Few commenters are surprised by the announcement that SWTOR has taken a hit over the last quarter – a strong launch followed by a sharp decline is the established trend of themepark games over the last few years.
That said, I suspect that many of the people who have left the game could be compelled to return when more story content is released. My reasoning: the sheer number of “Dear Devs”and “Here’s why I quit” posts on the official forums and Reddit. All of their arguments are legitimate – Bioware crafted a great singleplayer story experience with some fun coop elements, but to date hasn’t really come to terms with what to do at the endgame. The PvP changes in 1.2 completely killed the enjoyment of that part of the game for many people.
I am cautiously optimistic about the game’s future – I believe that there is a niche of the MMO market interested in compelling (dev produced) narratives and another group that will play whatever the latest Star Wars game is. So I’m expecting the playerbase to plateau at maybe 300k subscribers. Maybe higher if Dungeon Finder and rated WZs are very soon, even higher if they can announce their space combat plans by this summer.
The WoW numbers are more surprising to me.
The last content patch was 4.3, including the Dragon Soul raid, which went live on the 29th November 2011.
The critics expected Raid Finder to cause players to burn through the content in several lockouts and unsubscribe. Others suggested that the trio of SWTOR, Tera and Guild Wars 2 (Beta) would prove fatal. Only 10% of the player base committed to the Annual Pass promotion, including beta access, so the other 9 million must be satisfied with old content or preparing for the expansion, whose launch date is yet to be announced.
Is Transmogrification really that exciting?
Addendum: It could be that the active players numbers in China has increased to cover losses in the West, but I live here and have not seen marketing push in that game, unlike League of Legends amongst others.