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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KeyMaster45:

kajinking:
Didn't KOR lose that many in like two months after shipping?

I'm not gonna say WOW is dying or anything but releasing expansions seem to not being having as much effect as they used to. Eventually they're going to have to start work on WOW 2 or something similar and honestly I think that would be pretty damn cool since with all the expiernce they've gotten with MMOs imagine how good a WOW 2 could be.

Depending on who you talk to the rumors are that the secretive project Titan they've been working on for years is more than likely WoW's successor; set to take over after the next and final expansion for WoW. Take that information with varying sizes of salt grains.

Decline isn't really unexpected. It's still a good, solid game but it's getting old and people are just getting burnt out on it. In my personal opinion I would put Wrath of the Lich King as WoW's peak; everything after has just felt "meh". I also have mixed feeling on MoP. It has some of the best PvE content since Wrath but my class and spec, enhancement shamans, got the shaft hard with them redesigning the game's class mechanics from the ground up; after years of being largely left to our own devices at that. My issues with that is a rant all to it's own though.

Point is...well I guess I don't really have a point. I suppose not jumping swiftly onto the rage filled bandwagon of gleefully proclaiming WoW's death would be a prudent stance for us all; if I really must have a point.

The next expansion will NOT be the final. If games can survive and thrive even with less than 1 million players and STILL release Expansions, I think WoW will do that as well and last for many more moons.

Also, I agree with almost everything here. I raided for seven years, hardcore. I almost got the world first kill for C'thun all those years ago (hard to believe I was only like 13/14 at the time, yet one of the core healers of our team). I just got burnt out of WoW and haven't had the free time I used to to jump back into raiding.

I don't think WoW is Dying, nor will it die. It will become like the original everquest. Still a great game, still with quite a few people playing, just not the king of the MMO market anymore.

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?

viranimus:
It is just a part of the normal MMO end cycle.

As new expansions are released you see people return to burn through the new content in 1-6 months. Then once up to date again grow bored and head back out to greener pastures.

Basically what this man said. People came back to play the xpac, burned through it as people tend to do with WoW content, and then left again. This is the kind of drop I'd expect a few months after an expansion's release.

It's a cool game. I started playing in the Beta before the launch of the original game and played until I reached the top levels and then got tired of it. I'd rejoin with new expansions but then would quickly get to the top and have nothing more to do on a daily basis than grind daily quests for no good reason for a game I was paying $15/month for in addition to the original expansion price. So we're talking about three/four months of gaming and then being completely done. I imagine a significant number of other players also get bored around the top and give it a rest once they're there and this is about the right time for them to start dropping off after Mists of Pandaria, I guess.

Wow is a good game, you get the money's worth. But it isn't worth spending a year of gaming on just one expansion.

Too many of you posting in this thread have been drinking too much haterade. There is a lot of carbs in that stuff, and it raises your blood pressure.

Other pay monthly MMOs dont even have 1.5 million subscribers, so its not such a big deal for Blizzard.

The game IS nearly 10 years old now!

Meh.

I've gone though the treadmill too many times to pick up WoW again. I remember playing in Burning Crusade, grinding rep, gearing up, leveling my crafting- then Wrath comes along and basically hits the reset button. Then Cataclysm does it again. Now it's kind of hard to see why I should bother spending hundreds of hours grinding on a toon when there's another reset inc next year.

Leveling through the old expansions also kind of sucks now. They were all designed as near-endgame content, all focused around stuff the player was building himself up to do after hitting level cap. Now they're just pass-through areas, and they're pretty weak for it. I remember playing a new character in Cataclysm, and having a ton of fun with the redesigned 1-60, only to hit outlands and see the game become kind of a slog. Cataclysm's leveling content wasn't any better, weirdly, despite being as new as the 1-60. I think the past-60 leveling areas just feel too disconnected from the Azeroth I was playing in, and most of the plots are too far gone down the "EPIC FANTASY STUFF THAT WE KIND OF EXPLAIN, BUT ALSO IT HELPS IF YOU READ THE BOOKS" route to seriously care about.

piinyouri:
Seeing Bobby Kotick speak for Blizzard reminds of just where this company is now.

Made me feel a touch ill in my stomach honestly.

Seriously. It's like it's there for the people who still had hope that Blizzard were NOT corporate sell-outs.

VoidWanderer:

I wasn't getting my money's worth when I was playing the game.

OH BUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUURRRRRRRN

KeyMaster45:
Decline isn't really unexpected. It's still a good, solid game but it's getting old and people are just getting burnt out on it. In my personal opinion I would put Wrath of the Lich King as WoW's peak; everything after has just felt "meh".

