There have been rumors that Diablo III's headcount has been shrinking...that in-game players are slowly and surely dropping out of the game and not coming back. First, Battle.net forum goers reported that public game counts seemed to be dwindling and that it was harder and harder to find a public game to join. Fans brushed it off.
After the forum rumors there were reports about Diablo III's player base diving based on a snapshot from Xfire, but most gamers didn't take the stats seriously since it was Xfire. After that, Xfire released official chart data based on rough data sampling and comparison statistics clearly showing that the player base was indeed dropping off rapidly. Fanatics continued to brush it off.
After forum goers raised suspicions about dwindling player numbers and Xfire released stats showing a decrease in player usage, a third source has jumped into the picture affirming that the player base is indeed dropping off fast.
Korea Times is reporting that research firm Gametrics has seen a massive drop-off from Diablo III's player base, with the game only occupying 13.39% of the usage at internet cafes, effectively moving Blizzard's game in third place behind Riot Games' League of Legends and NCSoft's Blade & Soul.
While 13.39% is still a very formidable number that many publishers wish they had, take into consideration that Gametrics originally recorded a massive 39.41% usage rate at internet cafes on May 24th, a week after the launch of Diablo III, which occurred on May 15th, according to This Is Game. The declivity of game usage and drop-off rate are almost identical to Xfire's stats.
Kim Min-kyu, a cultural content professor at Ajou University shared his views on the game's descent from the mountaintop after seeing the numerical decline, saying...
“Diablo 3’s place is shaky,” .... “It is hard to believe that it was made by the people who created World of Warcraft and the StarCraft series. The poor content is really unexpected.”
Simply put, both Gametrics and Xfire are both reporting close to a 65% drop-off rate of the player base from Diablo III. The exodus is apparently tangible enough that Blizzard made a statement about players' frustrations with replayability and end-game content, derailing the media buzz over allegedly wrongly banned Linux users who have neither received a detailed response regarding their bans nor a refund. Anyone who caught wind of that fiasco would probably want to steer clear of a game with such poor customer support, that's not including gamers who have and are losing money to the grey areas of the Real-Money Auction House.
Blizzard plans to remedy the rapidly declining user base with PvP and additional content planned to release in upcoming patches for the game.
These declining player numbers can't look good for the shareholders, especially with Korea's FTC still investigating Blizzard and internet cafe owners mounting a very real class-action lawsuit against the software giant.
I don't even know if an offline mode will save the game at this point. But hopefully this is a wakeup call for Blizzard to just focus on making a good game and leave all the anti-consumerist, pro-corporate bullcrap on the cutting room floor.