Is Alexa Charting the Decline of WoW?

Is there an accurate way to know if a MMO is in decline? For most players it’s something we can sense by intuition. We make mental notes of our anecdotal experiences: we start noticing  that there are less players when we log on; fewer guildmates are showing up for raids; it’s harder to find people to group with; there are fewer people buying our goods in the auction house and so on.

Naturally MMO companies like Blizzard will never tell us the truth about how many players are still subscribing to WoW and how many are actually playing on their servers. When they are not busy trying to shut down mom & pop companies that are making iPhone apps, webcomics and fan stores by sending cease and desist letters they seemingly find the time to make exuberant self-congratulatory press releases touting their recent millions served number of WoW subscribers.

I hate to break the bad news to Blizzard but I’ve seen a couple of charts on Alexa.com that have analyzed the traffic that WorldofWarcraft.com has been getting in the past 22 months. Could these charts be predicting the decline of WoW?

Alexa Explained

Here’s my brief understanding of how Alexa.com works. Alexa.com is a company that ranks websites using various criteria such as of traffic rank, reach, pageviews, bounce rate, etc. Essentially these criteria determine the popularity of a website.

Rank – determines how popular a website is compared to other websites

Reach - determines how many visitors a website is getting

Pageviews – determine how many unique pages a visitor is viewing

Bounce Rate – determines how long a visitor is staying on your site

For purposes of this article I’m going to simply things and only look at 2 criteria: ranking and reach.

Alexa Charts for WorldofWarcraft.com: 22 Months August 2007 – June 2009

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This 22 month graph shows a steady rate of decline in the ranking of Worldofwarcraft.com compared to every other website in the world from April 2008 to June 2009. The lower the ranking the less popular the website. It’s very obvious here that the official WoW website has been losing ground to other websites in the public consciousness.

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Now this graph with the same 22 month time period shows a steady rate of decline in the number of daily visitors to Worldofwarcraft.com from April 2008 to June 2009. What is interesting is how it mimics the first chart. Again it seems that their website is losing popularity among web surfers.

Chart Spikes = New Content

You will notice various spikes on both graphs. In most cases the spikes represent new patches released by Blizzard for WoW. For example, there is another huge spike around the time of March and April in 2008 when Patch 2.4 was released that introduced the much anticipated Sunwell content and the Isle of Quel ‘Danas. There are two big spikes you can see on the graph when Patch 3.02 was released October 2008 which introduced the latest expansion: the Wrath of the Lich King.

It stands to reason that more people would be visiting the official WoW website around the time when new content is being released in order to find out information.

What Does This All Mean?

Given the trends we can plainly see in these charts, I believe there is a direct correlation between the popularity of their website and the popularity of WoW the MMO.

From the charts it looks as if interest in WoW’s website peaked in April of 2008 when the Fury of the Sunwell patch was released and has been in steady decline ever since. The most shocking realization here is that despite a small bump in interest after its release, the Wrath of the Lich King expansion has not done anything to curb the steady downward trend of people interested in WoW.

Another possibility is that WoW players are not finding the official website as useful as it once was. The bounce rate (a measure of how long people are staying on the site) has been getting worse lately as well which tells us that people are heading to the site, finding nothing to their liking and abruptly leaving.

The poor quality of the content produced by forum posters and lack of moderation of the forums could also be part of the problem. Even Wowarmory.com — arguably one of the most useful offline services that Blizzard provides for WoW subscribers — has started to see it’s numbers decline too.

Regarding Subscribers and Press Releases

Of course knowing the total number of players currently subscribed to WoW would be another way to gauge its popularity but the problem is that there is no way to independently verify Blizzard’s numbers. Let’s also not forget that half of WoW’s subcribers come from the Asian market which has a completely different pay model.

Just recently according to Blizzplanet via WoW.com Blizzard won a Guinness World Records award for reaching 11.6 million subscribers:

Blizzard Entertainment’s Mike Morhaime and Paul Sams accepted the records for World of Warcraft for the Most Popular MMORPG with a total of 11.6 million subscribers and Starcraft for being the Best Selling Strategy Game for a PC, selling 9.5 million copies worldwide.

I created this graph showing the various subscriber milestones from data from official Blizzard press releases. As you can see the growth of new subscribers has started to level off in recent months.

