As a Warcraft columnist for several years, there would inevitably be the moment when a deadline loomed and there was nothing to write about. Now I’ve removed myself from the 7.3 amusement ride going forward, it does mean that I’m left with a fairly fallow field to plant on, especially as there’s no raiding on my horizon. Is it worth trying to eke out a daily post when you refuse to play the ‘game’ that you’re given in a manner that seems acceptable to the majority of other people doing just that?
This morning I was reminded that, whether I like it or not, Warcraft remains the carrot on the end of a stick that is, it appears, the Battle.net launcher. With remastered versions of W3 and D2 very much more than a rumour, and your ability to beta Destiny 2 for a pile of gold gained from Legacy farming, it does appear that what matters more isn’t what game you choose, but that you’re using the interface. The key currency for ActiBlizz these days is not the sub numbers, but the MAU-count.
Monthly Active Users was the term introduced in financial reporting to remove the media feeding frenzy over Azeroth’s sub numbers, yet that doesn’t seem to stop outlets championing their success with headlines such as this (from last year.) Now, when you include Overwatch and Hearthstone in the mix, more people than ever before log into the Battle. net app every day. It means that there’s no favouritism between titles either: everybody holds the stage, regardless of the age of their title. In business terms this makes sound financial sense too: everybody’s pulling together. No one IP holds a dominance, regardless of age or the number of people working on it.
The problem with people like me, who have graphs like this saved and filed for easy reference, is that our memory of what happened before and the official version sometimes vary. This is particularly true at present with the revisionist Lore I’m having to deal with, and the recycling of content that is now all too necessary to keep the pace of Warcraft content moving forward. It is also becoming apparent that what passed for expensive in my day has been quite comprehensively redefined. I’ve already mentioned this in passing, but collectables now are a level of expensive that makes me shudder. When you’re asked to part with cash for a ‘statue’ that could be used to buy a decent PC instead? These are interesting times we live in.
Maybe it is because I’m old git, and you youngsters today can get orf moi lawn. Perhaps however it is part of a more subtle shift towards ActiBlizz not simply being a gaming producer, but a media giant. The obsession with esports, formation of TV studios and Merchandising arms would all point towards the Battle.net launcher gaining the significance of a service such as Steam, but I doubt that is the limit of the company’s ambition. If Destiny 2 was released in a ActiBlizz customised X Box One X I have no doubt that certain players would drop the cash just to own it. If W3 and D2 are released as a continuing stream of ‘classic’ game ports, the merchandise that will accompany the endeavour will inevitable sell many, many units. This is no hapless, unthought process any more. Here is a company with their eyes very much on extracting as much money from you as possible, for as many years as you are prepared to accommodate the relationship.
How much you choose to give, is of course, entirely up to you.