On October 24, 2011, I made a post wondering if Diablo II would be the biggest threat to WoW. Has that come to pass?
I think about when Rift came out and it was directly competing with WoW. Our guild lost exactly one person to that game. We had other guidies who tried it for a week, but they all came back to WoW. Then SWTOR came out. It made a little dent in our player count, but no one ever missed a raid night in WoW because they were busy with SWTOR.
Now that D3 is out, how are things looking in your guild? Here’s a screenshot of my friends list on WoW on a Saturday evening, during what would normally have been a raid night…
On any given evening, my guild now has 3-5 people online, whereas we used to have 10-15 even on a slow night.
Of course, I can’t lay all of this on D3. Its also a result of the long tail at the end of the expansion cycle, where we are all sick to death of Dragon Soul and looking for something else to do. This is actually a fairly brilliant piece of timing by Blizzard. Bored WoW players are playing D3, but due to Battle.net they can still see which of their friends are online in WoW. It keeps that connection to WoW so that we won’t forget about it.
For WoW players who didn’t buy D3,, though, it sucks to log in and see a nearly empty guild roster. I think those players are the most likely to get disheartened and leave the game.
D3 is not a long-term game. You can play through the whole story in a few days (or weeks if you’re very casual about it). Then you can replay it as a different class, or go on to Nightmare and Hell modes. I think that long-term playability isn’t there. If Blizzard is as smart as I give them credit for, they will have the pre-MoP hype ratchet up as the D3 players dwindle. Then bored D3 players will jump back to WoW for the pre-expansion world events and the class/talent updates in advance of the game release.
For that to happen, the final buildup to pandas needs to start up sometime this summer. We’ll see…