There's actually a reason for that. Simply put: Cataclysm and MoP were "keep this baby alive!" stretches...at least as far as the story is concerned. Once Arthas has been killed off, that's the last of the easily recognizeable main baddies in the WC universe. Who came up next? Deathwing? Didn't he die back in Beyond the Dark Portal? Plus I heard his final boss fight was an absolute joke (since I stopped playing after Burning Crusade I wouldn't know from first-hand experience). And what came after Cataclysm? They turned what was once an April Fools joke into the basis of their next expansion. If that doesn't show at least some hints of desperation and stretching then I don't know what would.

OT: I'm honestly very surprised that WoW has lasted as long as it did. I knew it had a VERY robust fan-base from it's RTS games to get a fantastic start, and I was with it from the beginning until the end of Burning Crusade. At that point I graduated from college and got a job in the real world and no longer had the time necessary to play the game as a functional member of a guild. That and it was becoming harder and harder to justify paying a monthly subscription fee to play fantasy dress-up.

What struck me was the notion that I'm paying a subscription so that each month I can go on 8 to 12 raids. On those raids, there was a slim chance that an item I would need would drop. Should the item I need drop, there was only a chance that I'd get it as I'd be competing with the rest of my class for it. Didn't get anything this time? Well better luck next-week. This caused me to get VERY disillusioned with the game and, having defeated Kil'Jaeden, I thought it was about time to bring a close to my years-long adventure in Azeroth. I've got good memories and had a lot of fun with that game, but ultimately I felt it was time to move on.

VoidWanderer:

MetalMagpie:

VoidWanderer:
I wonder how many of those subscribers are actually active? I for one know that I haven't touched the game since

*Looks at calendar*

January / February this year...

Are you still paying the subscription? Because it sounds like you're not getting your money's worth!

I wasn't getting my money's worth when I was playing the game.

Defect to Guild Wars 2! No subscription fee! Fun gameplay! Cat people!

(Disclaimer: MetalMagpie has recently started playing Guild Wars 2 and may be very slightly smitten. Do not trust the above to be a balanced review.)

My sub's not lapsed yet so I'm not in that 1.3 million yet, but I'll probably be part of next quarter's decline. However there should be an upswing with 5.4, the last raid patch of this expansion. I know some people who are planning to return for that.

I wonder how many subs WoW needs to maintain it's profitability, while still being able to fund new patches?

I think the game is safe, until it gets close to that point. Then it could just keep the existing game running with no updates, so long as that is profitable.

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.

MetalMagpie:

VoidWanderer:
I wonder how many of those subscribers are actually active? I for one know that I haven't touched the game since

*Looks at calendar*

January / February this year...

Are you still paying the subscription? Because it sounds like you're not getting your money's worth!

I wasn't getting my money's worth when I was playing the game.

The only surprise involved in this story is that it took this long for them to start significantly hemorrhaging subscribers.

Problem Warcraft has at the moment is there is no need to play it for any length of time, there is nothing to work at or strive for. Everyone can get silly levels of gear super quickly and burn through all the content in record time, it also does not help that the game is tuned in such a way that you outgear everything before you get to it. There is no less content than there was from classic to now (raid an instance wise, its just burned through far too quickly. Its all about instant gratification and everyone being able to do everything without working at it. I miss gearing up for heroics working through the easy heroics and then going onto the harder ones, working out how we can optimise things to run the place faster and get the gear we need and then moving onto raids. You may say i am looking through rose tinted glasses and you may be right but hey it kept me playing.

The primary issue I have with WoW as a long term player is just how lobby based the entire affair is now. There are people playing who don't even know where the entrance to the Stormstout Brewery is, let alone the entrance to any major raid instance. That and there seems to be too few people to fill a 25 man roster. Heck, a number of guilds can't even fill a 10 man roster effectively anymore.

Activision are going to be happy raking in the billions a year as WoW slowly declines and then it will probably stabilise at around 2 million or something in many years time, which is still enough to make an insane amount of money. They'll gradually move most of the staff onto others things, or fire them and everything is coming up Activision

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.

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)

Also don't help that it was still world of orgrimar/stormwind/queuecraft. Still no sod outside the main cities doing stuff, all hiding in the main cities in a queue for something. World still felt as dead as it was in cata.

also...farmville in mah wow?! more likely then you think. I don't think growing veggies and picking weeds is very befitting an undead warrior. If he still had a jaw it would of hit the floor by being given those quests.

Chiefohara is right about the community. Never even set foot in the dungeons due to hating to pug that much because of the community. I was in a nice little guild with some decent people but it was a small and most of then didn't really see the point in the new pack and left soon after along with me. Puging nowadays is like russian roulette and instead of 1 bullet there is a bullet in every chamber.

Wonder if that's overall or without losses.
Because I was just thinking about jumping in again, since I haven't played the last expansion. I also haven't played alliance since before Cataclysm, so I'd guess there'd be some cool quests to see there.

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