World of Warcraft Loses 1.3 Million Subscribers in 3 Months

| 9 May 2013 04:52
World of Warcraft

Activision Blizzard isn't worried despite a significant decline in subscriptions between the months of January and March.

The world of massively multiplayer online gaming has seen some dramatic transitions in the past few years. Even with landscape changing things like the advent and increasing quality of free-to-play games, however, one constant has remained untouched: World of Warcraft is the king.

That being the case, the king's subjects have been shrinking in numbers over the years. In 2010, the massively popular MMORPG had more than 12 million subscribers. A few years later that number would fall to about 9 million before climbing back up to 10 million following the 2012 Mists of Panderia expansion. While this uptick was good news for the aging MMORPG, it seems to have been only temporary. World of Warcraft's user base has again declined, falling by more than 1.3 million subscribers between January and March of 2013.

To its credit, the game's publisher, Activision Blizzard, doesn't seem at all fazed by the news. Part of this has to do with the fact that the game still remains "the number one subscription-based MMORPG in the world' and is still a valuable cash cow. That said, a gradual decline in the game's user base is something its publisher had been expecting. "We do believe further declines are likely, and we expect to have fewer subscribers a year than we do today," said Bobby Kotick, Activision Blizzard's CEO. "We believe in the long-term value of this franchise and will continue to commit substantial resources to World of Warcraft."

Even if the publisher were to cut off funds tomorrow and shutter the long running MMO, it would still have had an impressive run. In addition to making oodles of money, the massive popularity of World of Warcraft helped expose more general audiences to MMOs. Likewise, while some gamers may be leaving, there are millions more who have stuck with World of Warcraft through thick and thin and remain enthusiastic members of its magical universe. The day might come where this isn't the case, but that's a future that seems so far off it's beyond the sight of anyone looking.

Note: Originally the article briefly mentioned between the months "March and June." As we don't yet possess a time traveling Delorean, this was a mistake. It now says, in all places, between the months of January and March. Our apologies for any confusion.

Source: Polygon

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VladG:
[quote="kajinking" post="7.407571.17006824"]
Say what you will about WoW, it's still pretty much the best MMO on the market.

...
Presenting opinions as fact.

Seems legit.

OT: "I'm so surprised!" said no one, even diehard fans are going to start getting burnt out by now, its an old game and the cracks are turning into huge gaping holes that have tentacles and pandas in them.

WoWs numbers have always been a lie.
how many of those "subs" are actually Asian timecards with partially unused credit ?
go ask them that.

in reality the game has around 1-2 million subscribers in both the EU and US tops.
a figure which in no way marks them out as an untouchable behemoth.
the Asian markets (where most of the numbers are) mean next to nothing except to external marketing.

it's an "also ran" there to domestic products most people in the west have never heard of and disparity in the economic environment (and the fact the game is run by 3rd parties there) means the returns to blizzard from those numbers are practically nothing compared to that from the western regions where the game is hemorrhaging its most financially valuable players badly and has been for some considerable time.

it's actually in serious trouble...as is the rest of blizzards future business plan/release schedule...

as for WoW in general...

when i think back to my time in WoW i always get a feeling of deep sadness...

its kind of hard to encapsulate exactly why...but i remember being highly impressed (having some game making experience) with being able traverse an entire world (ok, ok continent) without a single loading screen and that it was a beautifully constructed "living breathing world" where i'd run into and interact with many other occupants in it doing exactly the same as i went along.

my favourite moments from my WoW past are simply not what the company or supposedly elite and srs gamers tell me what they are supposed to be...

from co-questing at length with a Tauren at like 4am in the morning...while playing Alliance and neither of us being able to communicate except via emotes and "body language"...to killing The Lich King NOT because i got a website ranking or an achievement or even phat loots (i quit the game almost straight after that) but rather because i had come to the game of the back of Warcraft 3, had always hated him and late one night (again) when i was milling around in game and seriously thinking about quitting (mostly over the fisher price sci-fi of TBC and the disappointment over the unhindered lying the company had started causally undertaking about "the lore" to people who didn't know any better) i ran into Pamela Redpath in The Plaguelands...and ended up weeping irl and swearing an oath to a fictional character in a video game...

