Simply put, Warframe’s most recent update, Scarlet Spear, was NOT well received. In fact, most players have somewhat disliked it! Even I, someone who tolerates a lot of things, found the update to be mostly bad. Bad enough to write a couple of unhappy articles about it. But the problems with Scarlet Spear bring another question. Is Warframe dying? Is it slowly declining? To be honest, I’m not sure. You an answer that question in a lot of ways.
Is Warframe itself dying?
Well, no. Not really. While things look pretty bad, especially from a normal player’s outlook, I won’t say that the game itself is dying. There is plenty of content to do and enough players to be able to do that content. Sure, Warframe can be played solo, but you have options when it comes to recruiting, trading and chatting with others.
Looking at player counts will suggest that there is a decline, with bumps for each major update, but that decline is somewhat slow. If things stay as they are (which they won’t), it’ll take time for Warframe to empty out and run out of players. Although if you look at achievements, they are not a good indicator of player levels, because they’re not accurate. Between Steam Achievement Manager and, well, bugs, they don’t paint a good picture. I mean, I’m MR28 and I apparently haven’t beaten the Hyena Pack yet.
Is the game’s content dying?
Again, I’d say no, not really. We are still getting content. Sure, 2019 was deemed a “content drought” with no major updates, but we did still get a ton of reworks. We got new Warframes, new weapons and we had the entirety of melee reworked. 2020 has had a few updates this year already, including a “refresher” update that fixed a ton of old bugs and problems, as well as doing a huge chunk of rebalancing.
We are still getting content. It’s just packaged a bit differently. And at the same time, we ate still getting new Primes and a more regular Primed Unvaulting. It’s just not the same as we may remember.
Is the game’s quality declining?
In a way, both yes and no.
To be fair, pretty much every single update Warframe has released has been buggy as all heck. Fortuna? A buggy mess. Plains of Eidolon? A grindy, super buggy mess. Even Sanctuary Onslaught came with a swarm of bugs. Heck, I joined in Specters of the Rail and THAT was a mess.
But what has been promised compared to what we’ve received hasn’t been the same at all. Alright, sure, most updates are delayed. That’s basically a thing in gaming these days. But you look at Plains of Eidolon and Fortuna and what was promised, it does mostly match up with what we got. The same can’t really be said about Kuva Liches, and Railjack is still very bare bones. The expectations just aren’t being met. While we are comparing fancy tech demos to actual in-game items, the same standards Fortuna and PoE had don’t match what we got with 2019 and 2020 updates.
What about the player base?
While the player base is still there and will have bumps and drops, the quality of said player base is more of a mystery. As a game gets more popular, you do lose the tight knit community feel. The vocal community on forums and external media are most noticeable. There is a LOT more anger now and a much bigger feeling of being let down. The community in game is as silent as ever and is still friendly to a point, but sometimes the odd asshole slips though. Most of the negative community thoughts are outside the game.
You also have issues with the game’s main supporters, Warframe Partners who are leaving or moving on. While this is somewhat natural, no one can play the same game forever, there is a somewhat increasing trend of good partners leaving while the more polarizing partners reap the benefits. While you always have partners who don’t agree with the developers, this trend is getting worse, and it feels most of the Warframe partners get ignored, outside of the most obnoxious and loud ones.
What about future updates?
Warframe WILL continue to get future updates. They HAVE to keep on releasing updates in order to keep players entertained. After all, there is a limit to the number of things Warframe has to offer.
But because of more recent updates, any future updates will be met with more pessimism and more skepticism. It seems that a lot of the good will that the developers had for the game is quickly running out. While the player numbers are not definite (after all, we can’t see true player counts on all platforms), the community feel is definitely different compared to what it was even at the beginning of 2019.
Something will have to change, or something will break. While I do believe things will change for the better, most people aren’t as blindly optimistic as I am. And most people will get sick of the more mediocre major updates we keep on getting. Especially if they are as grindy as Scarlet Spear is.
Overall, I don’t think Warframe is dying right now, but if the developers remain on this odd path they’re on, we will definitely start to see a decline. Especially if they can’t keep up with newer, fresher games…