Blizzard on the World of Warcraft Social Experience

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Over the past few weeks, the World of Warcraft’s social experience has been discussed quite a few times. Yesterday, on Blizzard Q1 2020 earning call we heard J. Allen Brack, current president of Blizzard, point of view on the World of Warcraft social experience.

The question asked in the Q&A is about subscribers trend and how Blizzard wants to sustain it.

Ryan Gee — Bank of America Merrill Lynch — Analyst
Hey, good afternoon. Thanks for the question. Fantastic quarter you guys. I was hoping you can provide a little more color on the subscriber trends for while during the period and specifically, how you see the opportunity to sustain this larger base post-Classic as you move toward the Shadowlands expansion. Thanks
fool.com

J. Allen Brack — President of Blizzard
Hi, this is Jay. Thank you for the question. Before I answer, I’m going to take a step back and just say, we’re really thankful that our games are able to play a part and helping bring people together during what’s really an unprecedented and challenging time for us all. And the World of Warcraft is a very — it’s been fortunate to be engineer as a very social experience and that is true today as they were launched. Over time, we listen to the feedback from the community, and the game has evolved to what we now call the modern game, which has really expanded the breadth and the depth of gameplay as well as making it easier to kind of fine friends, group up, make progress or play alone, all within the social environment.

J. Allen Brack did explain the subscriber’s trend where he addressed returning players, classic, and work from home policy but the answer is long.

It is a challenging time indeed, and Activision-Blizzard games have gathered people for sure. Monthly Active users for Activision-Blizzard was 345 million and grew to 407 million in 2020 quarter 1.

  • Activision Blizzard had 345 million Monthly Active Users (MAUs)C in the quarter, with 41 million at Activision, 32 million at Blizzard, and 272 million at King.
  • For the quarter ended March 31, 2020, overall Activision Blizzard Monthly Active Users (MAUs)D were 407 million.
    • Blizzard had 32 million MAUsD in the first quarter.

So it seems Blizzards MAU didn’t grew, but some games lost players while other gained (eg. Overwatch lost players, World of Warcraft gained).

World of Warcraft’s social experience is a hot debate, as the game has changed a lot during its lifetime. Earlier, Mike Morhaime, former president of Blizzard, said in an interview with Seth Schiesel at GamesBeat Summit 2020 that World of Warcraft became less social, in an effort to achieve more accessibility.

The starting point of World of Warcraft’s social experience change was probably in Patch 3.3 the Fall of Lichking when they introduced Dungeon Finder which was and is probably the most controversial feature added.

Before Dungeon Finder, you had to go to your capital city or hub and find the other 4 members or just invite them from your guild which sometimes took a really long time. As Mike Morhaime said, in order to make the game more accessible and less time consuming, Dungeon Finder came to help. In later expansions, Group Finder and Raid finder were also introduced to help achieve accessibility.

Random Dungeon Finder - an impactful feature on World of Warcraft Social Experience

While the new features helped WoW to be less time consuming and more accessible, they also damaged its core social experience. World of Warcraft is still a social game, but as time went by it became less social. There are still huge guilds, communities in Discord, or in-game but the game no longer requires you to be social to play it. This can be considered a good thing for the game because some players might not have the time or want to be social.

The game, for most parts, doesn’t require you to be social as you can either do the content solo or just find a group easily. But what damaged the game social experience the most is that it feel you no longer need to be social. Because of such thing, players’ interaction is low and it’s harder to have an impactful social experience in World of Warcraft.

As with World of Warcraft, the world has also evolved and players now have a different taste. But to say that World of Warcraft is no longer a social game is to say it’s an RPG game rather than MMORPG which is not true. World of Warcraft still has it’s social aspects, there is still another person behind every character you see in-game, it’s just that fewer players feel the need to have a social experience.

J. Allen Brack also told that Blizzard is listening to feedback, which is a matter of debate, but we’ll let the time tell what will happen with Shadowlands!

Will Shadowlands Be Good?

Shadowlands Quality of Life Changes (So far)