specifically prohibiting a solo player from trying to take null sec space.  They can have at it all they want, it is just likely to end badly.  And I think it is okay to have content that requires group play.  But I wonder if CCP should be trying harder for solo and smaller group play, especially when it comes to making changes to things that were once viable for those groups.

Flying Comes to WoW Legion

Today is the day, the day that the Tomb of Sargeras update, Patch 7.2, goes live in World of Warcraft.

Available now!

The update has been a while coming.  Blizzard was talking about it back at BlizzCon in early November.

But the patch delivers quite a bit of content.  The release notes are full of details.  The Broken Shore is now available, there is a new dungeon, pet battle dungeons, new incentives to grind reputation, new class campaigns, and, most of all, flying.

I haven’t played WoW for a while now.  I tapped out of WoW Legion before BlizzCon, having done all the main zone story lines and being otherwise uninterested in the daily rep grind or queuing up for random dungeons.  Flying makes me think about going back, but then I think about all the items on the list to get there and any thoughts of whipping out the credit card to re-subscribe fades.

Still, for those who remain invested, there is a bunch of new content available now.

WoW East and WoW West

SuperData Research just put out their January Top 10 lists.  Despite my skepticism about their methodology and the likely incompleteness of their data set (not every company hands over data to them) I do like to watch it month after month on the theory that watching data over time can mark trends, even if any individual data point is suspect.

This month, however, brought a new twist, with World of Warcraft being broken out into East (meaning China, presumably) and West (which I would then assume was the rest of the world, which Blizzard runs directly).  So divided, WoW manages to take up two spots on the PC top 10 list.

SuperData Research Top 10 - January 2017

SuperData Research Top 10 – January 2017

I am curious as to why Blizzard would break those numbers out.  Did they want to push somebody off the list? (I posted the previous month’s list here if you want to compare and see who might have fallen off.)

Or did Blizzard want to boost Overwatch further up the list?  Last time WoW was above Overwatch, but splitting Azeroth into two parts drops them both below the shooter.

Is this another attempt to prove that Blizzard isn’t completely dependent on the fortunes of WoW?  It certainly seems to be a testament to WoW’s strength that it can hold two spots on the chart.

Meanwhile, Candy Crush Saga continues to hold on to that 10th spot on the mobile list while Pokemon Go remains in 4th position despite not adding much of anything in January.