Premise: Blizzard is waiting too long to release Patch 4.1 and is allowing the player base to slowly wither away.
My guild has always been a pretty good microcosm of the general trends in WoW. We’re a pretty diverse group and not too focused on any one thing, so just about any pattern in the game at large is reflected in the guild population to some extent.
I didn’t collect actual data for this, so my observations are purely anecdotal. With that in mind, overall online time in my guild has plummeted drastically in the past few weeks. Whereas a few weeks ago you could find 15-20 people online even on a non-raiding night, now we are lucky to have 8-10 on and we are struggling to populate raids. The decrease has become most obvious in the past two weeks, so I conclude (unscientifically) that the rate of player loss has accelerated lately. That’s just in my guild, but as I said we are usually pretty typical of the game as a whole.
The dropoff has become quite notable among our most devoted players. You know those players – the ones that you can count on to be online every night, even if they are just sitting in Stormwind doing nothing more than talking in guild chat. Those players are often AWOL these days as well.
If the patch had dropped two weeks ago, with the new heroics and mechanics changes, it would have been just in time to hold the interest of many bored players. If it had been released this week it still would have been close.
Now that it seems like it will be next week at the earliest, I am just looking at damage control. I’m wondering how many people will already be 2 or 3 weeks offline by that point and simply won’t come back.
Blizzard has always had the “when its ready” philosophy and I can respect that. However, this has dragged on for quite a while now. I only wonder if its affecting other guilds as badly as it is mine.