World of Warcraft, the world’s best known massively multiplayer online role-playing game, became an instantaneous hit among gamers when it was released in 2004 and grew its player base to a staggering 12 million subscribers by 2012. However, nine years later, World of Warcraft is struggling to maintain its player base, with players’ morale following a downward trend. In fact, World of Warcraft might already be a dead game.
For a long time now, ever since 2014’s World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor expansion, the players’ morale seems to follow a downward spiral. Put simply, many felt that the game wasn’t worth it anymore and quit playing. And things only turned from bad to worse with the emergence of a series of lawsuits aimed at Activision Blizzard, the game’s developers, over sexual harassment and gender-based discrimination within the company. According to IGN, those lawsuits could be a death blow to World of Warcraft.
As per our previous report, the first lawsuit was filed by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing on July 21, accusing Activision Blizzard of allowing a “frat boy” workplace culture, which thrived on sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior towards its female employees. The company’s employees and their supporters went on strikes and work stoppages in light of the lawsuit, which prompted many of its leadership to leave Activision Blizzard in what can only be described as “rats fleeing a sinking ship.” Later on, the company was served a class-action lawsuit by its investors for deliberately failing to disclose its ongoing problems in an attempt to inflate its value. Of course, this amount of controversy had a negative impact on the continuing development of World of Warcraft and its new content, which further angered the game’s fandom.
Ultimately, we could argue that the ongoing controversies are, in fact, final nails in the coffin of an already dead game. As we previously stated, the gamers’ morale has continued spiraling downhill due to the game’s systems becoming increasingly more complicated and outright difficult with each new expansion. Not to mention that the game’s narrative has hit a storytelling drought. These issues, combined with the ongoing controversy, prompted many veteran players and several high-profile World of Warcraft streamers and YouTubers to publicly announce their departure from the game on their respective channels.
And it would seem that things aren’t even beginning to slightly look up. Blizzard was always tight-lipped about their numbers when it comes to player counts. Luckily, various services and websites connected to World of Warcraft can offer some rough estimates. According to unofficial and unverified sources, World of Warcraft: Shadowlands (the game’s latest expansion) currently has less than two million active subscribers playing the end-game content. It should be kept in mind that we’re discussing end-game content players and that the number of developing players isn’t included in the total count.
More importantly, those numbers don’t include the damage done by the Activision Blizzard lawsuits, which could, in the end, be a death blow for World of Warcraft.