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News video games 24 November 2021, 22:17

author: Jacob Blazewicz

WoW's Popularity Wanes, as Active Player Number Decline

World of Warcraft and Blizzard's problems have not gone unnoticed by the community, affecting player activity in Shadowlands following the release of update 9.1.

IN A NUTSHELL:
  1. Youtuber know as Bellular posted another material on the number of active players in World of Warcraft;
  2. This time the internet user showed data on the participation in raids, dungeons and PvP battles in the game after the update 9.1, Chains of Domination;
  3. The stats, although unofficial, leave little doubt: the number of active players has clearly decreased.

Reports from recent months create the impression that World of Warcraft has alienated the players. But is the former king of MMORPGs still experiencing a crisis, or is it just another example of complaints of - as Internet users call it - "a loud minority"? The matter was investigated by the host of the Bellular Warcraft channel on YouTube - the same one that previously reported on the mass departure of players.

Citing a youtuber is, unfortunately, a necessity. Blizzard hasn't been providing information on active subscriptions for a long time. Therefore, Bellular had to resort to unofficial sources - which does not mean that they are not relatively reliable. I'm talking about data from services that collect information on raids, dungeons and PvP games, such as WoW Armory or Raider.io.

Bellular's previous investigation, from August, indicated that WoW wasn't doing too well, and the number of active players may have dropped as low as 900,000. Unfortunately, this time too, the youtuber had to admit that things aren't looking very good.

Bellular points to the recent financial report of Activision Blizzard, according to which the number of MAU (Monthly Active Users) in the games by Warcraft's devs has remained stable. That doesn't sound like bad news... until we remember that during that time Blizzard not only advertised a new mode in Hearthstone, but also released Diablo II: Resurrected. By the company's own admission, it was Activision Blizzard's best-selling remaster ever in terms of first weeks after release.

So why, despite all this, did Blizzard fail to record an increase in MAUs in the past fiscal quarter? The answer comes to mind: it was other games that were at fault, which must have lost significantly in popularity.

Low traffic in Shadowlands dungeons...

Of course, it can be argued that it's not WoW that ran out of breath, but any of the other titles, such as Overwatch. Unfortunately, this thesis quickly loses ground when you look at the stats collected by Bellular. In practically every segment of World of Warcraft we can see a significant decrease in the number of active players in version 9.1.

WoWs Popularity Wanes, as Active Player Number Decline - picture #1
Source: Bellural Warcraft on YouTube.

Yes, the Mythic level dungeons initially attracted a large crowd for the June Shadowlands update. However, the second season of the expansion quickly fell out of favor, probably not unrelated to player disappointment. As a result, version 9.1 matched the worst performance of the basic Shadowlands after only 16 weeks, and thus performs worse than the last season of Battle for Azeroth (the previous expansion) during a similar period. The same BfA that was also disliked by fans in the last months of development.

It should be remembered that dungeons in WoW version 9.0 (which is after the release of Shadowlands) were devoid of many important elements. Valor Points were only added in patch 9.0.5, and we waited until update 9.1 for the return of teleportation in dungeons. In other words, the second season of Shadowlands offered much more than the first one in terms of dungeons. Despite this, they didn't attract the crowds for any length of time.

...and Chains of Domination raids.

Things don't look much better after looking at the raid data. Whether we are looking at normal, heroic or mythic variants, the first three months of the second season of WoW: Shadowlands show a significant drop in interest compared to the basic Shadowlands and the fourth season of BfA. We're talking about a 50% drop in numbers of first and last raid bosses taken down.

Bellular points out that while the result after update 9.1 is similar to that after patch 8.1, Shadowlands has had an incomparably better start than Battle for Azeroth. As a reminder: the latest expansion was allegedly the fastest-selling PC game in the market's history. The popularity of the expansion can also be seen from the statistics of defeated bosses collected by the youtuber. In other words, the drop in this value between the first and second seasons is much greater for Shadowlands (-55% on Normal) than it was in BfA (-44%).

Patches 9.1.5 and 9.2.0 a chance for WoW?

A comparison of guild participation in the heroic versions of Castle Nathria and Sanctum of Dominion raids (-51.7%) and in PvP battles (over 48% fewer clashes between August 30 and October 25; via Xunamte) does not inspire optimism.

WoWs Popularity Wanes, as Active Player Number Decline - picture #2
Source Bellural Warcraft on YouTube.

A separate issue remains the discussion about the reasons for the low popularity of Shadowlands. You could point to the troubles of Activision Blizzard, which deterred some players from WoW. However, equally or more significant are the problems of version 9.1 itself. Chains of Domination met with a cold reception. Even if occasionally calling the patch "the worst update in WoW's history" is quite an exaggeration, the second season of Shadowlands proved too modest for the players who hungry for more.

It's possible that on one hand many fans are waiting for an explanation for the controversy surrounding Blizzard, and on the other - for the launch of major new features in updates 9.1.5 and 9.2. Perhaps, as Bellural hopes, this will translate into a massive return of players to WoW. As long as their first impression isn't spoiled by other problems.

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