then there's the insane fun that was AV when you knew almost every person you were fighting and the battles (yes "battles" ie not small map team deathmatch) lasted days and were server events almost all by themselves...i even had a personal nemesis (the UD Rogue foil to my Human Shadow Priest).

i have always kinda felt deep in my gut they didn't know what they had and the game was more than its individually over analysed parts...

they had made a "a living breathing world" and it was a world that i (and a great many others) truly loved.

and i was there right at the start...before the trend followers and "srs" gamers and PK seeking locusts turned up to inspect and critique a game that we had made a success big enough to capture their attention.

now ? "the world" bit is almost an afterthought, its little more than mostly abandoned lobby for self styled "power gamers" desperate for their next skinner box fix and a themepark based on it's former self.

storytelling and world building context is treated with near derision and lets not even get me started on how far up the their own beloved (supposed) creations arses the developers are...Deathwing (and Cata) managed to destroy or partially destroy the majority of Alliance towns and cities while at the same time redecorating almost the entirety the Horde...i almost completely lost it when metzen said flat out at blizzcon "we don't know how to make The Alliance cool"...well feck you metzen...if you can't you should be fired...whatever happened to "concentrated coolness"...isn't that supposed to be the Blizzard motto and to be applied to everything ?

blizzard captured lightning in a bottle but at the end of the day i think the really didn't know what they had or how they almost accidentally did it.

they very conspicuously began to believe their own marketing/investor hype about how awesome they were to the point of assuming a mantle of near omniscience when it came to all things MMO.

and yet since then their development focuses and decisions have been all over the place ("we're going to make heroic Deadmines and SFK because they're awesome" \o/ "so we've changed them completely" ... \o excuse me, WTF !?) and the vast majority of the best stuff added to the game have actually been cynical lifts from emerging competitors.

i can't stand many, many decisions they have taken over the direction of the game.

i can't stand the "fans" who know nothing about what lies outside it and so, for example, have no idea how much of the supposed innovation they queue up to suck blizzcock over is actually flat out stolen from other competitors and then passed off to the fans as blizzards (quest tracking came from LOTRO, in world BG and dungeon queuing came from WAR and so on and so on...and lets not even mention customisable appearance, bloody pet battling, farmville and even plants Vs feckin zombies...).

in short "it couldn't happen to a nicer guy" -.-

that's how i feel about WoW/Blizzard now.

in the final analysis they killed the world of warcraft. no one else.
not time or age or anything like that ("loyalty" to prior MMOs is famously long lived).

just really bad decisions made by the developer driven by arrogance, marketing and the quest for a rate of more, more, more that was always unsustainable when they should have been going for building and rewarding player loyalty and playing the long game.

and Cata ? Cata was hilarious; they tried to address the serious underlying problem they have with player retention (the stated aim of that whole idea/expansion) by basically wiping out vast chunks of a world that the players who had actually stuck around intimately loved...

there is a part of me that is dying to see blizz fall flat on its face with "titan" (which ofc will probably reduce WoW to F2P fodder upon release) i won't deny it.

an "original property" from a company that basically doesn't do originality (as opposed to polish) and with metzen "universe building" when he's clearly well past his "one good book" phase and tigole as lead...well...i wouldn't put money on it...but then i'll feely admit my views on the subject and company are coloured to say the least...

deep sadness mixed with anger...so many missed opporchanceities to do better than you did...lost love and visceral disappointment...that's WoW means to me now...i wouldn't even play it if it was free...

Whatislove:
Bring back burning crusade.. that's where WoW peaked.

This stupid, mind-numbingly simple makeover they have given wow with the talents and gear is just so boring - it's as if blizzard wanted to expand their player base to people without higher brain function.

BC wasn't a high water point. Stop drinking the koolaid.

And the idea that an MMO almost a decade old that hasn't undergone any major change to it's core game play, is losing it's player base is not at all surprising. It's unusual in the modern game market of proverbial "fuck n' chuck" games for sales, let alone subscriptions, to stay stable for the first year, let alone looking 5, 6, 7 years out.

