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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Colt47:

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.

If they did that the Subs would tank even harder than before. A lot of people playing the game are casual focused and Burning Crusade was still back in the day when they were refining for the core audience. The best bet for getting a Burning Crusade like experience is to jump to another MMO. I for one am heading towards FFXIV ARR since the game is stronger in many respects than World of Warcraft (lore that doesn't make people grit their teeth, better visuals, completely new game world to explore, and a mix of new elements and elements from previous single player and multiplayer titles, etc). Would have moved to Star Wars The Old Republic, but the game was... yeah.

Just out of interest have you played FF14, as in the current version of it? Because I'm currently in the beta and while I can't say too much lest I incur the wrath of Square for breaking the NDA, it looked bland, (granted it had more polycount but i'd still say WoW is prettier because their artists really know how to make an environment using minimal polys)as everything was some sandy washed out shade.

The Combat seemed to boil down to just mash one button, or at least with the lancer because the skills were just a linear upgrade, it was clunky as all hell, targeting enemies was awkward, almost every quest has an over-wraught loading sequence and conversation, animations were rough, the interface feels awkward and handing in collection quests has unnecessary fluff.

I know it's a beta, but if they're hoping to release this soon, they have some fucking work to do if they have any hope of getting it out this summer. It feels like an alpha and considering the CEO has stated that the future of the company relies on the success of this game, they better get their asses in gear if they don't want a repeat of last time. If I'd paid money for it, I'd be steaming.

With that said, I'd be interested to know what you think it has stronger than WoW aside from the subjectively better graphics and lore (that stuff is each to his own taste).

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.

See I'm beginning to be of the opinion that a lot of people just say bring back Vanilla and Burning Crusade because they heard someone else say it. I was there, I've been playing since 1.5 and I've done almost everything aside from the latter part of Cataclysm. Vanilla was awful, it was certainly epic at the time, but nothing worked properly, gear had awful stats, some classes just didn't work at all, or only worked in one spec and raids were a total clusterfuck, where a good quarter of your raid was unlikely to really know what they were doing.

Burning Crusade was good and the raids were excellent, but classes still had glaring issues all over the place, with certain specs being laughable to play. True WoW is easier these days, but you want challenge, go do heroic mode! You want the challenge, go fucking do it, you get massively better gear, you have to really pay attention and it's proper hardcore. See you can complain about there being easy raids, but it's not like heroic mode doesn't exist, if it was just easy raids, you'd have a point, but they do and if you want a challenge, it's right there waiting for you.

Also talents. Yeah you didn't have to think about those, you go on elitist jerks and you pick the spec that makes you best at your job. You couldn't just do what you wanted because you wouldn't work. Instead the current talents(while they could do with a bit more choice) actually make you want to choose stuff, granted some stuff is arbitary, but no more or less than it was when we had massive talent trees that boiled down to picking the same spec as everyone else anyway.

Hardly surprising. People left because they were bored of the existing content. New content was released so many of them came back to try it. Now they've finished it and have left again.

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.

shrekfan246:
unless you were only going to be playing for kicks and giggles.

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?

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.

Interesting article. I quit playing during those months because of the endgame grind of MoP. I hate daily quests and the amount of them that you had to do was astounding if you wanted to truly be an endgame player. I raided a lot in Wrath and Cata (with the exception of Firelands. The dailies in that area caused me to quit for a few months.). I just wanted to go at my own pace with things. My friend in Canada (that I actually lived with for a year and half, so not just online friends with no real connection) wanted to rush through. She never read the quests and was always asking me what to do for this and that while I was doing my own thing. We tried leveling our mains together at first, but she didn't like waiting on me to read the quests. MoP was such a pleasant ride through the zones when I went at my own pace by myself. I'd out level zones but stay for the story before moving on. I grew to love the characters. Loremaster Cho is just a well done character all around. Thing is once you finish all the zones the story takes a backseat to you doing dailies for a few weeks before unlocking more dailies that have a little bit of a story. The final straw was finishing the Klaxi storyline by getting exalted. What a let down. [SPOILER!!!!] They pretty much say thanks, but when the next Old God comes you'll be an enemy again<END SPOILER>

I don't want the game to die. I just want the devs to stop screwing around with things that work while fixing things that don't. I'd like a sense of community that just isn't there anymore. It's sad to see something change so much. I understand that change has to happen, but there has to be a reason for it. The drastic class changes made some of my toons have only a few buttons on their bars while others were running out of place. The nerfs to PvE cause of PvP while people cried out to just have things work differently in PvP went unheard.

