The hump day brings news of gaming declines. World of Warcraft reports a continuing trend of drops in subscriber counts. Codemasters is offering refunds following the negative feedback to their latest Colin McRae Rally title. Finally gaming pre-orders, on the whole, seem to be decreasing as well. On the upside, Square Enix is tripling their sales forecast for this quarter due to exceptional performance. Here is the gaming news daily digest from Guardian Liberty Voice for Aug, 6, 2014.
World of Warcraft subscriptions drop by nearly 1 million
The top-grossing and addictive massively multiplayer role-playing game seems to be past its prime, seeing a continued decline in subscribers. Activision Blizzard, the publisher and developer of the title, has announced a drop of 800,000 subscribers since March 31. The number of players is now at around 6.8 million, compared to the peak of 12 million back in 2010. World of Warcraft has nearly halved its virtual population in these past four years; if the trend continues, the game may not have much time left. However, the publisher does not seem too frazzled, expecting a new spike after the release of the upcoming Warlords of Draenon expansion, now exceeding 1.5 million pre-orders.
Colin McRae Rally reboot offering refunds
A few days ago Guardian Liberty Voice gaming digest reported a new HD remake of the old popular rally simulator. Despite the initial fanfare, the title proved to be less than spectacular and the publisher Codemasters is now offering refunds. Many fans felt the game did not reflect the product description and did not live up to their expectations. Among one of the biggest gripes was lack of vehicle customization. Tweaking the tires and suspension for the right surface of a track has been the staple of the rally genre, and a big selling point for car aficionados. Codemasters hopes to restore “any lost faith” with the refunds and thank the fans for their support. The move definitely is a nice touch in a world where big triple-A publishers often keep their distance from their customers and do little outside of formal statements and apologies.
Game pre-orders decreasing, according to Activision
Eric Hirshberg, the publishing boss at Activision known for Call of Duty series and the upcoming Destiny shooter-MMO, has reported a decline in pre-orders of their titles. He explained it is not just Activision, however, but an industry-wide phenomenon. Gaming pre-orders have been an important part of the sales cycle, giving developers and publishers an early estimate of the popularity of their titles, as well as incentive for retailers to stock the shelves with their products. The trend is not actually surprising. As Hirshberg further explains, the advent of digital distribution has made pre-orders less relevant as there is never a shortage of a purely virtual good. Nonetheless, many retailers are struggling to stay relevant in this environment. GameStop in particular is known for often brokering exclusive content or extras with publishers for pre-orders at their stores.
Square Enix sales better than expected
While the previous highlights seem to reflect negative trends about the state of gaming today, Square Enix brings a bit of good news to the table. The company has adjusted the forecast of their current financial quarter, expecting three times as many sales as it originally did. The confidence is based on the current high numbers, coming primarily from the new Final Fantasy XIV: Realm Reborn MMO as well as Dragon Quest X. Their less popular title, Murder: Soul Suspect also helped to boost the sales a bit. The previous quarter, Square Enix has seen approximately $229.5 million revenue, about twice as much as previous year. With things going this well, gamers will not be seeing a final Final Fantasy any time soon.
Gaming New Digest From Guardian Liberty Voice Commentary by Jakub Kasztalski
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