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World of Warcraft hasn’t changed enough, says Rift designer

During an Activision Blizzard earnings call for investors in May, Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime reported that the total number of subscribers for World of Warcraft had fallen from its peak of 12 million to 11.4 million. WoW’s 11.4 million subscribers still puts Blizzard’s MMO ahead of the pack of other pay-to-play MMOs with monthly fees, but the announcement also happened to follow the release of Trion’s fantasy MMO, Rift.

According to Rift designer Will Cook, Trion would “love to take credit” for the dip in WoW’s subscriber base, but Cook feels that Blizzard’s most recent Cataclysm expansion for WoW just didn’t shake up the world of Azeroth enough. Speaking to VideoGamer, Cook described WoW as “samey.” Cook remembers that “everybody was worried cataclysm was going to change too much. And the feeling I got was that it didn’t change enough. It is the samey kind of thing.”



That’s not to say that Cook is anti-WoW. “It’s phenomenal, the phasing is great, it’s essentially the same game it was six years ago in a lot of ways. But it’s not different enough and most people I know are sort of fading from it. It’s still the raiding game and social game that kept me in it for so long, kept me re-upping, but people seem to be fading from that,” says Cook.

GamesRadar gave Rift an eight-out-of-ten score in our review. Although I haven’t personally had the time to play it much since the closed beta, I remember really loving the game’s talent system. It was super customizable, and allowed you to create lots of fun hybrid classes, like tanks who could also heal, or DPS units with lots of buffs to power-up your party. The game’s actual rift system, which generates portals that spew out mobs across the land were also great – and dispelled the concept of towns as “safe zones” with local NPCs clashing against waves of demons pushing their way into what would normally be a ho-hum hub for quest givers and merchants in other MMOs.

Did Rift lure you away from WoW and do you feel that Cataclysm didn't offer enough changes? Share your thoughts on the state of Azeroth below.

Jun 23, 2011

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12 comments

  • TheRandomFool - June 26, 2011 5:13 p.m.

    Guild Wars 2. That's all that could possibly need saying.
  • bkoz117 - June 24, 2011 4:31 p.m.

    I'm saving my MMO love for The Old Republic, but I could see rift being a fun time, maybe I'll try it. I left WoW before Cataclysm, I just needed a change from the same thing over and over again.
  • ObliqueZombie - June 24, 2011 4:57 a.m.

    WARNING: This is long. I've known about and played a little of World of Warcraft over the years, before Cataclysm and Wrath of the Lich King, and I loved it then. Just the other day, I bought Rift, made it to level 35, and this is what I have to say about both. First off, I JUST got into WoW, truly, for the first time ever. EVER. I scored a free account from a friend, with all the expansions, so if that hadn't have happened, I wouldn't pay the $80+ to play WoW in the first place. But since I have, that's irrelevant. Just know that, with these sever amounts of updates, starting places, and hella stable community, here's why I prefer WoW: -It's got a better art style. -It's got a firmer fan base. -There are more instances. -There are more (interesting) mounts. -The quests are much more diverse, and albeit, fun. (I shot down helicopters, blew up a base, and became a Big Daddy, for Christs' sake!) -There are 10 races to choose from, each are unique. -Each class makes you feel like you have a place in the world (of Warcraft). Race restrictions are cool, too. -The PvP has much cooler areas to battle in. -The "story" was actually interesting to read, as the battles unfold between Alliance and Horde. -It's, plain and simple, fun. -FLYING. Whereas in Rift, I found myself questioning if I wanted to continue this game around level 24 or so, because I was just... bored. Nothing stood out in the game. It wasn't set in stone enough, and that's sad to see from developers trying so hard to win over WoW fans. The only thing that ever, EVER caught my eye was the namesake: rifts. And even THEN, they got annoying. If I'm trying to level my level 13 guy in a borderline-deadly area, I don't want to deal with level 15 elites during a full-scale Death invasion. While it's cool in the community sense of the word, Invasions were NOT fun when they invade a corner of a desolate, low-level mountain side. But, aside from that one cool thing, here are the things that made the game NOT fun for me: -The art style was bland, uninteresting. -The amount of content was severely lacking. -The races were uninteresting. -The story was bland, but had some cool parts. -The "roles" system made it almost pointless to make any other class; one class could have everything you'd need. -The mounts/pets were lacking. -Shouldn't they hire author's nowadays? The writing was terrible! I'm sure it's not fair to compare a few-month old game, to one that's 6 years old, AND to one that has 3 expansions, but still, if you're gonna openly challenge WoW, make me impressed. Don't make me feel like I'm playing a widely mediocre game, when a fantastic game is beckoning me. I can't wait to have this discussion again when SWTOR rolls around!
  • Joe_F_Ugly - June 24, 2011 2:57 a.m.