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MMO Life Expectancy

A few weeks ago Spinks posted a nice article that examines the lifespans of MUDs and MMOs. She made the following astute prognostication:

When I was playing MUDs/ MUSHes I had a theory that after about 3-4 years, a game would have to fundamentally change or else it would inevitably die…

…I think the 4 year mark just tended to be a perfect storm for all of these things coming to a head at once. The community turned in on itself, all the main evangelists had moved on, and the game itself became less friendly to newbies. And the result was that people looking for a new game would find one with fewer barriers.

Using the Spinks equation this puts WoW into decline at the same time the Alexa charts has Worldofwarcraft.com starting to lose popularity in April of 2008. Coincidence or insightful forecasting?

Conclusion

In the mind of the public interest in WoW is waning and has been for a while — now we have some actual independent data from Alexa to prove it. While it’s not direct evidence that WoW is in decline it’s surely a harbinger of things to come for this aging MMO.

Despite the cheery corporate smiles, it should be great cause for concern at Blizzard that the release of new content — especially their latest expansion is not doing much to address the MMO public’s loss of interest in WoW. A decline in total subscribers is probably not far behind and can be absolutely certain that Blizzard would never make a press release stating that.

-Wolfshead

33 thoughts on “Is Alexa Charting the Decline of WoW?

  1. Just talk about Tigole working on the future “next generation” MMO already.

    In marketing terms, it seems that the interest is still growing, but slowly. It has not yet peaked, but probably soon. They still gain more players than they lose. I would like to see data about Wowhead and Thottbot, I guess Wowhead has become the official unofficial source for new content info.

    I think the subscriber numbers are more valuable for the evaluation how well WoW is doing, that the bad and uninformative website plus the inane forum are on the decline is no wonder. Especially as there are many better websites for that.

    I just wonder about the armory. There are websites like WoW Heroes or WoW Armory Light that use their own web-frontend to display the data, but they still access the armory for the data. So I wonder that this really popular feature (I still hate that there is no privacy option) does not generate more traffic.

    I also wonder if we would get similar graphs for EverQuest and Ultima Online. The game is getting old, and every piece of new content they are throwing at us is less than before. I am not talking about relative things like quality, but with each expansion the world is getting smaller while more old content gets obsolete. No wonder people get bored more and more.

    Now the bad (?) news: I still see no revolutionary challenger de-throne WoW and take the genre to the next level.

  2. Personally, I like WarcraftRealms’ chart, which tracks concurrency numbers within the game. Interestingly enough, the interest-boredom cycle only started after TBC’s release, with concurrency having almost declined to pre-TBC levels after the release of the Black Temple. Zul’Aman caused a wave of interest, but Sunwell was barely a blip. WotLK caused an another huge surge, but it also caused a huge decline after most players exhausted the very limited raid content. The chart doesn’t include Ulduar’s impact, but before that concurrency had declined to post-ZA levels.

    So yes, I say that WoW has definitely peaked, with each patch having only a limited and more importantly, a temporary effect on concurrency. Content is always consumed faster than it’s produced, and it looks like that the players have caught up. While I don’t think that anything is even close of usurping WoW, players are certainly looking elsewhere while waiting for the next patch. Now, the challenge for the rivals is to not only lure in the WoW tourists (like AoC and WAR did), but to also keep them interested.

    • Thanks for that chart and link Hirvox! Good analysis about the interest-boredom cycle. You can see that in the Alexa chars as well with the spikes in the graphs. :)

  3. Very interesting article.

    I’ve also considered Alexa to be a bit misleading as it relies on people actually having the toolbar installed. It’s quite possible that these results coincide with the release of a browser update and people haven’t bothered installing the toolbar again. Dunno, just clutching at straws I guess :)

    On the other hand, it’s possible that interest just is declining steadily. The game has been out for a long time now and expansions only boost interest for so long.

  4. One problem is that we’re looking at second-order numbers to what is of interest here. Interest in the website may not reflect interest in the game. Likewise, “peak” numbers might just mean less people are logging on during crowded times, preferring off-hours to go enjoy solo content. There are a million ways to spin this for a halfway creative PR person, even if there is a real decline in interest in the game.

    Personally, I started to wonder about things once Blizzard stopped breaking down numbers for each market. In their “We have reached X million!” subscriber press releases, they used to talk about how many users in each territory. They stopped doing that a while ago, so I think that some of the recent growth has been them moving aggressively into new markets. It’s what other games did in the past, talk about the 10,000 user growth, meaning that they got 50k users by launching in Europe but lost 40k users in North America.