Vhite:
Do we really need a new thread every time WoW subscriber base fluctuates? Number of subscribers is a sine curve with new content patch at every second π. It has large player base so fluctuation is also large, this isn't any major drop, most of them will come back next patch, probably even more so since it's going to be summer by then.

Why are you using a radian scale for this sine wave? Radians suck.

NortherWolf:

DugMachine:

tl;dr Talents were changed for the better.

No, they really weren't. They were dumbed down and, maybe it's because I've sicne played better games but when I went back to wow for a short stint the talent system just screamed: "LOOK AT ME ! YOU DON'T NEED BRAINS TO FIGURE ME OUT!!!!"

I also like how you ignored the rest of my post. y'know about how I change my talents constantly for PvP depending on team comps. From what I remember I maybe changed talents 2 times in wrath. I got the cookie cutter dps spec and the cookie cutter tank build and never changed them. Because to be viable in endgame PvP or PvE you had to follow the strict builds.

NortherWolf:

elvor0:

NortherWolf:

No, they really weren't. They were dumbed down and, maybe it's because I've sicne played better games but when I went back to wow for a short stint the talent system just screamed: "LOOK AT ME ! YOU DON'T NEED BRAINS TO FIGURE ME OUT!!!!"

https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=wow+paladin+ret+spec&aq=f&oq=wow+paladin+ret+spec&aqs=chrome.0.57j0l3.5268j0&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

There we go, that's how you found out your talent spec now and then, lots of brainpower needed there. Some people crunched the numbers and said what the best spec was in order to perform your job, you would look it up and copy it. Aside from 1 or two points, you didn't deviate because it would gimp your performance. Sure there were lots of places to click, but in the end you had no choice but to choose the same spec as everyone else in order to perform properly.

So? 60 points(or 30 after Cata) was still more chances to make something interesting than 6x3. And you could really make a stinks-to-high-heaven build before. Rather than;
"CHOOSE OPTION A, B OR C!"

And nobody chose the "stinks to high heaven" talent builds because they didn't work. You would severely gimp yourself if you put points in every single talent tree.

Duder Dudeson:

StewShearer:
World of Warcraft Loses 1.3 Million Subscribers in 3 Months

Activision Blizzard isn't worried despite a significant decline in subscriptions between the months of March and June.

I think your months are off a bit unless time travel was involved. I think one of the biggest mistakes was removing the old world. I miss old unfinished zones to explore.

What they really got wrong was not mentioning that most of the loss was in the East.

These losses aren't because of some sudden drop in wow quality. The market in China and its neighbors is saturated to near boiling point with F2P games.

Their drops in the west are considerably smaller. But that headline/news post would not be as exciting I guess.

Thoric485:
They can have my sub if they provide legacy servers for previous expansions and vanilla.

Until DayZ Standalone/World of Darkness/Star Citizen anyway.

IIRC Catacylsm was as a result of them no longer having any of the original code. They couldn't make improvements to the vanilla content as it was so they decided to have a big event to explain redoing it all.

At least I vaguely recall that being the cause.

elvor0:

NortherWolf:

DugMachine:

tl;dr Talents were changed for the better.

No, they really weren't. They were dumbed down and, maybe it's because I've sicne played better games but when I went back to wow for a short stint the talent system just screamed: "LOOK AT ME ! YOU DON'T NEED BRAINS TO FIGURE ME OUT!!!!"

https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=wow+paladin+ret+spec&aq=f&oq=wow+paladin+ret+spec&aqs=chrome.0.57j0l3.5268j0&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

There we go, that's how you found out your talent spec now and then, lots of brainpower needed there. Some people crunched the numbers and said what the best spec was in order to perform your job, you would look it up and copy it. Aside from 1 or two points, you didn't deviate because it would gimp your performance. Sure there were lots of places to click, but in the end you had no choice but to choose the same spec as everyone else in order to perform properly.

So? 60 points(or 30 after Cata) was still more chances to make something interesting than 6x3. And you could really make a stinks-to-high-heaven build before. Rather than;
"CHOOSE OPTION A, B OR C!"

Mahoshonen:
World of Warcraft is almost 10 years old. That's practically a lifetime in this industry.

