The WoW-killer is revealed: only time could bring down the MMO monolith.
After nearly a decade of MMO excellence, World of Warcraft is finally beginning to show serious signs of failure. Following a largely indifferent release to Mists of Pandaria, WoW suffered a major loss, dropping to 7.7 million subscribers, the lowest level in six years. More recently, a digital goods research firm named Superdata revealed that World of Warcraft may be in a steeper decline than anticipated. During an analysis on the success of a microtransaction shop in World of Warcraft, Superdata revealed that WoW made $93 million in April 2013, 54% less than what Blizzard had earned with the game a mere seven months earlier.
Although this is far from the death rattle of the MMORPG tanker, the hull is definitely beginning to show signs of breech. With the subscription model beginning to show signs of aging, it may simply be that WoW's infrastructure is too old to handle the volatile market. Though $93 million is nothing to shake a stick at, Superdata said the following in their analysis:
We believe WoW made $93MM in April in total revenues-not a bad sum-but a far cry from the $204MM it made just seven months earlier. Activision also announced a loss of about 1.3MM MAUs from the game's Eastern-hemisphere playerbase recently, a move that our numbers showed in real time. That, of course, is an issue for a subscription-based title. And in a market where players are increasingly used to-and spending money on-in-game items, the lack of microtransactions beyond pets and mounts looks like it's starting to hurt.
There has been much discussion of a model change in WoW's future recently, possibly including a microtransaction shop. Furthermore, Superdata's research shows that the MMO community is ready and willing to pay microtransactions, and that including a microtransaction shop could notably increase income for World of Warcraft.
Perhaps the most important piece of information to be aware of during this whole situation is that World of Warcraft isn't going anywhere. Though it's certainly not doing nearly as well as it once did, it would be impossible for any game to sustain itself at that level of success forever. With a solid 7.7 million subscribers and more money than the average developer could dream of, I would speculate it's reasonable to expect WoW to stick around for at least another expansion, maybe two. On top of that, the recent release of Patch 5.4, fan products, and the highly anticipated TCG, Hearthstone all indicate that this is far from a tight squeeze for Blizzard.
Enter the world of Azeroth and battle against the Alliance of humans, dwarves and night elves or the brutish orcs, trolls and undead of the Horde. World of Warcraft has a very large community of players with hundreds of servers and a myriad of endgame pursuits from raiding dungeons, questing, achievement hunting, PVP arenas, and now pet battles.
Source: Superdata via The Escapist