WoW is probably the "best" MMO out there because it did a lot of things first and refined a lot of elements from the games that came before it. It can never be more than the "best" because people have differing tastes, but to all the haters, you have to give credit where credit is due. Sure some of the innovations might have ruined other games like SWTOR but that's because they copied instead of innovating themselves. I could go on for pages, but I think I've said enough for now.

Zac Jovanovic:
They are still running on the good faith Blizzard has accumulated over the years.
When I tell someone playing WoW Activision's running things now they are usually like "Holy crap, that explains everything!"

Props to them for not placing the Activision logo on anything WoW related, that was very well played.

Pretty much this.
Activison killed Spyro, and turned it into Skylanders, and they're slowly murdering WoW to...

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)

I still don't get this complaint. The previous talents were truly cookie cutter in every sense of the word. You had talents that increased X damage of X move by X percent. Mid way through a tree you would get maybe 1 spell and then at the end you would get a big spell that defines the spec.

Now you get talents that DO something other than just increase stats. And while yes in PvE the specs are pretty much cookie cutter, in PvP I find myself switching between avatar or stormbolt every other game. SOMETIMES bloodbath if I just want to experiment but stormbolt and avatar are just better PvP talents. Shockwave goes well with stormbolt and bladestorm works if you're going up against a class with heavy CC. Hell even I rock Dragonroar if I feel that we can just burst the opponent down and I want an extra interrupt.

Second wind is yes a standard PvP talent but Double time and warbringer have their uses and I change them depending on the team. And all the shouts I pretty much change between every single match depending on if I need a root, aoe slow or silence.

Don't just spew a bunch of crap about warriors just because you want shockwave to be DPS viable. The talents are so much better than the stat junkie crap they had in the previous expansion.

I can understand the "lol farmville" and grindiness of the game. I admit that the farm thing is silly and the game is still grindy as hell but don't bag on talents when there is absolutely nothing wrong with them. Maybe pick a class that truly has cookie cutter talents be it in PvE or PvP. Cherry picking warriors when they change talents on a daily basis is just ignorant.

tl;dr Talents were changed for the better.

But in more serious terms, I'm not surprised. Having played WoW since Vanilla, I've found it to be plummeting in quality since WotLK. Cata had it's ups and downs, but pandarin was just awful, stripping away most, if not all, early to mid game complexity in a supremely ill advised attempt to make the game easier to bring in more players, than to hold on to their sizable, loyal fanbase.

In short, they got greedy, and it's biting them in the ass.

I believe WoW's steady decline of subscribers comes from its most loyal player-base aging out. Those who were in their early teens when WoW classic was around are now attending college and full-time employment, as such haven't the time, funding or simple inclination to play anymore.

They are being replaced by a more instant-gratification crowd; those who want it more more more, now now now, and the most die-hard loyalists who are still floating around after years of attendance are consistently less than satisfied with new patches. There are people popping in to check out new content every patch, but yeah - they don't stay.

As for me, I still hang around because the world is big enough that I can always find something to waste time doing. Pet battles have my attention these days, but I'm also well-geared enough that I can solo all classic, most BC and some Wrath content.

But occasionally I see stuff and hear stories from long-time players that makes me think...

image

BigTuk:

There's also the fact that really, the other players are the biggest turn off. Really, if you're not rocking X talent build with Such and such gear you're lolled at. Very few of the things that make RPG's fun are more or less gone. There's no real connection to the actual narrative, you don't feel like you have any impact on the actual game world, you don't even get the satisfaction that comes from learning and experimenting with skill combos and class builds now with the new streamlined talent system.

This pretty much sums it up. I left because the fun and adventure that were there for Vanilla and BC disappeared. I came back during Cata, enjoyed relearning everything, and then quickly realized that the skill of the fights was lost. With that, the camradarie that is built with in a guild disappeared. The nostalgia I had from Vanilla and BC was gone, and Cata just didn't hold me because the game and gameplay just wasn't the same.

My time with WoW is over. While I still remain tempted to go back and see what this latest expansion is all about, I just can't bring myself to do it. I have no desire to get sucked back into it. It's bad enough whenever I fire up a battle.net game and I get flooded with messages from my former guild mates to please come back.I can only imagine what would happen if they actually saw me log into WoW.

