Many MMOs do not rebound whenever they begin to decline in subscribers. When subscribers begin to leave it is as if a black hole shows up and swallows them whole, never to return to the game again. Yet sometimes there is a game that turns on the afterburners and escapes the ever hungry black hole of doom and switches from declination to growth.
One of the many MMOs to reach such statue was Dungeons and Dragons Online which suffered from declining subscribers and what looked like the doors eventually shutting on it forever. They took a strong, bold move and went from a subscriber only system to a free-to-play, effectively turning the boat around and revitalizing the game, which is still going strong today.
This year has been a strange year with many MMOs receiving makeovers in the attempt to rescue it from the endless pit of doom. One game emerged from the salon with a face that resembled a newborn and its players fleeing the black hole and returning back to its loving embrace. That game is World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria.
It’s no secret that World of Warcraft: Cataclysm was not a great expansion. It wasn’t the expansion itself that was a game killer, while it was oft-kilter and atypical, many players still trogged through the content. The mortal wound came when not only was it a so-so expansion, but there was nearly a year between the final patch (of only three patches) and the next expansion. During that wait, the game suffered heavy losses and millions of subscribers jumped ship to try other games like Star Wars: The Old Republic, TERA, and The Secret World.
When the expansion came, it was like a wind of change, a surprise for many. Numerous angering issues in Cataclysm were now resolved and a plethora of features were added. The talent system was revamped to make it more user friendly and fun. The raid finder was polished and presented as a viable form of endgame for players seeking to see content, but not see WoW as a job. Pet battles, while mocked and ridiculed, actually came out nearly perfect – a fun and eccentric way to pass time in the world’s favorite MMO.
There were many, many, many other changes in the game. Ranging from static mana pools to the pet and mount journal. The key point is that they all added up to what was a reinvented WoW, a game that had upset and disfranchised the masses but now is presentable, lovable, and full of happy players content to battle the evils residing within Azeroth.