Blizzard to address WoW subscription dips with more frequent expansions


World of Warcraft is such a tremendous force in the gaming industry that many simply take its dominance for granted. Like any other business though, it sees its share of ups and downs. Blizzard Entertainment is dedicated to following those trends for reasons that should be fairly obvious, and one thing that’s been noted is a dip in subscriber numbers during the time between expansion pack releases. More alarmingly, the window between an expansion’s release and the inevitable dip has been growing shorter.

“As our players have become more experienced playing World of Warcraft over many years, they have become much better and much faster at consuming content,” company president Michael Morhaime told Gamasutra during a conference call interview. “And so I think with [the most recent expansion pack] Cataclysm they were able to consume the content faster than with previous expansions, but that’s why we’re working on developing more content.”

Morhaime spoke of a concerted effort at Blizzard to deliver more regular content updates. The hope is that an increased steady flow game enhancements will keep players interested and help subscriber numbers grow or at least become more stable. While Morhaime didn’t say anything about upcoming release plans, he did reveal that there’s a general focus at Blizzard on speeding up the development process.

“We need to be faster at delivering content to players,” he said. “And so that’s one of the reasons that we’re looking to decrease the amount of time in-between expansions.”

The other reason, the one Morhaime isn’t talking about but is surely spending some amount of time considering, is the coming launch of Star Wars: The Old Republic, the upcoming EA MMORPG developed by BioWare and set in George Lucas’ massive sci-fi universe. More than any other MMO before it, SW:TOR has the potential to steal subscribers away from Azeroth, what with it’s unusual (for an MMO), narrative-heavy approach — an area BioWare excels in — and Star Wars fanfolk appeal.

Whatever inspires the line of thought, the takeaway should leave you WoW fans pretty excited: more content is coming to the popular MMO, and with greater frequency.