    Not sure how I feel about this possibility of WoW’s decline as a game developer. On one hand it’s nice to know one game won’t always rule the roost (even if the games from one company might). On the other hand, with all the talk of games closing with the shutdown of MxO, TR, etc., it’s showing that these games really aren’t as permanent as we once thought.

    • I’m OK with that. I’ve written before that it’s OK to let an MMO die off. It shows the lie of the “persistent” world, but it also means that devs don’t have to keep extending the gameplay with smoke and mirrors (dumb reputation treadmills or “dailies” and the like).

      • Though, I’d prefer that an MMO that turns the lights off make their client available to play offline, so that fans can keep playing, or set up their own private servers.

        That’s one advantage that offline games will always have; they truly are persistent (at least the DRM-free ones are). You can play them as long as you have the hardware capable of doing so.

        • The problem is intellectual property, particularly in the form of trademarks. While Meridian 59 itself doesn’t make me much (or, most of the time, any) money, the name itself has value for a sequel or derivative works. Releasing the game for offline play potentially weakens the value of the name for these other projects.

          You also have issues with licensed software and shared technology. Tabula Rasa may use NCSoft technologies that they us in other projects, so releasing that may be tantamount to giving away a competitive advantage. I know from personal experience that people are clever about reverse engineering things; just look at the mods for games that were not strictly intended to take mods.

          It’s a lot more complicated than just packaging up the game and saying, “Thanks for the support! Here, keep having fun!”

          • How are those any more than what offline games already deal with? Certainly it’s an issue if you’re going to go with the open source route and don’t want to give your code away, but it seems that packaging it up just means dealing with things the same way that any other offline game would as far as IP and engineering goes.

            I know you’ve argued before that there are those who want to retain the IP rights for future projects, and I’m completely sympathetic to that… but again, how is that different from other offline games? Do they forfeit IP when they publish?

  5. You know they are hiding something.

    Back in the day they would say where the population base was. At 10 Million users it was 2.5 NA, 2 EuR, and 5.5 Asia. Somewhere they decided to stop posting the breakdown, and now just give a broader scope.

    They wouldn’t do that without good reason. Best guess is, of course, that they are bleeding in NA but gaining in the non NA market. I heavily emphasize “best guess” – none of us can possibly know.

    Another ‘reason’ for the slowdown? WOTLK hasn’t even been released in Asia yet with the carrier change and localization (last I heard, anyway) – with that as their strongest market it would probably make sense too.

    • Great article Chris!

      Compare the press release that touted 11 million subscribers to the one they made about 11.5. Now factor in the 11.6 “Guiness World Record” press release. It looks like they are getting desperate to find things to celebrate. I’m sure the next press release will be 11.65 million subcribers. :)

      Why do they keep releasing these numbers? I think it’s all about making Blizzard/Activision look good for their shareholders. At least one thing we can be thankful for is that they haven’t started laying off employees to boost their stock price — a dirty rotten trick that many profitable companies do just to placate their shareholders.

    • Another ‘reason’ for the slowdown? WOTLK hasn’t even been released in Asia yet with the carrier change and localization (last I heard, anyway) – with that as their strongest market it would probably make sense too.

      The mainland China release was blocked due to content issues. From what I understood, skeletons are such a taboo in China that the skeletons left behind when you respawned had to be replaced with gravestones. And in Wrath, bones, skeletons and various forms of undead are everywhere. There was also a lawsuit about the localization, with the Chinese carrier wanting copyrights on the Chinese version instead of considering the localization as work-for-hire. AFAIK, they’re now in talks with a Taiwanese carrier to circumvent the censorship, but it may not help much if they run into the Great Firewall of China instead. The (South) Korean release is supposedly doing okay, though.

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  7. I found this article interesting. I’m working on some similar ideas comparing changes from the current direction Western MMO’s take.

    As a short blurb: MMO’s now have a vertical gameplay style. 55% of WoW players will never see 85% of its content, because it requires more and more vertical gameplay. If the market could make a vertical gameplay styled MMO, lowering these figures could increase player fun and keep players on the same game drastically longer.

    Freerealms is close but still misses the mark. They just took away many standard MMO elements and replaced them with casual games. No offense to them because it works. The casual game market makes hand-0ver-fist more money than any other part of the video game industry(games like Bejeweled, tetris and the many flash games online), and it’s shown in Freerealms current popularity.

    • If the market could make a vertical gameplay styled MMO, lowering these figures could increase player fun and keep players on the same game drastically longer.

