How bad is the summer slump really?

It's widely agreed upon that WoW is not at its most popular at the moment. People are looking forward to Cataclysm, but the content currently in the game feels worn out. Is there anyone who wanted to see ICC and hasn't actually done so yet? It seems that there's little left to do if you aren't an altoholic or a dedicated achievement hunter. People are playing less and less.

Or are they? I mean, I have yet to see anyone disagree with the notion, but at the same time we don't seem to have anything solid to back it up. As far as I'm aware Blizzard hasn't released any information about their subscription numbers in quite a while, and anecdotal evidence of someone's guild going quiet doesn't really prove anything, does it? Dalaran still seems reasonably busy to me on my server, and while dungeon finder queues on my healers were instant the other day, that doesn't necessarily mean that fewer healers are running dungeons. (Maybe more people have switched to tanking instead?)

As we were discussing the summer slump in my guild, one of my guildies had the brilliant idea of using WoWProgress as an indicator of current raid activity. Raiding isn't all there is to do in the game, but it's definitely an important part. The statistics for my home realm Earthen Ring were an eye-opener for sure.

Let's start with the newest raid, the Ruby Sanctum. It's been out for one and a half months now, and only twelve guilds on my server have cleared it on 25-man, one of them on heroic. Considering that the site has records of no less than 91 Earthen Ring guilds killing bosses in 25-man ICC, that's a pretty poor turnout. Few people seem to care about Halion.

The ten-man stats paint a pretty similar picture. 31 guilds have successfully cleared the Sanctum on ten-man (two of them on heroic), but compared to the 110 guilds that have been active in ICC-10, that's pretty much nothing.

The ICC statistics themselves also show a very obvious slump in activity. Of the forty most progressed 25-man guilds, only eight have recorded any sort of progression in July or August (meaning a new boss kill or an achievement). Before the summer pretty much all of them had at least one progression kill a month, usually more. No less than sixteen of these "top" guilds haven't achieved anything remarkable since May or even earlier. It's unrealistic to think that they just hit a brick wall that they simply couldn't get past, all at the same time and at completely different points of progression. (Only five guilds are on 11/12 heroic.) They just don't seem to have the numbers and motivation to push on anymore.

Again, the ten-man picture is slightly less dire, presumably because these runs are easier to organise and can serve as a fallback for 25-man guilds that end up being short on numbers. But still: of the forty best guilds that are still progressing (that is to say, discounting the two that have killed the Lich King on heroic mode), less than half have killed anything new in July or August. Clearly interest in this format is currently on the decline as well, even if not quite as steeply as in the case of 25-man.

I do think that this is a strong indicator that in-game activity is on a sharp decline, at least on my server. Presumably the statistics for other servers paint a similar picture, though there might be variations of course.

Of course now I wonder how this compares to previous summers, or to the months before the release of the current expansion. I know my guild didn't fall apart the way it did recently back in previous summers, and before the release of WOTLK we were actually franticly trying to clear the Black Temple just before the final nerf. We didn't bother working on the Sunwell anymore after killing Illidan, but that drop in interest happened about two weeks before expansion release, not six months ahead of it. Too bad I don't have any numbers from other guilds for those times.

What are other people's experiences in that regard?


  1. ICC is still going strong for our guild... we have 3 [pretty solid] 10 man teams and too many sign ups most weeks for the 25 man [the other week we had 40 signups when Marrowgar was the weekly, and about 30 this past week when he wasn't].

    We're, strangely, not feeling the slump too much and are looking at possibly merging another guild into ours and starting a second 25 man run

  2. Leaving aside anecdote, hopefully this link will work.


    What that chart basically shows is that progress has definitely slowed since about June, but that new kills are still taking place in July and early August. So, it may be that Earthen-Ring EU (for example) has particularly low guild progress recently, but as yanktank says, there do appear to be other Guilds and Realms that keep on going. I suspect that the stronger servers are just more self-sustaining, because on the weaker servers, it's harder to fill in the gaps in the roster. On high pop servers, the weaker Guilds probably just end up feeding recruits to the stronger Guilds at this point of the expac (so the strong Guilds can keep on downing new bosses).

    So, I think there is a summer slump, but some servers have it bad, and other servers are probably hardly noticing it at all, except for perhaps some churn :)

  3. It's definitely hit our guild, mostly because a few people went on simultaneous vacation and they were both in key roles - two healers of our four "regulars." We've basically kissed any chance of getting progression bosses (Heroic LK) down at this point. Perhaps in September when people come back and resume school/work etc. we'll be able to have our team back, but at the moment without wanting to recruit to fill spots, we're pretty much on hold. I imagine quite a few guilds are that way across many servers, for sure.

  4. I'm on the other side from you on ER (EU) - and my 25man raiding guild just died - at rank 8 on the server. For lots of reasons, but the real problem was fielding numbers for progression - wipe nights were just not appealing enough. And a raiding guild that doesn't raid progressionally has to struggle with its identity.

    So I'd say the summer slump was fatal for us.