World Of Warcraft Subscriber Loss Hits Hard


Activision Blizzard posted its mostly-positive Q1 report yesterday, demonstrating some pretty fancy numbers and lots of revenue. Activision is predictably doing great between Destiny and Call of Duty, and Blizzard’s Hearthstone is showing great numbers too. Combined, Destiny and Hearthstone (a weird combination, but that’s how it was in the report) have more than 50 million registered players and near $1 billion in non-GAAP revenues. Heroes of the Storm and Starcraft II are helping support Blizzard as well.

But things get a little sadder when you look at World of Warcraft. Upon release of their latest expansion, Warlords of Draenor, in November of last year, WoW’s subscriber numbers had skyrocketed over 10 million from 6.8 million near the end of Mists of Pandaria. The numbers rivaled (though didn’t quite beat) those from the Wrath of the Lich King expansion in 2010, which is lauded by many to be the best in the game’s history.

Unfortunately, in Q1, World of Warcraft lost 2.9 million subscribers, bringing their total numbers down to 7.1 million–nearly where they were at the end of Mists of Pandaria. This does not include any subscribers brought back by the recently-introduced WoW tokens, which allow you to exchange in-game gold for game time, or purchase that game time to sell for in-game gold. Q2 may see slightly higher subscription numbers based on that alone, as many players return to the game for “free” using old stores of gold on their characters.

7.1 million still isn’t anything to sneer at–World of Warcraft is still the number 1 subscription-based MMO in the world. With patch 6.2 introducing a new area and a new raid likely sometime during Q2, WoW is far from down for the count. Going forward, though, it will be vital for Blizzard to review why so many players returned for Warlords of Draenor…and were subsequently disappointed enough to give up so early in the expansion. Hopefully the game can only improve as a result.

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