      I’m assuming you meant horizontal here. But while I’m not a fan of strictly vertical content, I don’t think that horizontal content is a panacea. WotLK shipped with little vertical raid content, and that showed in the concurrency figures. Once the player becomes skiled enough to make one level of content trivial, there better be the next level or he’s going to get bored. That can be as devastating to customer retention as strictly vertical content.

      • WoTLK isn’t all “vertical” gameplay, but I’d say all the raid content in it is. Most raid content or other content that requires more time than many have to get together, plan, and execute a raid is vertical. I’m not saying casual, or anyone can’t reach that content eventually or that the way you gain levels should be changed. I also agree with everything you said, except for the “skilled enough” part, but eh, it’s alot of food for though, thanks.

        Thank you for realizing my mistake. I did mean to say horizontal, when describing what could be done.

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  9. My unscientific feel is that I see so many more long-time bloggers leaving WotLK than TBC and that can’t be a good sign. While people will always leave a game, I think I see many more leaving from WotLK than TBC.

    Decline is not mutually exclusive with extremely popular/profitable. If you analyze the health of a product by market share, and really the first and second derivative of market share, then the absolute numbers could still be going up slightly and the decline have started. In fact, if in 3 years they have a third as many subs but zero marketing/development resources then it might be as profitable as now. This is called a “cash cow” and you milk cows. E.g. mainframe computers haven’t been a growth business for IBM for decades, but they still sell billions of dollars.

    My opinion is that the decline of WoW will be much quicker ( or compressed life cycle curve) due to its publisher having a portfolio of games. So at some point management will decide that WoW is no longer a “star” ( BCG quadrants) but a cash cow and should get fewer resources in order to invest more in SC or Diablo or whatever. My cynical but not completely inaccurate joke is that Guitar Hero is a bigger threat to WoW than WH. Companies with only one game ( CCP Eve Online) are much more focused on extending the product lifecycle curve; companies with a portfolio want to invest in what they think will be the most profitable choice, not what was.

    My personal opinion as to why is different than the conventional wisdom of “too easy” and “catering to casuals”

    I see three issues:
    1) the designer’s pursuit of making a better game has hurt the brand. All of the constant changes to classes, some quite significant, lessen my identification with the toon. E.g., people who have known my name for years still refer to me by my toon name. Whereas I think all the changes and the homogenization have made choosing your class like choosing the racecar or the thimble – a required but irrelevant choice.

    2) I think Blizzard is catering to the wrong mass/casual market. I see it evolving to the obvious but smaller video gamer market. Lots of movement, reaction time, twitchfest – you know the pejoratives that we uncoordinated use. Why would you focus on the video game market – one with many, many competing games, many of which the player has so little connection to they rent instead of buy – versus a MMO where you sell a game, expansion and perhaps 24 month subscription? Plus WoW is already the leader in the latter and that is usually much more profitable. I would invest more not less effort in professions and fewer resources in things like the AT-quests where a guildie just gets her 7 year old son to do the mount quests.

    3) This is the least important of the issues, but I think there could use an additional options at level cap. There is emphasis on rushing through 1-79 but then what are the alternatives? Arena, raiding with a guild, do some achievements and wait for the next expansion? I do think a 3.1 and 3.2 w/o 3.3 and an expac every November would be better received and more profitable.

    Regarding “Now the bad (?) news: I still see no revolutionary challenger de-throne WoW and take the genre to the next level.” – yeah I think the game that dethrones WoW will not be a frontal assault – a developer spending the enormous money to make something like WoW only better. It will be a “disruptive technology” (when the first Japanese cars came to the US, they were different and in most measures inferior to market leader’s, GM , offerings ) The advantage that the upstarts have is that they don’t have an installed base. So they can experiment with micro-transactions or in-game ads or inferior for now “thin-client” / browser games in ways Blizzard can’t.

  10. Your analysis would be much stronger if you did not use Alexa. Their data is terrible normally. It is heavily biased here, because WoW players (at least those El sees) have been steadily moving away from Internet Explorer to Firefox/etc (due to security-related concerns). So the trend you are seeing is more likely to be Alexa’s IE toolbar getting abandoned by a higher proportion than the internet population in general.

    Slightly better for trends are sources like Compete or Quantcast . But ignore the absolute volumes, unless directly monitored: These services are all consistently to low for WoW sites. Like a factor of 10.

    And, erm, also obviously look at all the non-North America domains, which is where most of the growth has come from in the last few years.

