Not only is the subscription base of World of Warcraft getting smaller, but the casual population is growing, with players so unfamiliar with the concept of an MMO that they struggle with the concept of looting bodies of slain enemies.
In an interview with World of Warcraft lead designer Tom Chilton, the designer admitted, "We struggle with getting players through the first 30 minutes because the audience that we get for new players becomes increasingly more casual over time."
Some of the issues the new players have are with such basic issues as "controlling the camera in a 3D space, moving their character, and often, they are unfamiliar with RPG concepts such as looting a monster after you kill it."
Chilton states that most of the difficulty comes from the first five levels, after which the players become acclimated to the system, "I think with users from level one to five, we just need to hold their hands a little bit more effectively in terms of teaching them how to actually move and fight, and do a quest, turn in a quest, and loot creatures, that kind of stuff."
This is an interesting trend, because in most MMO lifecycles, the hardcore element is usually the last to turn off the light before the game is shuttered.