Let's have a little honesty -- WoW's population is declining at a rate no one likes to see. And while yes, this latest batch of numbers indicates the decline now is significantly not as bad as it has been in the past, there is no denying it: WoW is less popular now than it has been in a very long time.
The question I pose to you all is simple: Is Blizzard going to be able to restore WoW to its former glory today?
I'm not sure they can. While more people are a good thing, there's a lot of downsides to such a large population. Primarily the task of simply controlling such a group and making them at all happy is damn near impossible. How do you convince 12 million people that you're taking the game in the right direction? The answer isn't something Blizzard knows, nor does anyone. Blizzard can tell you how to design a game to keep 11 million people happy and coming back for more -- but not 12. This is a fundamental question that needs to be addressed by the content and plans they announce today.
If Blizzard is able to pull this off, if they are able to bring WoW back to what it once was, they'll virtually guarantee insane profitability for the next decade or more. It's in the best interest of everyone at Activision-Blizzard to do this. And more importantly it's in the best interest of the shareholders to allow this to happen. Mike Morhaime and Bobby Kotick know this, and I suspect that they've given the Warcraft team every tool possible to allow for them to achieve this goal.
So as we're all excited for Corgis, Darkness, or Warlords today -- let's keep this in mind in the back of our heads: Blizzard needs to pull it off. And whatever it is, they need to define it so that this game maintains its kingship for the next decade to come. They can do it, but will they?
Today is the day we'll find out.