I'm sure Blizzard-Activision have a follow-up in preproduction phase, but I do hope they make Warcraft 4 to bridge the two games (please?)

I second the call for a Warcarft 4. It would be epic to return to a strategy game format, burning and trouncing villages and cities your pc previously visited and quested in.

90% of this forum is expecting WoW to die at any time in the near future and that is Un-freaking-likely. The number of current players is so overwhelmingly higher than any other current MMO, that they can loose 4/5 of subscribers and still remain profitable. I expect this MMO is still going to be thriving for another five years.

shrekfan246:

Lunar Templar:

Waaghpowa:
Incoming doomsayers who think WoW is dying.

1/10 the player base isn't anything to over look, and while I will throw a fucking party celebrating the death of this over glorified bore feast when it's LONG over due death finally comes.

1/10 the player base isn't really a sign of 'end times', it's just a trend to keep an eye on and see if it gets worse

now :D it that number was 50% of subs, oh hell the fuck yes, I'd be rocken a sandwich board that says 'the end of WoW is neigh!!'

Do you play World of Warcraft?

Are the only MMOs you do play "WoW-clones"?

No?

Then why so much vitriol for a game that doesn't impact you in any way?

Desert Punk:

Because too many people have been trying to copy it, and it eats up a large portion of the market share, meaning if a big bland game dies other smaller projects will likely see an increase in players/sales

This is relevant too -

If WoW dies, people aren't going to stop trying to copy WoW. It has been the biggest success in MMO history for over a decade. You really think people aren't going to try capturing that lightning in their own bottles, especially when the titan of the MMO section has finally fallen?

Economics, how do?

Also, more and more games that aren't "WoW-clones" have been coming out lately. Maybe just look for them instead of painting everything with the same brush. Oh, wait, right, this is the same community that thinks the only big titles currently being released in the industry are shooters.

RedLister:
I gave the Panda exp pack a go when it came out and ended up quitting again after a month. Hated what they did with talents. They made it so damn simple into a you can select 1 talent per every 15 levels and alot of the old talents from the old talent trees were baseline when you chose your spec. It was a major killer for me since i enjoyed watching my toon grow in power and i had to think on what talents i wanted since to gain one talent i would have to forfeit another etc.

Ghostcrawler said he changed the talent system to this oversimplified mess because the old system was too cookie cutter, where everyone was the same spec. Ghostcrawler is speaking out of his arse. Its even more cookie cutter and everyone was the same (example being a massive number of warriors chose shockwave and avatar)

No.

I'm sorry, but no.

The talent system now has different abilities that are good for different encounters. There are ones that are certainly "better" overall, but it encourages far more flexibility than pre-Mists. Because pre-Mists, if you wanted to raid or PvP and wanted to not be laughed out of any group you joined, you had to pick exactly the same talents that everyone else was picking, with leeway for maybe one or two skills. That is what "cookie cutter" means. It was all extremely pointless, useless bloat of "[Spell/Ability] deals 5/10/15% more damage". It wasn't "thinking" on what talents you had to get, unless you were only going to be playing for kicks and giggles.

For most of the classes now, though? You actually have talents that have different utilities. So instead of picking something just because you have to get further down your talent tree, you can pick something because it will be more handy during an encounter or because it'll give you more survivability. It's more dynamic, it doesn't encourage everyone looking at the best player of their class and copying their spec.

ok i admit i somewhat went off on one there and should of worded it alot better and less aggresively. I put my hands up and admit that. I never had problem with cookie cutting spec personally(I now admit you presented evidence that it was there, i mainly kept to a small group of friends when i played) Reason i didn't have problems was i was stubborn and refused to do the mainstream specs. Back in TBC i leveled as protection with warrior and did regular pvp with it too, it worked out well because they didn't have much experience fighting such a spec. At level 70 i went arms...biggest mistake i ever made. Although i refused to follow the norm and i managed to get an arms spec which let me keep my concussion blow but had to sacrifice something else. I just love the experimenting outside the norm. the new tree took that away from me somewhat and probably explains why i pretty much ranted and spoke out of my arse.

Hmm when i think about it more. I don't outright hate the new spec system. I like having say shockwave without having to be full on prot. Just maybe could use the ability to giving players a chance to choose more frequently then every 15 levels.

