If you've not seen the infographic that showed up the other day, you can find it here.
While on the face of it the infographic is a celebration of the 800 lb. gorilla that is WoW, my first thought wasn't "Woah", but "Hmm...."
It began with the very first datapoint.
More than 100 million accounts have been created over WoW's lifetime, which includes trial accounts. My first thought was "Why doesn't WoW retain more subscribers than the measly amount they have now?" My second thought was "Just how many of those accounts are spammers and gold farmers?" And my third thought was "How many of those accounts are owned by the same person?"
I don't think Blizzard has the answers to #1 and #2, but they probably can take a stab at #3 if they were interested in data mining. But #1 is probably the most vexing problem Blizzard has. It also explains why Blizzard isn't really bothering to bring in new players* but instead focusing on getting lapsed subscribers to come back.
The next puzzler for me was a bit farther down, in the "Every Day in Azeroth" section. On the face of it, it would seem that far more people engage in PvE activity than PvP, and the number of Pet Battles alone would appear to make it the single most popular thing to do in WoW. But I suspect the data is a bit skewed based on what is presented. It doesn't show who does what, only that these things are. A person could quite easily login, engage in a Pet Battle or three while waiting for a raid, and maybe finishing it off with a couple of 2s. Think of all the people who used to fish in the Dal fountain while waiting for their weekly raid group to show up, and you get the idea. Perhaps a better use of the data is the amount of time the average toon spends doing each activity as well as the time spent logged in. If there are long periods of toons not doing any of the listed activities, that's probably the time spent BS-ing with Guildies, questing, gathering, and other non-instanced activities. That will give people a better sense of how players spend their average time in Azeroth.
The last puzzler for me was the challenge mode data. Now, given the number of PvE instances run on a daily basis, that so few people have gotten challenge mode rewards is surprising to me. By comparison, Garrosh had been offed 400k times in a very short period of a few months, or 100k times less than the number of Bronze challenge mode achievers throughout all of Mists. That seems to make challenge modes far more of a niche than anything else, unless I'm missing something here (like that the majority of 5-man instances are for challenge mode runs or something).
There are things that I read in the infographic and I want to say "tell me more!" Like the 400k kills of Garrosh, for example. How many of them are via LFR? Or the 9 million guilds created. How many have more than the minimum number of toons needed to create a guild? How many different guilds is the average account a member of?
Yes, I'm aware that the infographic was designed to get people interested in playing WoW. Still, for someone who has been playing the game for 4+ years now, the infographic doesn't seem to tell the same story I see when I'm out and about in Azeroth. That Azeroth seems much emptier and sedate than the bustling game that is presented in the infographic.
*If they really wanted to bring in new players, they'd work a bit harder on making the storyline from L1-80 line up properly. A neighbor tried WoW recently, and one of the things he said stuck with me: "I couldn't figure the story out; it made no sense to me."