How WoW's Population is its Greatest Strength
ByDate: Mar 28 2017 Views:
World of Warcraft has arguably retained its dominance in the MMORPG field. Despite being around 13 years old as of this point, it has held its ground very well. Whereas most games that came out in the same period and later with subscriptions and ended up going F2P due to dwindling player bases, its community has stood strong. And this is one of WoW's greatest strengths, giving players an experience that just isn't available in most other games.
Activity Among All Levels
It doesn't matter if you are a trial player or an end-game one, you are going to find plenty of players around your level to link up with. From level 1 to 110 and raiding, chat is active, as are PvP and dungeons. Regardless of the level bracket you are in, these queues are fairly quick, so you are able to jump in and out of content as you please. Or if you want to solo your way through some areas, that is possible as well.
The population hurdle is seen on many games. For example, in Rift, PvP (warfronts) is basically dead up until you get towards the level cap. You can actually stay queued all the way up and never have one pop. Dungeons are largely the same way, with multi-hour queues. Essentially, you either have to solo or link up with group members until you're in the latest content, otherwise you will spend more time in queues than actually doing anything.
It is worth noting that WoW's population is mostly at level 110 at this point, but there are enough in each other bracket to still give players to join up with.
Keeping Players Reeled in Socially
A side effect of a population is that most players get linked up with new friends or guilds. There are countless players that stay even when they're bored of the game simply because they have a lot of friends they want to continue playing with. And this bond among gamers can be quite strong – between achievements, progression, and wanting to keep playing with people you are familiar with, there is a strong tendency towards hanging around. This has a bit of a snowball effect, in that players that are staying for others cause others to stay around, keeping the community solid.
Monetization and Content
Because of how many players are still in WoW, subscribing and purchasing expansions, Blizzard has a very healthy income stream coming from the game. Many games have run into financial issues, pushing them to shut down, limit content, or use other things to help push players to spend money. With WoW, everything is fair between all of the players – one subscriber with more money isn't going to have any benefit over another one. Note that this is ignoring RMT, as that takes place in any other game as well.
The income has allowed Blizzard to have a very active support system and many content updates. It is arguably among the top when it comes to just how much there is to do within the game (if not the top), and it is continually growing. Even spending a few months away can easily result in you coming back to game-changing patches and new things to do, something that just isn't seen that often in most other games due to having smaller development teams.
What About Recent Population Drops?
It should come as no surprise that World of Warcraft has experienced some population drops. Being that the game is as old as it is, mixed with varying reviews on expansions that have been released, the population experiences surges and drops every year or so. At its peak, it was said to have over 15 million subscribers, and is claimed to be anywhere from 5-8 million today. The important thing to keep in mind, however, isn't that it is lower than its peak, but rather that it is still massively above that of most other games. Media loves to focus on the negatives, such as it losing a few million players after an expansion has been released, but in actuality, it is far from dying, and is still in a state of extreme success. If you’ve jumped into other games that are a few years old, you will undoubtedly have noticed that the populations aren’t nearly as strong. And that’s considering the fact that WoW has a massive number of different servers – a recent poll on Area 52, for example, showed that there were 6,000 players concurrently on just that one server.
Whether you like the game or not, there’s a lot to say for how it’s held up over the years. Many games have come and go, but it has stood the times and proven to be a very solid contender. That isn’t to say that another won’t come at some point and take over its spot as the dominator, but so far nothing has even come close.