    Google trends search volumes are another pointer for that (“wow” is more commonly used in searches than “world of warcraft”).

    But there’s more: If you delve closer into the data for WoW-related sites, you’ll discover some other trends happening:

    Many fans have completely abandoned the official site. You really can’t derive WoW’s commercial performance from its website.

    Most of the fansites have actually been doing very well, with strong growth into this year.

    In particular, we’ve also seen a dramatic growth in niche communities. For example, fishing pulled in a third of a million unique individuals a month during the last peak around patch 3.1. That’s an aspect of the game that wouldn’t have even made the feature list.

    Yet that hides another trend:

    As the game gets more complex, and opens up to non-MMOG-veterans (or clueless noobs, as they used to be called), there is a higher demand for third-party information. Blizzard have (IMHO) responded very poorly to that. (By way of an example, check out this – http://forums.wow-europe.com/thread.html?topicId=9521025464 – who exactly needs a year-only long-forgotten ex-endgame dungeon documented in one paragraph? Not to mention the fact that information should be in the game, something Blizzard are uniquely placed to achieve. I digress.)

    Now all that said, there has been a significant drop-off in activity in the last month, and it’s only partly seasonal: WotLK content has effectively run out, and 3.1 really wasn’t enough to get things back on track for more than a month.

    • Many fans have completely abandoned the official site.

      I agree. This has huge implications for Blizzard and MMOs as to the viability of official MMO websites. Personally speaking, I find everything about the official WoW website utterly abhorrent and useless – there is just nothing of value there.

      Obviously Blizzard is failing to provide value to their subscribers on their website — your reference about releasing info about a long forgotten instance over a year later was well made.

      You really can’t derive WoW’s commercial performance from its website.

      That’s true but I still think there’s some validity to the notion that as goes the official website go goes the MMO. If WoW was getting more popular (as Blizzard keeps proclaiming) shouldn’t the website be getting more popular as well?

      It just seems odd that as WoW keeps adding millions more subscribers that their official website is trending toward a seriously decline as shown in the graphs.

      Your point about the complexity of WoW driving players to 3rd party websites is well made but a popular MMO has to deal with the realities of “churn”. So there should always be the same number of new players entering the player base and the same number of players retiring.

      I’m not convinced that 3rd party websites are not experiencing the same trend as the official WoW site. The graphs for Wowhead.com are also trending downward too.

      http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/wowhead.com

      And the other trend we’ve seen in the WoW community that many players exhaust the content then stop subscribing only to come back and renew their subscriptions when new content is released. Players are not as loyal as they once were to previous MMOs like EverQuest.

      This is why we see spikes on both of the Alexa charts coincide directly with the release of new content which makes sense as players would want to visit the official website to learn more about the new content.

      If players weren’t losing interest in WoW as part of a long-term trend and resubscribing (when new content comes online) and canceling (once they expend the content) in a cyclical pattern then we’d be seeing a pure square wave graph with no downward trend.

      However what we are seeing is a downward trend mixed in with that square wave graph — the Alexa graphs.

      If WoW was indeed a healthy MMO with no signs of decline then their website should look more like the flat Apple.com website graph which has spikes which seem to indicate the release of new information and new products.

      http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/apple.com

  11. Oh.. I should add that WoW’s commercial performance should remain strong in spite of a flat-ish customer base.

    You see, they’re “doing the Star Wars thing”. No. Not like Bioware. I mean they are commercializing the IP associated with WoW outside of the original product. WoW cans of Mountain Dew are just the start…

    • Agreed. The product life cycle makes relics of us all, but brands can endure once they’ve been sufficiently repackaged. WoW the 2004-vintage MMO is reaching the limits of its popularity and may well be entering decline. Warcraft the brand will probably outlast Blizzard as a creative enterprise.

  12. warcraftrealms is an interesting conundrum. It’s suffered the same downturn as other sites, and you need to go on the site to upload info. So, why wouldn’t his reports go down? On the upside, mm0-champion has held serve, and wow-heroes has gone through the roof (funny how a little thing like having a column for iLevel makes such a difference). I still think WoW’s pop, if not activity, is declining, but I think in the end people visit websites because they’re good or not because they’re bad (or riddled with ads).

  13. Great article:

    “Given the trends we can plainly see in these charts, I believe there is a direct correlation between the popularity of their website and the popularity of WoW the MMO.”

    I think this is key, but I’m not convinced this is accurate. It seems a little like a logical fallacy. I don’t know that “spikes” correlating with new content is one and the same with overall use of the site by gamers.

