Tuesday, September 20, 2016

World of Warcraft at 5.5 million subscribers

wo bits of news were buried in Activision’s grand announcement that they were buying mobile games giant King for an eye-popping $5.9B. The first is that World of Warcraft subscriptions have again ticked down, this time to 5.5M, the second is that Activision is no longer going to be reporting World of Warcraft subscription numbers at all, indicating that they’re not expecting terribly good news from this point forward.
The 5.5M number is almost holding steady from last quarter when WoW had 5.6M subs, but that number represented a loss of 44% of total subscribers from sixth months earlier, after players had finished the latest expansion and once again left the game for greener pastures.
Half a decade ago, this would have been akin to the apocalypse for Activision who has had an absolutely enormous amount of revenue tied up in World of Warcraft subscriptions. The game was by far the biggest cash cow for the company, and the playerbase now being close to a third of what it used to be represents a huge loss. It’s nearly impossible to get players to sign up for subscription-based games in this day and age, hence the shift of new MMOs to free-to-play, and the general turn away from the genre in general, as seen by Blizzard themselves scrapping their next planned MMO, Project Titan, and turning it into an arena shooter.
But now? There’s really nothing to be all that worried about, for a few reasons.
That’s Still a Lot of Warcraft Money
I’m frankly amazed that World of Warcraft still even has 5.5M subscribers, even if that number represents a big downward shift from years past. With so many other games out there, Blizzard has managed to keep Warcraft attractive to a healthy base of players, many of whom seem like they’ll be around until the end, if that ever actually comes. 5.5M subscriptions is still a hefty amount of revenue, and not insignificant to Activision’s bottom line.

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