Radoh:
Eh...
When you take into account that MoP brought back another million, the net loss of three hundred thousand is on par with what, the last six or so quarters of losses?
Still making obscene amounts of millions.

Actually That figure is off. WoW gained a million Gross subscriptions but they lost quite a few with MoP as well.

Really i;'m not surprised. WoW painted themselves into a corner. They make such a big deal about the end game that they've made getting there a terribly banal. Their solution was to quicken the leveling but that trivialized the game world. There's little sense of scope or scale any more. Sure having to trek across the barrens was a pain but it gave you a sense of scope and scale of the game world.

There's also the fact that really, the other players are the biggest turn off. Really, if you're not rocking X talent build with Such and such gear you're lolled at. Very few of the things that make RPG's fun are more or less gone. There's no real connection to the actual narrative, you don't feel like you have any impact on the actual game world, you don't even get the satisfaction that comes from learning and experimenting with skill combos and class builds now with the new streamlined talent system.

WoW has become the Big Mac of MMO's, plain, serviceable, and bland. Blizzard should just realize that WoW is no longer the game people feel worthy of $10 a month. I mean put it this way. Pay $10 to play wow or $10 for nice indie game like FTL?

While 1.3 million isn't that big compared to their player base, the number spirals. each of those 1.3 million people had friends in game that have one less person to play with and one less reason to hang around. As more people leave, more people *will* leave. Guilds fall apart, raiding groups get harder to put together. realms start getting emptier.

Waaghpowa:
Incoming doomsayers who think WoW is dying.

WoW has been dying a slow death ever since Wrath of the Lich King, because of an increasingly botched creative direction.

That said, I agree with ActiBlizzard's assesment: There's enough mileage to be had in the property to remain profitable for a while yet - that's the benefit of a game that dies slowly.

Of course it's an expected decline, it's easy to see that the decline is inevitable.

But come on people, the game is almost 10 years old. I know some people on the internet have made hating WoW into a sport (just look at this thread), and the headline should cater to these people, but the headline really should read "WoW is still the market leader and has more than 8 million subscribers", this is the really impressive part.

I stopped playing years ago, I have absolutely no will to come back, but that's because I played it a lot before and had lots of fun going to raids with friends. I still think it's a fine game and that it manages to keep as big an audience as this is amazing.

MMOs that achieve critical mass never die:

(1997) Ultima Online - http://www.uo.com/
(1999) Everquest - https://www.everquest.com/
(2001) Dark Age Of Camelot - http://www.darkageofcamelot.com/
(2001) Anarchy Online - http://www.anarchy-online.com/

All more than 10 years old, all still playable.

The MUD that I played on in college in 1994 (dark castle - http://www.dcastle.org/ ) is still running, more than 20 years after it started.

Barring something like an asteroid strike wiping out civilization I expect WoW to by playable 20 years from now.

Eh...
When you take into account that MoP brought back another million, the net loss of three hundred thousand is on par with what, the last six or so quarters of losses?
Still making obscene amounts of millions.

It's worth noting that the majority of losses were from the East (especially China), so the complaints that you read on this thread and other English language message boards may not necessarily be representative of the real reason for the huge drop in subscribers.

The most likely reason for the loss is the huge F2P boom in the East. I also wonder if stricter MMO regulation from the Chinese government had some impact.

My experience with WOW is very short (I was playing it on my ex's comp about 4-5 years ago), but I remembered it being pretty good, so I sincerely doubt WOW will be going away anytime soon if it's gone strong for this long. I do, however, see a new game coming in and taking their MMO crown. It's bound to happen at some point.

They are still running on the good faith Blizzard has accumulated over the years.
When I tell someone playing WoW Activision's running things now they are usually like "Holy crap, that explains everything!"

Props to them for not placing the Activision logo on anything WoW related, that was very well played.

I wont be too sad to see it go, the things that held me steadily dwindled to the point all I enjoy is PvP, and with the upcoming change, that'll be gone too. As that goes, so do I

Lvl 64 Klutz:
I haven't played since vanilla WoW. I was thinking of going back to it, then realized that with every expansion the game would cost $100. Maybe it's time for an updated Battle Chest, Blizzard?

They have had multiple sales where you could pick up every expansion for less than 40 bucks. Excluding MoP, so it would only cost around 80 total. Even then you could wait on buying MoP as there is enough content to fill you out until then.

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