  14. @ Hagu – great analisys.
    CCP, the maker of EVE Online is currently working on a new MMO, though. It is supposed to be set in White Wolf’s World of Darkness, and their books are known for emphasising on the horizontal gameplay. If it takes half the mood and storyline of Troika’s singleplayer White wolf adaptation, I know I’d be hooked. And a company as the maker of EVE could very well pull this off.

    In any case I wouldnt worry about new MMOs trying to take the throne from Blizzard. I dont think the MMO genre as a whole would ever die, although it probably wont be as popular as Blizzard has made it. After all, if you take WoW away, MMOs were always a niche, and were doing quite well as such.

    Another interesting thing I figured when Wolfshead mentioned the usefulness of WoW’s website – the only useful thing about it are the forums and they are useful because of the user-created information posted there. Guides, theorycrafting, all this user content, is the only thing worthwhile on the site. Come to think of it that’s what’s good about Blizzard games in general.

    I’ve been comparing Starcraft to other strategies I thought being better in the past, and was trying to figure why it was doing so well.
    Mainly it is the convenient interface, community oriented multyplayer and… modability. Starcraft and Warcraft came with a complete worldbuilder, allowing for a lot of creative mods and prolonged lifetime. Diablo, although not very moddable, was allowing public servers, and that build up a subculture of LAN communities.

    DotA, a custom map for WC3, is a separate discipline in itself in LAN tournaments, who knows it might even make it into WCG.
    Just as Counter Strike is a separate game from Half Life.
    If a company was trying to make a multiplayer 3D shooter, I doubt they would have made so simple, yet so popular game as CS.

    The conclusion, I guess, is the well known fact that user-based content is what makes games fun, and what makes games last long.
    Unfortunately there is little to none user-based content in WoW.
    From this point of view it is surprising it has even lasted so long :)
    Anyway, sorry for trailing off so much from the topic :)

  15. Did you see the report from the Chinese hosts of WoW that just lost their licence. They claim they currently have 5million active accounts in China. So almost half on WoWs player base are there.

    Those servers are all going dark for a few weeks as they change to a new host. With Aion out in China I wonder if all 5 million will come back or if some of them will move on.

  16. A point that no one has mentioned is the fact that the official site is the only place you can to set up a new account.

    It could be that the decline in visits contains a decline in trials/purchases.

  17. I think it’s an error to think that the popularity of MMO site resembles it’s popularoty as a game. Firstly, we must understand WHEN the player visits the site and WHAT TYPE of player visits it. So, there is easy explanation about this situation: WoW becomes less popular in the hardcore part of the community, but it maintains and broads its audience by casual players.
    Really, it’s inevitable. You can’t have the hardcore community for 5 years in your game; they just need to move on to something new after playing your game 5 years after release. Warhammer, Conan, all other new MMOs get hardcore players, that are tired of WoW already first.
    It can also be proven by the size of spikes site got after content release. As you acn see, the spikes are really little; so, we can assume that main part of hits to the site were at armory, forums and htis to the front page from the ads. It’s logical to assume that the casual players don’t visit the forum and armory that much.

  18. Personally I think Alexa is the perfect tool for this sort of thing. But there could be some very good questions raised:

    1) The spikes on the official site only have to do with patches, and patches require a few clicks to get to and download. (Alexa adds up the clicks + visitors so an artificial spike is there.)

    2) Due to the artificial spike the following days seem like a drop, when actually the traffic could be the exact same just with no patch to have to download.

    3) So when you look at 1 & 2 you see that Alexa may not be the best tool to use to track WOW popularity, a site like theirs causes some artificial spikes and in return artificial drops.

    Like I said I think Alexa is the perfect tool for this and the overall trend seems to make sense, but to track the individual spikes and falls it would seem to raise more questions.

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  21. http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/mmo-champion.com

    mmo-champion.com popularity has increased, although not as dramatically as the decline in worldofwarcraft.com over the past 2 yrs.

    However, 3rd party sites have become better and more robust with content and information for players than that of the main site – which is primarily used for forums or account management (my best guess – since I don’t have the backend analytics for the site).

    If it is the case that WoW’s player base is decreasing, then is it because…

    a) Losing market share to competing MMOs? (highly doubtful… if so, then which game?)

    b) People less interested in the genre? (probable)

    c) People playing less games in general. (according to market forecasts, game industry will increase revenue in the future)

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