World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria is estimated to have the lowest day one sales of any World of Warcraft expansion to date. Current estimates place the figure between 600,000 and 700,000. To put that into perspective, Cataclysm sold 3.3 million units on day one. Even the previous lowest selling expansion, The Burning Crusade, sold four times as much as Pandaria did on its first day. When we consider that WoW has been losing subscribers steadily since 2010, and that in order to remain competitive in the game the most up to date expansion is required, things begin to look shaky for Activision’s MMO behemoth. The expansion packs are designed to stave off the boredom that comes from a steady grind and repetitive quest structure, they are meant to be game changers, enhancements and something to draw back players who quit (like myself: 4 months clean). Instead, the idea that Kung-Fu Panda would invade the game has kept me away. I want a game that grows with it’s audience, that stays kid-friendly while appealing to the mature demographic that plays far more frequently.
Guild Wars 2 is better looking, has better game-play, and to top it off, is free to play after the initial $60 purchase. Star Wars: The Old Republic was hailed as a WoW killer, but it flopped horribly. Guild Wars looks like it could be the one that topples Blizzard’s giant.
Activision dominates the console market with Call of Duty, and while that franchise has gotten very stale lately, they appear to be on the right track with the upcoming Black Ops 2. They are claiming to have added some game-changing elements while still keeping the core game-play the same. If Activision pulls that off then they might survive the fall of WoW, but without that constant, massive stream of income, the entire company, and therefore development standards will suffer. I say this with a little bit of hope, only because I am tired of military first-person shooters being the dominant genre on consoles. I want games like Watch Dogs, Grand Theft Auto V, and Star Wars 1313 to dominate the next generation of consoles. I want 20 hour story modes, open worlds, freedom of choice, and to make an influence on my game. E-sports will always have first person shooters, but games like Counter Strike and World of Tanks are far better suited to the task than what Activision has to offer.
World of Warcraft and Call of Duty are two of gaming’s biggest selling franchises of all time, they are both published by one of the biggest video game publishers of all time, and they both are turning sour. Will their imminent fall make way for Rockstar, Ubisoft, EA, and Lucasarts to take control of the market in the coming years, or will they avoid that fall all together?