As we're going through the ups and downs of the hype and anticipation for 2019's release of Warcraft 3: Reforged, let's consider whether wading into the fray early may be beneficial, be it as player or something else.
Join us in unpacking a few recent statistics surrounding Warcraft 3, as well as the potential, and realized, benefits we see for those willing to roll up their sleeves this side of 2019.
Over the last decade, many dedicated members of the community have kept Warcraft 3 alive in their own way; such as Reddit, tournament organisation, participation and support, and logging into Battle.net for a game or two. It is nevertheless true that the community's size has been on a downwards slope for many years.
But there is hope! Even though recent events have put serious dents in the hopes and expectations of many, we remain positive around the eventual future of Warcraft in 2019. This isn't foolish fancy neither. Apart from the news of top players being signed, old personalities returning and future tournaments being organised, there also exists a few hard numbers to back this position. In this article we will share some of recent statistics that give us cause for optimism, while also delving into what we see as the benefits to those putting in the hours towards their goals.
Our statistics below come from 4 helpful sources and you may find their links at the bottom of the article.
The very first, and most obvious benefit, to starting now, is that Warcraft 3 is a real-time strategy (RTS) game, which invariably means it requires a fair amount of knowledge and experience to excel at. The key reason this matters today already, is that we know that Reforged will be compatible with the current, classic, version of the game. Meaning, that game-play, mechanics and the overall experience has to fundamentally stay the same. A good example of this is the attack animations, which have to remain at their current speed and frames within the Reforged release of the game, to ensure equal footing with Warcraft 3 classic.
A day of disappointment. December 1st saw Blizzard opening access to Warcraft 3 classic once more, alongside a patch that more closely resembled a smoking garbage fire. Thankfully, post that weekend we have seen significant improvements already, and hope for this trend to continue.
A second facet of RTS games also brings value to early birds – that of the meta game. Although we are likely to see further patches leading up to the release of Reforged, meta-game evolution tends to draws heavily from past trends and previously viable strategies. Even as the professional circuit leads the more observable evolution, players across all skill tiers are able to approach each new patch with their own creativity and experience. In this way, we will continue to see the meta game develop up to, and past, the release of the remastered game.
The above graph is a live tracker from Google, mapping interest in "Warcraft 3" over the past 5 years. While the large recent spike is good, the sustained interest after that is where the real money is.
However, by far my personal favorite benefit for those of us currently engaged, is the ease of engagement with the living legends of the game. Due to the gradual decline in community size over the past decade, top tier players who make themselves visible through streaming and social media have a smaller audiences at present. Less cluttered stream chats and social media accounts mean higher engagement chances to individuals. So, whether you are sharing an opinion, asking for an explanation of strategy or figuring out “what’s playing right now?”, this type of accessibility is worth it's digital weight in gold and will be declining as an obvious result of its negative correlation with audience size.
For those of us leaning towards content creation, map making, event organizing or other facets of the community, Reforged is also offering a unique opportunity. Due to the efforts of Blizzard to make ‘make Warcraft 3 great again’ (joke depth multiplier level 3 - I win), we are assured of a material, and potentially exponential, growth in the community once more.
Above we can see Grubby's recent success with his YouTube channel. Starting in 2016, he has seen consistent growth in both views and subscribers. Most recently, his success has multiplied through being positioned well for the Warcraft 3 Reforged excitement.
And, as for whether these new members would be coming back after years, being enticed through their World of Warcraft accounts or simply walking in fresh, the demand for Warcraft 3 content will be rising rapidly all the same. Thus, if you are interested in starting or expanding a YouTube channel, Twitch stream, competition or tournament, creating the next hit custom map or bringing almost any other value to the community’s table, getting going right now is an absolutely fantastic way to increase your chances of success.
Here is a look at average viewers for Warcraft 3 The Frozen Throne on Twitch.tv. As is evident, there is much excitement in the air. The graphs for Hours Viewed, Unique Viewers and Channels Streaming all tell a similar story.
After taking all the above into account, the reasons not to get involved already seem to be fewer and fewer. While players have to struggle (for a hopefully brief period) still with ladder matchmaking and such, almost all other facets of the community are ready and waiting for those interested in grabbing the advantages before them.
However, should you heavily disagree (or wish to add your own addition to this article's content), shout and scream! We're up on Twitter & Discord as you should already know - but I've linked them below for you anyway.
If you're pumped up with excitement like myself, you might also be wondering where to start. Check out one of these links to expand your exposure and get those creative and competitive juices flowing!