Too long to read? Should of worded better and less aggressively and i was way to biased. You and DugMachine gave good arguments for me to think on. Put my hands up and admit that.

Eh, even though this probably isn't a sign of WOW dying, as someone who has stopped playing, I have to say that I can think of a few good things happening if WOW wasn't the leader of the MMO pack anymore. It's mostly about the possible advancement. A TON of advancement in the general standard of MMOs.

Seriously, the battle system is horribly outdated compared to some of the newer MMOs. The graphics are kind of...bad, compared to some of the newer ones. And a ton of other stuff. Yet WOW is still the leading MMO, and probably will be for a while.

Don't get me wrong, I don't hate WOW. I actually rather like it still. I can see the charm in it, I played for three years, and I still get the urge to start up another character sometimes. There is something there that is keeping these people.

They can have my sub if they provide legacy servers for previous expansions and vanilla.

Until DayZ Standalone/World of Darkness/Star Citizen anyway.

World of Warcraft is almost 10 years old. That's practically a lifetime in this industry.

I'm sure Blizzard-Activision have a follow-up in preproduction phase, but I do hope they make Warcraft 4 to bridge the two games (please?)

NortherWolf:

DugMachine:

tl;dr Talents were changed for the better.

No, they really weren't. They were dumbed down and, maybe it's because I've sicne played better games but when I went back to wow for a short stint the talent system just screamed: "LOOK AT ME ! YOU DON'T NEED BRAINS TO FIGURE ME OUT!!!!"

https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=wow+paladin+ret+spec&aq=f&oq=wow+paladin+ret+spec&aqs=chrome.0.57j0l3.5268j0&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

There we go, that's how you found out your talent spec now and then, lots of brainpower needed there. Some people crunched the numbers and said what the best spec was in order to perform your job, you would look it up and copy it. Aside from 1 or two points, you didn't deviate because it would gimp your performance. Sure there were lots of places to click, but in the end you had no choice but to choose the same spec as everyone else in order to perform properly.

Kahani:

Waaghpowa:
Incoming doomsayers who think WoW is dying.

WoW is dying. See the quotes from Bobby Kotick in this very article. Note in particular how he says they believe in the franchise, not the specific game. It's certainly not going to suddenly collapse and disappear overnight, but there's a steady flow of people leaving and each new content release gets less of them to come back for less time. It's dying a slow death from old age and it's going to take at least a few more years before it's done, but it's still dying.

Saying that a game is slowly dying is stating the obvious. No game, no matter how good, can maintain such a high player base forever. Even Counter Strike, arguably the most popular FPS of all time has a player base that's considerably smaller and dwindling.

It's incredibly obnoxious to hear people shout "dying" the moment any news of declining subscriptions are posted. Thank you for stating the obvious in the natural life of ANY online game. Although I don't think "News Flash: people getting tired of a nearly 10 year old game" gets as many hits as "WOW SUBS DECLINING! END OF THE WORLD".

People have been talking about WoW's inevitable death for years, can we give it a rest already?

Kahani:

Wait, we're talking about a game, right? As in something fun to do in your spare time? What other reason could anyone possibly have for playing it?

You haven't seriously raided or PvPed in WoW before, have you?

I'm the first person to champion "playing games for entertainment", but if you want to be (I shudder to use the term) "competitive" in WoW you can't just bumble through without knowing what you're doing. It's the same sort of mentality you have to adopt for something like League of Legends or DotA - If you're holding everyone else back, you're going to have a team of angry people bitching you out in likely very awful and demeaning ways.

DugMachine:

tl;dr Talents were changed for the better.

No, they really weren't. They were dumbed down and, maybe it's because I've sicne played better games but when I went back to wow for a short stint the talent system just screamed: "LOOK AT ME ! YOU DON'T NEED BRAINS TO FIGURE ME OUT!!!!"

The game has been around for so long I do wonder if many "new" things in the game feel rehashed from the old ones. Aside from boss mechanics have they really made anything different? Trash mecyanics or minigames. I hate the comparison, but The Old Republic did introduce treasure hunting to find unique items.

I smell a new expansion pack on the horizon!

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