    I actually did leave WoW for Rift, although I never did play WoW that much to begin with. I absolutely love Rift, but Trion needs to come out with an expansion soon or it's going to get rather stale. The level cap is just begging to be raised and that world needs a little more room to roam around in. I might just leave for SWTOR when it comes out, so Rift needs to do something before Star Wars steals yet another part of my life away...
  • MercurialForce - June 24, 2011 2:05 a.m.

    Dammit.
  • Augimix - June 24, 2011 2:03 a.m.

    I left WoW, but not for Rift. I played Rift for the first month, got level 50 and then geared up on Tier 2 gear then it just got boring. I came back to WoW and have found myself loving it again.
  • Konfess - June 25, 2011 1:49 a.m.

    Every time I read a post regarding the change in WoW's sub I have to repeat what should be obvious to everyone but us gamers. The Economy is bad. WoW has lost over half a million subscriptions. Take a guess how many of them are unemployed or have taken lower paying jobs and can no longer afford a monthly subscription. Home sales are down, car sales are down, movie ticket sales are down, restaurant sales are down. Plain and simple the economy is in a depression. Age of Conan, Champions Online, Fallen Earth, LOTRO, and DDO have all gone from subscription to Free to Play. I have little hope for any non Blizzard MMO to release in this economy. The question the industry must answer is how many people will or are paying more than one subscription. In 2004 I had 7 subscriptions, now I have 1.
  • Elementium - June 24, 2011 5:03 p.m.

    I doubt Rift had much to do with the number drop. Like the article says, many players were hoping Cataclysm would really expand the game and when it didn't offer anything more than the typical expansion experience (which has always been great but this time, not great enough) people got bored. WoW will eventually lose more players but it's important to note that it won't be "killed by other games" and it wont "kill" itself. WoW will simply get too old and it's approaching that quickly. If anything, the game needs a graphical overhaul.. to the player models atleast. However with Titan in development I sense that Blizzard is no longer willing to put that kind of cash or development time into it. WoW is still fun, it's especially worth while to do the new quests when leveling up but when it comes down to it people want a new game and so far the new MMO's haven't delivered.
  • Whiffmeister - June 24, 2011 12:15 p.m.

    Played WoW for 4 years and loved it. Did everything I wanted it to and the expansions up to Cataclysm added some real fun content and challenges. However I tend to agree that Cataclysm wasn't that much of a change to keep me playing. There wasn't really enough unless you felt like starting a Worgen or a Goblin and then their zones really made things jump. But as you progresses ... not really much that was compelling. Played Rift on the open beta and liked what they were doing. OK so the graphics weren't bright and colourful but then my world isn't coloured in with crayon either so I don't really want that. The gameplay was pretty familiar as they had pretty much copied the keyboard shortcuts from WoW. The souls concept really made things come alive with such customisation that the old cookie cutter builds were pretty much invalid. But it was Rifts themselves that made me sit up and take notice, that and the temporary raid group that you didn't have to wait to be invited to and then dropped by a petulant 13 yo who didn't like your gear score. It was fun, frenetic and made you appreciate the roles. Since then I have been playing Rift pretty much non-stop, levelled three classes to 50 and am enjoying the end-game and the frequent world/zone events. This doesn't mean I don't go back to WoW but I find it less compelling than the instant satisfaction fun I can have in Rift. I am sure that Blizzard will have learned and I am certain that they will put some content in that will make me come back, but until then ...
  • ShadowReaper666 - June 24, 2011 5:33 a.m.

    @ObliqueZombie i agree with you i played rift for a bit and got very bored but for me wow just doesn't get boring, it just has so much to do.
  • Starplatinum - June 24, 2011 4:10 a.m.

    I've actually started playing rift about a month ago and I'm really liking it. I was never really much into WoW as I quit after my first year of it (before any expansions). The class system in Rift is great and I like the zone events. I'm almost 50 but yeah I would be a little worried if the end game content starts to lack. I am just hoping it doesn't die the same sad death as warhammer online...
  • MercurialForce - June 24, 2011 2:05 a.m.

    First. And yeah, I recently quit WoW. Not because Cataclysm didn't offer enough, though that is true. I'd love to see Blizzard shake things up a lot, but ultimately the game still boils down to Make guy/grind to 85/dungeons/heroic dungeons/raid until next patch. It's not a model that really appeals to me. The most fun shouldn't have to be at end game. As well, WoW leaves little reason to explore its world, which Rift sounds like it has. That said, I don't plan on playing any MMO's for a while.

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